The 14 Best Face Moisturizers, According to Marie Claire Editors

"This moisturizer has saved my skin (and confidence) more times than I can count."

model wearing moisturizer on her face
(Image credit: Delmaine Donson)

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.

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

  • Ingredients

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.” 

  • Texture

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. 

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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.