Real Talk: You're Applying Moisturizer Wrong

It's All About Technique

Updated 10/05/17
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There are some parts of our beauty routine that feel so, well, routine that we barely give them a second thought. Moisturizing, like brushing our teeth or shampooing our hair, falls comfortably into that camp. Squeeze (or scoop, or pump), rub in, and maybe repeat—all with our eyes half open as we groggily start our day. But here’s a paradigm shift: Your technique is just as important as the product itself. 

We spoke with celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau, and asked her exactly how we should be applying our favorite moisturizer—and what we’ve been doing wrong this entire time. Find out if you're as guilty as we are!

Renée Rouleau Glow Enhancing Cream $70
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The Hydrating Trick

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“Yeah, yeah, we know all of that already,” you say. Be patient, young grasshoppers—we’re about to share a simple tip that might just change everything. If you like to take your sweet time between all of your skin steps—perhaps getting lost in a Tinder swipe-fest after applying your toner and serum—it’s time for a wake-up call: You need to apply your moisturizer as soon as you possibly can. “Alcohol-free toners are an important step in skincare, but in order to get the full benefits, you must leave it damp on your skin before applying your serum or moisturizer,” Rouleau says. Why? “Your skin cells are like fish—they need water to live, so leaving a toner damp on your skin is a great way for your moisturizer to lock in all the hydrating benefits that toners offer. It doesn’t have to be dripping wet—just damp.”

Rouleau says toner, serum, and moisturizer should occur within 60 seconds of cleansing to prevent moisture from evaporating. Even better, apply everything in your steamy bathroom after your shower: “Because the air is so dry in the winter, it looks for water wherever it can get it and this means taking it from your skin at its most vulnerable time after cleansing,” Rouleau explains. “In the case of a hot, steamy room, the evaporation still occurs but will be slowed down slightly so it can give you a little extra time to apply your product without worrying about dehydration.”

Intraceuticals Rejuvenate Moisture Binding Cream $69
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The Glow Inducer

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One last trick for glowy skin: Give yourself a facial massage with your moisturizer. “Dull, tired skin is oftentimes caused by lack of proper blood flow to the skin,” Rouleau says. “Immediately after applying moisturizer at night, when the skin is very moist, close your hand to make a fist and use your knuckles to massage the skin in small circular motions for two minutes.” She says this mini massage will gently stimulate blood flow to the skin and bring new nutrients to skin cells—a.k.a the precursor to every dewy complexion.

Our Favorite Moisturizers

Kate Somerville Age Arrest Anti-Wrinkle Cream $90
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Fresh Black Tea Age Delay Cream $90
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Lancer The Method - Nourish $125
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Korres Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel Moisturizer $34
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Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream $25
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