Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
When it comes to skin, TikTok's beauty enthusiasts don't mess around. From Hyram Yarbro (aka Skincare by Hyram) to dermatologist Dr Shah, countless experts have achieved viral status for busting skincare myths and sharing invaluable insider knowledge. But you don't have to be a professional to let people in on smart skincare hacks you've discovered. Sure, there are some questionable tricks doing the rounds (using glycolic acid as deodorant, switching makeup primer for lube...) but once in a while, along comes a real gem.
In time for winter, TikTokers are making simple tweaks to their skincare routines, such as switching to heavier moisturizers with hydrating and repairing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, or swapping foaming cleansers for gentle, cream-based versions to protect dry skin. One intriguing technique that might have made its way to your algorithm is the 'wet skincare' hack.
Whether you're simply a moisturizer person or you like to tone, serum, moisturize and mask, the method consists of applying all your skincare products to slightly damp skin as opposed to patting your face dry with a towel and then slathering on your products. According to TikTok's skincare obsessives, the hack traps more moisture in the skin, which makes skin glow.
In a video, cosmetic chemist @mynameisrifah said: "When you dry your face and put your moisturizer on top, essentially you might not get the same benefits." She added: "If you want to make your skin a lot more plump and hydrated, you can definitely try this technique because it will work. If you suffer with dry skin, this is a technique you should definitely try out." She suggests washing your face and patting it with your fingers so that it's ever so slightly damp, then popping your moisturizer on top. "That way you get the ultimate benefits from your moisturizer," she said. "You can also do this with a face mist if you prefer."
Rifah isn't the only TikToker who advocates the damp skin hack. Dr Lindsey (aka @dermguru) suggests not totally drying skin and leaving it slightly damp for moisturiszr, while @skincarebynicola suggests that applying your skincare to damp skin will help it penetrate better and work more effectively. "Most skincare products contain humectants," he writes, which are ingredients that draw moisture into the skin. Nicola says they "work better in humid environments" and shows his followers just how radiant skin can become.
Like so many of us, my skin suffers when the winter weather hits. It becomes dull and dry and feels tight (almost like it might crack) so anything that helps me cling on to as much moisture as possible gets my vote. I cleanse in the morning but before applying my trusty vitamin C serum, moisturizer and SPF, I rub my skin dry with a clean towel. When the temperature plummets, my skin could do with a good glow boost, so I had to try this. Unlike other skincare hacks (TikTok's rice water toner or lipstick ice roller, for example) it didn't seem like much of a chore.
I've been practising this simple technique for just over a month and I'll never go back to how I applied skincare before I discovered it. Leaving my skin damp after cleansing, I'd apply my vitamin C serum and, while it took three times as long to absorb compared to dry skin, my complexion looked dewier and brighter instantly. My face is always slightly damp after the serum absorbs so I follow with moisturizer, which doubles the glow. Since adopting this hack, I haven't experienced the parched patches that tend to crop up on my eyelids or around my mouth. Hands down, my skin has never looked healthier or more plump. So much so, foundation is more of an option than a must. My skin feels better, too: smoother and much softer. I'll caveat this, though, and say I avoid the hack in the evening if I'm using very potent ingredients like retinol or exfoliating acids. Mainly because water may enhance the absorption of ingredients and these are already quite strong.
According to Dr. Kemi Fabusiwa, medical doctor and director of Joyful Skin, this hack really has benefits. "Your moisturizer will absorb better into a hydrated surface," she says. "Think of a sponge: it can absorb much better once it's already slightly damp, so the concept of adding your skincare products with wet hands may allow the products to seep into the skin better." The higher the skin's water content, the more youthful and supple the skin will look, says Dr. Fabusiwa. "Most of us will typically experience drier, dehydrated skin due to the harsher winter air causing higher levels of water loss. This leaves our skin flaky and tight with a weakened barrier. The best way to combat this is to infuse the skin with water and then try to lock in that hydration. The idea behind adding an extra bit of water alongside the moisturizer may therefore be beneficial to increasing the water content to the skin."
Dr. Fabusiwa says that those with dry, sensitive skin may benefit from an additional dose of water in particular. "As with anything in skincare, it's important to trial it and see whether this method works for you, though," she adds, and suggests trying this hack before applying any thick, creamy moisturizers to give you an initial boost of water that you can really lock in.
If you're looking to switch your lighter moisturizer with a more substantial version for winter, try Pai Skincare's Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Moisturizer, which is great for very dry skin thanks to a handful of nourishing oils and glycerin. If you have combination skin, you might like Dr. Jart+'s Ceramidin Cream, which includes ceramides to repair the skin's barrier in the harsh cold. If your skin is prone to breakouts, try The Ordinary's Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, which boasts hydrating hyaluronic acid to banish that taut feeling as well as moisturizing glycerin.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.