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While sunscreen is arguably the most critical step in your daily skincare routine, moisturizer is a close second. An effective moisturizer can do everything from repairing the skin's barrier to smoothing texture, all while maintaining your skin's hydration.
According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael, you should "apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer after washing your face," both A.M. and P.M. And while you might slather on a formula with full-spectrum SPF in the morning, you'll want to use something without sun protection at night.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
We've picked Cetaphil's Hydrating Lotion as our best overall drugstore face moisturizer because it instantly plumps your complexion and provides all-day moisture. We also love that it comes in a hygienic pump bottle. For a budget friendly option, consider the Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream, which uses fruit extracts and glycerin to soothe and lock in moisture for 24 hours.
Whether your complexion is extra-dry, oily, sensitive, or acne-prone, there's a lotion, cream, or gel out there with your name on it. Tons of wonderful formulas exist for every skin type, many of which don't cost an arm and a leg. Enter: drugstore moisturizers. "Drugstore" is kind of a loose term these days, but the point is, these formulas offer affordable, effective hydration—and you can find many of them at your local convenience store.
We conducted hours of research on the best drugstore moisturizers, evaluating each on their active ingredients and how effective they were at hydrating—while considering price and accessibility. Combined with expert recommendations from Dr. Dele-Michael and our product testers, we landed on these top-rated picks.
Scroll down for the best drugstore face moisturizers currently available.
Best Overall: Cetaphil Facial Hydrating Lotion
Air-tight pump dispenser
Who else recommends it? CNN also picked Cetaphil Facial Hydrating Lotion.
What do buyers say? 88% of 38,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Cetaphil is one of few drugstore brands most dermatologists can agree on. The no-nonsense, non-comedogenic Facial Hydrating Lotion flaunts a lightweight, oil-free formula. This affordable skincare essential is great under makeup but also nourishing enough for your nighttime routine.
Thanks to hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and powerful humectants, it instantly plumps your complexion and provides all-day moisture. Though this moisturizer was made with dry skin in mind, it's suitable for most other skin types. We also like that it comes in a hygienic pump bottle and absorbs notably fast.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, humectants | Skin Type: Dry, combination, sensitive | Size: 3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Budget: Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream Face Moisturizer
If you don't want to spend more than a few bucks on a face moisturizer, we recommend Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue. Containing antioxidant fruit waters and skincare standbys like glycerin, this brilliantly lightweight gel-cream gets the job done morning or night.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, vitamin E, grapefruit extract | Skin Type: Combination | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best With SPF: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 30
Full-spectrum sun protection
If you take a one-and-done approach to skincare, you'll appreciate Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer. This sunscreen-lotion combo nourishes and calms with oat kernel extract while delivering full-spectrum SPF 30 protection from the sun's harmful rays.
Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium oxide, oat kernel extract | Skin Type: Sensitive, dry | Size: 2.3 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Editors Say
"I've tried all the moisturizers out there at many price points, and this is my trusted brand that helps keep my redness at bay." — Dwyer Frame, Dotdash Meredith VP of Commerce
Best for Sensitive Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra-Sensitive Skin Face Moisturizer
Air-tight pump dispenser
Dr. Dele-Michael is a big fan of La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra, and it's easy to see why. Formulated for sensitive skin, this soothing, fast-absorbing face lotion contains mineral-rich thermal spring water, neurosensine, and shea butter to help restore the skin's natural barrier without irritation.
Active Ingredients: Thermal spring water, neurosensine, shea butter | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1.4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"It kept my skin moisturized at a time when it needed it most, and it never felt heavy or like it didn’t seep into my skin like other moisturizers." - Leigh Wingus, Product Tester
Best for Eczema-Prone Skin: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Approved by National Eczema Association
Good for face and body
Eczema-prone? Reach for CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. This tried-and-true drugstore moisturizer can be used on your face or body to hydrate and calm irritated skin. What's more, its gentle yet effective blend of hyaluronic acid and ceramides earned approval from the National Eczema Association.
Active Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Eczema-prone, acne-prone, dry | Size: 16 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
"This moisturizer is not only extremely hydrating, but it also feels effective on sensitive skin conditions. It's not too heavy or oily and doesn't sit on your skin." - Jen Adkins, Product Tester
Best for Mature Skin: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
Promotes cell turnover
Formulated with mature skin in mind, Olay's Micro-Sculpting Cream contains plumping and regenerating niacinamide (vitamin B3), extra-hydrating hyaluronic acid, and pro-elasticity peptides. With one billion sales and counting, the iconic red jar has your back when it comes to minimizing fine lines and preventing volume loss.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, amino-peptides, niacinamide | Skin Type: Mature | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
"Each morning, I woke up with hydrated skin, and no retinol-induced flakey patches." - Bianca Lambert, Product Tester
Best for Oily Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin
If your skin is on the oilier side, your best bet is Neutrogena Hydro Boost. This superstar gel-cream delivers oil-free hydration with hyaluronic acid and olive extract while preventing clogged pores.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, olive extract | Skin Type: Dry, combination | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Dry Skin: Era Organics Oasis Super Hydrating 16 in 1 Moisturizer
For folks with parched complexions, we highly recommend Oasis by Era Organics. This all-natural face cream contains ultra-moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, avocado oil, cocoa butter, and hemp seed oil, plus healing manuka honey and calming aloe vera.
Active Ingredients: Manuka honey, aloe vera, avocado oil | Skin Type: Dry, eczema-prone, combination | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Combination Skin: Nyakio Baobab Youth-Infused Daily Defense Creme
If your complexion can't decide whether it's dry, oily, or sensitive, Nyakio Baobab has your name on it. This daily moisturizer cream replaces the skin's natural oils with baobab oil and shea butter, then gently lifts and plumps with coffee extract and glycerin.
Active Ingredients: Baobab oil, shea butter, glycerin, coffee extract | Skin Type: Combination, dry, mature | Size: 1.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best K-Beauty: CosRx Advanced Snail 92 All in One Repair Cream
Good for all skin types
CosRx is a shining star in the Korean beauty industry and an up-and-comer in the western drugstore market. The brand's beloved Advanced Snail 92 Cream contains 92 percent snail mucin, an all-natural source of ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid. While the formula isn't vegan, CosRx says no snails are harmed in the manufacturing process.
Active Ingredients: Snail secretion filtrate (hyaluronic acid) | Skin Type: All | Size: 3.5 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Natural: Adiva Naturals Complexions Herbal Facial Moisturizer
Good for all skin types
For those who prefer au naturel formulas, we suggest the Herbal Facial Moisturizer from Adiva Naturals. Good for all skin types, this nourishing lotion contains gentle yet effective ingredients like aloe juice, glycerin, coconut oil, witch hazel, willow bark extract, and sweet almond oil.
Active Ingredients: Aloe juice, glycerin, coconut oil, witch hazel | Skin Type: All | Size: 4 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Dark Skin: Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer
Full-spectrum sun protection
No white cast
Air-tight pump dispenser
Can have an oily finish
Bolden's multi-action Brightening Moisturizer delivers serious hydration and hyperpigmentation relief, plus full-spectrum SPF 30 protection. Formulated with melanin-rich skin in mind, the zinc-free formula goes on clear and won't leave a white cast.
Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Lightweight: ROSEN Skincare Tropics Moisturizer
Helps with hyperpigmentation
If it's lightweight hydration you're after, you can't go wrong with Rosen Tropics Moisturizer. The virtually weightless formula hydrates with hyaluronic acid, boosts radiance with kojic acid, and ever-so-gently exfoliates with pineapple enzymes.
Active Ingredients: Kojic acid, hyaluronic acid, pineapple enzymes | Skin Type: Acne-prone | Size: 2 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best With Retinol: LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream Moisturizer
Air-tight pump bottle
Can be used morning and night
For those interested in a retinol-infused formula, we suggest LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream. The mild yet effective lotion helps combat the appearance of fine lines, acne scars, and dullness while moisturizing with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, green tea extract, and vitamin E.
Active Ingredients: Retinol, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, vitamin E, green tea extract | Skin Type: Mature, acne-prone | Size: 1.7 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael, MD FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic dermatology and dermatologic surgery. She is the founder of Radiant Skin Dermatology & Laser in New York.
- Dr. Lucy Chen, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, Florida.
The best drugstore face moisturizer overall is Cetaphil Facial Hydrating Lotion. It stands out for its lightweight, non-comedogenic, oil-free formula that absorbs quickly and delivers all-day moisture—extra points for the air-tight pump bottle. Our favorite budget-friendly option is the Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream, which will keep your complexion hydrated for 24 hours. However, if you want something with sun protection, go with Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 30, which offers full-spectrum defense with a 100 percent mineral formula.
What to Look for in a Drugstore Face Moisturizer
Ceramides and/or Hyaluronic Acid
According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lucy Chen, these are two of her favorite tried-and-true hydrating ingredients to seek out. Because, after all, you want your drugstore moisturizer to moisturize, right?
Consider Your Skin Type
Chen says skin type is really the most important factor to consider. Oily? Seek out oil-free variants. Have sensitive skin? Make sure your pick is fragrance-free. Super dry? Thicker, oil-based options are your BFF.
Moisturizers with SPF are always a good thing, just make sure it's labeled as 'broad-spectrum' to ensure you're getting protection from both UVA and UVB rays, says Chen, and ideally an SPF of 30 or more.
How do you apply a drugstore face moisturizer?
Dispense about a dime-sized amount onto clean hands. Next, dab equal amounts onto your forehead, cheeks, chin, nose, neck, and décolletage (chest). Then spread it around and gently rub it in until it's fully absorbed.
How often should you use a drugstore face moisturizer?
Dr. Dele-Michael says you should apply moisturizer after washing your face, whether it's once or twice a day. Some people might opt to apply it following a toner, serum, or ampoule. And those with extra-dry skin may want to apply moisturizer more often. However, an oil-free formula is best in this case to avoid clogged pores.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Theresa Holland is a seasoned commerce writer with a background in lifestyle and beauty. For this story, she interviewed board-certified dermatologists and researched various ingredients and formulations for different skin types. Before making her final selections, she looked at dozens of products, pored over user reviews, and considered each brand's formula and manufacturing process. From this list, she is partial to Cetaphil, CeraVe, La Roche-Posay, Aveeno, Era Organics, Olay, CosRx, and LilyAna Naturals. Theresa has been writing for Byrdie since 2020, where she covers skincare, makeup, haircare, and workout apparel.
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