The 28 Best Facial Moisturizers of 2022

Our best overall pick is Tatcha's The Water Cream

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Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

It seems simple, but the best moisturizer should properly hydrate your face without causing skin irritation or other issues. Still, shopping for the right product is anything but easy. Not only are there so many kinds of lotions and creams on the market, but every person's skin is unique, making it that much harder to find the right match. Budget and top skin concerns also come into play, further complicating the search. 

To find the best moisturizers for healthy, nourished skin, we went to work testing top-rated products spanning a range of budgets, skin types, and concerns. After using them for weeks, our testers rated each formula's texture and feel, how well it addressed their specific concerns, and how well it hydrated their skin. We then combined these results with recommendations from New York City dermatologist Hadley King, MD. and thorough research to compile a list of the best in class.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Overall, Tatcha’s The Water Cream is our top choice in facial moisturizers. This gentle cream not only provides refreshing and lightweight hydration, but it’s packed with innovative ingredients you’re not likely to find in other formulas. For a budget-friendly option, you can’t go wrong with the best-selling Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream; its hyaluronic-acid powered formula helps keep skin hydrated and plump.

"Using the right moisturizer ensures that the skin looks more plump and smooth and supports skin barrier function—which, in turn, improves both the texture and overall appearance of your skin," says Dr. King. "Supporting the skin barrier also keeps the skin healthier and more resilient, so it's less likely to become damaged or infected."

And remember: Unless you choose a moisturizer that contains an SPF, your skincare routine should always include a product that protects your face from damage and health risks caused by exposure to the sun's rays. 

Without further ado, here are the best facial moisturizers.

Best Overall: Tatcha The Water Cream

5
Tatcha's water cream, which comes in light turquoise and gold packaging

 Courtesy of Tatcha

What We Like
  • Provides deep yet lightweight hydration

  • Cools and refreshes

  • Clarifies and refines

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin types


Tatcha's The Water Cream, a long-time Team Byrdie favorite, earned its place as best overall for so many reasons. First off, the non-comedogenic formula manages to be both lightweight and hydrating—we think it feels like a splash of water on your face. The brand also makes a point to use non-irritating ingredients, so it's no shock that this formula is free of parabens and synthetic fragrances. What's more, The Water Cream also includes ingredients you likely won't find in other products—think 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.

Byrdie contributor Ashley Rebecca took it for a spin and loved how refreshing and light the formula feels, properly hydrating without any heavy or sticky residue. "After the product was absorbed, my face felt fully hydrated, yet it was almost as if I hadn't used anything at all," she writes. She also notes that it wears extremely well under makeup, never pilling or flaking.

Active Ingredients: Titanium dioxide | Skin Type: Oily, combo | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $66

tatcha water cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

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 Budget: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

3.8
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Formulation targets signs of aging and appearance of wrinkles

  • Packed with hydrating and soothing ingredients

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance and preservatives

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 targets signs of aging and aims to reveal 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.

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide | Skin Type: Dry, combo, mature | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $25

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

 Byrdie / Bianca Lambert

Best Splurge: La Mer Crème de la Mer

3.5
Creme de la mer
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Intensely hydrates, soothes, and heals

  • Contains La Mer's anti-inflammatory “Miracle Broth”

  • Packed with vitamins, oils, and minerals

What We Don't Like
  • Extra thick formula contains mineral oil, petrolatum, and paraffin

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 bio-fermentation that combines vitamins, oils, and minerals.

Active Ingredients: Miracle Broth (proprietary) | Skin Type: Dry, mature | Size: 0.5, 1, 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $100

La Mer Crème de la Mer

 Byrdie / Jenna Igneri

Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

3.3
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Amazon

What We Like
  • Hyaluronic acid boosts moisture

  • Absorbs quickly

  • Lightweight texture

What We Don't Like
  • Added fragrance may irritate sensitive skin

Packed with powerhouse hydrator hyaluronic acid, this moisturizer is beloved by high-end beauty aficionados and drugstore dwellers alike. “The lightweight moisturizer is rich in hyaluronic acid and is non-comedogenic, a particularly great pick for oily skin,” says Dr. King, who also adds that it’s oil- and alcohol-free. If you're a fan of the cooling benefit of gel moisturizers, this lightweight formula should be front and center on your vanity.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 6.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $20

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What Our Editors Say

"I’m always wary that new products will break me out—especially with a fragrance as strong as this one—but even after a week of use, I didn’t have any new out of the ordinary acne." —Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

"I've used this moisturizer since before my beauty editor days. It's one of the best bang-for-your-buck drugstore products, competing with creams for a fraction of the price. The gel-cream formula is a favorite for summer nights and winter days on my oily skin, when I need something that packs a hydrating punch, but isn't too heavy." —Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial & Strategy Director

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

4.6
water-drench-moisturizer

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Lightweight, whipped texture

  • 30% hyaluronic acid and ceramides hydrate, smooth, plump, and repair

  • Absorbs quickly without pilling or greasy residue

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin types

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, cloud-like 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.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Dry, mature | Size: 1.08 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $54

What Our Editors Say

"This is the moisturizer I always go back to, especially in the summer when my skin tends to be on the oilier side. This absorbs into the skin so quickly, layers well under sunscreen (no pilling), and leaves my skin feeling dewy, plump, and non-greasy." Holly Rhue, Editor

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

Shani Darden
What We Like
  • Weightless, oil-free formula is great for oily or combination skin types

  • Hyaluronic acid boosts moisture

  • Collagen restores skin suppleness

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin types

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.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Oily, combo, normal | Size: 2.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $48

Best Innovation: Augustinus Bader The Cream

4
AUGUSTINUS BADER THE CREAM
What We Like
  • Packed with good-for-skin ingredients

  • Hydrates, softens, and improves signs of aging

  • Product claims tested in research

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin types

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—and no, we're not using the word lightly—formula. Professor Augustinus Bader has created a unique cream with technology that will make the beauty nerd in you geek out. It features a Trigger Factor Complex, a combo of natural amino acids, vitamins, and synthesized molecules that provides the building blocks your body's own stem cells need to regenerate.

And yes, we see the price and still stand behind this pick. The hype is very real; your skin will look and feel luxuriously soft and supple.

Active Ingredients: Squalane, citric acid, sodium hydroxide | Skin Type: Dry, combo | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $175

augustinus bader the cream

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What Our Editors Say

"I’ll be honest with you, I discovered this moisturizer because Victoria Beckham cited it as her favorite skincare product. (If it’s good enough for Posh Spice, it’s good enough for me, right?) My initial buy was admittedly more out of curiosity than need. But, after a few weeks, it was like a lightbulb had been turned on underneath my epidermis. All this radiance from a moisturizer? I was floored. The Cream, as it’s aptly named, contains a proprietary blend of retinol, aloe vera, antioxidants, amino acids, and vitamins A, B, C, and E to give you a healthy-looking glow. If you’re a skincare minimalist like me, this all-in-one product is a true game-changer that will save you time and money in the end, despite the high price point." Madeline Hirsch, Sr. News Editor

Best for Hyperpigmentation: ROSEN Skincare Tropics Moisturizer

Rosen Skincare Tropics Moisturizer

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Brightens and gently exfoliates with kojic acid and pineapple extract

  • Hyaluronic acid boosts moisture

  • Calms and smoothes the complexion

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly sticky texture

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

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $20

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

Dr. Barbara Sturm Rich Face Cream

Courtesy of Nordstrom 

What We Like
  • Rich oils intensely hydrate

  • Antioxidants promote cell renewal

  • Soothes, calms, and tightens skin

What We Don't Like
  • May be too heavy for oily skin types

It's expensive, but it's worth it. This face cream from aesthetics doctor Barbara Sturm is 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. Byrdie senior editorial director Hallie Gould calls this her "most treasured moisturizer."

Active Ingredients: Citric acid, ascorbic acid | Skin Type: Normal, dry, combo | Size: 1.69 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $230

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

4.9
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Intensely hydrates the skin

  • Silky, luxurious texture

  • Absorbs well

What We Don't Like
  • Essential oils may irritate sensitive skin

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. This blend of lipids aims to restore those essential skin lipids lost from natural aging or environmental aggressors (or a combo of the two). The result is skin that feels softer and looks more radiant, smooth, and full.

Active Ingredients: Vitamin E | Skin Type: Normal, mature, dry | Size: 1.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $136

skinceuticals triple lipid restore

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

What Our Testers Say

"I noticed right away that each time I apply the cream my pores look smaller and my skin looks smoother. It’s almost like I am applying a blurring primer or soft-focus filter to my face." —Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

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

3
Lancôme Absolue Premium Bx Night Recovery Cream

Courtesy of Sephora 

What We Like
  • Glycerin, wild yam extract, sea algae, and soy restore moisture

  • Contains patented anti-aging ingredient to support collagen and elastin

  • Velvety, luxurious feel

What We Don't Like
  • Heavily scented

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.

Skin Type: Dry, mature | Size: 2.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $225

Lancôme Absolue Premium Bx Cream

Byrdie / Tembe Denton-Hurst

Best for Sensitive Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra-Sensitive Skin Face Moisturizer

4.9
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra-Sensitive Skin Face Moisturizer
What We Like
  • Shea butter and neurosensine hydrate and soothe

  • Free of common potential irritants, parabens, fragrance, preservatives, and alcohol

  • Tested on people with skin allergies

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves behind slight residue

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. Dr. King agrees, noting that it’s free of parabens, fragrance, preservatives, and alcohol, common potential irritants, especially for those with 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.

Active Ingredients: Squalane | Skin Type: Combo, sensitive, normal | Size: 1.35 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $31

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

Weleda Skin Food

Amazon

What We Like
  • Formulated for face and body

  • Dermatologist-tested

  • Softens cracked, rough skin

What We Don't Like
  • May cause mild sensitivity or irritation

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’s definitely a cult favorite, I have so many patients who swear by it, “ says Dr. King. With essential fatty acids, bee wax, lanolin, sweet almond oil, cholesterol and vitamin E, it does a great job of moisturizing dry skin, she says, and also leave 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.

Active Ingredients: Zinc | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2.5 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $19

weleda skin food ultra-rich body cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

What Our Editors & Testers Say

"I used a pinch of this product to cover the driest, most cracked areas of my skin, which at the moment happens to be around my feet and ankles, and felt the immediate relief of deeply nourishing hydration that lasts all day long." —Ashley Rubell, Product Tester

"There’s a reason this product is beloved by practically every beauty editor, makeup artist, and dermatologist—it’s just one of the best moisturizers out there. I’ve tried fancier formulas, but I always find myself going back to Skin Food, especially when my skin is being extra sensitive. It never irritates and leaves behind soft, hydrated, and happy skin." —Karli Bendlin, Senior Editor

Best Night Cream: Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream

4.8
fresh lotus

Courtesy of Fresh

What We Like
  • Hydrates, brightens, and improves signs of aging while you sleep

  • Supports skin barrier

  • Rich in antioxidants

What We Don't Like
  • Added fragrance may irritate sensitive skin

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 a line reducing 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 phenomenal.

Active Ingredients: Sodium hydroxide | Skin Type: Dry, combo, normal, mature | Size: 1.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $54

Best Whipped Formula: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer

5
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer with Ceramides
What We Like
  • Fragrance and silicone-free

  • Suitable for most skin types

  • Plant-based ceramides support a health skin barrier

What We Don't Like
  • Might feel too heavy during warmer months

Drunk Elephant's best-selling whipped moisturizer is both nourishing and non-greasy, so you get a matte finish that's also slightly glowy. The blend of African oils and plant-based lipids like ceramides and Phytosphingosine takes to absorb, so allow it to settle in before you layer on other skincare products or apply your makeup.

After long-term testing, Byrdie contributor Lisa Patulny put the Lala Retro moisturizer into her regular skincare rotation, giving it five stars for its fragrance and silicone-free formulation, which is suitable for most skin types. "My skin has become much more resilient since I started using it. If I skip a few nights, I will often see my perioral dermatitis flare up," she writes. "It's rare to find a moisturizer with all the nourishing power of a richer formulation that doesn't overwhelm my skin and result in congestion, so I'm happy to pay the price." 

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, African oils, Phytosphingosine | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.69 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $60

Best Natural Formula: Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Packed with plant-based ingredients to deliver vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants

  • Hyaluronic acid provides lightweight moisture

  • Can be used by all skin types

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin

A moisturizer that works for all skin types is hard to come by, which is why we’re big fans of this all-natural formula from Youth to the People. Essentially a green smoothie for your face, this lightweight yet ultra-nourishing formula is packed with kale, spinach, and green tea to deliver essential phytonutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants to the skin, while hyaluronic acid helps the skin stay supple and hydrated. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the formula is vegan and cruelty-free and comes in recyclable packaging.

Active Ingredients: Kale, hyaluronic acid, green tea | Skin Type: Oily, combo, normal, dry | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $48

Best for Winter: Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane

4.7
Kiehl's Since 1851 Ultra Facial Cream

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Deeply nourishing formula

  • Feels lightweight on the skin

  • Non-irritating

What We Don't Like
  • Very thick consistency may not suit all

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 hydrating squalane to strengthen the skin's moisture barrier. All of that translates to 24-hour hydration and softer, smoother skin.

Active Ingredients: Squalane | Skin Type: Dry, combo, normal | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $33

What Our Testers Say

"But my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided not to wash my face for 24 hours after applying the cream. To my surprise, I woke up the next day with flawlessly plump, moisturized skin." —Nicole Pulyado, Product Tester

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

A-Derma Compensating Cream

Courtesy of Care of Beauty

What We Like
  • Combats dryness and irritation caused by acne treatments

  • Calms and soothes fragile skin

  • Rich, silky texture with a non-greasy, matte finish

What We Don't Like
  • Added fragrance may irritate sensitive skin

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 the 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.

Active Ingredients: Citric acid | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 1.35 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $19

Best for Combination Skin: Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid

ceramidin-liquid

Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Ceramide complex deeply hydrates and strengthens skin barrier

  • Panthenol and other plant-derived extracts helps to relieve cracked, flaky skin

  • Lightweight texture sinks into the skin

What We Don't Like
  • May cause mild sensitivity or irritation

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.

Active Ingredients: Sodium hyaluronate | Skin Type: Dry, combo, normal, sensitive | Size: 5.07 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $39

Best for Wrinkle Prevention: Moon Juice Cosmic Cream

Moon Juice Cosmic Cream Collagen Protecting Moisturizer
What We Like
  • Adaptogens support natural collagen production

  • Helps protect against environmental stressors that cause collagen breakdown

  • Hyaluronic acid boosts moisture

What We Don't Like
  • Essential oil-derived fragrance may irritate sensitive skin

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.

Active Ingredients: Citric acid, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Normal, dry, combo, oily | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $58

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

Make P-rem Micro Tension Cream
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Lightweight gel absorbs quickly

  • Plumps and hydrates

  • Leaves the skin dewy and glowy

What We Don't Like
  • Heavily scented

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.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive | Size: 2.19 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $30

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

4.9
ultra-repair-cream

Sephora

What We Like
  • Intensely moisturizing

  • Colloidal oatmeal soothes itchy, dry skin

  • Ceramides repair the skin barrier

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly sticky texture

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.

Active Ingredients: Squalane, sodium hydroxide | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $38

Best During Pregnancy: Matrescence Skin Rose Glow Brilliance Protection Soufflé

Matrescence Moisturizer
What We Like
  • Contains pregnancy-safe mushroom-derived brightening ingredients

  • Improves the appearance of scarring, hyperpigmentation, and melasma

  • Hydrates with natural ingredients like sunflower seed oil and cucumber extract

What We Don't Like
  • May be too heavy for oily skin—use sparingly!

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.

Active Ingredients: Shiitake and Lingzhi mushroom extracts, vitamins C and E | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $86

Best pH-Balancing: Base Butter Radiate Face Jelly

BASE BUTTER
What We Like
  • Ingredients help balance pH for a rejuvenated complexion

  • Lavender regulates sebum production

  • Evening primrose boosts elasticity

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough for drier skin types

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 elasticity.

Active Ingredients: Aloe, beta-carotene, Vitamin C and E | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $29

Best for Fine Lines: The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer

The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer
What We Like
  • Royal Epigen decreases the appearance of fine lines

  • Dual peptide formula balances the skin's oil levels

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Squeeze tube makes it hard to dispense the product

Skincare-for-the-people brand The Inkey List was founded on the principle that intelligent beauty should be accessible to everyone. And though this lightweight cream is super-affordable, it delivers on its promise to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and add back firmness and elasticity. The peptide-based formula also balances the skin's natural oil levels so you won't get that greasy feeling.

Active Ingredients: Royal Epigen, peptides | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $15

Best Mattifying: Origins Original Skin Matte Moisturizer with Willowherb

4.6
Original Skin Matte Moisturizer with Willowherb

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Willowherb minimizes look of pores

  • Water cream formula mattifies

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container


This mattifying moisturizer helps combat T-zone oiliness with willowherb, which also helps to minimize the appearance of pores to help you stay shine-free all day long.

Active Ingredients: Willowherb | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, oily, combination | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No| Byrdie Clean: No

Price at time of publish: $39

Best Moisturizer with SPF: Fenty Beauty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Fenty Beauty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Sephora

What We Like
  • Hyaluronic acid provides lightweight hydration

  • Niacinamide helps fade dark spots

  • SPF 30

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

If you often forget to apply sunscreen as part of your daily skincare routine, this lightweight SPF 30 moisturizer has you covered. It delivers serious hydration to the skin barrier with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which also helps to fade dark spots. Kalahari melon, aloe, and baobab keep the formula shine-free and help to reduce the appearance of large pores.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, aloe | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $38

Best Gel Moisturizer: Clinique Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

clinique moisture surge moisturizer
What We Like
  • Light texture

  • Activated aloe water provide lasting hydration

What We Don't Like
  • Hyaluronic acid could irritate sensitive skin

The next generation of Clinique's Moisture Surge line is made for very dry to dry combination skin—and it works. It's a super-rich, oil-free gel hybrid that promises to repair your skin's moisture barrier. The blend of Vitamins C and E provides antioxidant protection against daily dehydrators, and it's paraben and phthalate-free. 

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, aloe bio-ferment, vitamins A, C, E | Skin Type: All | Size: 4.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Price at time of publish: $82

Final Verdict

We're giving top honors to Tatcha's The Water Cream, a lightweight and refreshing yet supremely hydrating formula packed with fancy ingredients like Japanese leopard lily, Japanese wild rose, and 24k gold. For a budget-friendly option, consider Olay's Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream; the pretty red jar sells every 20 minutes worldwide—no joke. Hyaluronic acid provides clinically proven hydration, 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 with its patented "Miracle Broth" formula that contains a blend of fermented ingredients to justify its price points.

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

Meet the Expert

Hadley King, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is also a Clinical Instructor in Dermatology at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. You can find her research in a variety of medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association.

What to Look for In a Facial Moisturizer

Formulation

When shopping for a facial moisturizer, the first thing to consider is your skin type. If you have oily or combination skin, look for a lighter formulation, like our pick from Peter Thomas Roth. If your skin is on the dry side, shop for a cream like the Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, which packs more punch. Those with sensitive or acne prone skin tend to have a compromised skin barrier, so the right moisturizer can help strengthen and soothe the skin while providing much-needed hydration.

Humectants

Dr. King explains that moisturizers ideally contain three components—humectants, emollients, and occlusives. “It’s important to look for products that contain all three,” she says.

Humectants, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, are low molecular weight substances that attract water and hold it in the skin. However, “they need to be used along with the other components in order to retain that water content,” she says.

Emollients

Dr. King explains that emollients are saturated and unsaturated substances that aid in skin barrier function, membrane fluidity, and cell signaling, which lead to an overall improvement in skin texture and appearance, helping to soften and smooth its surface. Ingredients such as oils, fatty acids, and ceramides are all good emollients to look for in a formula.

Occlusives

“Occlusives are oils and waxes which form an inert layer on the skin and physically block trans-epidermal water loss,” says Dr. King. Essentially, they act as a seal on the surface of the skin, helping to lock in moisture that way. Petrolatum, beeswax, mineral oil, and lanolin are all considered occlusives. 

Anti-Aging

Many anti-aging moisturizers promise to smooth fine lines, fade dark spots and restore a youthful glow. Skincare experts recommend products that contain vitamin C and E and anti-aging workhorse ingredients, like retinoids, growth factors, and peptides.

Price

The moisturizer picks on our list range from under $20 to over $200. Many pricier options, like La Mer Crème de la Mer, are more expensive because they contain proprietary ingredients and are often backed by splashy marketing campaigns. Still, our picks also include highly-rated drugstore and affordable favorites, like the Peptide Moisturizer from The Inkey List, a brand that uses cheaper (and sustainable) packaging to keep the price low.

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

FAQ
  • How often should you moisturize your face?

    In most cases, moisturizing twice daily after cleansing will suffice, Dr. King says. However, this may vary depending on how dry or oily your skin is, the dryness or humidity of your environment, and other products you’re using that can affect your skin barrier—retinoids or salicylic acid, for example.

  • How do you use a face serum with moisturizer?

    The general skincare rule is to apply products from lightest to heaviest; serums are innately more lightweight than any type of moisturizer, so if you are using one, apply it first. Give it a little time to soak into your skin completely, then follow with your moisturizer of choice.

  • How much moisturizer should you use?

    Again, this also varies, depending not only on how dry your skin is but also on the particular moisturizer you’re using. As a general rule of thumb, Dr. King says approximately a nickel-size amount is a good guideline.

  • Do you also need to use a separate SPF product with your moisturizer?

    Yes! While Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor contains SPF protection, many moisturizers don't. If you don't use a 2-in-1 moisturizer with SPF, you'll need to slather on sunscreen to help prevent skin damage and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Apply your sunscreen as the last step in your skincare routine—and don't forget to reapply every two hours during prolonged exposure to the sun.

How We Researched & Tested

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Updated by Jill Di Donato
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. Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin agingDermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):253-258. doi:10.4161/derm.21923

  2. Wohlrab J, Kreft D. Niacinamide - mechanisms of action and its topical use in dermatologySkin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(6):311-315. doi:10.1159/000359974

  3. Yuan HX, Xiong Y, Guan KL. Nutrient sensing, metabolism, and cell growth controlMol Cell. 2013;49(3):379-387. doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2013.01.019

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