Possible Reasons Your Face Feels Sticky After Your Skincare Routine

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Skincare is healthcare, and for many, it is also self-care. Keeping your skin hydrated and putting on sunscreen to protect it from harmful UV rays is vital to skin health, but the process of applying your skincare is pretty important too. The sensory experience you have during your skincare routine should be just as enjoyable as the health and aesthetic benefits. This is why cosmetic companies spend a lot on both formulation and texture, as the right feel can elevate the experience and effectiveness of your beauty products (per Beauty Matter).


Yet, there are times when your skincare products do not apply well, leaving your regimen feeling a bit lacking. This could be because a cream is too thick and hard to spread, a mask is too thin, runny, and hard to put on, or your skincare leaves behind a sticky feeling after your routine. According to BeBeautiful.in, your skin should look and feel hydrated and healthy after a good skincare routine, not tacky or clammy. If this isn't the case, here are a few reasons you might be getting that sticky feeling instead.

Layering your skincare wrong

Skincare can be fun to play around and experiment with, but it is also a science. As Health Essentials by Cleveland Clinic confirms, the order in which you apply your skincare products will affect how your skin absorbs them, and in turn, how they feel on the skin. Applying your skincare in the wrong order can cause your products to pill or clump up, rendering them ineffective as they become unable to penetrate the skin (via Sundree). Plus, it can leave behind sticky buildup.


According to Christine Byer Esthetics, here's the correct order in which to apply your skincare: cleanser, eye serum or eye cream, actives or treatments, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. The gist is to go from the product with the lightest consistency to the thickest one. Layering well is crucial as it ensures some products penetrate the skin's layers while others like mineral sunscreens stay on the surface where they work. A bad sandwich of products is sure to be both ineffective and sticky.

Using expired skincare products

There's a good reason why beauty products come packaged with expiration dates or the open jar symbol, which signifies the Period After Opening (PAO) time frame — in other words, how long they're safe to use after opening. When you use your beauty products past their expiration dates or the number of months stipulated on the PAO symbol, they not only become dangerous to health, but they can also change in texture and become ineffective (per Green Matters). Makeup products like expired foundation can go from smooth to lumpy, while your expired mascara can go from silky to flaky. And it's the same with skincare.


Your face might feel sticky after your routine because your products are expired, have gone through a change in texture, and need to be thrown out. As The Klog points out, this is especially true with products like moisturizers and serums that contain volatile ingredients like vitamin C. In addition to potential stickiness and texture issues, Dermstore lists changes in the smell and color of your products as other signs of expiration. So it's best to throw products out if you notice these changes.

Applying too much product at once

If you're an avid follower of beauty content on social media, you've probably seen a few viral videos where skincare creators show off the appropriate amount of different skincare products to use in your routine. Well, there's a reason for that. According to Eminence Organic Skin Care, it turns out how much or how little product you apply can affect how effective your skincare routine is, and how overloaded your face feels after. Where you need about two finger-long streaks of sunscreen for your face and neck, you only need a nickel-sized amount of moisturizer and a dot of eye cream the size of a grain of rice, per Dermacare Direct. Applying too much of a product or even too many products at once in your routine can cause your face to feel sticky.


You should also give each of your products ample time to settle into your skin. As dermatologist Kim Nichols explains to Allure, waiting between steps will let your products absorb better and prevent skincare pilling. For example, dermatologist Hadley King suggests waiting five minutes after applying a serum before adding your moisturizer, as this may help decrease stickiness (via Skincare.com).

Using the wrong products for your skin type

If you're layering properly and using fresh skincare products but still experiencing gooey, tacky skin, there may a more personal reason. Your skin could feel sticky because the ingredients in your products are in a concentration or consistency not suited to your skin type. No two complexions are exactly the same, and it's important to build a skincare regimen that's unique to your skin's needs. 


For instance, there can be a big difference between the products recommended for dry, combination, or oily skin types. Thicker moisturizers are not advised for oily skin because they feel heavy on the skin and can leave a greasy finish (via The Strategist). So if you're experiencing a feeling of stickiness after your current regimen, gel or water-based moisturizers may be a better choice as they sink into the skin quite nicely, leaving it soft and supple (per Dermolex).