This Is Why Your Moisturizer Isn't Working, According to Dermatologists


Fast results are typically preferred by most people, especially when it comes to uncomfortable skin conditions such as dry skin. But for some, no matter how much product they apply, it can feel like nothing is working. If you have dry skin and lotion doesnt work to improve it, or it seems like your moisturizer is doing nothing for you, theres likely a reason. Below, you can find out how to ensure your moisturizer is effective and how to combat dry skin by tweaking your routine.

Apply Your Moisturizer Correctly

First order of business: Stop rubbing and wiping. If you normally just slather your moisturizer all over your face like its sunscreen, Christine Chang and Sarah Lee—co-founders of Glow Recipe—say thats a key reason your moisturizer isnt working: "Instead of your usual application method, try gently patting your skincare in. This action increases pressure and also heat, both elements that help your skincare to absorb better."

Chang and Lee add that "patting" in your skincare products is a time-honored tradition in Asia (and we cant get enough K-beauty, so were taking this patting method as gospel). Additionally, Dr. Ava Shamban of Beverly Hills says to apply moisturizer right after washing your face, when your skin is still damp, for best results.

Make Sure to Exfoliate

You may have a build-up of dead skin cells an might need to exfoliate more. Chang and Lee explain that the buildup of dead skin cells over time doesnt allow your products to properly penetrate the skin. Were big fans of these exfoliating pads from Go-To, which use natural AHAs to give you a quick exfoliation when you dont have time for a mask.

Remember to exfoliate regularly, which will "clear a path" for your moisturizer to absorb better.

Choose Moisture Boosting Ingredients

"Moisture magnet ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, ceramides, and natural alternatives to hyaluronic acid such as tremella are good places to start—these create a moisture reservoir of sorts in the skin and anchor moisture where the skin needs it the most," say Chang and Lee.

Were currently obsessed with these ceramide capsules from Elizabeth Arden that you can just break open, squeeze out, and apply to your skin for a seriously softening experience before hitting your moisturizer.

Choose the Right Formula For Your Skin Type

Choosing the right formula for your skin type is crucial. As you could probably guess, if you have oily skin, youll want to avoid thick, heavy, greasy moisturizers—not to mention the fact heavy creams might actually turn your skin immune to their effects! Says Shamban, "Overuse or overly thick creams can cause the skin to become dependent on the moisturizer and not work as well. Excess moisturizer can suffocate the skin." Noted. So if your skin is particularly greasy, even in dry winter months, Shamban suggests a light, oil-free moisturizer.

On the flip side, "Some people have oily skin because they do not moisturize enough," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Julia Siegel, MD. "The body overproduces oil to try to compensate. Because of this, I always recommend that my patients with oily skin use a thick moisturizer at night and a thinner moisturizer during the day. Using a thicker moisturizer at night actually decreases oil production during the day.

For combination skin, Shamban suggests using two different moisturizers: a light, oil-free moisturizer for oily areas and a richer cream for dry skin.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to treating dry skin. Last but certainly not least, Shamban says its crucial that you get into a groove and stick to a moisturizing routine. "It is so, so important to have a daily skincare routine—and use your skincare! We have all these great moisturizers sitting in our medicine cabinet, but if we don’t use them, they won’t work!

Using moisturizers in tandem with an effective cleanser, toner, and other topical treatments can also help accentuate the power of your products." Be consistent with your moisturizing routine; if youre not and then wondering why your moisturizer is ineffective, you have your answer right there.

Ask an Esthetician: The Perfect Regimen For Your Skin Type

Share your love