Skincare tips & advice
How To Moisturize Your Face
Facial moisturizers are one of the most important steps in any skincare routine for hydrated, healthy-looking skin. Not only does moisturizing your face feel great, but it can also help support your skin’s health and appearance long-term. This essential skincare step delivers much-needed hydration to your skin, while locking in moisture and supporting your skin’s protective barrier. In this CeraVe guide, learn how to moisturize your face correctly with five simple moisturizing tips — including when to moisturize, how often to moisturize, and how to choose the right CeraVe moisturizers for your skin’s needs.
When it comes to moisturizing your face, there are many misconceptions out there that can lead people to make avoidable moisturizing mistakes (or skip using moisturizer altogether). However, daily moisturizing can have many benefits as long as you have the right information on how to properly moisturize for your skin’s unique needs. To help ensure you’re on the right track, we’ve asked some of our consulting board-certified dermatologists to share their top face moisturizing tips. Discover these tips below, along with skincare advice on how to moisturize for hydrated and healthy-looking skin.
Facial Moisturizing Tips
- Apply moisturizer to clean, damp skin every day
- Use a moisturizer with SPF during the day to hydrate and help protect the skin in one single step. When using sunscreen, always reapply as directed and use additional sun protection measures.
- Moisturize as the last step in your nighttime skincare routine.
- Choose non-comedogenic and fragrance-free formulas.
CeraVe Tip: Check out this video playlist and browse even more face moisturizing tips and advice from board-certified dermatologists on CeraVe’s Advisory Board.
Face Moisturizing Tips
1. Apply moisturizer to clean, damp skin daily
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best time to apply moisturizer is immediately after cleansing, when your skin is clean and slightly damp.1 This is when your moisturizer will be most effective at trapping moisture in your skin and preventing it from evaporating. “It’s all about locking in moisture,” says Dr. Daniel Sugai.
If your skincare regimen includes additional steps between cleansing and moisturizing (such as toning), this same rule applies. Simply apply your products in their usual order, but don’t wait for your skin to fully dry between steps (in order to keep your skin slightly damp). In general, your skincare routine should start with the lightest formulas and progress to the heaviest. This means that your cleanser should come first, followed by toner, serum, eye cream, and lastly, moisturizer (with SPF for daytime).
2. Use a moisturizer with three essential ceramides
“The skin barrier is vital to skin health—[it’s] our first line of protection from the elements,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Daniel Sugai. A healthy skin barrier is essential for keeping moisture in and potential irritants out, and when it’s disrupted, it can lead to a variety of skin concerns over time—such as dryness, dullness, and irritation. Using a moisturizer with hydrating ingredients and emollients—including ceramides, which make up approximately 50% of the skin's lipids that help form your natural skin barrier—can help support and maintain your skin’s moisture barrier.
”Ceramides are part of the glue that holds our skin cells together and builds a nice skin barrier wall to help protect our skin from the allergens and irritants on the outside,” explains Dr. Sugai. This helps keep the “good stuff” in (such as water), according to Dr. Sugai, which helps your skin remain “plump and hydrated.”
Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe moisturizers feature a blend of three essential ceramides that are identical to those found naturally in your skin. Learn more about the science of Cerave’s three essential ceramides in The Ceramides Difference.
3. Use a moisturizer with SPF during the day
For daytime, it’s important to choose a face moisturizer that supports your skin’s hydration and offers protection from the sun’s harmful rays. ”Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is extremely damaging to the skin,” explains Dr. Sejal Shah. “Not only is it a primary cause of skin cancer and precancerous lesions, but it also leads to premature skin aging, wrinkles, and dark spots.”
For this reason, Dr. Shah recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or above every day. And, according to Dr. Daniel Sugai, this advice is relevant all year long—no matter the season—even on cloudy days. “There's still a good amount of UVA radiation that comes through the clouds,” explains Dr. Sugai.
Dr. Sugai also recommends wearing sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF anytime you’re going to be near a window, like when driving. “You should still wear sunscreen if you're by window glass, because [of] that UVA radiation,” he says. “Those rays can penetrate through window glass,” explains Dr. Sugai, which means they can still cause harm to your skin.
For a daytime moisturizer option with broad-spectrum SPF 30, try CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion With Sunscreen to both moisturize and help protect. This morning multitasker locks in skin’s moisture and helps maintain your skin’s protective barrier. It also features MVE Delivery Technology, which continually releases moisturizing ingredients for all-day hydration. This oil-free moisturizer is meant to be part of your daily skincare regimen and should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure.
Remember to reapply every two hours, along with using other protective measures—like wearing protective clothing and limiting sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (per the U.S. Food & Drug Administration [FDA] guidelines).2
Note: If your daytime moisturizer does not include SPF, it’s important to apply a separate broad-spectrum facial sunscreen and body sunscreen in the morning after your moisturizer, even when staying indoors or on cloudy days.
4. Moisturize as the last step in your nighttime skincare routine
Applying face moisturizer as the final step in your nighttime skincare regimen is an effective way to hydrate your skin overnight and help prevent moisture loss while you sleep. For a lightweight nighttime moisturizer option, try CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. This unique formula features niacinamide, as well as three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It helps calm and soothe your skin, while it moisturizes throughout the night and helps restore the protective skin barrier. It also uses MVE Technology to deliver a steady stream of much-needed moisture throughout the night, and offers an effective, yet gentle way to care for your skin.
5. Choose non-comedogenic and fragrance-free formulas
Facial moisturizers aren’t a “one-size-fits-all” skincare essential. They’re available in a wide range of formulas to suit different preferences, skin concerns, and lifestyles. For example, many moisturizers for sensitive and dry skin are formulated without fragrance, since fragrance chemicals may cause skin reactions in some people. On the other hand, “non-comedogenic” moisturizers (which are formulated not to clog your pores) may be beneficial options for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
CeraVe’s facial moisturizers—including our AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion and PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion—are formulated with dermatologists to be fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and suitable for many different types of skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should use a face moisturizer?
Everyone can benefit from using a daily moisturizer. “Facial moisturizer is very important whether you're young [or] on the older side,” says Dr. Daniel Sugai. He notes that moisturizers help protect your skin from external aggressors, such as changes in weather, which can leave your skin feeling dry, and tight. The right moisturizer can help “maintain that good skin equilibrium.” According to Dr. Sugai, “A facial moisturizer just kind of [helps] keep everything happy and it helps replenish and restore your skin barrier.”
How often should I moisturize my face?
Dermatologists generally recommend moisturizing your face twice per day. According to Dr. Sugai, it’s best to make moisturizing part of your daily routine, “just like brushing your teeth—morning and night.” Similar to your daily cleanser, facial moisturizers require consistent use in order to enjoy their full benefits and achieve soft, vibrant-looking skin. If you’re concerned about over-moisturizing or need additional guidance on how often to moisturize for your skin’s specific needs, consult with a dermatologist. And remember, if you are relying on your moisturizer with sunscreen for sun protection, you should reapply as directed.
How much moisturizer should I use on my face?
Face moisturizers, which are designed for use on your entire face (and neck), should always be applied per the instructions on the product label. The “right” amount of face moisturizer can vary depending on your skin type and texture of your chosen formula (ointment vs. cream vs. lotion, for example).
A general rule of thumb is that you should apply about a dime-sized amount of moisturizer for your entire face when using creams and a nickel-sized amount when using face lotions. When applying a daytime moisturizer with SPF, you’ll also want to ensure that you follow the directions on the product’s label.
What are the top skin-hydrating ingredients to look for?
There are many moisturizer ingredients you can look for when your skin needs hydration. Dr. Adeline Kikam recommends "hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, [which] is a humectant [that] helps draw moisture into the skin.” Dr. Daniel Sugai agrees, adding that “extra hydration is always a plus.”
Dr. Sugai and Dr. Kikam also like to focus on ceramides. “You want an intact moisture barrier so [that] you can retain the hydration brought in by ingredients like hyaluronic acid that help plump and keep your skin healthy," says Dr. Kikam. “Ceramides [are] emollients [that] help with that moisture barrier,” she explains.
All CeraVe moisturizers are formulated with three essential ceramides, as well as other skin-supporting ingredients, including hyaluronic acid. Developed with dermatologists, our formulas are designed to lock in moisture and help maintain your skin’s protective barrier.. To learn more, head over to Ingredients in CeraVe.
Why is using a face moisturizer with SPF important?
“A facial moisturizer with sunscreen is a really important part of your skincare routine,” says Dr. Daniel Sugai. “It moisturizes, hydrates, and also helps protect your skin from UV radiation.” Dr. Sugai recommends incorporating a facial moisturizer with sunscreen into your skincare routine, regardless of skin type or time of year, and reapplying at least every two hours throughout the day.
What does “SPF” stand for?
SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor.” This number represents a measure of how well a sunscreen product helps protect against UVB rays. So, the higher the SPF value, the greater the protection against sunburn. For example, a product with SPF 30 filters approximately 97% of UVB rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.3 Dr. Daniel Sugai recommends looking for a moisturizer with SPF that is “broad-spectrum,” which helps protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Why is using a moisturizer with SPF important for skin of color?
People with skin of color can experience sun damage, including visible signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. And while having more melanin in your skin offers some protection, it isn’t enough, Dr. Daniel Sugai explains. “You need to have additional sunscreen on top of that to protect your skin.” Sunscreen, according to Dr. Sugai, helps “filter UVA [and] UVB rays that can cause DNA disruption, [as well as] hyperpigmentation and photoaging changes in our skin.” For his patients with skin of color, he recommends using facial sunscreens or moisturizers with sunscreen daily.
Why is my face so dry even when I moisturize?
Because dry skin on your face can have many root causes, such as those mentioned above by Dr. Sugai, it may not always be resolved by your moisturizing regimen alone. That’s why it’s important to consult with your doctor or a board-certified dermatologist if your skin is chronically dry or you experience flaky, scaly, or cracked skin that bleeds or is painful to the touch. In some cases, this may be a sign of an underlying illness or skin condition and require a proper assessment and treatment plan.
Next, keep learning about how you can care for your skin using CeraVe’s gentle, fragrance-free skincare products in our cleansing guide. And, if you’re ready to create the habit of using a moisturizer with SPF, sign up to take our 21 Day Challenge.
- “How to Pick the Right Moisturizer for Your Skin.” American Academy of Dermatology Association, 2022.
- “Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun: From Sunscreen to Sunglasses.” S. Food and Drug Administration, 10 Sept. 2021.
- “Ask The Expert: Does a High SPF Protect My Skin Better?” The Skin Cancer Foundation, 26 Mar. 2022.
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