Best facial moisturizers to buy for 2021: SkinMedica, The Ordinary, Drunk Elephant and moreFebruary 28, 2021
If you’re shopping for holiday gifts that are equal parts useful and enjoyable, skincare products are a go-to. No matter who you’re shopping for, chances are they use a moisturizer every day and would be open to trying one of the picks below. A great moisturizer can be a game-changer for dry winter skin, which is the last thing we need to be worrying about this year.
Everyone hasand needs, but according to dermatologist Dr. Caren Campbell, you should use a moisturizer every day. But not every moisturizer will work for everyone — it’s why your mom can have one that she swears by, but if you try it you get irritated skin and break out. Campbell says two things to look for are if moisturizers are more oil-based (usually a face cream) or water-based (usually labeled a face lotion). “If you can categorize yourself as dry you know to go for a cream. If your skin is combination, it might mean you use cream in the winter and lotion in the summer when the humidity is higher,” she says.
Below, you’ll find the best moisturizers for all different concerns, from dry skin to oily skin, mature skin to adolescent skin, and, of course for those with a sensitive skin type. So many facial skin types, so many products to meet all of their needs! The list below highlights the top sellers across sites like Sephora, Amazon and Target. You’ll find some tried-and-true brands and some newer finds — and the prices range from high-end to more affordable drugstore finds. You’re sure to find something that will be worth adding to your skin care routine.
Note that these products and services are independently chosen by our editors, based on extensive research into the available options in the marketplace. The prices and availability are accurate as of publishing time, but may change.
This is the daily moisturizer I’ve currently been using every single night since I received it as a gift for Christmas. It feels very nourishing, but not heavy. It is perfect for my skin since I can layer it over my other serums and still feel like my skin can breathe. When I wake up the next morning, my skin always looks and feels amazing. This product gets extra bonus points from me since Drunk Elephant is a clean/nontoxic skincare brand, and all of the products are fragrance-free.
This top-seller on Sephora is the best face moisturizer for daytime wear for all skin types and is also a steal at $6. I’ve been using products from The Ordinary for months since a friend/beauty editor recommended them to me. I’ve been using this as a daytime moisturizer and it is surprisingly rich and hydrating given the price tag. It works for basically any skin type and is nongreasy. Tip: I layer it over The Ordinary’s Hylaronic acid serum when my skin feels like it needs extra moisture.
SkinMedica’s HA5 Rejuvenating Skin Hydrator is a serum that works as your facial moisturizer. Developed for signs of aging skin like wrinkles, fine lines, and rough texture — the serum contains a blend of five different types of hydrators designed to smooth the skin’s texture. It does have a hefty price tag — but the brand (founded by a dermatologist) promises 8 straight hours of moisture and clinical-level results.
The Water Cream by Tatcha has around 2,000 reviews and is a bestseller on Sephora — a sign that this is a cult favorite. The cream is a lightweight moisturizer that is oil-free, great for those who have more oily skin or tend to get acne or clogged pores. Sometimes I have to switch to a lighter moisturizer in the summer, so this one will be at the top of my “to buy” list for those long, hot and humid days.
Cerave Moisturizing cream is a tried-and-true favorite for Campbell. She likes it for patients with dry skin since it contains ceramides and is a cream — meaning it provides more moisture and intense hydration since it has more oil than water. It’s also a bestseller on Amazon out of all facial moisturizers sold.
According to Glamour this French facial cream is recommended by nearly every makeup artist out there. I have used this moisturizer as well and remember seeing it at all the pharmacies when I lived in France. It’s a tried-and-true favorite — when I had it in my product rotation I used it on days when my skin felt drier and loved it.
This gel moisturizer from Neutrogena is a bestseller at Target. It’s formulated for dry skin and contains hyaluronic acid, a super moisturizing active ingredient. According to Campbell, “hyaluronic acid is one of the most moisturizing ingredients for skin. It pulls 1,000 times its weight in water.”
This moisturizer from Birchbox brand, Arrow gives your skin a subtle, healthy glow that looks great by itself or under makeup. I’ve been using this moisturizer for several weeks during the day and I love that it’s lightweight and not overly shimmery. It contains hyaluronic acid and aloe, two ingredients that are calming and moisturizing. I also like to mix it with a bit of foundation when I wear makeup to give my face a more natural, glowy look.
How to select a moisturizer for your skin type
Dry skin: Symptoms of dry skin include scaling and or itchiness. “Patients with very dry skin tend to have a genetic mutation in a protein called filaggrin which helps lock moisture in the skin and keep the outside environment out. But with this mutation too much water evaporates from the skin and allergens get into the skin. Patients with filaggrin mutations are more likely to develop eczema (atopic dermatitis),” she says. You should opt for a cream, since it contains more oil and will feel more moisturizing than a water-based lotion.
Normal skin: Signs you have normal skin include that you show no breakouts, no excessive dryness, oily skin and no blackheads. “If your skin is the envy of all — low maintenance, you likely have normal skin. If you won the genetic lottery and barely wash your face and yet not one zit or flake resides on the skin, you likely have normal skin.” For this type she recommends using a product with peptides or hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and nourish the skin. You can also look for antioxidants to help protect your skin from free radicals and oxidative stress.
Oily skin: Signs of oily skin include shiny skin, blackheads on the nose, and whiteheads or pimples. For this skin type, you want to avoid creams and stick to lighter moisturizers.
Combination skin: Combination skin means you have oily skin in some areas and dry skin in others. You may have an oily “T” zone in your nose, chin, or middle part of your cheeks. You can also have scaly or flaky skin on the side of your cheeks or forehead.”If you feel like you need one product for the center of your face and another for the sides, you are likely a combo skin type,” Campbell says. You’ll likely need to use two products — one for the oily parts of your skin and another for the dry.
Sensitive Skin: If you have sensitive skin, a product that doesn’t contain fragrance is best. Sensitive skin means you get itchiness or rashes, broken blood vessels, or you have burning or stinging when you apply skincare products.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.