We Hunted Down the Best Drugstore Face Moisturizers—Here They Are

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Moisturizer may not be the most important product in a skincare routine (we're looking at you, sunscreen) but it's definitely an essential one. No matter your needs, from soothing sensitive skin to hydrating a parched complexion, the right moisturizer can help—that is, if you can find it.

Searching for the best moisturizer for your skin type can be a daunting task because of all the options, and some picks are downright expensive. If you're on a budget, the cost alone may sway you to ditch moisturizer altogether...but here’s the good news. There are plenty of great drugstore face moisturizers that pack a serious hydration punch at an affordable price. “Drugstore moisturizers stack up surprisingly well to their more prestigious options. Drugstore companies have refined and honed their products and made them more sophisticated and effective than ever before,” says Dr. Lucy Chen, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, Florida. The point being, you don’t always have to spend the big bucks to get a quality product. 

Scroll to see our top picks that'll save you time and money.

In This Article
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Best Overall: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

Over one billion jars of this iconic face cream have been sold, and 20 jars are sold every minute worldwide. Just let that sink in for a moment. If that's not enough to tell you that this face cream is all sorts of iconic, we don't know what else could do it. “This is a classic,” says Chen, who’s a fan.

The highly-beloved formula contains hyaluronic acid, amino-peptides, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) to plump the look of fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin's elasticity; Chen says it also helps create a “lifted” appearance. Skin is left glowing, making you look even younger—which Byrdie contributing writer Bianca Lambert experienced firsthand when she tried this product.

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Best for Extra Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

Hyaluronic acid is the star ingredient in this popular drugstore gel moisturizer and that's precisely why it's a great pick for extra dry skin types. Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse skin hydrator that can hold up to 1000x its weight in water, so you can count on this cream to restore moisture and protect against further moisture loss.

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Best for Dry Skin: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Key Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.

Even if your skin feels drier than a desert, this powerful moisturizer will help bring the hydration back. A brand beloved by dermatologists, CeraVe is gentle and safe for all skin types. “This is a product I can recommend to virtually every patient—it’s that universal. For a drugstore product, it really has everything one needs, such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides. Plus, it’s quickly absorbed, so it doesn’t feel sticky,” says Chen. 

The three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier and keep moisture in. This formula delivers 24 hours of moisture thanks to its delivery system, won’t clog ​pores, and isn’t greasy in the least. It's even got the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association.

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Best for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid

Cetaphil Face Moisturizer

Key Ingredients

Glycerin is a naturally occurring compound in the body; in topical skincare, it is derived from plants. It functions to draw water to the skin and continue hydrating it, making it a great ingredient for extreme dryness.

Dermatologists are always quick to recommend anything from Cetaphil since the line is safe for even the most sensitive skin types. The brand's Daily Hydrating Lotion is an extension of that promise, offering gentle moisturization and nourishment for sensitive and dry to extra dry skin types.

It's formulated with hyaluronic acid to help your skin retain its natural moisture, as well as glycerin for even more skin-plumping moisture.

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Best for Oily Skin: Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30

Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30

Even oily skin requires daily hydration, and the good news is that there are plenty of mattifying formulas to choose from. We really like this one for oily skin types because it offers multiple benefits in one, including oil control, hydration, SPF protection.

As it hydrates your skin, it keeps excess oil in check. And, because it's non-comedogenic, you don't have to worry about the formula clogging your pores and leading to breakouts, a common complaint amongst oilier skin types.

Best Brightening: Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer

Bolden

This moisturizer tackles four issues in one, offering serious hydration, SPF protection, hyperpigmentation relief, and antioxidant protection. Users rave that it leaves skin feeling moisturized and protected without a greasy residue. It also delivers in fading dark marks, so you can have an overall brighter, more even complexion.

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Vichy Normaderm Beautifying Anti-Acne Care

Vichy Normaderm Anti-Acne Care

This anti-acne, salicylic acid cream is clinically tested to address imperfections, including acne, visible pores, excess shine, and a dulled complexion. Not only will the skin look mattified, but it will feel comfortable and hydrated for hours.

Salicylic acid can be drying, so be mindful of how much of it you are using daily. Stick to one salicylic acne product at once to prevent excess dryness or irritation.

Best for Wrinkles: Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Face Moisturizer

Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Face Moisturizer

Ever since its launch, this retinol-rich moisturizer has won over the hearts of users. It features the brand's proprietary blend of vitamin B3 and a retinol complex to improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles, smoothness, large pores, sagging, and more. Best of all? It tackles all of this without causing unwanted irritation, so the only thing you witness is younger-looking, radiant skin.

Retinol is a powerful ingredient that can cause skin sensitivity to sunlight. As such, be sure to reserve the use of retinol products for the evening only and protect your skin during daytime hours with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Best No-Frills: e.l.f. Daily Hydration Moisturizer

elf cosmetics daily hydration moisturizer

This moisturizer costs less than lunch but packs a big punch. If you want a face cream that's really budget-friendly and packed with good-for-skin ingredients, this one is for you: Shea butter, jojoba, aloe, and cucumber all help deliver the hydration thirsty skin craves. Skin is left with a natural glow and left feeling soothed and comfortable.

Best Natural: Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream

Burt's Bees Daily Face Moisturizer Cream

There’s no need to worry about this gentle formula triggering a reaction, even if you have incredibly sensitive skin. Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream is 98.9% natural and has been clinically proven to deliver hydration without leading to redness or irritation. It contains rice extract and aloe to soothe and nourish.

Best K Beauty: Frudia Pomegranate Nutri-Moisturizing Cream

Nourishing line

Korean Beauty from an American drugstore sounds too good to be true, but this anti-aging moisturizer is the real deal. With pomegranate extract as the number one ingredient, followed by tomato and other fruit seed oils, this hydrating cream improves skin's elasticity and resilience.

Final Verdict

Yes, there are tons of great moisturizers available at the drugstore. Our favorite (and a favorite of dermatologists everywhere) is the classic Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, both a great hydrator and anti-ager. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is another universal staple but is especially great for those with dry skin. On the other end of the spectrum, the Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30  is perfect for oily skin types—and has the added benefit of built-in SPF, too. The Bolden SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer is another great multi-tasker that, you guessed it, is perfect for fading dark marks while simultaneously hydrating.

What To Look For in a Drugstore Face Moisturizer

Ceramides and/or Hyaluronic Acid

According to 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.

Built-In SPF

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.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough drugstore face moisturizers from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Juncan AM, Moisă DG, Santini A, et al. Advantages of Hyaluronic Acid and Its Combination with Other Bioactive Ingredients in Cosmeceuticals. Molecules. 2021;26(15):4429. doi:10.3390/molecules26154429

  2. Becker LC, Bergfeld WF, Belsito DV, et al. Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics. Int J Toxicol. 2019;38(3_suppl):6S-22S. doi:10.1177/1091581819883820

  3. Kong R, Cui Y, Fisher GJ, et al. A comparative study of the effects of retinol and retinoic acid on histological, molecular, and clinical properties of human skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2016;15(1):49-57. doi:10.1111/jocd.12193

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