Time-Release Products: How Do They Work?

Lately, we've noticed more and more products hitting the market claiming to have time-release benefits — whether it's an anti-aging retinol or a hydrating moisturizer.

Truthfully, we were a little skeptical when we started hearing these lofty declarations. After all, how can a product really be time-release? And furthermore, what makes the active ingredients release over a certain period of time? Naturally, we decided to find out.
"Many time-release products contain microscopic packets of an active ingredient encapsulated in a carrier system or some other deliver vehicle protecting it, [which allows the product] to help improve its efficiency," says Tammy Yaiser, VP of product development at Algenist. "The encapsulation systems also control the active ingredient's release, prolonging its action over time."

Translation: It's truly all about the delivery system in which an ingredient is packaged — not the ingredient itself — with certain delivery systems allowing for a slower release, as opposed to a burst right when you slap it on. "Time, friction, heat, moisture, or pressure can trigger release of the actives from the carrier system," Yaiser says. "A controlled release can offer more efficient release and delivery to the skin."

Why, you might ask, is this desirable? A slowly released active ingredient can help reduce irritation, since it doesn't overwhelm the skin. It also ensures that your skin is getting the benefit of a product through the day or night — as in the case of Algenist's new Splash Absolute Hydration Replenishing Sleeping Pack. The product slowly delivers moisture, which helps the skin stay intensely hydrated over a prolonged period of time — in this case, while you're sleeping.

Our verdict? No need to be skeptical about skin-care's latest buzzword. Time-release helps your face get the optimal ingredients at the optimal time. Sounds pretty perfect to us.

Algenist Splash Absolute Hydration Replenishing Sleeping Pack, $48, available at Algenist.

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