The 15 Best Face Moisturizers for Your Skin Type, According to Skin Experts

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion is a classic for good reason.

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The 15 Best Face Moisturizers of 2022
Amazon/ Dermstore/ InStyle

Face serums and face masks (the skincare kind) have had their moments in the sun, so we're declaring 2022 'The Year of the Moisturizer.' 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.

When evaluating formulas, we looked for products that moisturize the skin without feeling too thick or greasy and offer different benefits, from sun protection to reducing wrinkles. With its ultra-gentle yet effective formula, CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion earned our Best Overall spot.

Whether you have extremely dry skin or acne-prone skin that needs an assist, these are the best face moisturizers for radiant skin.

Best Overall: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

5
Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Amazon

What We Like: This light moisturizer is great for a variety of skin types.

What We Don't Like: You may have to switch to a heavier lotion in the winter.

This lightweight, oil-free moisturizer by CeraVe is one of the best-rated options out there. Formulated with ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it hydrates the skin and replenishes essential lipids to maintain the skin's protective barrier and provide long-lasting moisture. Board-certified dermatologist Y. Claire Chang, MD suggests using this gentle lotion regularly, then switching to the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (the same formula in a thicker cream form) during the colder months if you have extra dry skin.

Price at time of publish: $15

Good For: All Skin Types | Size: 8-19 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Value: Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid

4.6
Cetaphil Face Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like: This affordable lotion is gentle to use even on problematic skin.

What We Don't Like: It may not be moisturizing enough for extra dry skin.

According to Dr. Chang, "there are a lot of effective moisturizers that are affordable and found at the drugstore." One such dermatologist-recommended option is Cetaphil's Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion. It's formulated with hyaluronic acid and other humectants for intense hydration. It's also non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, making it great for daily use whether you have sensitive, dry, acne-prone, or combination skin.

Price at time of publish: $15

Good For: All Skin Types | Size: 3 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Splurge: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

4.6
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

Dermstore

What We Like: This cream moisturizes and smooths wrinkles.

What We Don't Like: It can cause breakouts on acne-prone skin.

This restorative anti-aging moisturizer from SkinCeuticals combines ceramides and fatty acids to replenish and repair the skin's natural lipid barrier. It's a tad more pricey than the other moisturizers on this list, but it's worth the splurge as it's packed with powerhouse ingredients including vitamin E, essential oils like rosemary and lavender, and antioxidants. Reviewers say it can remove wrinkles in a few days. In addition, the super hydrating formula is free of any sulfates, parabens, or fragrances.

Price at time of publish: $136

Good For: Mature Skin | Size: 1.6 oz | Fragrance Free: No

Best Lightweight: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin

4.7
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

Amazon

What We Like: This light gel instantly plumps up your skin with hyaluronic acid.

What We Don't Like: It may not be moisturizing enough for very dry skin.

When Jennifer Garner swears by a moisturizer to renew her skin, you know it's good. "There are all these little micro-lines that once I put this on, they go away," Garner once told InStyle. "This is 48 hours of moisture that you're locking in with one thing, and then I don't have to worry about it." The secret behind the cream's magic? It's formulated with hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and replenish skin. Its cooling, gel-like formula feels lightweight but still offers adequate hydration, making it great for the summer months. And since it's non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, it's also a great option for acne-prone or oily skin types to use year-round as a daily moisturizer. Its under-$20 price tag doesn't hurt, either.

Price at time of publish: $20

Good For: All Skin Types, Especially Oily or Acne-Prone | Size: 1.7 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Brightening: EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer

4.8
Elta AM Therapy Face Moisturizer

Dermstore

What We Like: Vitamin C and niacinamide work together to brighten skin.

What We Don't Like: It may not be moisturizing enough for very dry skin.

For patients with sun-damaged or dry skin (which is more prone to sunburn), Dr. Chang says to look for moisturizers with antioxidants — like vitamin C and niacinamide — to help repair the skin. EltaMD's AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer is a non-comedogenic, lightweight formula fit for everyday use that includes these dermatologist-recommended ingredients, along with glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and allantoin to moisturize, brighten, and even out skin tone.

Price at time of publish: $39

Good For: Sun Damaged Skin, Dry Skin | Size: 1.7 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best for Super Dry Skin: Obagi Medical Obagi Hydrate Facial Moisturizer

Obagi Medical Obagi Hydrate Facial Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like: The formula has been tested to gently moisturize even the driest of skin.

What We Don't Like: Not everyone is a fan of the scent.

This moisturizer by Obagi Medical has some serious hydration power but is still gentle enough for everyday use. Designed to tackle dryness, dehydration, fine lines, and crow's feet on mature skin, the formula is packed with shea, avocado, and mango butters, as well as hydromanil to retain the skin's natural moisture throughout the day. No wonder it's one of Priyanka Chopra's favorite products.

Price at time of publish: $52

Good For: Dry Skin | Size: 1.7 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Tula Breakout Star Acne Moisturizer

Tula Breakout Star Acne Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like: This formula moisturizes and fights acne in one step.

What We Don't Like: The heavy-hitting ingredients may be too drying for dry or sensitive skin types.

According to Dr. Chang, patients with acne-prone skin should choose a moisturizer that's oil-free and non-comedogenic (so it won't worsen acne) and made with blemish-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, azelaic acid, and tea tree oil. This moisturizer from Tula combines salicylic acid to prevent future breakouts while azelaic acid and niacinamide fade old acne scars. Probiotics, fruit extracts, and willowherb further hydrate and calm the skin. Reviewers love how it moisturizes their skin without making it oily or greasy.

Price at time of publish: $52

Good For: Acne-Prone Skin | Size: 1.7 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best With SPF: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

4.6
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like: With SPF and nourishing ingredients, this moisturizer provides the ultimate protection.

What We Don't Like: It can make oily skin a little shiny.

Dr. Chang recommends choosing "a day cream that functions as an antioxidant, moisturizer, and sunscreen all-in-one to get the best benefit from one product" — and this option from La Roche Posay does just that. The oil-free daily moisturizer uses glycerin and ceramides to replenish moisture in the skin, while the inclusion of SPF 30 protects against UV rays. It even includes niacinamide, an antioxidant that repairs and brightens the skin.

Price at time of publish: $21

Good For: Sun Exposure | Size: 2.5 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Repairing: SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream

SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream

Amazon

What We Like: The formula both moisturizes and helps stop signs of aging.

What We Don't Like: It can feel a little heavy.

For extra dehydrated or mature skin, Dr. Chang advises using moisturizers with skin-repairing ingredients, like ceramides and peptides, as well as retinoids to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. This treatment cream from SkinMedica checks all of these boxes, with a ceramide-rich formula that helps repair severely dry or compromised skin. It also packs peptides and vitamin A to promote collagen production and prevent fine lines.

Price at time of publish: $72

Good For: Mature Skin | Size: 2 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Overnight: No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Night Cream

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Night Cream

Ulta

What We Like: It leaves you with supple skin in the morning.

What We Don't Like: The thick texture and scent may not be to everyone's taste.

To make the most of your beauty sleep, a multi-tasking night cream is a must in your before-bed skincare routine. This Triple Action Night Cream from No7 contains a hydrating mixture of glycerin, shea butter, triglycerides, and hyaluronic acid — as well as anti-aging peptide technology — to restore the skin's moisture and reduce signs of aging as you sleep. It also has a soothing pre-sleep fragrance to help you relax and unwind; however, you can also choose the unscented option if you're not a fan of fragrance.

Price at time of publish: $32

Good For: All Skin Types | Size: 1.69 oz | Fragrance Free: Unscented version available

Best for Anti-Aging: No7 Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi Action Day Cream SPF 30

No7 Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi Action Day Cream SPF 30

Target

What We Like: You can fend off wrinkles and sun damage with this two-in-one cream.

What We Don't Like: It's not fragrance free.

Another great choice from No7, this rich anti-aging moisturizer helps improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also providing sun protection with SPF 30. It's formulated with all expert-recommended ingredients, including humectants (glycerin and hyaluronic acid), emollients (ceramides and shea butter), and occlusives (dimethicone). This nourishing day cream also contains No7's signature anti-wrinkle peptide technology for even more anti-aging benefits. Be sure to apply it on your neck as well.

Price at time of publish: $25

Good For: Aging Skin | Size: 1.6 oz | Fragrance Free: No

Best Organic: Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer

4.8
Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer

Sephora

What We Like: The formula uses natural ingredients to keep your skin dewy and healthy.

What We Don't Like: Not everyone is a fan of the scent.

This lightweight, water-based moisturizer by celebrity-favorite Tata Harper is made with organic ingredients that help the skin absorb maximum moisture and lock it into place. Pomegranate spheres, orange blossom peptides, and hyaluronic acid work together to support the skin's moisture barrier, resulting in a soft, hydrated, and healthy glow. Once you finish the jar, you can buy a refill and reuse the container, further reducing your environmental impact.

Price at time of publish: $68

Good For: All Skin Types | Size: 1.7 oz | Fragrance Free: No

Best Vegan: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

4.3
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

Sephora

What We Like: The plant-based formula loads up your skin with nutrients.

What We Don't Like: The packaging makes it hard to tell how much product is left.

Shoppers love the vegan Drunk Elephant Protini moisturizer, and it's not hard to see why. With peptides, antioxidants, and nutrients that moisturize and replenish, you can say farewell to lines, wrinkles, and sun damage, and hello to plump, firm, healthy, strong, and youthful-looking skin. What's more, it's vegan, cruelty-, silicone-, and fragrance-free.

Price at time of publish: $55 for 1.7 ounce

Good For: All Skin Types | Size: 0.5-1.69 oz | Fragrance Free: Yes

Best Eco-Friendly: Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

4.4
Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like: The eco-friendly cream is very refreshing.

What We Don't Like: It may not be moisturizing enough for super dry skin.

Dr. Chang's eco-friendly moisturizer of choice is Youth to the People's Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream. This lightweight, refreshing moisturizer uses extracts of superfoods (hence the name) like kale, spinach, and green tea, along with hyaluronic acid and antioxidants to support and replenish the skin. The ultra-hydrating formula is also vegan, cruelty-free (meaning the brand never tests on animals), and is made with recyclable packaging. Consider it a green juice for your skin.

Price at time of publish: $48

Good For: All Skin Types | Size: 2 oz | Fragrance Free: No

Best Moisturizing Spray: Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe Herbs & Rosewater

mario badescu rose water spray

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like: You can spray this mist anytime you need a little hydration.

What We Don't Like: It's not fragrance free.

For moisturizing on the go, the shopper- and celebrity-loved (like Bella Hadid) Mario Badescu facial spray is a purse staple. Any time your skin feels a little tight or dehydrated throughout the day, a quick spritz of this refreshing mist — made with aloe, herbal extracts, and rosewater — will provide an adequate dose of hydration and a dewy glow (and yes, it can be used on top of makeup). You can even spritz it on your hair to revitalize it.

Price at time of publish: $7

Good For: All Skin Types | Size: 2-8 oz | Fragrance Free: No

What to Keep in Mind

Ingredients

To prevent and treat dehydrated skin Dr. Chang 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.

Howard Epstein, Ph.D., Director of Technical Services for EMD Performance Materials, 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. Think: The slugging trend with Vaseline.

Consistency

"Pay attention to the season when choosing your moisturizer," says Dr. Chang, who recommends choosing a "lighter-weight lotion for the warm, humid months and a thicker cream for the drier, winter months."

Those with drier skin will appreciate a thicker cream while those with more oily skin will find that a lighter, gel-based moisturizer does the trick.

Your Questions, Answered

Why should I use a face moisturizer?

According to Epstein, proper moisturizing is imperative for the wellbeing of skin. As a cosmetic chemist 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." Daily moisturizing will keep your skin's barrier in tact.

When should I apply a moisturizer on my face?

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." Moisturizer is usually one of the last steps in your skincare routine—after toning and serums. And SPF should always be your final step.

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