If you’ve ever watched a skincare routine video from your favorite vlogger, you’ve probably noticed that everyone has different ways of applying their products. But when should you pat a cream in versus rub it? And does it really make a difference? Read on to understand what these varying techniques mean for you and your skin.

Rubbing: That circular motion you use to drive products deep into your skin could do more harm than good. “Rubbing in skincare products can cause friction, stretch the skin, and break down collagen and elastic which will cause wrinkles and sagging,” explains Glow Recipe co-founder and co-CEO Sarah Lee.

Patting: “This technique is more gentle because it doesn’t tug or pull at your skin, and has the added bonus of helping with blood circulation,” Lee says. “It also ensures even distribution, which means that you’re getting the most out of your skincare, and is especially important around the delicate eye area, where patting is the priority.”  

When to Rub vs. When to Pat: Almost your entire skincare regimen — toners, essences, serums, moisturizers, and eye creams included — should be patted into the skin, since liquids, creams, lotions, and gel-based offerings absorb best with this technique. Leave the (gentle!) rubbing for cleanser application, where the motion helps activate the foam. 

To get the most out of your pat, apply the product to your hands and rub them together. This helps make sure you have an even layer on your hands. “Gently pat products onto the face, starting from the inside areas moving outward, applying the remaining product on your most oily areas, like the T-zone,” she says. “For an extra glow, pat an additional layer on the high points of your face.” 

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(Photo via Getty)