Why is Moisturizer Sticky? (We Have the Answer!)

why is moisturizer sticky

If you’ve found a moisturizer that looks and smells great, finding out that it leaves behind an unpleasant stickiness is a pain. Let’s answer the question: why is moisturizer sticky?

Moisturizer can feel sticky to the touch if it is applied in an incorrect order with other skincare products, if the moisturizer product is expired, and if the moisturizer is applied to the wrong skin type.

Usually, moisturizer is a healthy combatant to the sticky feeling that sweat and dirty skin can leave us with. However, if your moisturizer is leaving your skin sticky, it may be time to consider other factors, such as the shelf life of your product or the other elements of your skin care routine. In this article, we’ll cover the reasons why moisturizer may feel sticky.

Are Moisturizers Supposed to Be Sticky?

The simplest answer is, no, moisturizers should never leave your skin feeling sticky. All skincare cleansers and products should help your skin to feel fresh and hydrated. 

It is true that some moisturizers may feel sticky at the first moment of applying it: this is just because certain serums contain a silicone called dimethicone. Dimethicone forms a shield over skin to keep moisture in, and although it helps your skin stay smooth, it does cause a brief sticky feeling.

However, if that sticky feeling remains even after your skin should have absorbed the product, then something is not right!

Why Does My Moisturizer Leave a Residue?

Moisturizer leaves a residue when your skin is incompatible with the type of moisturizer you’re using. If you notice that your moisturizer product is leaving behind a balled-up or clumped residue, it is possible that the moisturizer is water-based.

Therefore, if you have oilier skin, that oil will not react well to a water-based moisturizer, and the tiny battle going on between your skin and your product will leave an unsatisfying residue on your skin.

Try switching to an oil-based moisturizer. If this doesn’t appeal to you, you can always exfoliate your skin first so that the moisturizer has less oil to compete with, and then apply a bit less of the moisturizer.

Why Does My Skin Not Absorb Moisturizer?

One of the causes behind stickiness after using moisturizer is the skin failing to absorb the product. Here are a few reasons you may be experiencing a failure of your skin to absorb moisturizer:

  • You’re wiping instead of patting – Instead of applying moisturizer the same way you would sunscreen, cause pressure and heat by gently tapping the moisturizer into your face. This pressure and heat opens the pores, allowing moisturizer to absorb easily.
  • You’re not exfoliating properly – Exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells and grime that can be blocking your skin’s access to moisturizer. Be sure to clear the way for moisturizer through exfoliation!
  • You’re not checking your product’s ingredients – There are some moisturizers that are more effective than others thanks to the ingredients inside. Make sure your moisturizer has plenty of tremella or hyaluronic acid, both of which will anchor moisturizer to the skin until it absorbs correctly.

Why Does My Face Feel Sticky?

If your face is feeling sticky after your skincare routine, even with moisturizer, you can find yourself at a loss on how to fix it. Check out the list below to see whether any of these problems are contributing to the stickiness of your face!

  1. Too Much Product Application
  2. Incorrect Skin Products
  3. Expired Skin Products

Let’s get a closer look at why these factors can cause your face to feel sticky.

Too Much Product Application

Sometimes, when we encounter a problem like dry skin, our solution is to smother it in product! Unfortunately, lathering on too many skin care products, including moisturizer, will only leave your face feeling sticky instead of dry.

Your skin responds to less rather than more. Only one toner, one moisturizer, and one serum is needed for any given routine.

Additionally, try applying less of each of your skincare items. For example, if you typically put six drops of moisturizer on your face, go for two or three instead. 

Remember that your skin can only absorb so much, and once it is overloaded, your products are layering together to create a sticky paste that will leave you uncomfortable.

Incorrect Skin Products

If you find that you’re being a minimalist with your skincare products, and applying them in carefully small doses, but your skin is still sticky, consider your skin type. Some skin types and moisturizers simply don’t mix.

If you have a skin type that naturally produces large amounts of oil, for example, a moisturizer that is water-based won’t sink in correctly. You’ll also find that using a thick moisturizer will only worsen oily skin conditions. 

Try switching to a lighter product. For example, if you previously tried a cream moisturizer, see how a gel moisturizer feels instead. You may find that a simple switch is all it takes to get rid of the stickiness!

Expired Skin Products

Sometimes you’re applying the right amount of the right type of product and you’re still feeling that awful stickiness afterward. If this is the case, check the expiration date on your moisturizer, and all of your skincare products!

When most skincare products expire, it is for several reasons. One could simply be it’s shelf life has run out. Another reason might be that your moisturizer product was contaminated, or was left out in the sun for too long.

Either way, expired moisturizer causes a major change in texture. If you’re applying the correct type of moisturizer for your skin type, and being sure not to overapply, your sticky moisturizer could be expired.


In summary, moisturizer is not supposed to feel sticky and should be carefully examined if that is the result you get out of using it. In addition to checking the expiration date of your product, be sure that you aren’t applying too much moisturizer. Don’t forget to compare the ingredients of your moisturizer to the skin type you have.

Being sure of your moisturizer brand is the best way to make sure it is working correctly and preventing that sticky feeling!

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