Damp or Dry Skin?

Putting serums on dry or damp skin will dramatically influence how much is absorbed and how fast it is absorbed. You can alter how well your skin care routine works by the type of water you wash with, the temperature of water you use, and how damp your skin is when you apply skin care products.

Wet skin allows hydrophilic ingredients like Vitamin C pass faster through the skin. 

Warm wet skin lets even more serum pass through.

Oils, on the other hand, absorb slower on wet or damp skin because they are lipophilic.

Is my skin damp or dry

Should I Put Vitamin C on Damp or Dry Skin?

Vitamin C is a hydrophilic ingredient. It should be placed on skin after it is cleansed with warm water and ideally a low pH cleanser. (Cleanser choice depends upon your Baumann Skin Type.)

Pat skin dry so that it is still damp and apply the Vitamin C serum before the skin dries. Cover with a moisturizer.

Learn more here about why applying Vitamin C to damp skin is better.

ascorbic acid, vitamin c

What is Damp Skin?

The word "damp" originates from the Middle Low German word "damp", which means "vapor" or "steam." The term began to be used in the English language around the mid-14th century. Initially, it referred to noxious vapors—often those found in mines—and later evolved to represent the broader concept of moisture or humidity. Today, "damp" is commonly used to describe something that is slightly wet, such as skin after a shower or grass after a light rain.

Damp skin is a term used to describe skin that is slightly wet or moist, often right after bathing or washing. Imagine the state of your skin after you've stepped out of the shower and lightly towel-dried; it's not dripping wet, but there's still some residual moisture. This is damp skin.

Why applying Products on Damp Skin is Good?

There are two main reasons:

  • Increased penetration of ingredients
  • Easier spreadability of creams and serums

Increased penetration of ingredients

The residual moisture on skin can be beneficial for skin care product application as products can absorb more effectively on damp skin.

Better spreadability

When skin is damp, the presence of a thin layer of water can significantly enhance the spreadability of creams. To understand this, it's helpful to think about how water behaves. It has a certain fluidity that allows it to spread across surfaces with ease, including the skin. When you apply a cream onto damp skin, the cream mixes slightly with this water layer. This mixture, being more fluid than the cream alone, spreads more easily across the skin's surface.

The water essentially acts as a temporary carrier for the cream, helping it disperse evenly. As the water begins to evaporate, it leaves the cream behind on the skin. This improved spreadability not only ensures a more even application of the product but can also make the application process feel more pleasant, contributing to the overall skincare experience.


Should I Put Niacinamide on Damp or Dry Skin?

Niacinamide is hydrophilic and should be placed on damp skin. Niacinamide is a PAR-2 blocker used to lighten skin, decrease inflammation and increase cellular energy stores.


Should I Put Retinol on Damp or Dry Skin?

If the skin is warm or damp, more retinol is absorbed. if you are having retinol side effects, then dry skin more thoroughly after cleansing before you continue with your skin care routine steps. To learn more about when to apply retinol in your skin care routine, read this blog.

salicylic acid

Should I Put BHA (Salicylic Acid) on Damp or Dry Skin?

I prefer giving my patients a salicylic acid cleanser rather than a BHA cream if they are a Baumann Skin Type that needs BHA. If you are using a BHA toner, cream or serum, I recommend applying t to dry skin to prevent skin irritation. Make sure you are using the best skin care routine for your Baumann Skin Type.

benzoyl peroxide

Should I Put Benzoyl Peroxide on Damp or Dry Skin?

Always let skin dry before applying benzoyl peroxide. It can be very irritating and putting it on wet skin increases absorption. Keep in mind that if you use a skin care product with hyaluronic acid in it after applying the BP product, it will increase benzoyl peroxide absorption and increase the chances of side effects.

Should I Put Skin Medications or Skin Treatments on Damp or Dry Skin?

All medications except retinoids and benzoyl peroxide should be placed on clean skin that is still damp and warm from washing. This will help absorption.

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

References on Damp Skin:

  1. Stoughton, R. P. (1965). Percutaneous absorption: influence of temperature and hydration. Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, 11(4), 551-554.
  2. Wurster, D. E. (1978). Some physical-chemical factors influencing percutaneous absorption from dermatologicals. In Skin-Drug Application and Evaluation of Environmental Hazards (Vol. 7, pp. 156-171). Karger Publishers.
  3. Adams, M. J., Briscoe, B. J., & Johnson, S. A. (2007). Friction and lubrication of human skin. Tribology letters, 26, 239-253.
  4. Highley, D. R., Coomey, M., DenBeste, M., & Wolfram, L. J. (1977). Frictional properties of skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 69(3), 303-305.
  5. Angelo, T., Barbalho, G. N., Gelfuso, G. M., & Gratieri, T. (2016). Minoxidil topical treatment may be more efficient if applied on damp scalp in comparison with dry scalp. Dermatologic Therapy, 29(5), 330-333.
  6. Kligman, A. M. (1989). Guidelines for the use of topical tretinoin (Retin-A) for photoaged skin. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 21(3), 650-654.
  7. Behl, C. R., Flynn, G. L., Kurihara, T., Harper, N., Smith, W., Higuchi, W. I., ... & Pierson, C. L. (1980). Hydration and percutaneous absorption: I. Influence of hydration on alkanol permeation through hairless mouse skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 75(4), 346-352.
  8. Behl, C. R., & Barrett, M. (1981). Hydration and percutaneous absorption II: Influence of hydration on water and alkanol permeation through Swiss mouse skin; comparison with hairless mouse. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 70(11), 1212-1215.
  9. Meuling, W. J., Franssen, A. C., Brouwer, D. H., & van Hemmen, J. J. (1997). The influence of skin moisture on the dermal absorption of propoxur in human volunteers: a consideration for biological monitoring practices. Science of the total environment, 199(1-2), 165-172.
  10. Marzulli, F. N., Brown, D. W., & Maibach, H. I. (1969). Techniques for studying skin penetration. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 14, 76-83.

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