How Long to Leave Moisturizer on Your Face?

Knowing how long to leave skincare products on for is important to get the full benefits out of them. Perhaps most important of all is the moisturizer. How long to leave moisturizer on your face?

You only need to leave moisturizer on for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until your face is fairly dry, before applying sunscreen or makeup. “It is a myth that you need to wait a long time for products to sink in” says Rachel Nazarian M.D., a dermatologist in New York. Your skin is able to absorb products very quickly.

The ingredients in moisturizers, such as peptides, ceramides, antioxidants, etc, can take longer to fully absorb into the deep layers of the dermis. But the surface of your skin only takes 30 seconds to a minute to become fairly dry after applying moisturizer and so you can then apply your other product after – sunscreen and/or makeup.

Read on to learn more about how long to leave moisturizer on including tips for each skin type.

How Long to Leave Moisturizer On?

Applying moisturizer doesn’t only treat or prevent dry skin. It also prevents you from experiencing serious skin problems in the future. This means that whether you have a skin problem or not, you must apply moisturizer on a daily basis.

Application of skin moisturizer, however, varies. The product used by a person with normal skin might not be applicable for someone with dry skin. More so, if you have dry skin, you might have to moisturize more often than someone with normal skin. Suffice it to say that you might have to put moisturizer on more than twice a day. You might have to apply a stronger product too.

I’ve earlier mentioned that you have to leave your moisturizer on for about 30 seconds to 1 minute before you apply sunscreen and makeup. Also, I’ve mentioned that you should at least moisturize your face and body twice a day. But this lenth of time can vary slightly for different skin types. Below we’ll look at the following skin types:

  1. Normal Skin
  2. Dry Skin
  3. Oily Skin
  4. Sensitive Skin
  5. Mature Skin
how long moisturizer on for

1. Normal Skin

Normal skin means that your skin’s not oily and not dry. But you nonetheless have to maintain the balance of your skin’s natural moisture – hence why we need to apply moisturizer.

I recommend water-based moisturizers for people with normal skin. This should leave you with a non-greasy feeling. You should apply this daily after thoroughly cleaning your face both in the morning and at night.

If you’re going to wear makeup, wait for your skin to absorb your facial moisturizer for about 2 minutes. The same thing goes for your body. If you’re going to apply sunblock lotion, wait for your skin to absorb your moisturizer for about 2 minutes – unless your moisturizer already contains SPF.

At night, it’s best not to apply any other facial cream on your skin right after you apply your moisturizer. There are times when you should apply another cream on top — like when you apply an anti-aging cream or sunscreen. In this case, make sure that your other facial creams don’t have harmful ingredients. Most importantly, apply them about 1 minute after you apply your facial moisturizer.

I recommend the same thing if you plan to apply other types of body oil or cream. First, make sure that they don’t have harmful ingredients. Second, apply them at least 1 minute after you apply your moisturizer.

2. Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, you must restore your skin’s moisture. It’s important to know that even if you have oily skin, there’s a tendency for it to become dry at times. In which case, your dry skin condition is mild. You can treat it using over-the-counter moisturizers. I recommend buying oil-based or petroleum-based products.

Over-the-counter moisturizers for dry skin are, in most cases, used twice a day — in the morning and in the evening. Before you apply anything else, wait for your skin to absorb your moisturizer for about 2 minutes.

But there are times when you’ll feel uncomfortable with your dry hands, arms, or legs. It’s as if you want to apply moisturizer all the time. If you encounter this, then try a normal-to-dry skin product. That way, you can apply it as often as you want.

Your dry skin might still make you uncomfortable even after applying moisturizer. If you experience this, then go see a dermatologist. You might need a stronger product which may not be available over the counter.

3. Oily Skin

If you have pimples and blackheads, you most likely have oily skin. Your skin is prone to acne and your complexion is shiny. It also means you have open pores. You might then have to clean your face every so often.

You might ask, do you still need moisturizer even if your skin is already oily? The answer is yes. It will prevent skin damage caused by UV rays or pollution. It can also control the oil that your skin produces. Thus, it prevents your skin from becoming too shiny.

There are over-the-counter products to moisturize oily skin. Like the products for other types of skin, you can use this twice a day. But if your skin issue persists, consult your dermatologist for appropriate treatment.

Again, wait for about 2 minutes before applying any other cream on your face or body. But if I may recommend, don’t put anything else on your skin anymore. You may only do so if it’s approved by your dermatologist.

4. Sensitive Skin

People with sensitive skin are those whose skin gets easily irritated. It’s not only about having dry or oily skin. But it’s about having skin allergies or skin diseases. If this is you, then you should immediately consult your dermatologist.

If you have sensitive skin, then you just can’t apply any product anytime you want to. You also can’t use over-the-counter products unless approved by your doctor.

In most cases, moisturizers for sensitive skin contain aloe vera or chamomile. They contain stronger ingredients for skin repair and natural moisture retention.

You most likely don’t apply any other cream on your face and body if you have sensitive skin. But if you do, wait for a couple of minutes for your skin to absorb the moisturizer.

How long to leave moisturizer on before you can reapply it? You should apply moisturizer every 8 to 12 hours. There are products that provide oil balance for only 8 hours. There are some that last for 10 or 12 hours. You should check the packaging for the exact instructions. Better yet, clarify this with your doctor.

5. Mature Skin

As we age, our skin grows older too. It means our glands don’t produce that much oil anymore. This is why our skin becomes drier over the years. So for ature skin types, it’s best to buy an oil-based or petroleum-based moisturizer — with added ingredients. Buy a product that will not only maintain your healthy skin but will also prevent skin damage. For instance, buy a moisturizer with anti-aging ingredients. It will help you strengthen your dermis.

If you have mature skin, you have to work doubly hard to hydrate your skin. Before you apply makeup, leave your moisturizer on for at least 2 minutes. This way, you’re sure that your skin’s absorbing the moisturizer well. The same thing goes if you apply other types of cream or lotion for the body. You must first leave your body moisturizer on for 2 to 5 minutes.

Moisturizers for mature skin may be used twice every day. If you feel like using yours more often, make sure to get approval from your dermatologist first. Otherwise, you might not achieve your desired result.

See the below video for more tips on using moisturizers including how long they should be left on your skin:

Conclusion – How Long to Leave Moisturizer On?

So, to recap, how long to leave moisturizer on? Moisturizer only needs to be left on for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until your face is fairly dry, before applying sunscreen or makeup.

Most dermatologists will tell you that it is a myth that you need to wait a long time for products to “sink in”. The reality is that your skin is very effective at quickly absorbing products. Once you apply a moisturizer, you only need to wait until the surface of your skin is fairly dry or dry enough before applying the sunscreen or the makeup – and this only takes about 30 seconds with a thin layer of moisturizer.

This applies for normal, dry, oily and sensitive skin types. Only those with mature skin types need to perhaps leave moisturizer on for a bit longer, about 2 to 5 minutes, to let it absorb fully.

If you have mature skin, you might want to leave your moisturizer on for approximately 5 minutes. That way, you’re sure that your skin’s absorbing the moisturizer well.

Also, don’t wash off your moisturizer, just apply a thin enough layer so the skin surface absorbs and dries in a few seconds. Then you can apply your sunscreen and makeup. When reapplying your moisturizer, the ideal duration is every 8 to 12 hours.

You have to make sure that before you put your moisturizer on, both your face and your body are clean, and slightly moist so that the moisturizer locks in the moisture. If you apply sunscreen after your moisturizer (which you should do! Unless your moisturizer contains sunscreen), then let the sunscreen absorb for at least a minute before applying makeup.

With these tips in mind, your skin will be hydrated and well protected each and every day.