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Sifting through the many skincare products on the market today is no small task. What is the difference between a cream, gel and a gel cream? How is a serum different from a moisturizer? And is a moisturizer different from a lotion?
Using face moisturizers, specifically daily face moisturizers, is a vital part of any skincare regimen. They certainly protect your skin from drying out, but they can do so much more.
However, that is highly dependent on finding the right moisturizer, because no two are built the same. Not to worry – we have compiled a list of the 17 best daily face moisturizers in 2023 so you don’t have to do the research on your own. We also included several other vital pieces of information for using daily face moisturizers because we all love a bit of skincare education.
17 Best Daily Face Moisturizers in 2023
- Blu Atlas Face Moisturizer
- CeraVe Facial Cream
- Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
- Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer
- Tatcha Water Cream Moisturizer
- Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel with Hyaluronic Acid
- Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer
- Dr. Barbara Sturm Rich Face Cream
- SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore
- Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid Peptide Face Cream
- Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
- Weleda Sensitive Care Facial Cream
- The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
- Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream
- Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream
- e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Face Cream
What Is a Face Moisturizer?
A face moisturizer is a skincare product specifically formulated to hydrate the skin on the face and neck. Face moisturizers can come in several forms, such as ointments, lotions, cream emulsions and balms.
These emollient-heavy products not only assist in keeping the skin properly hydrated; they also provide the skin with other impressive benefits like reduced signs of aging.
Benefits of Using a Daily Face Moisturizer
Here is a more in-depth look at the impressive benefits of using a daily face moisturizer.
Hydration: Properly Hydrate Your Skin
One of the main advantages of using a face moisturizer is the ample hydration one can experience almost immediately upon application. Your face is constantly subjected to various factors that can easily dry it out – both external and internal.
While having dry skin is usually harmless from a health perspective, it can feel uncomfortable for the person experiencing it, along with being slightly embarrassing. In reality, who would prefer having flaky and dry skin over supple, glowing, hydrated skin?
That’s where a quality daily face moisturizer comes in. Because these skincare products are jam-packed with hydrating ingredients, they leave your skin looking and feeling soft, supple and noticeably hydrated.
Anti-Aging: Wrinkles and Fine Lines Lessened
We are all aware of those quintessential signs of aging: fine lines and wrinkles. Unfortunately, the signs of aging are impossible to dodge, as the skin naturally loses elasticity and thickness over time.
Fortunately, however, skincare products can assist in lessening the appearance of these signs of aging – and, yes, one such product is a daily face moisturizer.
A daily face moisturizer can provide the skin with the nourishment and overall hydration it needs to look its best. Moisturizers trap moisture on the skin, making the skin look significantly more youthful and slowing the aging process in the skin. What’s not to love?
Protection from Exterior Factors
The culprit that is the most detrimental to your skin’s health and appearance is the sun. The sun’s rays are exceptionally dangerous for your skin because UVA and UVB rays can lead not only to sunburn but also various irreversible issues: hyperpigmentation, wrinkling, skin sagging, loss of skin elasticity and skin cancer.
Luckily, face moisturizers can assist in protecting your face and skin from irreparable sun damage because many of them contain SPF. However, you should check the label of your chosen face moisturizer to ensure it does indeed have an SPF (preferably 30 or above) and utilize your face moisturizer in tandem with your favorite sunscreen.
Brightening of the Skin, Including Dark Spots
If you’re looking to brighten and boost the glow of your skin, then you certainly need a daily face moisturizer. Face moisturizers are formulated with ingredients that lighten the skin, decreasing the appearance of dark spots and evening the skin tone. Some ingredients to look for when choosing the best daily face moisturizer are vitamin C, vitamin E and hydroquinone.
Types of Face Moisturizers
While we love all daily face moisturizers, there are three types of moisturizers to choose from: emollients, occlusives and humectants. Each serves a different purpose and should be chosen based on your specific skin and its requirements.
Emollients are ingredients in skincare products that soothe irritation and dryness while hydrating the skin. Emollient moisturizers accomplish these goals with oils and lipids such as cocoa butter, ceramides, collagen, lanolin, jojoba oil and shea butter.
Occlusives, on the other hand, work to decrease the likelihood of moisture loss. These moisturizers include ingredients like beeswax, silicones, petroleum jelly and petrolatum.
Lastly, humectants hydrate the skin by drawing moisture from the surrounding air to the outer layers of the skin. Some examples of these ingredients include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), glycerin, lactic acid and hyaluronic acid.
Moisturizers vs. Lotions: What’s the Difference?
While both moisturizers and lotions can provide your skin with impressive hydration (among other similar benefits), these two skincare products are not interchangeable.
Here are the three main differences between moisturizers and lotions:
Consistency: Since lotions have a higher water content, these products tend to be thinner in consistency and can be more easily absorbed by the skin of the body. Moisturizers tend to be thicker in consistency.
Application: Face creams are specifically for hydrating the delicate skin on your face and neck, while lotions are for the thicker skin of the rest of your body.
Ingredients: Lotions contain ingredients that cater to the thicker skin of the body, and are also often aromatic. These ingredients won’t serve the skin on your face as well as you would hope, as they can clog the pores and cause irritation due to the fragrance.
On the other hand, Moisturizers consist of more specialized ingredients for the face (for example, anti-aging and acne-fighting).
How Often and When Should You Use a Daily Moisturizer?
As you might have already gathered from the name itself, you should apply your daily moisturizer every day. Using your daily moisturizer twice daily – once in the morning and once in the evening – is the best practice, as this ensures your skin is properly and evenly moisturized throughout the day.
When you apply your moisturizer is also important. Typically, you should use it post-shower or bath, as the hot water strips your skin of moisture. You should also use a moisturizer after you cleanse your face.
If you intend to exercise outdoors, you should apply moisturizer prior to doing so. Putting moisturizer on your face before you exercise outdoors will assist in protecting your skin from sun damage, over-drying and other environmental factors.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Using a Daily Moisturizer?
While there are many advantages to using a daily moisturizer, much like anything else, there are some disadvantages to doing so as well. For one, moisturizers can slow down the skin’s natural exfoliation and hydration processes.
First, it interferes with the natural exfoliation process as the product sits on top of the skin cells that would normally fall off and be replaced on their own. This then causes dead skin cells to linger longer than necessary, trapping them, keeping the new skin cells from surfacing.
Second, some moisturizers tend to linger on the skin, which can clog pores. Clogged pores can lead to an increase in acne breakouts.
A Note on Skin Type and Daily Face Moisturizers
When you are shopping for a daily face moisturizer, don’t simply pick up the first one you see and head to the register. Not all daily face moisturizers are built the same – nor are all people, and that includes their skin.
Be sure to consider your skin type first and foremost, because what works for oily skin very likely won’t work for dry skin. Educate yourself on your skin type (dry, oily, combination, normal or sensitive). That will help you find the ideal daily face moisturizer for you, and it will also help you decide on other skincare products in the future.
Best Daily Moisturizer for Oily Skin: Aim for water-based moisturizers that are free from any oil (oil easily clogs pores, which is the enemy for those who are acne-prone). Gel moisturizers tend to be better for those with oily skin as they are oil-free, lightweight and contain an abundance of humectants.
Best Daily Moisturizer for Dry Skin: A moisturizer with a heavier and creamier consistency typically works best for those with dry skin, as it takes longer to dry and continues to absorb into the skin over a longer period of time.
Moisturizing creams contain both oily and watery ingredients. The oily ingredients are ideal for retaining moisture and humectants are excellent for drawing in moisture in the first place.
Best Daily Moisturizer for Combination Skin: Combination skin typically means that your skin can have characteristics of two skin types, but usually in different locations. For example, many of those with combination skin tend to have an oily T-zone (the forehead and nose), while the rest of their face is dry. If you have combination skin, you may need to select more than one moisturizer.
Best Daily Moisturizer for Normal Skin: This skin type can typically use any type of moisturizer.
Best Daily Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin: Those with sensitive skin should always aim for fragrance-free moisturizers that are free of common irritants like petroleum, sulfates, parabens and glycolic acid.
17 Best Daily Face Moisturizers in 2023
We’ve covered almost everything you need to know when selecting a daily face moisturizer, which now leads us to the moment you have been waiting for: our list of the 17 best daily face moisturizers in 2023.
1. Blu Atlas Face Moisturizer
Best for All Skin Types
Blu Atlas is a leader in the skincare and haircare industries for both men and women, and their face moisturizer is one of their finest products. The Blu Atlas vegan daily moisturizer is filled to the brim with beneficial ingredients to give your skin the nourishment it needs and deserves, regardless of your skin type.
Mango seed butter contains vitamins C and E, which are powerful antioxidants. Mango seed butter provides your skin with all the benefits of these ingredients, including protectors from environmental stressors. Seaweed extract exfoliates, brightens and moisturizes while regulating oil production. The moisturizer also contains a healthy amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
This anti-aging moisturizer is admirable for what’s in it, and also for what’s not in it. The Blu Atlas daily moisturizer is paraben-free, sulfate-free, fragrance-free, synthetic dye-free, phthalate-free and preservative-free. So if you have sensitive skin, you can use this daily moisturizer and have confidence it will give your skin the TLC it’s been craving, without adverse effects.
2. CeraVe Facial Cream
Best for Dry and Sensitive Skin Types
CeraVe has become a household name, as they have been crafting quality skincare products since 2005. This industry-leading brand lands securely in our number two spot – and there really isn’t much surprise as to why.
The formula is based on three essential ceramides. These ingredients hydrate the skin (even very dry skin) while simultaneously improving the look and feel of it. The three essential ceramides specifically help in restoring the skin’s protective barrier and locking in moisture.
This cream is especially impressive because it can be used by those with both dry and sensitive skin, as it is non-greasy, fast-absorbing, highly moisturizing and fragrance-free.
Best of all, this cream from CeraVe is highly affordable.
3. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream
Best for All Skin Types
Kiehl’s is yet another brand that has long been known in the skincare and hair-care industries – since 1851, to be precise. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream takes slot number three on our list.
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream is composed of 4.5% squalene, which strengthens the skin’s natural barrier and assists the skin in moisture retention. After application of this ultra-hydrating moisturizer, the skin will be left feeling exceptionally plump and soft, and moisturized for a full 24 hours.
The symphonic combination of ingredients in Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream leaves the skin two to three times more hydrated than under normal conditions. Plus, it’s paraben-free and fragrance-free, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin.
4. Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer
Best for All Skin Types
Cetaphil Redness Relieving Daily Facial Moisturizer is a gentle formula created to provide your skin with ample hydration along with cooling and soothing properties, which is important for those with irritated skin. It also evens your skin tone and hydrates the natural skin barrier.
Its unique formulation is what makes the magic happen. The three main ingredients are caffeine, allantoin and licorice extract, which soothe redness and general skin irritation.
Caffeine is an effective ingredient in skincare, making skin look brighter and tighter. Allantoin not only protects skin from overdrying, but is an impressive exfoliant that also heals and soothes the skin. Licorice extract eases skin inflammation and swelling, making it one of the most desirable ingredients for those with skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis.
This moisturizer has other benefits, including reef-safe, mineral-based SPF 20 UVA and UVB protection. It’s also fragrance-free, non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic.
5. Tatcha Water Cream Moisturizer
Best for Oily to Combination Oily Skin Types
If you’re on the hunt for something that is lightweight, can easily absorb into your skin, targets your pore size and is anti-aging, the Tatcha Water Cream Moisturizer is exactly what you need.
With the assistance of powerful botanicals, your skin can reap major benefits and look (and feel) its finest. Japanese wild rose diminishes the appearance of pores while simultaneously balancing skin. This ingredient in tandem with others leads to balanced, hydrated and illuminated skin.
Users have seen impressive results just one week after use. Plus, this product has truly stunning packaging.
6. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer
Best for Oily, Normal and Combination Skin Types
Olay has been the go-to brand for millions of people across the globe for decades. Olay’s Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer is just one of the products that users are passionate about.
This cream does as you would imagine any quality moisturizer would do in that it hydrates your skin, but it also does so much more. It protects the skin’s natural barrier, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, supports skin cell turnover, gets rid of dead skin cells, firms the skin, and provides 24-hour hydration – and it accomplishes all this with a gentle, soothing touch.
7. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel With Hyaluronic Acid
Best for Dry, Sensitive and Oily Skin Types
Lightweight, fast absorption and ultra hydration – that’s what users appreciate about the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel with Hyaluronic Acid. This gel-like moisturizer leaves skin feeling supple and soft and, because it’s a gel, it won’t leave the skin feeling greasy.
Hyaluronic acid is the main ingredient in this drugstore favorite, which is popular for providing the skin with ample hydration, improved flexibility, lessened inflammation and decreased wrinkle appearance.
The benefits are impressive with this moisturizer – and it’s exceptionally budget-friendly to boot.
8. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer
Best for Normal/Combination and Dry Skin Types
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer may have a long name, but it’s simply an indication of the long list of benefits it can provide users. This lightweight moisturizer is cooling, refreshing, softening and deeply hydrating, while being fragrance-free, oil-free and alcohol-free.
Hyaluronic acid is at the top of this moisturizer’s ingredient list, but that’s not all this product has to boast about. Pentavitin, a unique ingredient, provides skin with 72 hours of hydration; glycerin allows for ample hydration (for all skin types); ceramides assist in moisture retention; and hydrolyzed silk softens and smooths skin.
9. Dr. Barbara Sturm Rich Face Cream
Best for Normal, Dry and Combination Skin Types
Dr. Barbara Sturm is a German-based brand whose main mission is to provide its clientele with clean products that have a high concentration of active ingredients. The reason? More benefits, fewer adverse effects. The Dr. Barbara Sturm Rich Face Cream is a skincare product that gives you what your skin needs (and then some) without issues. Simple as that.
This premium moisturizer is vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free, and is composed of highly effective ingredients. Some of the ingredients in this face cream include vitamin E (great for anti-aging and evening skin tone), skullcap (also anti-aging and supports cell renewal), and avocadin (calms and hydrates skin).
However, this premium face cream comes at a hefty price: around $80 for 20 mL and $240 for 50 mL.
10. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore
Best for Dry, Normal, Oily, Combination and Sensitive Skin Types
SkinCeuticals has risen high in the skincare industry as of late, and it’s really no surprise as to why, as each of their products is meticulously created for optimal benefits. The SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore Treatment is one of their finest creations.
Its concentration contains 2% ceramides, 4% cholesterol and 2% fatty acids, all of which are natural and essential parts of the skin. Plus, it successfully nourishes and hydrates skin.
Much like the face cream from Dr. Barbara Sturm, SkinCeuticals’ Triple Lipid Restore isn’t exactly a budget moisturizer; this one can also cost a pretty penny. Keep that in mind during your moisturizer hunt.
11. Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid Peptide Face Cream
Best for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin Types
Speaking of lipids: We would be remiss if we skipped over the Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid Peptide Face Cream. This moisturizer is composed of 95% naturally derived ingredients, making it an exceptionally nutrient-dense option.
Its high concentration of active ingredients, which include seaweed hyaluronate, triple lipid complex and lily root extract, means it’s a moisturizer you can depend on to give you and your skin what you need. Not only does it replenish your skin’s naturally occurring lipids, but it tightens the skin, hydrates it, smooths it and brightens it.
This gel cream is dermatologist-tested and clinically proven to enhance the appearance of the skin and moisturize it. Best of all, it’s free of undesirables like parabens, gluten, sulfates, formaldehyde, phthalates, silicones, lanolin and petrolatum.
12. Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
Best for Normal, Dry, Combination and Oily Skin Types
The Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer from Biossance is a cream that is exceptionally gentle, weightless and, of course, effective. It works to soothe and calm the skin while simultaneously strengthening the skin’s natural barrier and restoring balance, which is especially important for those with skin conditions like rosacea.
Infused with probiotics, this unique moisturizer works to boost the production of vital skin components like collagen, peptides and ceramides. It also balances the complexion, improves skin clarity, reduces redness and calms the skin.
13. Weleda Sensitive Care Facial Cream
Best for Sensitive and Combination Skin Types
Weleda Sensitive Care Facial Cream is a non-greasy, fragrance-free, fast-absorbing and ultra-light face lotion that is crafted without synthetic compounds and toxic chemicals and is full of natural elements. Flower, fruit and root extracts in tandem with minerals and essential oils work to bring your skin optimal hydration and various other benefits.
This unique formulation provides users with a dependable moisturizer, including those with over-dry, irritated skin, as it calms, soothes and hydrates skin.
Some users have mentioned that this product has a slightly unpleasant aroma. However, others say they enjoy the scents, which include almond, wild rose and prickly pear.
14. The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
Best for All Skin Types
The Ordinary has recently risen to the top of the skincare game, and their Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA formula clearly indicates why that is so. This vegan, gluten-free, silicone-free and alcohol-free product is just what your skin needs to be its most hydrated without any fuss.
Glycerin, ceramide precursors, 11 amino acids, fatty acids, hyaluronic acid… the list of impressive and effective ingredients in this product goes on and on. Oh, and no big deal, but it won the Allure Best of Beauty award.
15. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream
Best for Normal, Dry, Combination and Oily
Drunk Elephant’s Lala Retro Whipped Cream is a product you want to have in your skincare regime. This impressive cream is highly effective, offering anti-aging benefits, intense hydration, firmness increase and skin barrier replenishment.
And if you’re wondering where this product gets all that remarkable hydration, you can thank the six African oils and a plant ceramide complex.
16. Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream
Best for All Skin Types
We love to include superfoods in our diet, and it turns out that our skin likes a superfood now and again, too. Youth to the People’s Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream fits seamlessly into your skin’s “diet.”
This lightweight moisturizer is a unique blend of kale, spinach and green tea, which helps your skin in a myriad of ways: getting proper hydration, fighting free radicals, firming up the skin and combating signs of aging. Yum!
17. e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Face Cream
Best for Normal, Dry, Combination and Oily Skin Types
e.l.f. has been on skincare shelves for a long time, known for being just the right amount of fulfilling and budget-friendly. Their Holy Hydration! Face Cream takes the last spot on our list.
Plump up that complexion with this exquisite face cream, while reaping the benefits of a quality moisturizer: remarkable hydration, skin-soothing, pore-cleansing and skin-softening goodness.
With our 17 best daily moisturizers in 2023, you can now go out and find the perfect moisturizer to cater to your unique skin.
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