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You Might Be Applying Moisturizer Wrong—Here’s Why

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You Might Be Applying Moisturizer Wrong—Here’s Why featured image
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For most of us, moisturizer is a top priority, regardless of our skin type. If this is true for you, you’re already ahead of the game in the skin-care department. After all, this skin-care step should be a major focus in your beauty routine.

Depending on which moisturizer you choose, your product can help prevent dryness, cracking or flaking skin, dullness, and even wrinkles. And during the harsh winter months, moisturizer is especially important, says Atlanta dermatologist Tiffany Clay, MD. “If the skin becomes dry enough, you can develop a rash or eczema, which may then need treatment with a prescription medication,” she explains.

While there’s really no wrong way to apply moisturizer (slathering it on haphazardly will still give you some benefits), many of us might be applying the product in a way that doesn’t fully maximize the results. Here, we break down the right way to moisturize as well as the ingredients that should always be included in your go-to formula.

First, what is the correct way to moisturize?

No matter what time of day it is, you should always start your moisturizing routine by cleansing your skin with a hydrating cleanser. “Moisturizing works better if you avoid harsh, drying soaps and cleansers,” says Dr. Clay. “I then use a dime-sized amount of moisturizer after patting my skin dry but leaving it slightly damp.”

Applying lotion or cream to dry skin is one of the most common moisturizer mistakes one can make. However, this is important to avoid because damp skin is easier to penetrate than dry skin, so you’re able to absorb the product much better.

“I’ll follow up my moisturizer with use CeraVe Healing Ointment for added hydration if I have a few troublesome dry spots,” adds Dr. Clay. “For my body, I immediately apply a liberal amount of moisturizing cream to my entire body after showering.”

What ingredients should your moisturizer contain?

The next most important thing to remember when moisturizing is to look at the ingredients your product contains. While the main ingredient you look for will generally vary depending on your skin’s needs, there’s one ingredient that everyone can benefit from: ceramides.

“Everyone, but especially those with dry skin, should certainly seek products with ceramides, which are going to fortify the skin barrier to help prevent water loss across the skin,” explains Dr. Clay. “Ceramides are an essential component of the skin barrier because they help to keep out irritants and pollutants, while locking in moisture.”

Another ingredient that works well with all skin types—even those with sensitive skin—is hyaluronic acid. “Hyaluronic acid is another key ingredient because it is a humectant, so it acts as a water magnet to attract water, sequestering water from the skin and environment to create a layer of hydration on the skin.”

Lastly, petrolatum and dimethicone are also good ingredients to keep an eye out for, as they also work to lock in moisture. However, these two ingredients aren’t a great option for everyone. “Someone with oily skin may want to avoid using occlusive agents like petrolatum or dimethicone all over the skin and will do better if they use it to target dry areas only,” warns Dr. Clay.

What are the best moisturizer options available right now?

According to Dr. Clay, the CeraVe Healing Ointment is a top choice for her patients right now. “This product has petrolatum, which I always recommend to heal cracked skin, in addition to three essential ceramides to help repair a damaged skin barrier,” she explains. “I also love that it doesn’t feel greasy because many of my patients who are dry say they avoid moisturizers because they don’t like greasy products. This is something that literally everyone can use.”

Another good option is the classic CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. Not only does this pick contain three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid (our favorite moisturizing ingredients!), it’s also non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, meaning even those with sensitive skin types can utilize this product. Just be sure to use it diligently (on damp skin!) for the best results.

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