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At the bare minimum, your moisturizer should hydrate your skin. It seems simple, but the benefits are plentiful: "This 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,” explains New York City dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “Supporting the skin barrier also keeps the skin healthier and more resilient, so it’s less likely to become damaged or infected."
While moisturizing sounds easy enough, actually shopping for a new moisturizer is anything but. Not only are there so many different 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. Skin type, budget, and top skin concerns matter too, only adding more pressure to an already stressful situation. The good news? We're here to help.
Read on for the best facial moisturizers to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, all 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What to Look for In a Facial Moisturizer
Humectants are ingredients that work by attracting water to and holding it in the skin; common examples include hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
Emollients soften and smooth the surface of the skin. Ingredients such as oils, fatty acids, and ceramides are all good emollients to look for in a formula.
This category of ingredients forms a seal on the surface of the skin, helping to lock in moisture that way. Petrolatum, mineral oil, and silicones are all considered occlusives.
How often should you moisturize your face?
According to Dr. King, this will vary depending on how dry or oily your skin is and the dryness or humidity of your environment. Other products you’re using that can affect your skin barrier—retinoids or salicylic acid, for example—can also play a role in how often you’ll need to moisturize. That being said, in most cases, moisturizing twice daily after cleansing will suffice, she says.
How do you use a face serum with moisturizer?
Simply put, serums always go first. 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.