It’s easy to take moisturizer for granted. After all, it’s one of the most basic elements of any skincare routine, and so straightforward that there’s no way to mess it up—or so it seems. But there’s much more to moisturizer than just, well, moisturizing. To get the most benefits from yours (i.e. soft, smooth skin), keep these tips in mind.
Time it right
While slathering moisturizer onto skin is better than nothing at all, a little preparation beforehand can go a long way. “Applying moisturizer immediately after showering or cleansing allows the product to trap some of the water on your skin, keeping it from evaporating,” says Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. Engelman. This process is enhanced if your go-to moisturizer is a face oil. Botanical oils, like those in the Pure Radiance Oil, are naturally lipophilic (meaning they’re attracted to the other oils in your skin), so they penetrate more deeply than conventional creams.
Do a warm-up
The temperature of the water you cleanse with matters. Warm (but not hot) water is best, as warmth causes the pores and blood vessels to temporarily dilate, says Engelman, which allows moisturizing ingredients to sink in. That’s why you’ll often hear advice about warming your face oil in your hands before applying—the heat helps with absorption.
Handle with care
Enthusiastically rubbing moisturizer on your face won’t make it work better, and it may just end up aggravating your skin. Instead, try to “gently massage it into your skin in circular motions,” says Engelman. Plus, that mini massage can temporarily boost circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage to make skin appear brighter and less puffy.
Smooth the surface
Exfoliating regularly can boost the efficacy of your moisturizer. “A buildup of dry skin can create a barrier that prevents your skin from absorbing hydration, moisture, and nutrients,” says Engelman. Removing that barrier, conversely, helps those ingredients better sink into skin, where they can then work their magic. Try exfoliating twice a week with a gentle treatment like the Resurfacing Moisture Mask, which sloughs away buildup with lactic acid and replenishes moisture with avocado oil in one simple step.