What is Small-Molecule Formulation and How Does it Improve Skincare?

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Plus: Peek into BAO Laboratory’s award-winning healing oil.

By BAO Laboratory

Date July 6, 2022

The world of skincare can be a scary and confusing place, but it shouldn’t be. That’s exactly what inspired Dr. Julia Bao to launch her science-driven skincare brand BAO Laboratory in 2017.

While completing her PhD in bioanalytical chemistry with a focus on small-molecule development, Bao often found herself in the same position—hunched over her computer, working on her final thesis. Keen on multitasking, she began taking advantage of that time by using hydrating facial sheet masks daily. Around a month later, she noticed a rash spreading all across her body and knew the sheet masks were the glowy culprit.

“Even though I studied chemistry, I rarely paid attention to the ingredients in my cosmetics,” says Bao. “It really opened my eyes and made me want to stop using 90 per cent of my products and start my own cosmetic company.”

Enter: BAO Laboratory. A Canadian skincare brand that is known for its science-driven, small-molecule formulas that are customizable, 100 per cent natural, vegan, CertClean, highly effective and cruelty-free.

What is a small molecule formula?

You may already be using a few of them already. Small-molecule formulas contain—you guessed it—small molecules that are easily absorbed into your system. Think finely milled vitamins or over-the-counter medications. They’re quite common, but not among cosmetics.

During her PhD, Bao invested a lot of time researching this technique and knew it would be a skincare game changer since it would allow for products to be more potent and absorbable.“They’re so small that they can penetrate into the skin more rapidly, while larger molecules from popular creams or lotions often sit on top and create a barrier,” she says.

Which products can I find it in?

From essences and oils, to serums and masks, BAO Laboratory currently offers an array of healing and protective small-molecule formulas, but their Lotus Squalane Healing Facial Oil is currently garnering a lot of buzz in the skincare world for being certified by the Skin Health Program of the Canadian Dermatology Association and recognized for its fragrance-free, minimally irritating formulas that is also free from most common allergens. This product was even the winner of the Best Facial Oil 2022 Beauty Award—and for good reason.

Its healing combo of natural lotus wax and squalane leaves your skin and skin barrier healthier, nourished and renewed. Bao specifically favours squalane because of its anti-inflammatory properties and recommends this oil to anyone who may be dealing with acne, redness, dryness or irritation.

“If you have a problem, just grab this bottle, stop whatever you’re using at the moment and try it for one to two weeks. Then you’ll see the improvement,” she says. “So yeah, I would call that an almighty healing oil.”

How can I use it?

Bao recommends first cleansing your face before applying this product and then waiting five to ten minutes for the small molecules to fully absorb into your skin before applying any other serums or creams on top.

Because of the small-molecule formulation, she also recommends directly applying it with clean fingers so it immediately gets absorbed into your skin, rather than with a cotton pad.

Beauty tip: Make sure to also show your neck some love and work your products down there as well.

Ready to heal your skin inside and out? Visit to buy this award-winning oil and plug in BAOPROMO to get 20% off your order, a free travel set and shipping with your purchase.   

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