You most likely use a face moisturizer to make your skin look and feel healthy, whether you’re a skincare beginner or somebody with an extensive daily routine. And if you don’t, you should begin using one.
Choosing the best face moisturizer
Study the formula’s consistency
When it comes to moisturizers, not all formulas are created equal. To find the best one for your skin type, you’ll need to check the consistency of the product you’re using.
People with oily skin should use a light, oil-free moisturizer with hydrating properties. People with dry and sensitive skin should use heavier, balm-like formulas that do not clog pores. We recommend those with oily skin stick to gel-based moisturizers for better hydration. Emollient creams are thicker and have a higher ratio of plant-based oils to humectants.
If you’re not sure what moisturizer would be best for your skin type, ask your dermatologist or search the ingredients list on the product’s website.
Check the ingredients
When looking for a moisturizer, it’s important to consider the ingredients. We recommend looking for a moisturizer with humectant and occlusive properties to prevent dryness, irritation, and other skin issues.
Humectants attract water while occlusives provide a barrier against moisture loss (e.g., trans-epidermal water loss).
You can customize your moisturizer by adding ingredients beyond moisturizing for your skin. For example, you might want to add an antioxidant like vitamin C or E to help fight free radicals that can damage the skin.
Try to stick with a formula with the fewest total number of ingredients possible, plus bonus ingredients beyond moisturizing the skin. That way, you know exactly what’s in your product, and you can be sure it won’t cause any adverse reactions.
Focus on your skin type
When choosing a moisturizer, it is crucial to think of your skin type, and the best moisturizer is the one you need. Your moisturizer should be labeled “dry” or “sensitive if you have dry skin.”
Different moisturizers are targeted to different skin types and pre-existing concerns, with ingredients like water and glycerin being common in all variations. Moisturizers should be part of your morning and evening skincare routines.
It is also important to know how to apply moisturizer to get the most out of it. Depending on your individual needs, you may need to use more or less product or apply it in a certain way for optimal results.
Adjust according to the current season
You should adjust a moisturizer based on the climate in which you live. The cream should never feel weighed down with products, so it’s important to look at your skin condition throughout the year and adjust accordingly.
You may need to choose between a gel or cream based on skin type. Doctors generally recommend lightweight gels for oily and humid climates, while light creams are recommended for dry and cold climates.
That said, here’s a list of the face moisturizers we tested and found the best available on the market.
Best across-the-board: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
Finding the best overall face moisturizer can be a challenge. But with so many great options on the market, it’s worth taking the time to find one that fits your needs. If you’re looking for a product that combines all the best ingredients to take care of your skin, we recommend Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream.
It contains the optimal combination of humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, emollients such as triglycerides, and occlusives to hydrate, strengthen the skin barrier, and seal moisture. In addition, it contains anti-aging peptides and niacinamide, which help with skin tone and texture. It is fragrance-free and also appropriate for sensitive skin.
This cream comes in at $20.37 on Amazon.com – making it one of the more affordable options on our list. And with over 10,000 reviews, it’s clear that this product is loved by many!
Best for mixed skin: Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream
The Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream is an excellent moisturizer for combination skin. The product promises to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and restore the skin’s natural moisture balance while leaving behind a healthy glow.
This formula’s stars are Japanese purple rice, Okinawa algae blend, hyaluronic acid, and botanical extracts. Together, these ingredients safeguard the skin barrier against contamination and stress, smoothen and nourish the skin, and aid in retaining moisture. We found the formula to be “rich and creamy with a gel-like consistency,” which means it will fight dryness without putting the skin down or making it excessively oily — particularly for those with mixed skin types.
Best for oily skin: Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb
Belif’s True Cream Aqua Bomb is a lightweight, water-based gel cream. According to the manufacturer, it is designed to increase your skin’s hydration level by 70 percent, leaving you with silky skin. This type of light nourishment is ideal for oily skin.
The True Cream Aqua Bomb from Belif is practically weightless as a water-based gel cream. This formula contains hydrating glycerin and hyaluronic acid in a gel that will not weigh down the skin.
The Aqua Bomb left testers feeling moisturized and nourished 12 hours later. The scent is strong but not overwhelming. Some testers saw a noticeable difference in skin texture after just a few uses of the Aqua Bomb. The Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb was not irritating, but we don’t recommend it for sensitive skin.
Best for delicate skin: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
If you have sensitive skin, the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream is the best face moisturizer. It’s free of essential oils, silicones, fragrances, and vegan.
The formula is packed with peptides, growth factors, and amino acids to help contribute to youthful-looking skin. The cream is lightweight and hydrating, and it can be used as a primer for your makeup.
It’s scentless, making it perfect for sensitive skin types. You only need a small amount of the product to work its magic on your skin.
Best for acne-prone skin: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer
If you have acne-prone skin, Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream is a great moisturizer to try. It contains high-tech ingredients, like a 30 percent hyaluronic acid concentration, which helps maintain hydration in the skin. The product also has an immediate cooling sensation and leaves behind a dewy finish.
The water-based formula is perfect for cleansing and moisturizing your skin without causing any irritation. The product is unscented and lightweight, making it ideal for those with acne-prone skin types. One of our testers experienced pilling when layered on top of other products, such as retinol or AHAs; however, this moisturizer is still a good choice if you’re looking for something that will help keep your skin hydrated.
Best for dry skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Dry skin is a common issue that many people face, and it can be challenging to find the right moisturizer that hydrates the skin without making it feel heavy or greasy. We recommend First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream. The brand itself is known for its efficacious products, and this cream is no exception: the formula contains ultra-hydrating shea butter and soothing colloidal oatmeal to quench dry skin.
We recommend this cream for dry, flaky, or itchy skin. It’s basic but reliable, making it an excellent option for those who don’t want complicated moisturizers. The Ultra Repair Cream is thick and rich, which can sometimes make it difficult to blend in; however, we found that the cream could live up to its “fast-absorbing” and “long-term hydration” claims. If you want a summer moisturizer, this cream won’t be the best option, but it’s definitely worth checking out for those with dry skin!
Best face moisturizer with SPF: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer With SPF
If you’re looking for a great face moisturizer with SPF, La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer With SPF is excellent. Dermatologists recommend the daily use of sunscreen; therefore, having a moisturizer with built-in UV protection simplifies daily application. This is why we praise La Roche-Toleriane Posay’s Moisturizer, which is a superior moisturizer with SPF 30.
This product contains the optimal balance of humectants, such as glycerin, emollients, ceramides, and occlusives. Additionally, it contains niacinamide, which aids in improving skin tone and texture, and SPF 30, suitable for sensitive skin. Plus, the moisturizer is non-comedogenic, oil- and paraben-free, and it has a rich, creamy consistency.
Best splurge face moisturizer: Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
Look no further than Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream for a glamorous moisturizer experience; this product blew us away with its sensory properties. According to the manufacturer, this cream supports cellular renewal to dramatically improve the complexion’s appearance — precisely the signs of aging, such as fine lines, skin elasticity, and hyperpigmentation.
We loved the rich, smooth and creamy texture and the ease it absorbed into the skin. Our testers reported feeling hydrated, radiant, and even healed on problem areas. One tester said that it reduced her chin acne, resulting in a more even skin tone. Neither of our testers experienced skin sensitivities during testing.
Best pharmacy face moisturizer: Cetaphil Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion
Finding a good face moisturizer can be tricky, especially when you’re looking for one that’s affordable and easy to find. If you’re on the hunt for a reliable drugstore moisturizer that won’t disappoint, check out the Cetaphil Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion.
This lotion is non-comedogenic, packed with hydrating humectants and emollients to lock in moisture. It contains glycerin, glyceryl stearate, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E — all ingredients known to hydrate the skin quickly. The formula is lightweight, easy to apply, and leaves a nourished finish after hours of wear time.
Cetaphil is fragrance-free and lightweight — perfect for people on the go who want an easy-going face moisturizer they can rely on. And best of all? The bottle is ideal for traveling or storage in a cabinet at a great price point.
Additional moisturizers we tried
We also tested the Youth To The People moisturizer, which contains hyaluronic acid and is light in texture. It was easy to spread and use. However, some testers found that the scent caused breakouts on their acne-prone skin.
Tatcha’s Water Cream absorbed seamlessly into the skin but showed no improvement over time. Although this cream is lightweight, it may not be enough hydration for those with dry skin.
Dermatologists recommended the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, but it didn’t make our list. This moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which are great for the skin barrier and the lipid film on top of your skin that helps keep moisture in (aka your “skin barrier”). It’s also non-comedogenic, so you don’t have to worry about clogging your pores or causing breakouts!
La Mer’s Crème De La Mer is too heavy for most people to wear, but it does have some benefits, including reducing wrinkles.
The CeraVe AM Moisturizing Lotion With Sunscreen left one of our testers with breakouts, but it does the job well if you’re looking for lightweight hydration. It’s a morning moisturizer with SPF and contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides like the other CeraVe moisturizers.
One of our testers tried Neutrogena Oil-Free Daily Moisturizer, which also features Miracle Broth and lime tea. Although this moisturizer didn’t leave her skin feeling as hydrated as she would have liked, it is a popular option for oily skin.
Lastly, we tried Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich, which didn’t quite meet its “oil-free” claim. This cream is more expensive than the Aveeno moisturizer, but they are both good options for SPF 15 moisturizers with natural light diffusers.
Nexym's editorial team handpicks all of the products and services it recommends, regardless of external influences. Affiliate links appear in some of our stories. We may receive an affiliate commission if you purchase something through one of these links, which helps us stay independent and support our great team.