The first rule of getting soft, expensive-looking skin? Never forget to moisturize. Sure, there are more critical rules (always wear sunscreen! invest in a proper facial cleanser!), but whether you drink a lot of water, eat a lot of fruits, and exercise—or not—moisturizing your skin is just as vital as cleansing. Finding the most excellent skin-saving moisturizer is easy because everyone fits into one or more of the following skin-type categories: oily, dry, combo, or normal, and each category has its own set of moisturizing serums and creams.
Believe it or not, oily skin needs just as much hydration as normal, dry, and combination skin. “It’s a misconception that people with oily skin do not need to use moisturizers. Stripping the skin of oil can interrupt the skin barrier and cause unwanted irritation. So it’s important to find a moisturizer that does not add additional oil to the skin but is hydrating,”
Dr. Lian Mack, MD, board-certified dermatologist, tells ELLE.com. “Consumers should be looking for products that are both oil-free and non-comedogenic (meaning it does not clog pores or cause acne), and that hydrates the skin with water-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid.” Good thing lightweight, oil-free moisturizers are just a click away.
Ahead, shop the best drugstore, luxury, and derm-approved face creams to keep your skin hydrated, not greasy.
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Best for Daytime Use
CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
When searching for the perfect moisturizer, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD suggests looking for products that say “non-comedogenic,” which means that “it doesn’t contain ingredients that will clog your pores and cause you to break out. CeraVe’s AM Moisturizer is great because it combines a lightweight moisturizer with sunscreen (which is also a must for everyone).”
SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel
The gel texture allows this hydrating formula to easily absorb into the skin without leaving a heavy film or a greasy finish. Plus, a little goes a long way if the price has you a bit startled.
Best Gel Formula
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
- Not best for sensitive skin
Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel is basically a cool splash of water in a bottle.
Best for Sensitive Skin
Having oily and sensitive skin isn’t the easiest to treat but Vanicream’s Lite Lotion comes highly recommended. “If you have extremely sensitive skin or are prone to allergic reactions, I suggest you try Vanicream’s light lotion,” Imahiyerobo-Ip added. “Again, this product is non-comedogenic and free of any preservatives or allergens that may irritate the skin.”
Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30
According to Lian Mack, Cetaphil’s Oil Control moisturizer is great because of its key ingredient, a mineral called silica. “Like clay, silica is a mineral that helps to absorb oil,” she says. “The micro pearl technology of this product makes the skin appear matte. It has broad-spectrum coverage for both UVA/UVB rays. Reducing exposure to the sun rays prevents activation of the sebaceous or oil-producing glands in the skin.”
Best for a Lightweight Feel
The Water Cream Oil-Free Pore Minimizing Moisturizer
The pretty mint pot looks as beautiful on the outside as the nutrient-packed ingredients bottled up on the inside. It’s lightweight and has a water-like consistency that absorbs seamlessly into the skin.
Best for Layering Makeup
boscia Green Tea Oil-free Moisturizer
- Works as a primer as well
You likely drink a cup of green tea every morning, but did you know it also works wonders for your skin? The fast-absorbing formula melts into the skin for a supple, matte base to create a flawless canvas for your makeup.
Best for Luxurious Feel
Cloud Cushion Plush Moisturizer with Ceramides + Peptides
Airy and lightweight, Eadem’s moisturizer feels like nothing on the skin with a formula that does so much. While its main function is to reduce the appearance of dark spots and dryness, it also hydrates and plumps the skin to reveal youthful radiance.
Best for Mattifying
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Daily Moisturizer for Oily Skin (1.35 fl. oz.)
- Can be layered under makeup
- Doesn’t stay matte for too long
Reach for this moisturizer when you want to stay matte all day long. This oil-free lotion not only moisturizes the skin, but it helps to improve the appearance of pores and keeps you hydrated without any signs of grease.
Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45 PA++++
Best for Daily Use
Ultra Sheer Moisturizer
- Light enough for every day
SkinMedica’s moisturizer goes on sheer and melts into the skin like butter. Formulated with vitamin C and E to nourish the skin throughout the day.
Best for Sun Protection
UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Sunscreen and moisturizer in one, this iteration from Elta MD glides onto the skin clear, doesn’t feel greasy, and works well under makeup.
Best for Hydration
Epionce Renewal Lite Facial Lotion
Dr. Rebecca Kazin recommends the Epionce Renewal Lite Facial Lotion for its hydrating formula. “I recommend this to my patients for its ability to hydrate the skin without occluding your pores. The formula provides ultra light-weight hydration for oilier skin types,” she says.
Best Skin-Loving Ingredients
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer (1.6 oz.)
Don’t be stingy with this cloud-soft creamy mixture of hyaluronic acid and elderberry extracts that come together to provide a boost of hydration for up to 72 hours (!).
What makes skin oily?
A lot of factors contribute to your oily skin, from over-cleansing to the products you use daily. But overall, “the reason for oily skin is simply due to excess sebum production,” says Dr. Rebecca Kazin, MD, director of clinical research at Icon Dermatology & Aesthetics and creator & medical director for HairSanity. “Visually, if your skin looks shiny by the end of the day, particularly your nose and chin, you have oily skin,” Dr. Kazin adds.
What ingredients should those with oily-prone skin look for in a moisturizer?
It’s important to look at the label when shopping for moisturizers, as anything that isn’t “oil-free” can make things worse. “When shopping for a moisturizer, look for labels that say for oily skin or non-comedogenic.
What ingredients should those with oily skin stay away from?
The heavier the formula, the heavier it can feel on the skin. Dr. Kazin advises to use products with a gel or lotion-like formula instead of a cream. “Stay away from heavy cream-type formulas that include a high concentration of ingredients such as oils and shea butter,” she explains.
I recommend Epionce Renewal Lite Facial Lotion to my patients for its ability to hydrate the skin without occluding your pores. The formula provides ultra light-weight hydration for oilier skin types.
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