The Best Facial Moisturizers of 2020

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At the bare minimum, your moisturizer should hydrate your skin. And while that seems easy enough, shopping for a new moisturizer is anything but. Not only are there so many different kinds of lotions, creams, and moisturizers on the market, but every shopper’s skin is unique, making it that much harder to find the right match. Skin type, budget and top skin concerns matter too, only adding more pressure to an already stressful situation.

To lend a helping hand, we rounded up the top picks in facial moisturizers.

Best Overall: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

Once you try this anti-aging drugstore face cream, it'll be hard to go back to using anything else. And that's simply because it works really, really well—addressing the appearance of wrinkles from day one, and we're not kidding around about that. Thank the hyaluronic acid-, amino-peptide complex II- and niacinamide- rich formula for that, which corrects signs of aging and reveals a more youthful-looking complexion. When Byrdie contributing writer Bianca Lambert tried this product, she was impressed with how soft and hydrated her skin felt.

Best Splurge: La Mer Crème de la Mer

People often ask, "Does La Mer really work?" and the answer is yes, absolutely, it does. Creme de La Mer is the brand's hero product, and it's the product fans of the brand just keep going back to time and time again.  

Most beauty editors keep a jar on hand and supplement it with another moisturizer because Creme de La Mer isn't cheap. But few formulas stand up to their beloved "Miracle Broth," the signature ingredient in all of their products, which is brought to life through a biofermentation that combines vitamins, oils, and minerals.

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Packed with powerhouse hydrator hyaluronic acid, this moisturizer is beloved by high-end beauty aficionados and drugstore dwellers alike. The fact that it's non-comedogenic and lacks alcohol and oil means it's suitable for oily skin types. If you're a fan of the cooling benefit of gel moisturizers, this lightweight formula should be front and center on your vanity.

Best for Oily Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer

If you have oily skin, your best bet is a moisturizer that’s lightweight but hydrating enough to balance your complexion. Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench moisturizer contains an impressive 30% hyaluronic acid as well as ceramides to smooth out and repair skin. While most moisturizers might be too emollient, this one comes in a whipped, cloudlike texture that feels like a smooth gel on the skin. Reviewers said it plumped up their skin without leaving a greasy residue (an enduring part of having oily skin), and that makeup glides over the moisturizer with no issue.

Runner-Up, Best for Oily Skin: Shani Darden Skin Care Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer

If you have combination or oily skin, this oil-free moisturizer goes on weightless and hydrates skin without a greasy residue. It's full of hyaluronic acid to help skin retain moisture, and contains collagen to restore suppleness.

Brand founder Shani Darden, also known as Hollywood's favorite esthetician, says, “If you’re breaking out, your moisturizer might be to blame...I often see my clients using heavy, oil-based moisturizers and then wondering why they have pimples and congestion.”

Users rave that this moisturizer is light enough to use as a precursor to SPF on even the warmest days.

Best Innovation: Augustinus Bader The Cream

If you're really into the science behind what makes a product work the way it does, prepare to be blown away by this revolutionary formula—and no, we're not using the word revolutionary lightly. Professor Augustinus Bader has created a cream with technology so unique, it'll make the beauty nerd in you geek out.

It's a cream, so you can already guess that this formula doesn't skimp on hydration. It features a Trigger Factor Complex which is essentially a combo of natural amino acids, vitamins, and molecules that encourages the regeneration of the body's own stem cells.

Not surprisingly, it has the seal of approval of celebrities, editors and Hollywood's elite. We'll just go ahead and confirm that the hype is very real; your skin will be left feeling luxuriously soft and supple.

Best for Hyperpigmentation: ROSEN Skincare Tropics Moisturizer

This fruity, hydrating moisturizer is formulated to fade dark marks and improve skin's texture. With hyaluronic and kojic acid working together to calm breakouts and brighten complexion, users report skin that looks noticeably smoother. We especially love the pineapple extract that provides vitamin c and a natural tropical scent.

Best for Very Dry Skin: Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Rick

Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould calls this one her "most treasured moisturizer." She uses it twice a day religiously and loves that it results in youthful-looking skin by morning. As for what's inside, it's a hard-hitting mix of antioxidants like vitamin E and purslane, skullcap extract to promote cell renewal and rich oils that ensure long-lasting hydration.

Best for Mature Skin: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

The numbers in the name correspond to an optimal lipid ratio—2% pure ceramides, 4% natural cholesterol, and 2% fatty acids—responsible for making this anti-aging cream one of the best out there. You can bet that all those essential skin lipids lost from natural aging or environmental aggressors (or a combo of the two) make their way back onto the skin and support restoration and self-repair. The result is skin that feels softer and looks more radiant, smooth, and full.

Runner-Up, Best for Mature Skin: Lancôme Absolue Premium Bx Cream

This heavy-duty moisturizer contains glycerin, which is a great humectant. The wild yam extract, sea algae and soy in it work to restore moisture overnight. Yes, it's a pricey moisturizer, but like all good products, it's luxurious and almost addictive. Once you start on it, you may never go back to your old mainstays.

Best for Sensitive Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Moisturizing Cream

La Roche-Posay tested this moisturizer on people with skin allergies, just to make sure they got the formula right. It provides the right amount of hydration without irritating sensitive skin. In fact, the entire Toleriane line is suited for sensitive-skinned folk. If your skin is easily freaked out and you don't want to take any chances, this is absolutely a lifesaver.

Best Rich Cream: Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream

If your complexion is prone to dryness and flaking, this moisturizer will be your new skin savior. Celebrities, editors, and skin experts alike are obsessed with it because it truly does what it promises. It intensely hydrates the skin (credit a thick base of oils and beeswax for that) and leaves it looking healthy and glowy. Pro tip: Dab a bit of this cream on the high points of your face to replace a highlighter when you're in a pinch. It's also worth noting that this rich cream pulls double-duty as a body lotion on rough, dry areas like elbows, hands, and feet.

Best Night Cream: Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream

This night cream is a dream, and not just because it's in the name. It has the perfect consistency for a night cream: thick enough that it'll keep hydrating your skin while you're asleep, but thin enough that it won't rub off on your pillow when you finally lay your head down. The best part about this cream is, of course, what it does overnight. Even if you're not looking for an anti-aging effect, this cream utilizes lotus and peach to make skin brighter and more even. This means it's just as good for tired skin as it is for aging skin. It also smells absolutely phenomenal.

Best Natural Formula: Farmacy Beauty Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer

Farmacy is one of the most beloved non-toxic brands out there, and for good reason. Their moisturizer, made with their trademarked Echinacea GreenEnvy Complex, works for all skin types—a rare quality in a moisturizer.

Honey Drop is perfect to pat on under foundation primer, or when you want a lightweight moisturizer that absorbs quick but won't require reapplication. It's also super useful for days you're just spending at home when your skin isn't at its driest but you don't intend on putting on much more than a moisturizer. 

Best for Winter: Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream

This is the bestselling facial cream for Kiehl's and one we at Byrdie HQ can't get enough of, especially during winter weather. A potent hydrator, this formula boasts a glacial glycoprotein to deeply hydrate and prevent water loss from the skin, as well as squalane to strengthen the skin's moisture barrier. All of that translates to 24-hour hydration and softer, smoother skin.

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: A-DERMA Compensating Cream

Quick disclaimer from the jump: This is not an acne-fighting cream. It's an uber-soothing formula that can help combat the dryness and irritation that often results from continued use of powerful acne treatments and products. Use this in conjunction with your acne treatment to quell some of those awful side effects by calming and soothing your fragile skin. After all, treating acne is hard enough, you shouldn't have to deal with even more irritation. Amen to that.

Best for Combination Skin: Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid

With this moisturizer, a little goes a long way. The Ceramidin Liquid contains the same moisture-barrier-repairing ingredients as the cream moisturizer. With a few drops, the liquid sinks into the skin for all-over hydration while reducing redness. It feels weightless on the skin, doesn’t exacerbate oily patches, plumps up the skin and even layers well under makeup.

Best for Wrinkle Prevention: Moon Juice Cosmic Cream

As you age, collagen and elastin production slows, which results in more visible lines, wrinkles, and overall dullness. And while you can't pause time, or even slow it down, you can protect your skin against premature collagen loss with this moisturizer. It features two adaptogens—ashwagandha and schisandra plant extracts—to help support natural collagen and protect against the environmental aggressors that can cause it to break down.

Best K-Beauty: Make P:rem Micro Tension Cream

Bring your glowing "glass skin" dreams to life with this K-beauty favorite. The gel-like texture lends itself to quick and easy absorption without leaving behind a greasy or thick residue. It immediately plumps the skin with hydration and imparts a dewy glow that'll turn heads. And thanks to the affordable price tag, you can apply this baby with a heavy hand and not worry too much about the cost.

Best Non-Comedogenic: Tatcha The Water Cream

​Finding a non-comedogenic moisturizer that is also suitably hydrating is hard. Often, people with combination or acne-prone skin have to settle for something that either gives them acne or doesn't properly moisturize their face. Tatcha has solved this problem with their Water Cream. 

The brand makes a point to have clean ingredients, so it's no shock that this formula is free of irritants, including parabens and synthetic fragrances. The Water Cream specifically uses ingredients you likely won't find in other brands—like Japanese leopard lily and Japanese wild rose—to keep skin hydrated without leaving excess oil behind. For a bonus shine, there's a little bit of 24k gold in the formulation as well.

Best for Itchy Skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

As if parched skin weren't already bad enough, it usually accompanies itchiness and flaking. Thankfully, this intensely moisturizing cream can come to your skin's rescue. Colloidal oatmeal lovingly smothers itchy, dry skin with its soothing properties. Ceramides swoop in to help repair the moisture barrier, while shea butter adds another surge of moisture. People struggling with eczema and dry patches alike can use this cream, and if you happen to over-exfoliate, dab this on to soothe the healing process.

Best During Pregnancy: Matrescence Skin Rose Glow Brilliance Protection Soufflé

Many of our favorite skincare ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation and providing plump skin aren't always the best options for pregnancy. That's why this emollient soufflé is a prime investment. If your skin is dull or distressed, it will love the hydrating results of sunflower seed oil, cucumber extract, carrot root, and other yummy ingredients.

Best PH-Balancing: Base Butter Radiate Face Jelly

Whether you have dry skin or oily skin, this best selling aloe vera gel moisturizer is a fan favorite for moisture that lasts all day long. The natural formula balances your skin's pH levels between 4.2 to 5.8, leaving your skin rejuvenated, restored, and protected. This product gets extra brownie points for lavender that works to regulate sebum production and evening primrose to boost skin's elasticity.

Final Verdict

We're giving top honors to Olay's Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream; the pretty red jar sells every 20 minutes worldwide—no joke. It's hydrating (thanks to hyaluronic acid) and really helps put wrinkles in their place, and the affordable price sure doesn't hurt. Looking to splurge? You can't go wrong with La Mer's Crème de la Mer, a cult classic, or Dr. Barbara Sturm's Face Cream Rich. Both are dry skin heroes and offer long-lasting hydration that justifies their price points.

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