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Face Moisturizing Etiquette: How To Do It Right And Avoid Costly Mistakes

by Judit Meszaros January 14, 2020 1 Comment

Face Moisturizing Etiquette: How To Do It Right And Avoid Costly Mistakes

Moisturization is a keystone in any skincare routine. I know this firsthand as I live in a cold, dry region (like much of Canada), and it tends to zap the moisture out of my poor skin cells. I’ve had days of dull, blemished complexion which only a good moisturizer could save.

So I explored various products, and I’ve been reading and listening to experts about skin moisturization. One thing I’ve learned is this: just because a lotion says “skin moisturizing” doesn’t mean you can just slap it on your face and it will work great on you. Sometimes, it can even cause adverse reactions! Frustrating, I know, but a lot of people have learned this lesson, too.



There’s a certain etiquette to this skincare practice. If you want to moisturize your way to glowing skin without spending a ton on products, understand first the whys and hows of face moisturization. Here, I’m sharing my Moisturizing 101, plus tips and tricks from skincare experts.

Why We Need To Use Face Moisturizers

Regardless of your skin type and regardless of the climate in your area, moisturizing is essential for healthy skin. Yep, even if you have oily skin, or even if your complexion is the clearest it’s ever been, there are still science-based reasons to moisturize.


The top layer of our skin tissue is called the epidermis, and this layer itself has an outermost covering called the stratum corneum. This stratum keeps out irritants and keeps in hydration (water) to maintain the health of our skin cells.

Now, one of the important components of this layer are phospholipids, which are little fatty molecules that line up to form a membrane around our cells. Think of them as a special barrier that keeps water in. A healthy epidermis has a good amount of phospholipids. Unfortunately, our skin loses phospholipids every time we shower, use harsh soaps, and get exposed to dry air and UV rays. Plus, the natural degradation that comes with aging also diminishes the lipids on our epidermis.



The result? Our skin cells lose hydration, forming a complexion that’s less robust, prone to flaking, sagging, wrinkling, and irritation.

Enter moisturizers. These products aid our skin either by attracting moisture or preventing it from leaving the epidermis, or both.

If you have oily skin, you may be wondering why you still need a moisturizer. After all, you already have too much shine than you can handle! Actually, moisturizing is one skincare step you shouldn’t skip.

The culprit behind oily skin is the overproduction of sebum (oil) from your skin’s sebaceous glands. This is your skin’s protective response to a harsh environment. It is NOT an indication that your skin cells have too much moisture. If you over-cleanse your skin, trying to strip it of oil, your sebaceous glands will only produce more sebum in response to the squeaky dryness.

Instead of obsessively rubbing your face with harsh chemicals, start moisturizing. The key is hydration. When you maintain well-hydrated skin cells with the help of a moisturizer, your sebaceous glands don’t have to go haywire with the sebum. Of course, choose a moisturizing cream or lotion that’s specifically formulated for your skin type.

Face Moisturizing 101: How To Apply A Moisturizer

Hopefully, at this point, I’ve convinced you enough to start shopping around for a good face cream (wink, wink). Now it’s time to maximize the power of your moisturizer by applying it the right way. This is actually important because improper application can prevent skincare products from working their best -- you’d just be throwing your money down the drain!

First, a word on the correct skincare order. Generally, you would slather on the lighter products first, then work your way to the thicker, creamier ones. To be more precise, here’s the right order of application of skincare products:


Daytime regimen

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Day Serum
  4. Eye cream
  5. Spot treatment
  6. Moisturizer
  7. Sunscreen

Nighttime regimen

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Night Serum
  4. Eye cream
  5. Spot treatment
  6. Moisturizer
  7. Retinol

As you can see, it’s recommended to use moisturizer twice daily. And the ‘When’ matters a lot. The optimum time to apply moisturizer is when you’ve just stepped out of the shower or just washed your face, as damp skin absorbs the product much better and has more moisture to lock in. Ideally, get your slathering on within three minutes of towel-blotting your skin.

Follow these steps to properly apply moisturizer on your face:

  1. Take a pea-size(or as needed) amount onto your palm and gently spread between both hands.
  2. Apply first on the driest part of your face (typically the cheeks). When doing your cheeks, massage the product in gentle, circular motions using the pads of your fingers. No aggressive rubbing -- it’s your skin, not your dinner plate!
  3. Apply to the rest of your face: your T-zone (forehead and nose), your chin, and your ear area. Stay gentle!
  4. Apply to your neck and decolletage area, too! This body part is too often neglected, yet a dry, saggy neck is a huge visual factor that makes people appear older. As early as now, keep moisturizing it as you would your face. Massage the product on the decolletage area with gentle upward motions that lift the skin.

Do’s And Don’ts Of Skin Moisturizing, According To Experts

I’ve picked up a lot of these moisturizing lessons from personal experience, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are expert tips and tricks on how to best moisturize your face:

    • DO choose your moisturizer wisely. You have to take account your skin type, the type of product (cream, lotion, or ointment), as well as the ingredients in it. The professionals at WebMD give us this handy guide on skin type-moisturizer pairings, as well as ingredients to avoid.
    • DO perform a patch test before you commit to a product. This is a rule of thumb in skincare. How to do a patch test? Apply the cream or ointment on a small area on your neck, says cosmetic surgeon Dendy Engelman. Do this for a week and see how your skin reacts to it before starting to use it on your face.
    • DON’T just pile on oils on your face. Coconut oil and olive oil are widely known as inexpensive skin softeners, but they could also harm your skin. As Dr. Josie L. Tenore explains, such oils are comedogenic, meaning they easily clog pores, causing pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads. The dermatologist adds that these oils are not even as intensive in moisturizing as some people claim. Scientifically-formulated moisturizers are typically better options after all.
    • DON’T overstay in the shower. Have you noticed how your skin feels parched after you’ve just washed it? The chemicals in soaps and shower gels are a major reason for that, as well as the hard water from the tap. To avoid excessive skin drying, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using warm water rather than hot water (try cold water if you’re feeling adventurous!), and limiting your shower time to 5 to 10 minutes to prevent the excessive stripping of your skin’s natural protection barrier. They also remind us to use gentle cleansers, and to moisturize right after
    • DON’T just use a night cream in the daytime. There’s a reason night creams and day creams are labeled differently! According to dermatologist Lily Talakoub, our skin’s maximum state of repair happens at night, during the REM stage of sleep. Night creams are designed to help this recovery process. So if you put them on in the morning, you’re basically just wasting the product’s repair function by exposing your skin to damage after recovery. Doesn’t make sense, right?
      Even more, night creams are loaded with retinol (vitamin A), which encourages the replacement of old skin cells with new ones. Retinol is a go-to ingredient for anti-aging, but the catch is that the newer skin that develops starts out thinner, more delicate, and more photosensitive (vulnerable to UV rays), explains cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger. You definitely don’t want to expose your retinol-treated skin to a lot of sunlight. Use your night cream only after sundown to allow your skin to renew in gentler conditions.
    • DO keep moisturizing even when you have acne. Of course, there’s a chance your current brand is triggering a breakout, but don’t dismiss moisturizers completely. Consider switching instead. The key here is to find a non-comedogenic moisturizer, says derma director Dina D. Strachan. Remember, moisturization is NOT just adding grease to your face. It’s keeping your skin cells hydrated so they are more resilient to damage and infections. Leaving your skin dry actually makes it more prone to acne flare-ups.

One thing I would add to this list -- and I’m sure dermatologists recommend as well -- is to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Really, these two things make a whole world of difference to your complexion. Just try eating healthy for two weeks or so, and you’ll start to notice amazing effects. If you don’t know where to start, we have a guide on easy-to-find foods that do wonders for your skin. Check it out!

Hope this face moisturizing guide proves helpful to your skincare routine! If you have more tips on moisturization, I’m all ears. Oh, and maybe drop by the Glowing Orchid shop to start finding your next skincare favourite.

Until then, happy glowing!


xx Judit



Additional References and Further Reading

How to moisturize your skin” on Harvard Health Publishing

Importance of Moisturizer in Your Skincare Routine” on Early Care

Does Oily Skin Need a Moisturizer?” on VeryWell Health


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Judit Meszaros
Judit Meszaros


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December 30, 2020


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