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Damp vs dry skin in oil application


Could you please help me out with this one?

I was wandering about application of oil on damp skin.

I regularly use plant oils for body and facial care and I always apply
them on damp skin. But yesterday, as I was about to apply my facial oil,
my mind was somewhere else and I forgot to spray my face with thermal
water before applying the oil. I immediately noticed what had happened
because it was much harder to rub in and I didn't really like the fact
that I was pulling on my skin that much, which doesn't happen when the skin is
damp since water makes it slippery.

But then I remebered that I read how hair absorbs (coconut) oil better when it is dry, and that it should be applied on wet hair only if we want to restrict the amount of oil abrorbed by hair. Is that true? And if it is, does it apply to skin, too?

I understand that when using oil as a moisturiser we would want to apply it on damp skin in order to lock in the water.

But suppose my goal is not so much to use oil as a moisturiser, i.e. an occlusive, but to benefit from its other qualities too, such as vitamins, fatty acids etc. In that case, I would want the oil to penetrate as deep as possible. And since oil and water don't mix, and the skin is in fact water proof, does application of oil on damp skin prevent oil from penetrating as deep as it would if the skin was dry?

In short: would I get more benefit from plant oils I applied them on dry skin?

Kind regards,



  • Great question! I've never seen any data on this but I suspect that applying water to damp skin will not significantly impede its penetration. (Skin ALWAYS contains some water.) 

    Applying oil to wet skin should moisturizer better since you're locking in some of that water. (Even though moisturizing is not your main goal).
  • Thanks, Randy :)
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