Tips to optimize your facial moisturizer

Kim Hee-Seong

Image credit: Kim Hee-Seon for DHC Korea Commercial

We all know that moisturizers are a key component of basic skin care and they ought to be applied to our face after each cleansing and toning as one of the crucial steps to keeping skin youthful and healthy.  Moisturizers provide an immediate relief especially to dry skin and some are said to have anti-aging properties.  But do we really know how moisturizers work and the best ways to optimize them?

If you look up information on moisturizers, you will find that moisturizers are used to restore the barrier function of the epidermis, cover tiny fissures in the skin, provide a soothing protective film, and increase the water-content of the epidermis. 

The function of moisturizing compounds is to trap moisture in the superficial skin layer of dead keratinized cells. They work to keep water and necessary moisture from evaporating from the skin, thereby maintaining hydration and improving the appearance and tactile properties of dry and aging skin.

So what should we know about the application of moisturizers to make it work for our beauty regime?  Here, I’m just going to touch on five dos and don’ts which I’ve come to learn over time.

1.  Apply moisturizer to damp skin immediately after cleansing.

You may have read about this but you may not know why this is important.  Applying moisturizer to a damp face helps to lock in the water from the upper layers of the skin, preventing evaporation.   If you’re using a toner, always leave your toner damp before applying your moisturizer as the cream will help seal the hydrating benefits from the toner deep into the skin. Which is why it is always recommended to apply your moisturizer straight after cleansing your face.  Don’t apply your moisturizer onto a dry face as it wouldn’t be able to trap in the excess moisture.  But don’t apply to a wet face either because your cream will just slide off your skin.

2.  Don’t apply moisturizer around your eye area.

I know some have said they do this all the time and it makes no difference.  However, it should be noted that the skin around the eye area is different from the rest of the face.  Moisturizers can be too rich and some can cause the growth of oil seeds if used on the eye area.  In addition, the formulation of moisturizers can cause the delicate skin around the eye area to retain fluid and become puffy.  So stick to a eye cream instead.

3.  Don’t use a moisturizer with SPF at night.

While it is not really necessary to use a separate night cream to moisturize, one of the reasons why you would is because you might be using one with SPF protection.  A moisturizer or lotion with SPF should only be used in the day for obvious reasons.  Apply it in the night and you risk having your pores clogged in the long term. 

4.  Extend your moisturizer to your neck.

Remember to use your moisturizer on your neck as well, applying in an upward stroking motion.  Most people tend to neglect their necks in their beauty regime but applying moisturizer is probably the most basic you can do.

5.  Let your moisturizer dry before applying your foundation.

I always find that my foundation becomes streaky when I’m in a hurry.  I realized that the trick is to always wait at least 5 to 10 minutes for the moisturizer to dry before putting on my foundation.  Alternatively, I sweep a dry brush over my face before applying my foundation.  The same applies when you apply sunscreen to your face.

I am aware that these tips aren’t rocket science but still, I know many women aren’t completely optimizing their moisturizers or using them the right way. Well, at least I know I didn’t at the beginning and I’m still learning along the way.


  1. Linda says:

    Thanks for the info. This is very useful. I cant believe that I have been using my face creme incorrectly.

    Ive been using an eye creme and my eyes been puffing up even more, do you know why?

    Thanks in advance

    Linda: I’m not too sure. Eye creams shouldn’t cause that problem. Has there been changes in your diet too? Puffy eyes as I understand is mainly cause by fluid retention. How about trying to put that eye cream in the fridge and see if it helps with the puffy eyes upon application. Otherwise, you may want to change your eye cream.

  2. Laura D says:

    Thanks for the info. It sent me running for a new night cream. And I’d never thought about the SPF thing with night cream.

  3. CC says:

    Thanks for the useful information. I like your blog and will come and visit when I have time. Happy new year!

  4. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for the tips!
    When you are using treatment creams such as Retin A and other topical treatments, what is the order for using the creams and moisturizer? Is it moisturizer first and them cream, or cream first and then moisturizer?

    Tiffany: Most topicals recommends that you apply the moisturizer before. But you need to make sure that the moisturizer is completely absorbed so you need to wait like 15 mins or more.

  5. Red says:

    What is an oil seed?

    Red: Hi, it’s also known as milia seeds, which are embedded whiteheads and some are as hard as rice grains and have to be pricked out with a sterylized needle.

  6. j.brown says:

    Wonderful tips. Thank you.

  7. foxyqt says:

    thank you! this is very helpful =)

  8. emmy says:

    Some very useful tips presented nice and simple, thanks!

  9. Lucy Wilcock says:

    Great tips. I’ve always waited for my toner to dry before applying moisteriser!

    Are there any benefits to keeping toner/eye cream/moisteriser in thr fridge?

    Lucy: Yes, keeping your skincare in the fridge keeps the products fresher, without having their ingredients degrade so quickly. However, take note that the fridge isn’t always the cleanest place due to bacteria surrounding the food items…so you need to ensure your hands are clean too, or keep the products in a bag or something…

  10. Jinna says:

    omg….i hav a spf moisturizer that i put on before mi foundation, but it wont moisturize mi face all the way…and during the schoolday….mi skin turns like crusty…i hate it….i lose confidence tthat happening to me….can u help me….i need a good moisturizer thats not super expensive..

    Jinna: You didn’t mention your skin combo and it’s hard to recommend anything not knowing that.

  11. Nouf says:

    I am a 23 yr old guy.Please tell me how can I remove the marks left by the pimples on my face?

    Thanks in advance

    Nouf: I know natural carrier oils like rosehip oil and vitamin E can help some people with these scars. You can also try using nutmeg powder mixed with water or yogurt and apply to your scars for 20 mins before washing off. But you need to persist and continue till the scars fade. I know there are medications out there that can help your problem too. I suggest you run through the search engine and find some of these information on the acne boards or forums.

  12. Kathereen says:

    i have oily T-zone area but the are near my neck is dry and flaky. do i need to use moisturizer? I am 25 years old by the way

    Kathereen: Yes, you need a moisturizer but you don’t need to apply too much on your t-zone. Concentrate on your dry areas. In the day, if you use a sunscreen and it is moisturizing enough, then you can keep the moisturizer or just moisturize your dry areas. You may also like to read my entry on dual skin care strategy for combination skin to get some tips.

  13. Jae says:

    Wow. i am so glad i stumbled onto this site.. really changes the way i apply moisturizer since i’ve been doing it wrong this entire time!

    Jae: Hey, you’re not alone. I also did not do it correctly in the past. Better late than never.

  14. Jae says:

    thank you btw ?

  15. hatel says:

    hi…can i apply my anti acne cream after applying moisturizer.. my anti acne cream i like a night cream…

  16. sesame says:

    Your your acne cream is rich, then I suggest just applying that and nothing else.

  17. AA says:

    Hi Sesame, great article!
    What’s the difference between cream, moisturiser and gel – for the face and for the eyes?
    You mentioned in #2 about not putting moisturiser around the eye. I have just started using Akin’s Ginkgo & Chamomile, Revitalising Eye Night Creme. Is this ok?
    Can Akin’s serum be put around the eyes?
    How about rosehip oil?

  18. titus says:

    what if i am applying sunscreen first before my moisturiser?

    should i wait for the toner to dry before slapping on the sunscreen now or should i apply it when it is damp

  19. Michelle says:

    After all these years, i have learned the value of applying primer before my makeup! It fills in any wrinkles and my makeup just glides on. Also, I use a special creme for my neck and decollete because your neck and chest is much thinner than your face. You need smaller molecules to absorb into your skin and my neck creme contains caffeine and oat kernel oil that has a slight tightening effect. Love the stuff!

  20. jacy says:

    hello just like to say i really enjoy reading all your posts, especially those on suncare (; mm you mentioned in this post that it is futile to use pdts with spf at night. im not sure if im wrong about this but from what i’ve read up on, we are still vulnerable to uv ray when we’re indoors or/and at night because the rays are emitted from our lightings, television and even computer screen? is this true (;

  21. sesame says:

    Hi Jacy: Thanks for reading my blog. Come back often. ?

    Here’s a post I wrote about the UV at night. Very insignificant so nothing to worry about.

  22. Bella says:

    Do I have to store in fridge la prairie caviar luxe cream?

  23. Adam says:

    I’m a guy and always had problems because I put my moisturizer too close to my eyes and they would get pink and irritated. Thanks for the tips!

  24. Abbie says:

    Hi, those tips were very useful thank you!
    My moisturizer is nivea soft, and it does seem to do the job and works well on my face, but am I meant to apply it at night or in the day? because if I apply it in the day my face becomes really stretchy, your advice would really help please!!

  25. Sesame says:

    What does the instruction say? Does it specify day or night usage? If it has SPF, then it’s definitely day. I also don’t understand what you mean by your face becoming stretchy? Do you mean scratchy? If it’s that, then maybe some ingredients in there are causing the issue.

  26. sophie says:

    Hi! Am I8, I got ST. Ives soothing oatmeat and shea butter body moisturiser just of recent but I don’t know if I can rely on it…. If u think its not good enough, pls prescribe one for me, hw to gt it and at least affordable pls. Tanks

  27. michaela says:

    do you know of a good drugstore spf thats really high that wont clog pores?

  28. Sesame says:

    I’m not sure if La Roche Posay or Vichy is available where you are…where I’m based, they’re drugstore brands although they do cost a bit higher than the usual.

  29. Barbara says:

    When i apply my moisturizer my skin is damp from toner but lately every moisturizer I try balls up on my face in clumps? What can i do to prevent this from happening?
    Barbara last post is: Why you don’t want to use castor oil around your eyes

  30. Sesame says:

    Have you been exfoliating your skin? If not, I would advise you to do so.

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  32. Rosie Beckett says:

    You make a great point that moisturizer provides immediate relief to dry skin and has anti-aging properties. I will definitely think about using moisturizer more because I live in a very dry climate and it would help my skin to stay hydrated! Also, I will make sure to not apply moisturizer around my eyes and I am glad that you share this tip because I had no idea that it can cause your eyes to become puffy.

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