It's an essential step in any skincare routine, the final flourish that makes your skin feel supple, radiant, and ready for anything. Finding the right daily moisturizer is as important as finding an outfit to wear – we feel naked without it.
But with such a wide variety of moisturizers on the market, it can be hard to find the one that will help you achieve skin such as that of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez. Maybe you've tried what feels like a thousand products, but none of them feel like they really fit.
So what's missing?
Whether you have dry, sensitive skin prone to irritation, or oily skin prone to breakouts, everyone has different requirements that their moisturizer needs to meet. And, if you live in New York City or any other big metropolis, choosing the right moisturizer to protect you from pollutants is a must! In fact, with the wrong products, you could end up aggravating your problems and paying a pretty penny for your troubles too.
In order to find the best moisturizer out there for you, you need to understand how it works, and what it can do for you specifically. Before you get lost in an aisle full of confusing labels like retinoids, amino acids, and humectants, a little research will help you understand what to look for in a moisturizer before you even leave your house.
Luckily, we’ve done the research for you, and we're here to help you find your best fit!
What are the top 10 skin care products? Find out here!
How A Moisturizer Works
As we're sure you know, a moisturizer is designed to restore moisture to the skin. But why do we need this?
Basically, although our bodies naturally supply moisture to our dermis (the middle layer of the skin), it eventually evaporates past the epidermis (the top layer) and leaves our skin dry and dehydrated.
Moisturizer comes into the equation to form a moisture barrier layer that works to prevent this process of evaporation, with most products also adding some extra hydration and nourishment. There are three types of moisturizer, each working in slightly different ways.
An occlusive moisturizer is your basic barrier moisturizer. Occlusives work by forming a protective impenetrable layer on the epidermis which prevents moisture from evaporating. Petroleum jelly is a prime example of this type of moisturizer.
An emollient moisturizer is formulated with oils designed to penetrate cracks in the epidermis and form a protective moisture barrier, while simultaneously hydrating the skin. Emollients are among the most popular and best types of face moisturizers on the market, they can often be found in the form of a mineral oil.1
Humectants are a type of ingredient that actually attracts and retains moisture in the skin. Humectants draw water from the lower skin layer, bringing newer cells to the fore and revealing youthful, radiant skin. Hyaluronic acid is a popular and effective example of a humectant.
Choosing the Best Face Moisturizer: Understanding Your Skin Type
The best face moisturizer for you will depend entirely on your skin type, as there are no “one size fits all” solutions when it comes to hydrating your face. We’re going to run through each type and its characteristics here, to help you assess your specific needs.
Normal skin typically has well-balanced sebum pH levels, meaning that you experience few blemishes, and have little to no visible pores. Your skin is not too dry, not too oily, and not sensitive, just somewhere in the middle. Lucky you!
However, normal skin types still need a good face moisturizer and a broad-spectrum sun cream (SPF 30 and above, please!) to maintain that lovely glow and to keep the dermis supple and healthy.
The main identifiers of dry skin are dull, dry, or red patches, and more visible lines on the skin’s surface, which can become itchy and even crack.
Dry skin can be caused by genetics, hormones, and even weather conditions. Excessive indoor heating and too-hot showers can account for bouts of dryness too, so it's best to stick to lukewarm showers and baths when possible.
Alcohol and skin are also not a match made in heaven as alcohol has the ability to dehydrate the skin in the long run.
Oily skin can be prone to blackheads and pimples, with larger pores that are subject to clogging. Your face can feel and appear shiny or greasy, a sign of some pesky excess sebum production. Oiliness can be caused by hormones, stress, humidity, and heat, and it can be exacerbated by over-exfoliation and harsh skincare products.
Due to the excess oil levels, it’s common to think that you don't need moisturizer or that it might only make your skin shinier. But choosing the right moisturizer for oily skin can make a world of difference, helping dry up the excess oil while hydrating the skin.
The best moisturizer for oily skin will help balance the skin's moisture and sebum levels, and will generally include a broad-spectrum sun protection factor (ideally SPF 30 or higher).
Combination skin is a mixture of the above skin types. Your skin might be dry or normal in some places, but oily in others. It is most common to experience dry cheeks but an oily t-zone (forehead and nose).
Although acne is most commonly associated with our teenage years, unfortunately, it can flare up and affect us at any age! Acne-prone skin is characterized by persistent breakouts of pimples and blackheads on the face, neck, chest, and back.
It has similar characteristics to oily skin, and both are caused by excess sebum production. However, acne sufferers might require some extra TLC in the form of medication or medicated face cream.
Sensitive skin is often dry, prone to redness, itching, and uneven blotches. If you are particularly reactive to strong chemicals and fragrances, you most likely fall under this category.
Flushing in reaction to spicy foods and alcohol is also a sign of sensitivity, and some people may even experience a more chronic flushing associated with rosacea.
The best face moisturizer for sensitive skin will generally be a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic repair cream or gel cream with SPF 30 or above, and should not contain harsh chemicals or parabens.
More helpful reading:
As we age, our skin begins to decline in elasticity and flexibility, and it can become thinner, more fragile, and prone to fine lines and wrinkles. Skin also loses some of its youthful radiance, and it can appear dull.
This happens because our bodies produce less collagen as time goes by, and the process of cell regeneration slows down. Thankfully, a good anti-aging moisturizer will have properties that will help you combat these effects.
Finding The Best Face Moisturizers For Every Skin Type (The Best Facial Moisturizer For You)
So now that you have identified your skin's needs, let’s look at the characteristics and ingredients of a good face moisturizer.
We should note that there are a few ingredients that dermatologists widely recommend we avoid in our skincare routines, and these include preservatives, parabens, petrolatum, and other toxic chemicals.
Here, we’re going to concentrate on the top 8 ingredients to look out for in a face moisturizer, and our top product choices for every skin type!
More helpful reading: Ingredients to avoid in skincare.
Antioxidants are the superstars of the health world, vital to nutrition, medicine, and – you guessed it – skin care. These miracle molecules are key to ridding the body of free radicals and toxins, which are the compounds that can cause an array of health problems including cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and inflammatory conditions.2
These same free radicals also put pressure on your skin cells by breaking down collagen, slowing down the healing process, and triggering inflammation.
Antioxidants in face moisturizers can help rid your body of free radicals and reverse the damage done by sun exposure, brightening your skin tone, increasing skin elasticity, and reducing dryness and age spots. This makes them a fantastic category of ingredients suitable for every skin type.
Some of the top antioxidants to look out for on a moisturizer label include Vitamin E, A, or C, resveratrol, niacinamide, polyphenols, and flavonoids.
Our Top Pick Of Antioxidants: Taut Intensive Recovery Serum
Formulated with 7 powerful botanical herbal extracts with proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Taut Intensive Recovery Serum repairs stressed, environmentally-damaged skin and reinforces your skin barrier with intense hydration.
German chamomile restores healthy fats and seals in moisture while strengthening the skin’s barrier against free radicals. Green tea is a powerful antioxidant that works to eliminate free radicals and restore elasticity, reducing wrinkles.
Licorice root reduces flaking, while rosemary boosts blood circulation to speed up the skin’s healing processes. Scutellaria root helps to visibly reverse the signs of UV damage, reducing the formation of melanin in order to achieve brighter, more radiant skin.
Taut Intensive Recovery Serum is packed with powerhouse antioxidants that hydrate, repair, and protect. It’s the perfect, all-natural, and fragrance-free face moisturizer for mature, dry, and sensitive skin!
More helpful reading from Renew Alliance:
2. Collagen & Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a hugely popular ingredient often found in a moisturizer or face cream due to its powerful antioxidant profile, helping repair and protect the skin from damage.3
It is essential to the process of producing collagen, the naturally occurring protein responsible for making our skin flexible and supple. As we age, our bodies produce a lower quantity and quality of collagen, resulting in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The best moisturizing cream for mature skin will include collagen alongside other anti-aging ingredients that boost collagen production, so look out for vitamin-rich solutions to help you achieve a more youthful complexion.
Our Top Pick Of Collagen: Taut Collagen Mask
Treat yourself to an effective boost of vitamins and collagen with our Taut Collagen Mask, a luxurious 15–20 minute treatment designed to hydrate, tone, and brighten the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Our Taut Collagen Masks are infused with hydrolyzed collagen in tiny nano-sized molecules, small enough to penetrate deep into the skin and deliver usable collagen peptides straight to your dermis layer.
Thanks to the moisturizing and antioxidant powers of hyaluronic acid, botanical squalene, and vitamin C, there is no need to apply any serum or moisturizing lotion afterward!
Find out why sheet masks are the secret to achieving glass skin:
3. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a humectant, a substance that acts like a sponge to absorb water from its environment. Our bodies produce it naturally, and it helps retain collagen to keep our skin supple and soft. Over time, our natural levels of hyaluronic acid decrease, leaving our skin more prone to dryness, sagging, and wrinkles.
That’s where our lotions and potions come in. In skincare, hyaluronic acid is a wonder ingredient that provides intense hydration, and it can be found in cleansers, serums, and creams all over the world.
Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient for all skin types! Its moisturizing effects can do wonders for combination and dry skin, while its anti-inflammatory properties are effective for acne-prone and oily skin types. It is gentle enough for sensitive skin, and its collagen-boosting properties make it a perfect ingredient to look out for in an anti-aging moisturizer.
Our Top Pick Of Hyaluronic Acid: Taut Hydrate
Looking for a super moisturizing boost? You can restore your hyaluronic acid levels from within with Taut Hydrate, a supplement that can offer better hydration than even the best moisturizing cream.
While a topical hyaluronic acid moisturizer can help hydrate your skin at the surface levels of the epidermis, a hyaluronic acid supplement can boost your body’s production rates from within – hydrating your skin from the inside out.
Taut Hydrate is specially formulated with a high-potency plant-based hyaluronic acid to fill, hydrate and plump up your skin from deep within, helping you achieve fuller, more supple skin.
Grape seed extract acts as a powerful antioxidant to protect the skin from free radical damage, helping reverse the signs of aging by encouraging collagen production, resulting in a luminous complexion.
The best news? It’s suitable for all skin types!
Runner Up #1: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Regenerating Balm
Neutrogena Hydro Boost is a gel cream popular for its lightweight formula and smooth velvety texture. It also contains prebiotics and vitamin E, making it an antioxidant repair cream that's perfect for dehydrated skin. Moisturizers like this can really do wonders for dry and dehydrated skin when used in conjunction with HA supplements.
Runner Up #2: Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion (Oil-Free)
Cetaphil's lightweight, oil-free moisturizing cream is designed to lock in the skin's moisture for 24 hours, great for combatting dryness. The oil-free formula of this face moisturizer makes it the perfect option for combination skin, too!
4. Fatty Acids
Acids like omega 3 and omega 6 are essential for healthy skin, with super moisturizing properties that can repair the skin's barrier, soothe dryness and irritation, improve elasticity, and reduce the signs of aging.
Our bodies don't produce them, so we need to obtain them in our diets through foods like fatty fish, leafy greens, olive oils, nuts, and seeds. They also have great benefits when applied topically, so you will also find them in many of the best moisturizer products.
Ceramides also fall under this category. Ceramides are naturally occurring long-chain fatty acids, which work to prevent moisture from escaping from our dermis. We lose the ceramides in our skin as we age, which contributes to a dull, dry complexion.
Skincare products love ceramides and omegas 3 & 6, which have anti-aging properties to plump up the skin and even skin tone. They are great options in a moisturizer for sensitive and dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis.
Our Top Pick: Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore Cream
Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore Cream has a patented 2:4:2 formula that boasts 2% ceramides, 4% cholesterol, and 2% fatty acids. An effective anti-aging moisturizer focused on lipid correction, it restores the fats in the skin's layers resulting in a plump, radiant complexion.
Runner Up: Augustinus Bader 'The Rich Cream'
Augustinus Bader has hit the nail on the head with this super hydrating moisturizer with argan oil, evening primrose oil, avocado. Packed with omega 6 and vitamin E, it is an intensive hydrating repair cream perfect for dry skin, ideal for use in your evening skincare routine.
5. Shea Butter
Shea butter is a natural substance derived from tree nuts, and it has been used as a moisturizer for centuries. It is naturally packed with vitamins and fats, and it has the full profile of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
Shea butter promotes cell regeneration and is a great moisturizer for soothing eczema, psoriasis, and sun-damaged skin. Even better, it contains no chemicals, it is lightweight, and it doesn't clog pores, meaning it can be easily absorbed by the skin and is effective at restoring the moisture barrier.
Our Top Pick Of Shea Butter: La Roche Posay Toleriane
La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Creme regularly tops the lists of best face moisturizers for sensitive skin. This is down to its hypoallergenic formula, dermatologically tested and proven to soothe irritation and allergies. This moisturizer boasts a combination of thermal water, karite butter, and shea butter that works to repair the skin's moisture barrier. It is also fragrance-free and contains 0% alcohol, making it the perfect option for hypersensitive skin.
6. Salicylic Acid
This acid belongs to a category of ingredients known as beta hydroxy acids (commonly abbreviated as BHAs), which are super for exfoliating, treating acne, and fighting bacteria.
It is extremely effective at unclogging pores by dissolving any dirt or buildup, killing blackheads and pimples. And just when you thought it couldn’t get better – it also has great anti-inflammatory effects.
It is often found among the best face moisturizers for oily and acne-prone skin. However, its downside is that it can cause irritation, peeling, and redness if overused, so it should be kept to fairly small doses, and it is best avoided by sensitive and severely dry skin for this reason. It is also generally not considered to be pregnancy safe skin care.
Our Top Pick of Salicylic Acid: Origins Clear Improvement
Origins Clear Improvement is a facial moisturizer containing 1% salicylic acid and bamboo charcoal, designed to fight acne while hydrating the skin. It's also an oil-free moisturizer, making it one of the best options for hydrating while also clearing pores. Blackheads won't stand a chance against this powerful face cream!
Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A, and it is a hero ingredient of many skin care products due to its ability to stimulate the production of new skin cells. Retinol can also help boost the amount of collagen your body produces, even pigmentation, and treat blemishes.
Retinol is one of the best ingredients to look out for in a daily moisturizer or night cream if you have acne-prone skin, and its anti-aging properties place it among some of the best options for mature skin too. However, it can cause irritation, so is best approached with care if you experience sensitive or very dry skin. You should avoid it if you suffer from eczema or rosacea.
Our Top Pick Of Retinol: Olay Regenerist Night Cream
Olay's Regenerist Night Cream is a fragrance-free moisturizer with a super-hydrating amino acid profile that penetrates deep into the dermis. Moreover, the retinol in it works to improve cell turnover resulting in a more youthful, radiant complexion.
It is also packed with vitamin E and green tea, whose antioxidant properties will help fight against free radical damage and protect your body's collagen levels. All in all, this hydrating night cream is a great addition to your evening skin care routine!
Special Mention: La Mer 'The Renewal Oil'
As with any retinol product, it's best to calm the potential irritant effects with a hydrating, soothing skin oil, applied before your retinol cream. La Mer 'The Renewal Oil' is a great option, thanks to its hydrating and soothing properties. This formula by La Mer is packed with sunflower seed oil and vitamin E, adding antioxidant benefits for overall skin health.
La Mer 'The Renewal Oil' also boasts anti-aging properties, helping you achieve fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Combining your retinol night cream with this formula by La Mer will create a powerful duo that can provide a whole range of anti-aging benefits.
More helpful reading:
8. Collagen Peptides
Peptides are hugely popular in the skincare world, often seen among the best of the best moisturizers, and for good reason.
Collagen, the protein responsible for healthy and supple skin, is composed of polypeptide chains. While collagen as a whole is too large to be absorbed effectively through the epidermis, it can be broken down into its more easily absorbed components by a process known as hydrolysis.4
Put simply, peptides are the most easily absorbed (and therefore most effective) form of collagen in skincare products.
Hydrolyzed collagen peptides can be somewhat effective in a moisturizer, particularly in a night cream where they spend enough time on the skin to be properly absorbed via the epidermis. However, the most effective form of collagen peptides can be found in liquid collagen supplements, which allow peptides to enter the bloodstream more efficiently.
Liquid collagen can be derived from animal or marine sources, although animal sources have come under scrutiny for potential side effects and toxic hazards.
Marine collagen, however, is recognized as the best alternative, derived from the scales of fish. It has a higher bioavailability than animal source collagen, meaning that it is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream and is, therefore, more effective.5
More helpful reading:
Achieve Firmer, Fuller, Radiant Skin With Taut Marine Collagen Peptides
With our Taut Ultimate Transformation program, you can combine the moisturizing benefits of Taut Hydrate and Taut Collagen Mask with the marine collagen peptides in our Taut Premium Collagen Drink.
Our Premium Collagen Drink uses a patented marine collagen peptide sourced from the scales of red snapper, wild-caught in the Indian Ocean. It is the purest form of collagen with the best complete amino acids profile for skin rejuvenation.
Each bottle packs a punch with 13,000mg of marine collagen peptides, clinically proven to fight the signs of aging and improve skin elasticity, with immediate, visible, and long-lasting results.
We've combined this marine collagen goodness with more powerful ingredients like hyaluronic acid, elastin, and grape seed extract to hydrate and rejuvenate your skin.
Taken in tandem with the super moisturizer boost of hyaluronic acid in Taut Hydrate, our Premium Collagen Drink will help you achieve hydrated, luminous skin in no time. The Taut Collagen Mask is the cherry on top, providing the perfect finish to this luxurious and effective collagen skincare program.
Like all of our transformation programs, it is also available on a subscription basis. Get in touch to find out more about our subscription plans!