On a scale of one to personal, picking the best moisturizer for you and your skin tops the chart. Your skin type plays a major role, textural preference is a huge factor, and other products in your routine come into play. For example, you may want a do-it-all moisturizer with SPF and retinol to boot or a bare-bones cream with a sole job to hydrate. There are oil-free moisturizers, vegan formulations, even moisturizers specifically formulated for rosacea, eczema, and acne-prone skin. The options are plentiful, but keep your skincare standards high and don’t settle for less.
To help guide you on your journey, the Marie Claire editors are here to point you in the right direction. We’ve tried hundreds of moisturizers—partly, well, because it's our job, but more importantly, because we're on this quest for good skin with you. Ahead, team MC gets candid about the face moisturizers we absolutely love, which are equal parts hydrating, glow-inducing, and about to be your overactive sebaceous glands' worst nightmare.
- The Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin: Embryolisse Lait Créme Concentré
- The Best Moisturizer for Mature Skin: ReVivé Moisturizing Renewal Day Cream
- The Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin: Ole Henriksen Strength Trainer Peptide Boost Moisturizer
- The Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Daily Moisturizer
- The Best Moisturizer for Acne Prone Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Vitamin C Lactic Oil-Free Radiant Moisturizer
Do I Need a Moisturizer?
There’s no world in which you don’t need a moisturizer. Guy, girl, oily, or dry—it’s a must. “Everyone has skin, so everyone should use a moisturizer daily,” says board-certified dermatologist and founder of Spring Street Dermatology Dr. Sapna Palep. The whole point of a moisturizer is to keep the skin barrier, aka the outermost layer of our skin, healthy, hydrated, and intact, so it can do its job protecting the body from external factors (read: pollution, free radicals, UV rays. “If the skin barrier is compromised, skin may look and feel uncomfortable and irritated,” she adds.
What to Look For in a Face Moisturizer
Every moisturizer is going to be different and therefore, feature a unique ingredient list. Moisturizers for acne-prone skin may have acids, like salicylic, glycolic, or lactic, that are designed to speed up cell turnover, while moisturizers for people with eczema might have colloidal oatmeal. But at baseline, there should be a handful of hydrators. “You want to look for a moisturizer that has a mix of humectant, emollient, and occlusive ingredients, all of which work together to add maximum hydration,” advises Dr. Palep. “Humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin attract water from the air or from within deeper layers of the skin to add moisture. Emollients, like shea butter and cocoa butter, are ingredients that add moisture to the skin when applied. Occlusives like jojoba oil and argan oil also add moisture while also adding a physical barrier to help prevent water loss.”
This is in part personal preference, but practicality certainly comes into play. “If your skin is severely dry, I recommend considering a cream-based moisturizer,” says Dr. Palep. “For deeper hydration, look for a moisturizing cream, versus a gel. A cream tends to be thicker and will add more hydration.” If your skin errs on the oily or acne-prone side though, you’re best off looking for a light water cream or gel.
Shop Deals on The Best Face Moisturizers
The Best Facial Moisturizers, According to Marie Claire Editors
The products on this list have all been vetted by Marie Claire's Beauty Editor, Samantha Holender (aka yours truly) and Marie Claire's Beauty Director, Deena Campbell; have been hand-selected by a board-certified dermatologist; or tried and tested by one of our editors over the course of a few weeks. Each and every one includes hydrating ingredients, is highly rated by reviewers, and provides hydration. While the *best* moisturizer for you will vary based on personal preference, you truly can't go wrong with one of the items on this list. For a more personalized recommendation or if you have any concerns, check with your board-certified dermatologist.
The Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin
“This French pharmacy staple has been around for years and has a long-standing cult-favorite status among makeup artists. But it wasn’t until a few months ago that I actually decided to test it for myself and joined the bandwagon. It hydrates my sensitive skin like nothing I’ve ever experienced—I haven’t had dryness or irritation in weeks. My overall complexion looks brighter, healthier, and glowier without the added oily sheen that can pop up with rich creams. Pilling is non-existent and it doubles as a primer under makeup. In sum: I fully understand the world’s obsession.” — Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
Pros: Good for sensitive skin; Affordable
Cons: Contains fragrance
The Best Moisturizer for Mature Skin
“If there was only one skincare brand I could use for the rest of my life, it would be ReVivé—and this day cream is a huge reason why. The entire line is powered by epidermal growth factor, which is essentially a protein that stimulates cell growth and works as an anti-aging, line-reducing warrior. Add SPF, antioxidants like vitamin C and E, minerals, and marine adaptogens into the mix, and this moisturizer is a multitasking wizard. It makes my skin look brighter, plumper, and healthier in just a few weeks time. I quite literally can’t function without it.” — Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
Pros: Anti-aging; Multi-benefit
Cons: Can be irritating for some
The Best Moisturizer for Redness
“I have rosacea and red tones, but when my skin starts to freak out this cream saves the day. It feels cooling and calming as soon as it touches my face and within a few days is able to take my skin back to baseline. It’s powers come in large part from ingredients like avocadin and purslane, which together provide antioxidant protection and calming, soothing benefits. For a “rich” cream, I also have found that this particular product has a relatively lightweight and easy-to-rub-in texture. It’s definitely on the pricier side, but I can’t say enough positive things about it—100 percent worth the investment.” — Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
Pros: Good for redness; Soothing
The Best Luxe Moisturizer
“I hoard this moisturizer as if it’s going to be discontinued (don’t worry, it’s not). It’s seriously one of the best products to ever exist and I can’t imagine my winter beauty routine without it. The texture is dreamy and leaves my skin looking and feeling baby soft. Any dry patches are instantly resolved and makeup goes on—and stays on—better than ever. The formula obviously contains the brand’s proprietary miracle broth, which focuses on strengthening the skin barrier, and includes a handful of antioxidants to protect against environmental aggressors.” — Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
Pros: Hydrating; Anti-aging
Cons: Too greasy for some
The Best Derm-Recommended Moisturizer
“I really like Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Cream; it instantly soothes, hydrates and protects skin from dryness. It helps restore the skin barrier in one week. It has a mix of niacinamide and panthenol that soothes sensitive skin, while glycerin hydrates the outer layer to maintain the skin barrier. Plus, it rubs in easily and doesn’t feel heavy or sticky.” — Dr. Sapna Palep
Pros: Dermatologist-recommended; Nice texture; Affordable
The Best Facial Moisturizer for Dry Skin
“I've gone through three tubs of this face cream, that's how much I love it. Not only does it smell amazing (like sweet lemons!) but the icing-like formula immediately melts into my skin and keeps it hydrated all night long. The magic ingredients in this vegan formula are the eight different amino acids and the eight different peptides, which strengthen skin from the inside out and keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay. My skin is the winning combination of both dry and dehydrated—lucky me!—so it needs anything that will give it life overnight. I don't think I will ever use a different night cream in the winter, period." — Julia Marzovilla, E-Commerce Editor
Pros: Hydrating; Vegan
The Best Lightweight Facial Moisturizer