We asked a dermatologist why it’s best to grease up when skin is still damp. Here’s what she said.

By Martha Upton
October 05, 2020
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You know all the things you’ve been saying you’ll do when you “have time,” like cleaning out your closet, washing your makeup brushes, and organizing your desk drawer? Well, like it or not, now we all have time. Why not channel your newfound freedom and energy into forming a post-shower routine that’s both relaxing for you and nourishing for your skin?

According to Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a celebrity dermatologist based in New York City, the best time to moisturize is right when you get out of the shower. “The few minutes after the shower can be very important,” says Dr. Engelman. “Applying oil and lotion on wet skin will allow the product to lock moisture in by trapping some of the water on the skin. Oils will help to penetrate into the dermis and deliver those anti-aging actives.”

I asked Dr. Engelman to weigh in on how effective five of my favorite post-shower products are and what makes them unique. Each product is meant to cocoon your skin in a gentle cashmere throw of anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, and everything else I imagine Glenda the Good Witch’s magic bubble is made of. Simply pick a serum or oil—depending on your texture preference—to draw in moisture on damp skin, then use lotion to seal in the nutrients and protect your skin from harsh winds, dry radiator heat, and other external favors that work to undo your handiwork. After, slip on your favorite robe and slippers, inhale, exhale, and feel a little better about life knowing you’re treating your skin well.

$45, nordstrom.com

Have you heard of Nécessaire? Its products are all sulfate- and paraben-free, come in fragrance-free options, and use 100 percent recyclable packaging, so you can feel good about your purchase. While body serum is a relatively new concept in the beauty world, it’s really a no-brainer. This serum packs a punch of nutrients for your skin, including aloe, glycerin, and niacinamide, which Dr. Engelman says all have great hydrating benefits.

$90, revolve.com

If you prefer how an oil feels as opposed to a serum, go for this one. Though pricey, Dr. Engelman says it’s worth the investment because it contains many oils. “Neroli and jojoba are great moisturizers to penetrate the epidermis and dermis,” she says. “Rose oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which are great for calming redness and sensitive skin.” It’s basically every kind of oil you could need packed into one gorgeous bottle.

$26, amazon.com

What’s great about this slightly more budget-conscious option is that, according to Dr. Engelman, grape seed is a carrier oil that helps penetrate the deepest levels of the skin and deliver other nutrients in the formula, such as linoleic acid, vitamins C, D, and E, and beta carotene for firming and tightening benefits. Herbivore is also known for its all-natural, cruelty-free, and paraben and sulfate-free beauty products.

$12, amazon.com

When your mom told you to apply lotion right after she taught you how to shave your legs for the first time, you probably ran out to your nearest Bath & Body Works and bought way too much of one in your new signature scent—“Sweet Pea” fans, represent. Some lotions are just too much for me. I hate when my skin still feels slimy hours after application. To me, that indicates it’s not really getting absorbed. This is the most basic body lotion I’ve found that I really don’t hate applying. The scent is inoffensive, and it sinks right in due to glycerin being an “excellent moisturizer,” says Dr. Engelman. It says “without feeling greasy” right on the bottle, and in this case, you can believe it.

$25, nordstrom.com

Well, well, well, what do we have here? It’s Nécessaire again! What I love about The Body Serum, I doubly love about this lotion, which is actually the first product I tested from this brand. Dr. Engelman says, “I like this one because it uses three oils, marula, cacay and meadowfoam sea oil, which will penetrate deep into the skin and hydrate.” Not to mention it’s packed with our old friend niacinamide—a form of vitamin B3 that repairs damaged skin— and, thanks to a cocktail of vitamins and omegas, actually improves skin’s elasticity and firmness over time.