13 Oil-Free Moisturizers an Esthetician Uses to Combat Dry Skin

All the Hydration, None of the Heaviness

oil-free moisturizers

Brooke Testoni

You might think that only oily or acne-prone skin types benefit from an oil-free moisturizer, but if you have dry skin and don't like the heavy feel of a rich cream (particularly during the day), you might want to consider going oil-free.

"An oil-free moisturizer is a way to deliver much-needed hydration to the oily skin," says Kelly Carney. "We need to make sure we are giving our skin 'a drink' to maintain its balance of oil and water." While Carney says that oily-skin types would benefit most from these types of moisturizers, everyone can use them to see improvements—even those on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Meet the Expert

Kelly Carney is a Los Angeles–based esthetician with more than 15 years of experience. She also served as an esthetics instructor at the Ann Webb Skin Institute while working at the national headquarters for Skin Organics.

"It is perfectly fine for dry skin to use an oil-free option," Carney continues. "Some people simply prefer the lighter feel of an oil-free moisturizer." When it comes to a regimen, Carney says that an oil-free moisturizer should be applied every morning and evening as the last step of a routine. And if you're not sure where to start, Carney also provided recommendations of 13 oil-free moisturizers that should make their way into your rotation.

1. For Acne-Prone Skin

Vichy Normaderm Beautifying Anti-Acne Care $25

Carney notes that this is an affordable option that's a great "gentle treatment for acne-prone skin."

2. Wears Well Under Make-Up

Pur Soak It Up Intense Hydrating Moisturizer
Pur Cosmetics Soak It Up Intense Oil-Free Moisturizer $34

This decadent, dewy cream provides immediate relief from dryness and prevents long-term moisture loss. "It sits perfectly under makeup and is a great start to a flawless finish," Carney says.

3. Fast-Absorbing

Mario Badescu Oil-Free Moisturizer $24

This might be the best option for makeup routines on the go because "it absorbs quickly, and keeps pores clog-free," Carney says.

4. Anti-Aging

Cosmedix Shineless Oil-Free Moisturizer $48

Carney is a representative for Cosmedix, and she recommends this moisturizer because it helps firm and smooth, as well as brightens the appearance of skin the more you use it. "This unique formula not only provides hydration to oily skin but also provides superior anti-aging benefits," she says.

5. Barrier-Restoring

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double-Repair Moisturizer $20

"This cream sits lightly on the skin and restores its protective barrier," Carney says. 

6. Cooling

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion $32

According to Carney, this lotion "instantly cools" and it absorbs quickly, too. 

7. All-Day Hydration

Oil Free Moisturizer 1.7 oz/ 50 mL
Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer $65

Opt for this lightweight moisturizer if you need something to work well with makeup, Carney notes. It'll hydrate your skin throughout the day. 

8. Plumps Skin

Philosophy Hope in Jar Oil-Free Moisturizer $39

Philosophy's longtime fan-favorite moisturizer gets Carney's vote because it "plumps the skin without leaving it feeling oily."

9. Fights Breakouts

elemental herbology Moisture Milk Facial Moisturizer
Elemental Herbology Moisture Milk Ultra-Light Facial Hydrator $53

This moisturizer "uses anti-bacterial botanicals to reduce oil and breakouts," Carney says, making it a wise choice for acne-prone skin. 

10. A Hydrating Serum

B-Hydra(TM) Intensive Hydration Gel 1.69 oz/ 50 mL
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra(TM) Intensive Hydration Gel $48

This pick "attracts and holds hydration to the skin without disrupting the barrier function," Carney says, keeping your profile looking smooth in the process. 

11. Spray Applicator

Cosmedix Mystic Hydrating Oil-Free Spray $42

Other than its unique spray applicator, Carney likes this option because it "eliminates dry skin, reduces the appearance of oil, and protects skin from environmental and free radical damage."

12. The Gel Cream

The True Cream Aqua Bomb 3.37 oz/100 mL
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb $38

"This cooling gel cream is perfect for those who don't want a traditional moisturizer on their face," Carney says. 

13. Budget Buy

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Oil-Free Moisturizer $9

If you're looking for a budget-friendly choice that provides gentle coverage, Carney thinks this moisturizer is it. 

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