Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
The world of skincare is chock full of products that are, shall we say, not necessarily necessary. We’re all for stocking up on toners, essences, and eye patches galore, but there’s one product that’s an absolute must for both skincare junkies and product minimalists alike. We’re talking about moisturizer, a staple that undoubtedly deserves a spot in anyone and everyone’s routine. No matter your skin type—be it crazy oily or totally dry—you need to moisturize. It’s an imperative step for maintaining skin that’s healthy and hydrated (and also looks good). That being said, no skin type is created the same, and neither are moisturizers. We've researched our favorite options across the board, with plenty of choices to fit your complexion’s wants and needs.
Here are the best moisturizers for a healthy, glowy complexion.
It can understandably feel tempting to skip moisturizer when your skin feels slick and looks shiny, but resist the urge. Forgoing moisturizer tricks your skin into “thinking” that it’s drying out; in turn, it actually starts to produce more oil to overcompensate for that perceived dryness. Obviously, that’s the last thing you want when your complexion is oily to begin with. The key is finding the right formula that’s hydrating, yet lightweight enough to not make your skin feel greasy. Enter this pick, a unique serum-moisturizer hybrid that relies on hyaluronic acid, a top-notch hydrator that never feels heavy. Bonus points for the fact that it includes bakuchiol, a choice active for keeping pores clear, and happens to come in a completely curb-side recyclable bottle.
If your skin is perpetually parched, you probably are slathering on moisturizer—but make sure to use the right type of formula if you want to reap the most bang for your buck. This one fits the bill with, as the name suggests, three different kinds of lipids (AKA fats). It’s a specially-formulated ratio of fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol, a trio that works together to both replenish hydration in the skin and restore the skin barrier so natural moisture can’t escape. If it sounds rich to you, you’re right—it’s super thick and luscious, though doesn’t leave behind any kind of unwanted residue. Try it year-round if you have very dry skin, or, make it your go-to in the winter to combat seasonally-induced dryness.
Is your skin is kind of Goldilocks-y in the sense that sometimes it’s oily, sometimes it’s dry, and sometimes it’s both? Congratulations, you have combination skin. And unlike falling into one of the two opposing camps, it can make finding the right moisturizer admittedly pretty tricky. Luckily, this one checks all of the boxes. It’s hydrating enough to knock out the dry spots (thanks to ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and olive fruit oils), but not so rich or heavy that it will make slick spots feel oilier. Plus, a little goes a long way, so one jar will last you for quite a while.
Here’s a quick skin biology lesson for ya. The skin barrier, (the outermost layer of the skin), is not only responsible for preventing moisture from escaping, but it also acts to prevent environmental irritants from entering. Those who have sensitive, easily irritated skin generally have compromised barriers, as well as dryer skin to begin with. That means moisturizing is a must, so long as you’re using a gentle product that isn’t going to make your stressed-out skin even more freaked out. That’s why we love this option. Along with the fact that it’s free of a boatload of common irritants (fragrance, artificial colors, parabens), it’s also packed with colloidal oatmeal, one of the best skin-soothing ingredients out there. Couple that with barrier-strengthening ceramides and hydrating shea butter, and this is one option that’s gentle enough for anyone and everyone to use, even those with conditions such as eczema and rosacea. Plus, it works equally well on both face and body.
Tinted moisturizers are the secret to scoring complexion perfection on those ‘no makeup makeup days.’ True to the name, they combine the best of skincare and makeup, offering hydration along with some sheer coverage. There’s arguably no more iconic tinted moisturizer than this one; this cult-classic product first launched in 1996 and has been a smashing success ever since. But earlier this year it got a revamp, with a new formula that’s right on point for 2020. The SPF level (yet another added bonus) was upped from 20 to 30, parabens were removed, good-for-your-skin oils and antioxidants were added, and the shade range went from 15 to 40. The oldie but goodie just got even better.
Whether you don’t want to shell out the big bucks on a moisturizer, are a devoted drugstore shopper, or forgot to pack your moisturizer with you on vacation, it’s worth checking out this wallet-friendly pick. Derms love this brand (and this product) for being simple yet effective, and very gentle, a good pick for all skin types. This one relies on a trio of moisturizing ingredients—ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide—but it's oil-free and non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores. The light texture absorbs quickly, not to mention that the formula also includes your daily dose of sun protection, too.
Moisturizer isn’t the only non-negotiable in your skincare routine—sunscreen is too. (A helpful reminder that wearing at least an SPF 30 every single day is imperative for both preventing skin cancer and the signs of aging.) One easy way to ensure you never forget either is to look for a singular product that both hydrates and protects against the sun, like this one. It moisturizes and contains a broad-spectrum SPF 40, but goes above and beyond even those two duties. It touts a mineral that also safeguards your complexion from damaging blue light, as well as a plant-based ingredient list that acts as a shield on top of the skin to ward off environmental pollution. Sold.
We've all been there. If you’re constantly battling blemishes, you may be more focused on treatment-type products than the basics. But, as is the case with oily skin, moisturizing is imperative for balancing out oil production and ultimately keeping your complexion clear. Of course, you have to choose the right one. This is one great pick. It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic (most importantly), and because it’s a gel, it feels even more featherweight and fast-absorbing than a lotion. Per the acne part of things, it also contains salicylic acid, one of the best zit-zapping ingredients there is, along with Korean pine extract, an ingredient that wards off irritation.
We have yet to meet someone who has tried this luxurious moisturizer and not become immediately hooked. (Victoria Beckham is also a fan, just saying.) It’s no doubt a little pricey, there’s no way around that. But if you’re ready to spend, this formula is completely splurge-worthy. Created by a German doctor, it contains a patented TFC-8 complex, a line-up of 40 ingredients that work by helping skin repair and regenerate itself. It’s so good that Dr. Bader says that using this cream alone can yield visible results in just 27 days. And while this formula is great for combination to oily skin, there’s also a rich variant that’s great for normal to dry skin.
Simply put, the more hydrated skin your skin is, the more youthful it’s going to look—think a smoother, plumper, glowing complexion. And if you want to amp up the effects even further, use a moisturizer that contains anti-aging ingredients, like this guy. It combines peptides and growth factors that work to improve texture, tone, and firmness, not to mention the fact that it’s just a truly lovely moisturizer to begin with. And possibly our favorite part? The unique, push-top pump dispenser delivers the perfect dose every time and also makes it so you never have to stick your fingers into the jar.
This is a can’t miss pick for clean beauty queens, though truly an all-around good option for most. Despite the fact that the formula is squeaky clean, free of a laundry list of over 2,700 questionable chemicals and ingredients, it feels and works just as well as it’s “non-clean” counterparts. Think a lovely, featherweight texture that delivers just the right amount of hydration and leaves your complexion fresh and glowy. Credit natural ingredients such as aloe, calendula, and chamomile, plus a plant-based extract that works by boosting your skin’s own exfoliation process. The (natural) fragrance is just an added bonus, fresh and clean, but never cloying.