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How to Choose the Best Moisturizer for Your Skin Type

July 01, 2021

How to Choose the Best Moisturizer for Your Skin Type

Research shows that moisturizers can help fight signs of aging. That means moisturizing is a must, no matter your skin type.

The catch? Moisturizer is not a one-size-fits-all kind of product. If you choose a formula that’s too thick, you could end up with clogged pores and chronic breakouts. If it’s not thick enough, your skin won’t get the hydration it needs to stay soft and supple — resulting in a dull, rough complexion and more visible lines and wrinkles. Very dry skin can also become itchy, irritated and inflamed.

The best daily moisturizers are formulated to target specific skincare needs. So whether you’re dealing with excess oil, sensitivity, dryness, or something in between, your perfect moisturizer is out there. Here’s how to find the moisturizer that’s right for you. 

Best Moisturizer for Oily/Acne-Prone Skin

Anyone with oily skin knows the struggle of finding products that absorb excess oil but leave skin feeling silky, smooth, and best of all — matte.

It’s a delicate balance, but the first step is to make sure you’re not using products that are interfering with your oil production and making it worse. Ditch harsh occlusive formulas (with ingredients like petroleum and silicones) and alcohol-based products.

Consider using a lighter gel moisturizer or serum that will hydrate your skin without the grease factor. Avoid thick lotions and creams, as they tend to clog pores and exacerbate oiliness. 

Best Moisturizer for Dry/Dehydrated Skin

The best moisturizers for dry skin are loaded with super-hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) that help skin retain moisture longer.

Antioxidants also play a hugely important role in alleviating dry skin. For best results, look for formulas with multiple antioxidants to rejuvenate skin in different ways.

For extra dry/dehydrated skin, moisturizing balms can be especially beneficial. Unlike creams, balms do not contain water. They absorb best when applied to damp skin, and you typically only need a pea-sized amount to moisturize your entire face! 

Best Moisturizer for Normal Skin

Studies have shown that moisturizer is vital to maintain healthy skin, regardless of skin type. It can help balance sebum production to keep skin hydrated, mask imperfections and improve skin texture, and support cellular renewal for younger-looking skin.

If you have normal skin (lucky you!), your biggest ask of a moisturizer is probably basic hydration. Look for a light, non-greasy formula (rather than heavier cream that is more likely to “lock in” moisture). 

Best Moisturizer for Combination Skin 

People with combination skin may need slightly different care in different areas, as skin tends to be dry or normal in some areas and oily in others (like the T-zone: nose, forehead, and chin). Moisturizer should only be applied to areas that actually need it, like the cheeks and jawline. Avoid the nose and forehead, as extra moisture is likely not needed.

The best moisturizer for combination skin is lightweight, sheer, and non-greasy. Combination skin is prone to looking shiny, but still requires topical hydration or it can get even oilier and drier.

Look for formulas with hydrating properties to revive your combination skin’s healthy glow. A gel or light cream works best to restore balance and protect against premature aging. 

Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Skin sensitivity varies from person to person. It can be triggered by anything from an irritating beauty product to environmental factors to a more serious skin condition.

Those with sensitive skin should look for products with ingredients that hydrate, calm and heal. Ceramides are a great choice for this: studies have shown that they can increase skin hydration and help strengthen skin barrier function to protect against visible damage from pollution and other environmental stressors.

Hyaluronic acid is another gentle ingredient that’s often found in formulas for sensitive skin. It’s known for its powerful anti-aging properties and its unique ability to replenish a LOT of moisture. Its natural calming benefit makes it suitable for even the most sensitive, breakout-prone skin. 

Best Moisturizer for Mature Skin

“Mature” isn’t actually a skin type, but it’s worth mentioning that the moisturizer that worked so well in your 20s and 30s may not meet the needs of your skin in your 40s and 50s. That’s because, as we age, collagen production naturally slows down and wrinkles and fine lines become more noticeable. Skin generally becomes drier and thinner, which means your skincare regimen may need to include more products that provide moisture retention and skin barrier renewal.

The best moisturizers for mature skin include ingredients like hydrating hyaluronic acid, brightening niacinamide (aka vitamin B3), and strengthening ceramides. For more intensive wrinkle-fighting, look for peptide and retinol creams. Not every formula will have all of them — but not every person will need all of them, either.

No matter your skin type, there is a moisturizer (or combination of moisturizers) that’s right for you. Your perfect match depends on skin type, top skincare concerns and goals, budget, personal preference, and season or climate.