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Fact: Every skin type needs to moisturize. Yes, that includes oily and combination skin. You might think your skin already has enough oils to quench it, but you can actually have oily skin and still be dry. That’s where oil-free moisturizers come in. They bring the moisture all skin craves without feeling heavy or clogging your pores, and can actually make you skin less oily in the long run by strengthening the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Slather on an oil-free moisturizer and your skin will be happy, healthy and glowing.
The best oil-free moisturizer do more than just hydrate. They typically contain nutrients and other skin-loving ingredients to deliver more benefits. Depending on your needs, you can look for an oil-free moisturizer that leaves your skin looking matte if you tend to have lots of shine, or one packed with hyaluronic acid for deep moisturization if your skin is thirsty. Determine what your skin needs most and then give one of these top oil-free moisturizers a try.
Best Overall: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Moisturizer
It could be that this moisturizer from Peter Thomas Roth has “cloud cream” in its name because it’s so dreamy. Light as a cloud, it still brings impressive hydration, powered by its concentration of 30 percent hyaluronic acid, helping it deliver powerful hydration for up to 72 hours. The formula also contains ceramides to lock in moisture and elderberry, which is packed with antioxidants to smooth the appearance of fines lines and wrinkles. But that’s not all—the multi-hyphenate turns back the clock with its anti-aging powers, evening out skin tone and reviving dull skin. The result? A gorgeous, glowing complexion.
Best Budget: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
In case its title didn’t give it away, this gel moisturizer is water based, which explains its delightfully thin consistency. The award-winning best seller quenches and smooths skin from the second you slather it on. Especially designed for sensitive skin, this cult classic brings on mega moisture courtesy of hyaluronic acid (which is naturally found in the skin and can absorb as much as 1,000 times its weight in water), glycerin and dimethicone.
Best with SPF: Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging UV Moisturizer with SPF 15
Olay’s Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging UV Moisturizer with SPF 15 earned its name by counteracting the seven signs of aging by restoring moisture, evening skin tone, brightening, smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, reducing the appearance of pores, and firming. The VitaNiacin Complex II does the heavy lifting with vitamins C and E—antioxidants guard from free radical damage, and the fragrance-free preventative cream works its way deep into the skin to repair the moisture barrier. It also contains SPF 15 to protect against the worst culprit of aging skin: the sun.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Differin Oil Control Moisturizer with Sunscreen
When you’re constantly battling breakouts, you won’t find a better option for your skin than Differin’s Oil Control Moisturizer with Sunscreen. The groundbreaking formula has deservedly racked up awards. It was developed by dermatologists to absorb excess oil and help prevent future breakouts. Since it isn’t hard to trigger a breakout with acne-prone skin, the formula is non-comedogenic, fragrance-free and never greasy. To top it all off, it contains SPF 30, which is especially crucial if you’re already using acne medication, since it can cause sensitivity to the sun.
Best for Oily Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Face Moisturizer
Though it can seem counterintuitive to slather on a moisturizer if you have oily skin, the fact is that even oily skin needs hydration. You can still be oily and dry, and if you strip your skin of moisture, that will cause it to produce even more oil. That’s why you should reach for La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Mat Face Moisturizer. Designed specifically for oily skin, the matte formula won’t leave you looking even more shiny. It features Sebulyse Technology to zap excess oil and noticeably tighten up pores. Since it’s great at creating a smooth surface, it can double as a base for makeup.
Best for Dry Skin: Boscia Cactus Water Moisturizer
Does your skin feel as dry as the desert? Then you’ll want to harness the cactus. Boscia’s Cactus Water Moisturizer taps into the hearty plant’s talent for withstanding dryness. The lightweight, fast absorbing gel moisturizer is infused with Queen of the Night cactus succulent to moisturize, nourish and condition; aloe vera flower extract to soothe sensitive skin and heal damage from sun exposure and the elements; and South African resurrection plant infusion to reduce redness, boost texture and reinforce the barrier.
Best Brightening: Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer
Bring radiance back to a dull complexion with Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer. The daytime version of their smash hit Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask also taps into the hydrating perks of watermelon extract. Consider it a watermelon juice for your face—the gel-like formula brings the potent combination of vitamins, amino acids, hyaluronic acid and botanicals to calm and brighten. It also contains antioxidants to prevent damage from free radicals, fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular oil-free moisturizers on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different oil-free moisturizers overall, screened options from 18 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 8 of the oil-free moisturizers themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.