We all like to think that we’re pretty good about putting on moisturizer and lotions—it seems easy enough, right? Just smooth it on and go. The truth is that we’re actually not quite the moisturizer application experts we believe we are … and we need to get better. Properly moisturizing your face and body every day can mean the difference between sad, dull skin and smooth, supple skin. The first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem, and with these much improved moisturizing tactics, you’ll be glowing before you know it.
Be sure to apply moisturizer evenly.
When you apply from the middle of your face, pushing outwards, moisturizer settles more abundantly at the perimeter of your face, which can cause clogged pores around the hair line and close to their ears, says celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau. “Hair products can cause this, but I also find that often it’s caused by the way people apply moisturizer,” she adds.
It’s especially important to apply moisturizer with SPF correctly.
Most people will apply it mainly to their face, then bring the leftovers down over the neck. Wrong! The solution is to treat these areas separately: Apply one nickel-sized amount to the entire face, then apply a quarter-sized amount to the neck, sides of the neck, and any exposed chest, says Rouleau. The neck is an extension of the face and needs attention too, especially if you want to avoid that dreaded sagging turkey neck as you get older, and maximum SPF protection is about how generously you apply it, not the SPF number, so that minimal amount on the neck won’t do much.
Be sure to apply moisturizer within 60 seconds of cleansing.
If you leave skin bare for more than a minute, it’ll start to dehydrate, as the dry air attracts moisture out from the skin. Applying moisturizer post haste after you step out of the shower will leave your skin protected and avoid the tight and dry feeling, Rouleau says.
Make sure you’re using the right moisturizer—and the right one for you.
Attempting to moisturize your face with the lotion you use on your body can lead to irritation and breakouts, says dermatologist Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael of Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser in New York City. The oil-based lotion you use to keep your knees and elbows smooth tends to clog pores on delicate facial skin and cause acne. Remember that the skin on your face is more delicate than the rest of your body—this is particularly true of hands and feet, which are much more resilient than most other areas. As for formulas, people with normal skin should use a light moisturizer that contains natural oils, whereas people with dry skin may require heavier lotions that can lock in moisture.
Read more: 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Moisturizer