Getting the most out of your moisturizer

To make the most of your moisturizing routine:

  • Be willing to experiment. Find a moisturizer that fits your skin type and makes your skin look and feel soft. You may need to try several brands with varying ingredients before you find one you like.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. You may choose a moisturizer that contains sunscreen, which performs double duty by both hydrating your skin and protecting it from sun damage.
  • Don't necessarily buy the most expensive brand. Just because a moisturizer is expensive doesn't mean it's more effective than a cheaper product.
  • Apply moisturizers immediately after bathing. Pat or blot your skin until it's just barely dry, then apply moisturizer immediately to help trap water in the surface cells.
  • Apply moisturizer to your hands and body as needed. Apply after bathing or showering, before exercising outdoors in cold weather, and every time you wash your hands. Although often ignored, your hands get more exposure to irritants than do any other part of your body.
  • Use heavy creams appropriately. Don't use any heavy creams on your face unless you have excessive dryness. You can use heavy, oil-based creams on your legs, hands and feet because those areas tend to be drier.

Not all moisturizers live up to their advertised claims or even contain all their advertised ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate cosmetics — including moisturizers — as rigorously as it does drugs.

If a moisturizer doesn't improve the condition of your skin or you notice skin problems after using a moisturizer, see your doctor or dermatologist. He or she can help you create a personalized skin care plan by assessing your skin type, evaluating your skin's condition and recommending moisturizers likely to be effective.

Feb. 01, 2014 See more In-depth