How to find the perfect moisturizer that will take your skin from now through winter, according to your skin type.
From overnight masks to serums to cleansers, you’ll find that many skin care products have a moisturizing element to them. Today, though, we’re isolating the category of moisturizers, which are the very last product you apply at night and the last before throwing on your SPF in the morning. The moisturizer category is, perhaps, the most daunting simply because there’s so much to choose from. They come in a variety of base types—ranging from gels to emulsions to full-on thick creams—and aim to plump, refresh, and seriously hydrate your skin.
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To help you narrow down your selection and find the moisturizer that’s best for you, we’ve broken down our ingredient and product recommendations by skin type.
There’s a perpetuated myth that people with oily skin don’t need moisturizer. Because of this misconception, it’s common that those with oily skin actually become more oily when they skip out on using a moisturizer. When the skin is lacking necessary hydration, it can produce even more oil to overcompensate for its loss.
The bottom line: Even if your skin is excessively oily, it still needs to be replenished with hydration.
By regularly applying a moisturizer, you can actually plump your skin, reduce fine lines, and ultimately help regulate oil production to reduce that oiliness. This applies to acne-prone skin, as well.
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Oily and acne-prone skin should use humectant non-comodogenic ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera, as well as cold-pressed plant oils such as rosehip, camellia, and squalene. Conversely, this skin type should avoid ultra-heavy ingredients that may clog pores, such as olive oil, coconut oil, petroleum-based products, lanolin, and dimethicone.
We recommend the COSRX Hydrium Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream, which is formulated with aloe, green tea, and camellia extract to hydrate while soothing inflamed areas like breakouts. It also includes vitamin b5, which is a humectant that is great for retaining moisture in the skin. The lightweight gel-cream texture of this moisturizer makes it a perfect fit for oily and acne-prone skin as it won’t feel suffocating on skin.
We’ve said it before, and we’re happy to reiterate the point: As skin matures, oil production slows down and skin becomes ultra-thirsty. So while moisturizer is a must for any skin type, it is absolutely integral to dry and maturing skin if you want a hydrated, glowing, plumped complexion. If you live in a dry climate, or spend a lot of time indoors in the heat or air conditioning, you may also experience excessive dryness, which, like aging, can lead to increased fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and loss of elasticity.
Unlike other skin types, dry and mature skin can handle rich oils and heavy formulations, and should therefore seek out products that really double down on moisture. You can also try products that moisturize while they tone, firm, and improve elasticity.
The Dewytree Ultra Vitalizing Snail Cream is one of our favorites for dry skin. This rich cream is made with snail secretion filtrate, which is well known in K-beauty for its deeply hydrating and reparative properties. With the use of this ingredient alongside moisturizing trehalose and anti-aging adenosine, this moisturizer is able to rejuvenate dry skin and firm fine lines.
Those with sensitive skin should look for two primary qualities in a moisturizer: soothing capabilities and products with pure ingredient lists. Seek out natural, calming ingredients such as chamomile, calendula, oatmeal, green and white tea, honey, and fruit and nut extracts. Meanwhile, it could be beneficial to avoid products with potential irritants such as dyes, fragrances, excessive alcohol, and sulfates. Lastly, while everyone should conduct patch tests with new products, this is especially important for those with sensitive and reactive skin types.
Our top moisturizer choice for sensitive skin is Make P:rem’s Safe Me Relief Moisture Cream 12, which is made with 93% plant-derived ingredients and has an ideal pH of 5.5. It includes squalane and glycerin to hydrate aggravated and itchy skin, as well as raspberry extract to protect the skin barrier from free radical damage. If you have extra sensitive skin, don’t worry – not only does this cream have only 12 ingredients, but it also has been clinically tested to be a low irritant and safe for sensitive skin.
Combination skin is unique because it battles both dry bits and oily patches. It can also fluctuate from really oily skin one day to super dry skin the next. Since the primary issue is a “back and forth” between oily and parched, you should seek products that balance your skin. Safflower seed oil, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid are all top notch ingredients.
To soothe and balance your combination skin, we recommend the Benton Aloe Hyaluron Cream. This non-greasy moisturizer is comprised of 40% aloe and has multiple forms of hyaluronic acid to balance your skin’s moisture levels and soothe skin. Not to mention it’s also vegan and cruelty free, and free of silicones and fragrance.
If you have normal skin, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to choosing a moisturizer that works for you, but it’s still important to choose a formula that’s going to keep your skin well-balanced and hydrated, even during changes in seasons and harsh environmental conditions.
If you’re not really dry or oily but somewhere in the middle, we recommend the Mamonde Rose Water Gel Cream for lightweight moisture that packs a punch. Made with 68.7% Damask rose water, this moisturizer can soothe any inflammation and give your skin long-lasting hydration.