What Is The Trifecta Skincare Routine And Why Is Everyone On TikTok Talking About It?


If TikTok inspires no new skincare trends, I’m 💀

Trends come and go on TikTok faster than the blink of an eye, but it seems the Trifecta Skincare system might just be here to stay!

But what the heck is it (are people seriously using Dial hand soap on their faces?), and why has it become so popular?

We detail everything below, along with input from dermatologist, chemist, and skincare experts on whether this routine is effective and safe to use.

What is the Trifecta Skincare Routine?

The Trifecta skincare routine is comprised of three basic drugstore products: Dial antibacterial hand soap, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair cream, and Goldbond Ultimate Age Defense Hand Cream with SPF 20.

What is Trifecta Skin Care Routine?

While we want to credit the original creator of this routine appropriately, there is some drama surrounding who that creator was and who coined the “trifecta” term. 

Since we’re not interested in weighing in on that aspect of this trend, we’re just going to mention them both—@danajillflaherty and @sonyased5

Now, here’s the step-by-step breakdown of what this routine is and why tons of users are promoting the use of these products specifically.

Step 1: Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap. As a face wash, this hand soap supposedly has a dual purpose: a) it is a highly effective cleanser that can wash away all of your makeup and skincare, and b) it can help clear the skin of the bad bacteria that cause acne. 

Step 2: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Cream. This anti-aging cream contains retinol. Retinols are frequently recommended by many dermatologists and skincare professionals for their ability to speed up the skin cell turnover process, which can reduce acne, improve your skin tone, and fade melasma and scarring. It can also help the skin produce more collagen and elastin, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Step 3: Gold Bond Ultimate Age Defense Hand Cream with SPF 20. This hand cream can help moisturize the skin and protect it from sun damage. Keeping skin moisturized is essential for keeping it healthy and can reduce signs of aging. A moisturizer with sunscreen can also help protect your skin from UV damage that leads to more pronounced signs of aging and skin cancer.

The creator @danajillflaherty touts this combination as the key to keeping her skin clear of acne and looking fresh and glowy, especially as she’s entering her 30s.

As a result, many people on TikTok with “mature skin” (aka mid-30s and older) are trying out this routine to see if it can help them regain glowing, youthful skin.

Keep in mind that when using any new products, you may experience allergic or adverse skin reactions, so always do a patch test before using it on your entire face.

With so many… interesting…products in this line-up, we were just dying to know: Is this routine legit?

Since this trend was born on TikTok we figured we might as well look to experts on the platform to answer some of our most burning questions about each of these products.

Should You Use the Trifecta Skincare Routine?

Whenever a new skincare routine hits the front pages of social media, there will always be a group of people who love it and a group who aren’t such big fans. 

While there are certainly many individuals who have had a good experience with using this routine, some experts are a little skeptical.

To us, it sounds a bit like a throwback to the era of using St. Ives exfoliating wash and Stridex wipes—literally shuddering at the memory here, guys—but let’s see what the experts have to say.

Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap

Though it seems like a harsh product, some users claim this soap is pH-balanced, meaning it won’t strip the skin and break its moisture barrier, which is essential for keeping skin healthy. 

Others disagree. First up, we have @angelinajarboe, a self-professed celebrity beauty expert and “skinfluencer” for those with mature skin.

When looking at the ingredients, Angelina remarks that, while the formulation seems perfectly fine for hands, it reminds her a bit of the Proactiv acne cleanser. 

This is not a great take for Dial soap, considering Proactiv faced a few lawsuits alleging the cleanser was too harsh and damaging to the skin.

The primary active ingredient in Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap is Benzalkonium Chloride (0.13%), which is used to kill off bacteria. In combination with the other chlorides and the alcohol in the cleanser, Angelina believes this could damage the skin’s moisture barrier and dry it out.

This is why Dial hand soap—and many hand and body soaps that exist on the market—is especially not recommended for people with eczema who already have compromised skin barriers.

Then we have another take from Alex, a cosmetic chemist and co-founder of the skincare brand Educated Mess

She says Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap is not recommended for use on the face since it can actually kill off all of the bacteria that live on our skin. 

While this might seem like a good thing since bacteria like P. acnes cause acne in some people, you’ll also get rid of the good bacteria that can fight off bad bacteria and reduce the negative effects the bad microbes cause.

She sums it up well by saying, “If you’re going to war and you’ve got two sides of soldiers, the good guys and the bad guys, an antibacterial hand soap like this would basically be like going in and killing off both sides of soldiers.”

In summary, Dial soap might work well in the short term to clear your breakouts, but this might not be a great option to use long-term, as it could damage your skin’s microbiome and moisture barrier.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Cream (Retinol)

There are very few experts on TikTok who are not in support of this portion of the Trifecta routine. 

Retinols are highly recommended by many dermatologists and skincare professionals to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve acne and texture, and lessen discoloration from scarring and sun damage.

The primary issue most users have is the price point. The Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair costs about $37, which could be a bit pricey for some people.

Additionally, the amount of retinol in the product appears to be very minimal in comparison to other products on the market.

There are plenty of alternatives out there for far less money that will likely be a bit more effective. 

One of our favorites, especially for beginners with retinoids, is the gentle retinoid cream from Cerave Retinol Resurfacing Serum.

Additionally, retinol may not be for everyone as some skin types don’t react well to it.

Some individuals may even go through a “purging” phase, which is a somewhat common occurrence when using retinol.

According to Dr. Mamina Turegano, MD (@dr.mamina on TikTok) this can occur about a month after introducing your skin to a new active ingredient—such as retinol.

Retinol increases the speed of your skin’s cell turnover process, leading to dead skin cells, debris, and oils being pushed to the surface all at once rather than over time as they normally would.

This can result in an alarming amount of acne breakouts, complete with pustules (whiteheads), nodules (closed comedones), cystic acne, etc.

Typically, this purge will subside after a few weeks, but Dr. Turegano advises that if they last longer than eight weeks, you should schedule a visit with a dermatologist to determine if retinol is appropriate for you and discuss some alternatives.

Ultimately, though, retinol is a pretty powerful, effective, and commonly used skincare product—especially for aging skin—which is why it is featured in this routine for mature skin.

Gold Bond Ultimate Age Defense Hand Cream SPF 20

Though the original creators use the Gold Bond Ultimate Age Defense hand cream, many users have tried other Gold Bond moisturizers, such as the Diabetics Dry Skin Relief body lotion, with similar results. 

Going back to the first creator we mentioned in the Dial Hand Soap section—despite Ang’s thoughts about the soap, she has very little negative to say about Gold Bond and even approves it, especially for those with dry skin.

The first three ingredients are highly hydrating, including water, glycerin, and hydroxyethyl urea. It also includes ingredients known to be beneficial for sensitive and ultra-dry skin, such as extracts of oat, chamomile, ginger root, and shea butter.

On the other hand, Alex, the cosmetic chemist, says the hand cream could be a bit heavy on the skin.

She recommends using a separate sunscreen made for the face that’s a bit lighter. This is a good suggestion, in our opinion, since 20 SPF is a bit low unless you’re reapplying throughout the day.

Our Final Thoughts

While interesting, we think Trifecta should remain a passing trend and fall by the wayside. 

In particular, the Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap is not recommended for use on the face and can damage your skin if used long-term.

As for the other two products, there’s no real reason we can find that you shouldn’t give them a try.

Just replace the cleanser with something gentle from Cerave or Cetaphil, which are both dermatologist-recommended brands.

Trifecta Skin Care Routine Evolution of a Tiktok Trend

What routine should you try instead?

If you’re looking to start using a skincare routine but you don’t want to shell out a bunch of money on fancy products that may do the same job as a cheap one, head to the drugstore.

Dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss MD (@Shereeneidriss) recommends keeping things simple and using products that keep you moisturized and help prevent aging

At Night 

  1. Whether or not you use makeup, use a gentle cleanser to wash your face. 
  2. If you are interested or in need of an antiaging product, before you go to sleep, apply a gentle (low percentage, <0.5%) retinol that has no other active ingredients. 
  3. Follow this up with a moisturizer such as Aveeno’s Calm and Restore gel moisturizer if you live in a humid environment. If you live in a drier climate or you’re in need of something more substantial, try Ponds Cold Cream.

In The Morning

  1. Wash your face with water to remove last night’s skincare. 
  2. Apply vitamin C. She recommends Vanicream’s vitamin C serum, which is quite gentle and perfect for those with sensitive skin or just starting a skincare routine. 
  3. Follow this up with a moisturizer and sunscreen (SPF 30+). It’s even better if the sunscreen also doubles as a moisturizer.

Trifecta Skincare Routine FAQs

What is the Trifecta Skincare Routine?

The Trifecta skincare routine involves using three basic drugstore products: Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Cream (a retinol), and Gold Bond Ultimate Age Defense Hand Cream with SPF 20. Though the routine was originally posted back in 2022, it recently regained popularity on TikTok early in 2023, with users claiming it can help clear acne and improve the appearance of mature skin.

Can I use Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap on my face?

While some individuals claim that Dial Antibacterial Hand Soap can effectively cleanse the face and clear acne-causing bacteria, experts (at least those on TikTok) advise against using it on the face. The soap’s ingredients, particularly Benzalkonium Chloride, may disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier and microbiome, leading to dryness and potential damage.

What kind of retinol should I use?

When selecting a retinol product, consider the concentration and formulation. Dermatologists and skincare experts often recommend starting with a low percentage retinol (<0.5%) for beginners or those with sensitive skin. Use this 2-3 times a week and increase slowly after a month or so. You may experience “purging” within the first eight weeks. If you’re finding your skin is still breaking out after the eight weeks, speak with a dermatologist to discuss what’s going on with your skin and if there are potential alternatives you could try.

What SPF should I use on my face daily?

For daily sun protection, dermatologists recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on your face, even in the winter. This helps protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays, reducing the risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Opt for a lightweight, non-comedogenic sunscreen made for the face, that suits your skin type, and is comfortable to wear throughout the day.

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