We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Finding a great moisturizer is hard at the best of times, but when you factor in a combination skin type, things get even more tricky. You need a formula that’s hydrating but non-greasy, lightweight but still comforting—something that will balance and clarify your complexion, leaving it soft, healthy, and happy.
“Combination skin is generally shiny around the t-zone but dehydrated elsewhere, so a light, water-based moisturizer is important to restore balance within the complexion,” says esthetician and skin expert Melanie Grant. “I tend to recommend fluids, gels, and lotions as these provide the skin with essential hydration without stimulating excess shine.”
Meet the Expert
Melanie Grant is an esthetician, facialist, skin expert, and the founder of Melanie Grant Skin Health, a clinic with outposts in Sydney, Melbourne, and Los Angeles.
But where to even begin? With so many options at our disposal, we get it’s a confusing (and sometimes intimidating) task, which is why we’ve done the groundwork and compiled a dozen formulas that work incredibly well for combination skin.
Keep reading to shop for the best moisturizers for combination skin.
Best Overall: Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion
Packed with humectants
Who else recommends it? The Strategist also picked the Dr. Dennis Oil-Free Moisture Cushion.
The texture of this product is something else. A unique water-gel cream, it’s super fresh and cooling—as if tiny water droplets were bursting all over your face (just trust me on this one). The formula is also full of hyaluronic acid and Japanese marine algae (from the Blue Zone of Okinawa), meaning it delivers soothing moisture without shine. Expect plump, balanced skin.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Japanese marine algae | Skin Type: Balanced, oily, combination, dry, sensitive | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Budget: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Need to reapply often
Thanks to hyaluronic acid (a molecule that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water), this lotion is super lightweight and moisturizing. It's one of our favorites because it's gentle, non-greasy, hydrating, and generally just really efficient at calming and balancing combo skin.
Active Ingredients: Ceramides (1, 3, and 6-II), hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination | Size: 8, 12, or 16 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel
Thank you, Neutrogena, for providing us with drugstore skincare that still feels luxurious. This cream is like a tall drink of water for the skin thanks to high levels of hyaluronic acid, a molecule that can draw water into the superficial layers of the skin. The fresh gel consistency is great under makeup, too.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Balanced, oily, combination | Size: 0.5 or 1.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"Despite its lightness, it seems to soak into the skin and hydrate it from the inside out." — Joline Buscemi, Product Tester
Best Lightweight: Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer
Slows down the aging process
Reduces sebum production
Might be drying for some
Green tea slows down the aging process (thanks to its high antioxidant concentration) while hydrating skin and reducing sebum production. This oil-free moisturizer also uses burdock root to keep skin matte and blemish-free. In other words, your complexion will feel clear and fresh after using this regularly.
Active Ingredients: Japanese green tea, burdock root | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Mature Skin: Augustinus Bader The Cream
Streamlines any skincare routine
Slows down the aging process
When Hailey Beiber, Victoria Beckham, and Lili Reinhart all confess their love for a single product, you know it’s got to be good. Augustinus Bader’s The Cream contains a signature trigger factor complex: a combination of natural amino acids, high-grade vitamins, and synthesized molecules to activate the body’s stem cells. The result is skin that’s smoother, stronger, and more youthful in appearance. But the super light texture means it won’t exacerbate shine. Yep, it seems you can have it all.
Active Ingredients: TFC8, vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin B5 (panthenol), hydrolyzed rice protein, aloe vera juice, shea butter | Skin Type: Combination, oily, acne-prone | Size: 1 ounce | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"Despite trying out many moisturizers, this was the first time I was actually noticeably shocked at the immediate difference in my skin." — Joline Buscemi, Product Tester
Best for Minimizing Pores: Tatcha The Water Cream
Refines the look of pores
This stuff is legendary in the world of skincare, and for good reason. The oil-free gel-cream is formulated with Japanese botanicals and Tatcha’s Hadasei-3 blend of algae, green tea, and fermented rice. Also, the texture is incredibly fresh, so it will refine the look of pores without scrimping on hydration. The gold applicator wand is a nice touch, too.
Active Ingredients: Japanese wild rose, Japanese leopard lily, Hadasei-3 Complex | Skin Type: Combination, oily | Size: 0.34 or 1.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
What Our Testers Say
"After each application, my face felt really hydrated but light at the same time. There is a freshness you feel upon applying The Water Cream, almost like a cooling sensation in a way. I continued to enjoy how it felt on my skin during the day and at night." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best for Sensitive Skin: Bioderma Hydrabio Gel Cream
French beauty brands often work well for sensitive skin thanks to their gentle approach and minimalist formulations. Bioderma is one of the best, and the Hydrabio Gel Cream is an ideal pick for combination types that find their complexions easily irritated. There’s niacinamide to soothe and salicylic acid to resurface, plus glycerin for light but comforting hydration.
Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, niacinamide, glycerin | Skin Type: Dry, combination, sensitive | Size: 1.33 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream
Crème de La Mer lovers will be pleased to learn that the brand’s Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream has all the nourishing benefits of the brand’s Miracle Broth but in a light, fresh gel format. From the weighty pink and green packaging to the melting texture, this is pure luxury. Expect skin that feels fresh, soft, and balanced.
Active Ingredients: Miracle Broth, lime tea, micro oil gel capsules | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 0.05, 1, and 2 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Under Makeup: iS Clinical Moisturizing Complex
Wears well under makeup
Provides antioxidant protection
“This is a wonderful moisturizer for all complexions, including combination,” Grants tells us. “It’s formulated with natural vitamins, potent antioxidants, and essential bionutrients, which work synergistically to support a moisturizing, protective barrier against environmental aggressors.”
Fun fact: This moisturizer was also designed in collaboration with makeup artists to ensure a smooth, even, luminous—but not greasy—base under makeup. Consider us sold.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Japanese green tea, vitamin A, vitamin E | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Biologique Recherche Creme Dermopurifiante
Another one of Grant's top recommendations, this cream from Biologique Recherche is made with oily, congested, unbalanced skins in mind. “It works to purify the complexion and reduce the redness that comes with breakouts,” Grant explains. Packed with niacinamide (vitamin B3), horse chestnut, onion (really), and Centella, it’s a great way to improve skin clarity without skimping on moisture.
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, horse chestnut, onion, centella | Skin Type: Acne-prone, oily, combination | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best for Redness: Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer For Sensitive Skin
Simple but effective, this light gel formula from Aveeno contains oat extract, which is proven to reduce redness, calm the skin, and restore healthy barrier function. There’s also glycerin (a humectant) and panthenol to assist with moisture levels. But what we love is the texture—light, and cooling, it glides onto the skin effortlessly, delivering fresh moisture that doesn’t exacerbate shine.
Active Ingredients: Prebiotic Triple Oat Complex, glycerin, panthenol | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive, combination | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Gel: Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
Restores skin barrier
Biossance is known for its hero hydrating ingredient, squalane, and this gel moisturizer has it in spades. Derived sustainably from sugar cane, it’s a close match to our skin’s natural moisture (called squalene), so it can help support a plump, comfortable complexion. It’s also rich in the probiotic lactococcus ferment lysate for a strong, healthy barrier that works to retain water within the skin. Also, the light, airy gel is ideal for combo skin.
Active Ingredients: Probiotic (lactococcus ferment lysate), squalane, red seaweed, ginger extract, swiss garden cress sprouts | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Size: 0.51 or 1.6 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Turns out, there’s a stack of effective moisturizers for combination skin out there. Our top picks: Dr. Dennis Gross' Hyaluronic Marine Oil-Free Moisture Cushion (view at Sephora) for its beautiful texture; Tatcha's The Water Cream for its soothing ingredient profile; and the Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer (view at Ulta) since it is an affordable pick that calms and replenishes the skin.
What to Look for in a Moisturizer for Combination Skin
Grant says that it's important to seek out a moisturizer formula packed with humectants as these will bind water to the skin, increasing hydration without triggering oil overproduction. “Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe vera, and panthenol are all great,” Grant explains.
On the opposite end of the scale, she advises steering clear of heavy occlusives like shea butter, lanolin, coconut, and mineral oil as these are too heavy and will contribute to oil production and thus congestion.
On that note, Grant suggests that combination skin types seek out a light gel or fluid moisturizer. “Rich creams, balms, and butters are better suited towards extremely dry skin.”
What are the benefits of moisturizers for combination skin?
“It’s a common misconception that oily skin—even combination skin—should be starved of moisture,” Grant explains. “The right moisturizer should replenish and rebalance, helping to improve texture, luminosity, and skin clarity.”
If you skip out on all moisture, any dry spots will become drier, whereas areas prone to excess shine will get confused and create even more oil—a lose-lose situation. That’s why a light but effective moisturizer for combination skin is paramount.
How often should you use moisturizers for combination skin?
Grant explains that moisturizers for combination skin should be used morning and night as the final step in your skincare routine (except for sunscreen during the day).
Why Trust Byrdie
Emily Algar is an experienced writer who covers all things beauty. Her work has appeared in many big-name publications, including Popsugar, Vogue Australia, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, and 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 any moisturizers for combination skin from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
The best moisturizers for combination skin, according to dermatologists. The Strategist. https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-moisturizers-for-combination-skin.html
Salwowska NM, Bebenek KA, Żądło DA, Wcisło-Dziadecka DL. Physiochemical properties and application of hyaluronic acid: a systematic review. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2016 Dec;15(4):520-526. doi:10.1111/jocd.12237
Kim JH, Lee JE, Kim KH, Kang NJ. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health. Mar Drugs. 2018 Nov;16(11):459. doi:10.3390/md16110459
Pazyar N, Feily A, Kazerouni A. Green tea in dermatology. Skinmed. 2012 Nov-Dec;10(6):352-5.
Saric S, Notay M, Sivamani RK. Green Tea and Other Tea Polyphenols: Effects on Sebum Production and Acne Vulgaris. Antioxidants (Basel). 2016 Dec;6(1):2. doi:10.3390/antiox6010002
Miazga-Karska M, Michalak K, Ginalska G. Anti-Acne Action of Peptides Isolated from Burdock Root-Preliminary Studies and Pilot Testing. Molecules. 2020 Apr;25(9):2027. doi:10.3390/molecules25092027
Solano F. Metabolism and Functions of Amino Acids in the Skin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1265:187-199. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-45328-2_11. PMID: 32761577.
Kligman D, Kligman AM. Salicylic acid peels for the treatment of photoaging. Dermatol Surg. 1998 Mar;24(3):325-8. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.1998.tb04162.x
Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Kazerouni A, Feily A. Oatmeal in dermatology: a brief review. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2012 Mar-Apr;78(2):142-5. doi: 10.4103/0378-6323.93629. PMID: 22421643.
Al-Ghazzewi FH, Tester RF. Impact of prebiotics and probiotics on skin health. Benef Microbes. 2014 Jun 1;5(2):99-107. doi: 10.3920/BM2013.0040. PMID: 24583611.