As any dermatologist will tell you, your moisturizer is a vital weapon in your beauty arsenal. It not only provides hydration but also locks in all the essential nutrients on your skin, from Vitamin C to retinol, with hyaluronic acid being the most crucial. While serums, essences, and masks each have their merits, nothing quite compares to a good moisturizer. “Nourishing the skin maintains the integrity of the skin barrier, crucial for good skin health,” emphasizes Dr. Anita Sturnham, a skincare expert and founder of Decree.
How to Choose the Right Moisturizer?
When searching for the perfect moisturizer, external factors play a significant role. Consider the weather outside—is it cold and dry, or hot and humid? Your choice may need to adapt accordingly. Dr. Sturnham recommends keeping a variety of formulas in your skincare arsenal, as your skin’s hydration needs can fluctuate due to factors like stress, hormones, travel, and lifestyle. “Your skin requires variation daily, and using two moisturizers—a lightweight formula and a richer one—can be beneficial,” she suggests.
Morning or Night Moisturizing?
The choice between morning and night moisturizing depends on your skin’s appearance and feel. While some prefer morning application and others opt for nighttime, most dermatologists recommend both. Moisturizing essentially protects the outer layer of your skin—the epidermal barrier—from external factors like UV rays, blue light, bacteria, pollution, and temperature fluctuations, sealing in moisture. Therefore, using it both in the morning and at night can significantly impact its quality and texture.
What Makes the Best Facial Moisturizer?
“The best facial moisturizer needs to have properties of both humectants and emollients to support the skin. Ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and squalane are excellent components to look for,” says Dr. Sturnham. Even if you have oily skin prone to breakouts, skipping the moisturizing step is a myth. The key is to ensure you use a well-formulated product that provides protection without clogging pores. For those concerned about oily skin, Dr. Sturnham suggests opting for water-based products, where “water, water, deionized water” should be the top three ingredients on the label. Conversely, those with dry skin should seek moisturizers containing ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and urea.
Most experts recommend products produced in collaboration with dermatologists, making brands like CeraVe highly popular. Particularly, CeraVe’s moisturizer contains healthy doses of nutrients—ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and patented MVE delivery technology—that keep the skin hydrated for extended periods. Other brands recommended by skincare experts include Dr. Sam Bunting’s, La Roche-Posay, Medik8, and Skinceuticals.
How to Choose the Best Moisturizer
Every moisturizer in our editor’s picks has undergone scrutiny by skincare experts, consulting them for ingredients suitable for each skin type. Whether you want to supplement your current moisturizer or find a new one for specific skin concerns, here are our most trusted recommendations to simplify your search.
Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin
Applying the thickest cream you can find might not be the answer to dry skin, as Dr. Sturnham warns against thicker products that often contain pore-clogging ingredients. Look for ingredients like cyclopentasiloxane, polydimethylsiloxane, jojoba oil, candelilla wax, and glycerin, which provide potent hydration without clogging pores.
Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin
Surprisingly, those with oily skin also need a good moisturizer. Look for products labeled “non-comedogenic” (meaning they won’t clog pores) and ingredients like squalane, hyaluronic acid, plant ceramides, and glycerin, as they do not clog pores.
Best Moisturizer for Mature Skin
As we age, our skin’s reserves of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin deplete. For mature skin, it’s crucial to invest in a good moisturizer. “To maintain a robust skin barrier, look for formulas rich in ceramides,” advises Dr. Brown. Another key ingredient to look for is retinol, an active ingredient that works by increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production.
Best Moisturizer for Radiance
“Hydration is the cornerstone of radiant skin,” says Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare. While most moisturizers immediately revitalize the skin, those containing vitamin C are particularly effective. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from external factors causing dullness, evens out skin tone, and brightens overall complexion.
Best Moisturizer for Combination Skin
For those with combination skin—dry cheeks and an oily T-zone—don’t be afraid to use different moisturizers in different areas. Byoma’s moisturizing gel cream, for example, combines niacinamide and green tea to reduce redness and brighten the skin. Its unique gel-cream texture absorbs quickly, softening and moisturizing the skin without clogging pores.
Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin
Whether sensitive or sensitized, your skin needs support. Choose formulas proven to have anti-inflammatory effects to address flare-ups and help soothe irritation. “Look for ingredients like chamomile, which has anti-inflammatory effects, in products like our bestselling calming moisturizer, The Anthemis,” suggests Dr. Brown.
Best Moisturizer for Reducing Pores
When dealing with enlarged pores, simplicity is key. “Keep it protected and nourished, providing a non-inflammatory environment to help it retain the benefits and drawbacks within the skin,” says Dr. Emma Craythorn.