is it better to pat or rub your skincare products

Are you Team Pat or Team Rub?

No, it’s not a new reality show. I’m talking about how you apply your skincare products. Should you rub them in or pat them on?

I used to be a rubber. Once that cream was in my hands, I’d scoop up a tiny bit and automatically rub it all over my skin. It was as natural as brushing my teeth.

Only… worse. Turns out, rubbing ain’t all that good for your skin. Patting your moisturizer in, like you’d pat your cat, is a much more skin-friendly way to go about it. Why?

Here are three science-backed reasons why patting your skincare on is better than rubbing it in:

1. Patting Is Gentler On The Skin

I made the switch to patting when I realised rubbing gives you wrinkles. For real.

Rubbing stretches the skin. All those extra movements ain’t good for it. They break down collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep skin firm and elastic. Without them, skin can’t snap back to its original, smooth place as easily as before. So, it wrinkles and sags.

That’s even more true for the eye area. The skin there is so thin, you have to be ultra delicate. Any rubbing there is a no-no.

Related: 8 Science-Backed Ways To Replenish Lost Collagen

Struggling to create an anti-aging skincare routine that really works? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started. It features product recommendations + right application order:

2. Patting Enhances Penetration (But Not In The Way You Think)

It’s not like if you pat it on, the cream gets through and if you rub it in, it stays on top. Skin doesn’t work that way.

Skin is a trusted friend that never lets much enter through its doors (unless it’s broken – then anything can get in). If it lets something in, it’s because it’s small enough or cos it has the extra help of a penetration enhancer, like alcohol or propylene glycol.

But skin couldn’t care less if you pat or rub your moisturizer in. If an ingredient doesn’t fulfill its entry criteria, it won’t get in.

So, how can patting enhance penetration?

Here’s the thing: have you ever rubbed something in so hard or for so long, you’ve actually rubbed it off your face rather than in? If half your moisturiser won’t stay on your face, not many of its goodies will get in.

Patting fixes this. It’s much harder to pat something off your face. The goodies stay on your skin, slowly sinking in.


NEVER rub sunscreen in. If you do, you won’t create an even layer all over your skin. Rubbing creates tiny holes that are impossible to see with the naked eye. But those pesky UV rays spot them immediately, finding their way through them and causing all sorts of sun damage.

Related: 4 Ways To Help Skincare Products Better Penetrate Your Skin

3. Patting Is A Multi-Tasker

When you gently pat your moisturizer in, you’ll get that moisturizer all over your skin AND still leave enough of it on your hands. 

See how soft those are too, now? And wirhout compromising its application on your face. Win win.

The Bottom Line

Rubbing your moisturizer in is so automatic, but your skin doesn’t like it. Pat it in with love and tender care: it keeps wrinkles off your face and makes your lotions and potions work much better.