The 15 Best Face Moisturizers for Various Skin Types, According to a Dermatologist and a Cosmetic Scientist
From tried-and-true classics to new releases that promise to be the elixir of youth, face moisturizers make up a huge portion of the beauty market. But with so many different options out there, we had to know, once and for all: Who makes the best face moisturizer (and where can we buy it immediately)? So, we called in the experts — a dermatologist and a cosmetic scientist — to find out everything there is to know about choosing the right one.
The 15 Best Face Moisturizers, According to Experts
- Best-Rated Face Moisturizer: Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion
- Best Affordable Face Moisturizer: Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion
- Best Splurge: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore
- Best Lightweight Option: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
- Best Quality Face Moisturizer: EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
- Best for Super Dry Skin: Obagi Medical Hydrate Facial Moisturizer
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizing Lotion
- Best With SPF: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Facial Moisturizer
- Best Repairing Option: SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream
- Best Overnight Moisturizer: No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Night Cream
- Best for Anti-Aging: No7 Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi-Action Day Cream
- Best Organic: Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer
- Best Vegan Option: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
- Best Eco-Friendly Face Moisturizer: Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Cream
- Best Moisturizing Spray: Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater
Before getting into more details about each option, let's talk about why face moisturizers are important. According to Howard Epstein, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services for EMD Performance Materials, proper moisturizing is imperative for the wellbeing of skin. As a cosmetic scientist with many years of experience formulating products for Estee Lauder, Maybelline, Max Factor, and others, Epstein says, "Water is critical for skin to retain its suppleness. If the skin's water content drops too low, enzymes will not be able to function properly and this results in a compromised skin barrier. Eventually, one sees the appearance of [this through] excessive dryness and itchy or scaly skin."
To prevent and treat dehydrated skin, Dr. Y. Claire Chang, MD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, recommends looking for a moisturizer with a few key ingredients — hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter, and ceramides — which can also "hydrate, plump, and repair the skin barrier," she says.
Epstein adds that the best moisturizers should include "a combination of emollients, humectants, and occlusives." Here's a breakdown of these three categories:
- Humectants are ingredients that pull moisture into the skin, like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe, and lactic acid.
- Emollients soften and reduce friction on the skin when it comes in contact with the environment. Ingredients include ceramides, shea butter, cholesterols, and fatty acids.
- Occlusives form a barrier on the skin to prevent water loss and include petrolatum, dimethicone, lanolin, waxes, and mineral oil.
Another pro tip: Don't just slap your moisturizer on at any old time of the day. "The best time to apply your moisturizer (and other skincare products) is immediately after cleansing your face or showering," says Dr. Chang. "Pat dry and apply your products to moist skin, as this helps lock in the moisture."
Without further ado, read on to learn more about the 15 best expert-approved face moisturizers for a variety of skin types.
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