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Apply Products on Wet or Dry Skin?

by kelly / April, 6 2022 01:30

Photo of women wetting he face with water

We love debunking skin care myths and weighing in on great skin care debates. Our latest installment answers the age old question should you apply your skin care products to wet or dry skin? The answer depends on the type of product you are using…

Damp Skin for Moisturizer

A moisturizer traps in moisture. That’s one of its main purposes in order to keep skin hydrated.

So according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shirley Chi, MD:

"Moisturizers should really be placed on just slightly damp, freshly washed skin."

A good time to apply your moisturizer is right after you’ve washed your skin and dried it a little bit because your skin is still slightly wet. The same goes for any moisturizing serum – apply after cleansing.

Dry Skin for Sunscreen

Sunscreen, any kind – mineral or chemical, needs to go on dry skin. As Dr. Chi further explains it:

"If you put a mineral sunscreen on wet skin, it doesn't go on…The way chemical sunscreens work is that they actually interact with your stratum corneum, with the top layer of your epidermis, to absorb ultraviolet rays so that they don't go into your skin and do damage. If you're applying it to wet skin, then that's going to affect the absorption of the chemical sunscreen."

Too many times I’ve seen people apply sunscreen to wet skin after getting out of a pool and the sunscreen just drips off. And then a sunburn happens because sunscreen hasn’t been properly applied – I like to call this user error Smile.

The next time you need to apply or reapply sunscreen, dry your skin off thoroughly and then slather it on.

Skin Care Smarts

So now you know the proper way to set-up your skin before applying products. In some cases doing it right can make a big difference, like the difference between a sunburn or not.

For even more answers to all your great skin care questions check out our Skin Care series.

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