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There’s a widely accepted belief that the best moisturizers for men always target oily skin since men tend to produce more sebum in their skin compared to women. And while that theory may hold water, the best men’s moisturizer is never a fully universal pick. That’s because some men have oily skin, some have dry skin, some are acne-prone, and others are sensitive. Some guys prefer an SPF-packed moisturizer, while others get their sun defense from standalone sunscreens. On top of that, the moisturizer you wear to bed is likely different from the moisturizer you wear during the day.
Regardless, make sure you find a hydrator that addresses your specific skin needs. “The key to finding the perfect moisturizer is to base your choice off of your skin type,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, the name and expert behind Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. “For my patients with oily or acneic complexions, I recommend oil-free moisturizers with a lighter, water-based texture. Avoid moisturizers with oils as this can clog pores and lead to breakouts,” he says. “If your skin is dry, look for a moisturizer that incorporates ingredients like ceramides to strengthen your moisture barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss.”
Match your needs (and perhaps even your budget) with these picks, and you’re bound to find a favorite or two that keeps your skin firm, bright, smooth, clear, and youthful.
Below are our picks for the best moisturizers for men.
Best Overall: Ursa Major Fortifying Face Balm
With a roster of clean, natural, non-comedogenic ingredients—and a fragrance-free formula at that—Ursa Major sits firmly at the top of this roster. It’s got a universally good blend of soothing aloe, oil-balancing birch sap, and witch hazel, revitalizing carrot seed oil, balancing and anti-inflammatory prickly pear extract, as well as fatty acid- and antioxidant-rich kendi seed oil. It’s a cornucopia of well blended into one bottle and works on all skin types, including the most volatile, sensitive, oily, dry, or acne-prone.
Best Budget: Bulldog Original Moisturiser
Bulldog’s low-cost moisturizer has a nourishing recipe that includes soothing aloe, toning, and stimulating green tea extract, as well as vitamin-E- and antioxidant-rich camelina oil. It’s a great post-shave soother and lacks any synthetic fragrances (meaning it’s much gentler on vulnerable or sensitive skin). Yeah, it might have a bullish name, but Bulldog is rather soft at its core—and calming to the touch.
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin
I cannot count the number of times I have needed a good hydrator in a hurry—and I always reach for Neutrogena in a pinch. It’s a low-cost, low-investment, high-reward hydrator loaded with hyaluronic acid for instant and lasting skin hydration. It revives the driest of skin in the driest of seasons but also wears light atop oily and combination skin. It’s part gel, part cream, oil-free, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic—can it be anymore universally appealing? I think not.
Best Splurge: Dr. Barbara Sturm Super Anti-Aging Face Cream
Is there any name in skincare that is more associated with indulgence—not to mention, results? Every Dr. Barbara Sturm product is an anti-aging miracle worker, so you can imagine what this one does, given they named “Super Anti-Aging Face Cream” in a field of superheroes. Take a deep breath and consider just some of the active ingredients in this outstanding cream: Shea butter, glycerin, purslane extract, olive oil, avocado oil, vitamin E, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, plankton extract, panthenol, squalane, sunflower seed oil, lecithin, phytolipids, and more… The trick, then, is deciding if you use the cream at day, night, or both. It’ll magnify its magic if paired with sleep, but it’s also so sinfully luxurious that wearing it by day feels simply divine.
Best With SPF: Supergoop! Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40
This broad-spectrum SPF moisturizer doesn’t just protect skin outdoors. It also uses SPF and cerium to shield the skin from the blue light cast from our constant screen usage. The hydrator also uses blue-green algae to shield skin from skin-aging toxins, so all things considered, it’s also an obvious pick for anyone prioritizing anti-aging products.
Best Face Sunscreen: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
While it’s not technically a moisturizer, this facial sunscreen from Dr. Dennis Gross (our expert source!) deserves the same time in the sun. You can pair it over top any non-SPF moisturizer for the necessary daily shield against UVA and UVB rays—not to mention, this one utilizes a totally mineral, non-chemical shield (a powerfully protective zinc oxide 16%). It absorbs without a chalky cast and sits invisibly atop the skin while pumping lingonberry and sea buckthorn into the cells for a toxin-thwarting, complexion boost. It is nourishing enough that it may as well be an SPF moisturizer, but technically it’s just a face-friendly sunscreen.
Best Overnight Moisturizer: ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream
ELEMIS’ assortment is juiced up with algae, and its overnight cream is a cornerstone product in that lineup. It utilizes brown and red algae to minimize the impact and damage of UVA/UVB rays, as well as to boost firmness and retain moisture in the skin. Use it to wake up with more alert, plump, taut skin come morning, and to fortify the dermis against the next day’s elements. Use it every night to prevent the onset of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, roughness, and more.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Ceylon Facial Moisturizer
Here’s a hydrator that works well for all skin types but deserves attention from acne-prone types in particular. Ceylon’s formula utilizes glycolic and lactic acids to dissolve dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores, while also promoting a brighter (less dull) complexion. It’s loaded with texture-smoothing and oil-mitigating niacinamide, as well as ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid. The non-comedogenic formula promises to keep pores clear, in addition to promoting a less shiny, less breaky-outy complexion overall.
Best for Oily Skin: Baxter of California Oil Free Moisturizer
If you have oily skin, then your priority when picking a moisturizer is to find one without oil. Baxter’s oil-free formula is our pick, plus it soothes skin with aloe vera and chamomile, making it a terrific post-shave soothing agent, too. It employs green tea extract to stimulate circulation in the skin and neutralize dangerous free radicals. Plus, it’s a fragrance-free formula, making it ideal for all skin types—not just the oily guys.
Best for Dry Skin: Buttah by Dorion Renaud CocoShea Cream
Dry skin is no match for the cocoa- and shea butter base in Buttah Skin’s outstanding moisturizer. It combines the two nourishing butters with moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid and nourishing sunflower seed oil. The antioxidant-rich formula wears light on the skin while delivering deep-down nourishment for daily hydration or seasonal resuscitation—whichever form of dryness you’re countering.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a dermatologist who doesn’t recommend Cetaphil among the universally best brands for any skincare regimen—and especially for sensitive skin. Its low-cost, fragrance-free formula runs rings around its expensive competition and won’t irritate. It also includes hyaluronic acid for extreme moisture absorption and retention, making it a terrific option for all skin types (especially dry skin, too). Best of all, it’s lightweight, so it wears well under makeup or at the height of summer; it won’t drip away down your face or clog pores.
Best Anti-Aging: Adipeau Active Face Cream
Adipeau wants you to practice “skin fitness” with its face cream, by building a once- or twice-daily regimen centered around its nutritious, skin-plumping product. This stuff makes your skin glow just moments after application, and it promotes a youthful complexion by plugging black ginger extract and safflower seed oil into the skin. The former increases collagen production and boosts firmness, while the latter mitigates clogged pores and treats inflammation. It’s like feeding your skin a nutritious meal on the daily and keeping it looking younger for years to come.
Editor’s Pick: Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane
A savior for dry skin (but equally good on all skin types), this squalane- and glycerin-powered hydrator supercharges the skin’s moisture barrier and keeps it hydrated, even in the most parched climates. (Kiehl’s promises a full 24-hours of hydration if you need it. We recommend a twice-daily application of all moisturizers, either way.) It’s a terrific unisex pick, too, for the same-sex couples (and any couples, for that matter) who share their regimen.
What Our VPs Say
"My husband stole this from me years ago and hasn't stopped buying it ever since. He loves the gender-neutral packaging, and the shine-free relief it gives him post-shave." —Leah Wyar, SVP/GM
Our top pick is the Ursa Major Fortifying Face Balm (view at Amazon) for its lightweight, natural, and non-comedogenic formula. However, the moisturizer you select is likely tied to your specific needs. For instance, if you have oily skin, you need one without oil (like Baxter of California Oil Free Moisturizer (view at Amazon)), while acne-prone skin types should prioritize non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) recipes, like that found in Ceylon Facial Moisturizer (view at Ceylon). Don’t forget to wear broad-spectrum SPF every day, too, whether you get it from a daily moisturizer (like Supergoop! Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40 (view at Sephora)) or from a face sunscreen that you apply on top of your non-SPF moisturizer (our favorite being Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 (view at Sephora)).
What to Look for in a Face Moisturizer for Men
One more time for the people in the back: You need a moisturizer that matches your skin type. That which works for oily skin is not going to be as effective on dry skin and vice versa. What works on dry skin might make acne-prone guys break out, and what works on most skin types might inflame sensitive skin. If you aren’t sure of your skin type, consult your dermatologist and then shop accordingly.
Get SPF, Somehow
“I always recommend an all-physical SPF of at least 30 SPF as your final step every morning,” Gross says. You can get this from your moisturizer itself, or a nourishing sunscreen (formulated for the face) applied after the moisturizer. “The sun causes 90% of premature aging. Wearing an SPF protects the investment you are making with the rest of your routine,” Gross says.
Separate Day and Night
You might need to have two moisturizers—one for the morning, one for bedtime. “Sometimes daytime moisturizers will combine SPF, which isn’t necessary at night,” Gross says. “Likewise, some nighttime moisturizers may combine retinol, which, pending the formula, shouldn’t be used during the day. You should follow the usage instructions listed on the packaging. If a product is specifically instructed to be used only at nighttime, it likely has ingredients that will make skin sensitive to the sun. While the skin experiences water loss at night, an oil-free formula should still be enough to hydrate the skin. That said, if you lean on the dryer side, I would encourage a thicker formula particularly for nighttime use.”
How do you apply face moisturizer for men?
Typically, you will apply a dime-sized amount to freshly cleansed, dry skin. Apply it in upward, outward motions starting at the middle of the forehead (moving outwards), down the nose, then above the lips across the cheeks, then from the chin, outward. Be gentle, and be sure to apply underneath facial hair too (though thicker beards may require beard or face oils to get beneath the scruff).
How often should men moisturize their faces?
Apply moisturizer at least twice daily—once in the morning and once before bed—but always after cleansing the skin. Any other products, like serums and toners, should be applied before moisturizers, as it is the final step (besides SPF) in any skincare regimen.
Do face moisturizers for men expire?
Check the label of your moisturizer for its shelf life. You will see a little container logo with the amount of time (in months) that it can be used after the first opening. Toss the product if you exceed this time—its ingredients are likely far less proactive and effective if you continue using the product past this date. However, if used twice daily, the moisturizer should run out after 30 to 60 days—so this expiration date will likely never be reached.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Adam Hurly has been covering grooming for almost a decade. He began working for Birchbox in 2013, then became a freelance writer/editor in 2016. Since then, he has written for GQ, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Esquire, Gear Patrol, Bloomberg, Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, Forbes, and of course, Byrdie.