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PSA: This Is How You Should Apply Your Hydrating Skin Care Products

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Light Field Studios / iStock

Waking up to dull, dehydrated skin is a drag, no matter how you slice it. But it's especially frustrating when you're doing all the right things: I was using hyaluronic acid to my advantage, spritzing on facial mists with abandon, and patting in just the right amount of moisturizer—and yet, my skin still felt like steel wool in the a.m. Um, what gives? 

The answer, it turns out, emerged from a little scroll (fine, more like a two-hour splurge) through my TikTok feed. According to a recent video from board-certified dermatologist Angelo Landriscina, M.D., I was making a big, big mistake—a faux pas he believes comes second only to skipping sunscreen (I don't, FYI): I was applying my hydrating products on dry skin. 

Why you should pat hydrating products onto damp skin.

Technically, this is a year-round tip. But when the air is practically thick with humidity, you can get away with some dry time in between steps. When the weather turns crisp? Not so much. Perhaps you, too, need this friendly little reminder if you wake up to skin that's lacking luster.

That's because moisturizers and certain serums (like hyaluronic acid) contain humectants, which pull in water to hydrate your skin. "After you cleanse, you want to lock in all that watery goodness," Landriscina says. "The humectants in your products, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, will have an easier time holding on to moisture if you're providing it." Otherwise, said humectants will still do their job—they'll just pull water from your skin instead of the surrounding air, which can leave it even drier than before. 

That's not to say your face has to feel sopping wet pre-moisturizer. After cleansing, simply pat your face with a towel until it's damp (read: You can still blot your face, just not until it's bone-dry). And there you have it: The perfect canvas for your humectant-filled cream or serum. 

If your skin feels a little too dry after cleansing—we all get distracted sometimes—you can spritz on some facial mist or essence to moisten up your skin. That's why a hydrating toner or essence tends to come before treatment serums anyway, just to make sure those humectants can find the moisture they need. 


The takeaway. 

If you're facing dry skin all of a sudden, try this tip—it's not a new warning by any means, but I certainly needed the reminder. If you're dealing with some sudden dehydration, it may be the extra oomph you need to get your skin back to feeling smooth. As Landriscina, says, "I promise it will leave you glowy and gorgeous."

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