Like faces, skin comes in nearly infinite varieties, but the best face moisturizer and serums should be able to help us fight off fine lines and wrinkles and help keep skin looking fresh, all while working with the beautiful, individual skin you were born with.
But with so many skin types out here, it can be hard to narrow down the best products for you.
To help, we’ve gone through the vast world of skincare products to find the best face moisturizer and serums to create youthful looking skin (for all kinds of skin!).
- Best Overall Face Moisturizer: AnnieMak Restore Vitamin C Serum
- Best for Combination Skin: CLEARSTEM Skincare HYDRAGLOW Stem Cell Moisturizer
- Best for Oily Skin: Zatural CBD + Vitamin C Tri-Lifting Serum
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Foreo Serum Sérum Serum
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Smile CBD Face Cream
Keep reading to see how we narrowed down our search, why we love these products so much, and the best ways to get the best out of the best face moisturizer for you.
How to Figure Out Your Skin Type
Before determining what the best face moisturizer for you is, it would be helpful to determine what type of skin you have.
While the condition of your skin can change from day to day, most humans have a general set “type,” with their body’s internal mechanisms set to certain levels that produce oily skin, acne-prone skin, combination skin, sensitive skin or anything in-between, on a regular basis.
From a dermatological point of view, there are five types of skin:
- Oily skin: Produces an excess of sebum, which makes skin appear shiny and feel greasy along the forehead, nose and chin
- Dry skin: Characterized by a rough, flaky or dull appearance and less elasticity
- Normal skin: Generally balanced, not prone to breakouts and feeling neither dry nor oily
- Combination skin: Includes both oily and dry areas; the “T” zone (forehead, nose and chin) are typically oily, while cheeks are typically dry
- Sensitive skin: More easily triggered by topicals and certain ingredients; prone to itchiness, dryness, burning, or turning red when in contact with these materials
The best way to determine which skin type you have is through a little work and observation.
Washing your face with a gentle moisturizer is a good start. Don’t add any products afterward, and wait 30 minutes. At this point, examine the condition of your skin. If it feels or appears:
- Shiny or greasy, you may have oily skin.
- Tight or flaky, you may have dry skin.
- Shiny, along the “T” zone only, you may have combination skin.
- Hydrated, comfortable, and not oily, you may have normal skin.
- Irritated, itchy, or red, you may have sensitive skin.
You can also perform this test with the help of blotting sheets. After washing with a gentle cleanser, patting dry, and waiting 30 minutes, you can apply these blotters to certain areas of your face, to see how much oil they pick up.
If the blotters reveal a lot of oil, you likely have oily skin. If they’re basically dry, you likely have dry skin. And if they absorb just a small amount of moisture, you likely have normal skin.
Once you’ve figured out which type of skin you have, you’ll be able to apply that knowledge to figure out what the best face moisturizer or serum for you will be.
Best Face Moisturizers And Serums for All Skin Types
Whether you have sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, dry skin or anything in-between, these moisturizers will help ensure you look your best.
Best Overall Face Moisturizer: AnnieMak Restore Vitamin C Serum
- Prevents and repairs wrinkles
- Increases skin elasticity
- No preservatives, parabens or sulfates
- Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free
- Third-party tested for safety and quality
- Size: 30 mL
- Secret Ingredient: Vitamin C
- How Much to Use: 1 full pump
Overview: There are so many good things to say about AnnieMak’s Restore Vitamin C Serum, we almost aren’t sure where to start.
The product checks all of the boxes for quality and safety, generating its power from a group of great all-natural ingredients, including organic witch hazel (acting as toner), organic aloe vera (acting as moisturizer), and a proprietary botanical mix to help pump up collagen — and keep things looking plump.
Even the more science-y ingredients are derived from plant-based sources, including vitamin E and hyaluronic acid, which work together to keep skin firmer, brighter and hydrated from the inside out. Plus, the company’s formula includes the highest concentration of vitamin C in the industry, which means a world of good for your face.
As if that weren’t enough, the company goes out of its way to source all ingredients from right in the U.S.A., and has everything tested by a third-party lab to ensure its safety and quality are up to snuff before putting it anywhere near a shelf.
What Customers Love: Customers credited this serum for helping with nearly everything someone could ask of a skincare serum, saying the formula helped reduce wrinkles, fade sunspots and leave a healthier, much smoother skin behind.
Best for Combination Skin: CLEARSTEM Skincare HYDRAGLOW Stem Cell Moisturizer
- Gives you noticeably softer, younger and radiant skin
- Made with zero pore-cloggers
- Toxin-free formula
- Made without hormone disruptors
- Size: 60 mL
- Secret Ingredient: Bakuchiol
- How Much to Use: A generous dollop
Overview: If your skin’s not quite oily, not quite dry, or showing up with different textures in different areas, this all-around hydrating formula can help smooth things out — and it won’t clog pores.
HYDRAGLOW has a few aces up their sleeve to help deal with these skin issues. The company utilizes plant-based bakuchiol to help round out sagging skin; all-natural olive squalene to deeply moisturize, without leaving an oily trace (an especially great ingredient for acne-prone skin); and plant-based stem cells to feed skin a steady stream of helpful amino acids and peptides, keeping your face feeling healthy and happy, long after the moisturizer has been applied.
The rest of the ingredients list is equally as encouraging, with HYDRAGLOW foregoing the usual dump of artificial stabilizers, fillers and scents that can litter an otherwise good formula with toxic potholes. And the company does it all while using ingredients that are cruelty-free — good news for our animal friends.
What Customers Love: Customers filled the comments section of this product with rave reviews and a flurry of photos showcasing their skin. Many mentioned how helpful it was to have a formula that kept their acne-prone skin moisturized without causing breakouts, while others marveled at how much plumper and firmer their dry skin felt.
Best for Oily Skin: Zatural CBD + Vitamin C Tri-Lifting Serum
- Delivers instant results
- Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free
- All-natural ingredients
- GMP-compliant manufacturing
- Size: 60 mL
- Secret Ingredient: CBD
- How Much to Use: A few drops, twice daily
Overview: Having oily skin can feel very frustrating. You have to strike a delicate balance between staying moisturized and avoiding breakouts. But that’s where Zatural’s CBD + Vitamin C Tri-Lifting Serum comes in to help those suffering with oily skin types.
The product contains a secret weapon in the ingredient cannabidiol, aka CBD. The hemp plant part has an affinity for all skin types, plugging directly into the body’s internal mechanisms to keep hormones balanced — and, for people with acne-prone skin, keep oil at bay.
On top of that inside/out approach, the company puts plenty more into their helpful formula, including an entire array of plant-based powerhouse ingredients like vegetable collagen, which helps keep skin naturally plumper, and vitamin C, one of skin’s favorite things.
It’s also helpful to know all of these ingredients go through Zatural’s extensive safety and quality checks, including tests by third-party labs to ensure each product is delivering exactly what it promises. And the company is dedicated to doing good, even outside of the skincare realm, donating some proceeds to a number of charities, including the Africa Heartwood Project.
What Customers Love: Customers with all skin types reported on this product, with the serum getting high marks all around. Still, those with oily skin routinely remarked that it helped produce hydrated skin without any greasy residue.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Foreo Serum Sérum Serum
- Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free formula
- Fragrance-free (sensitive skin friendly!)
- Size: 30 mL
- Secret Ingredient: Hyaluronic acid complex
- How Much to Use: One full pump
Overview: If you’re seemingly always battling between fighting off acne and seeking out moisture, you may have finally found the happy middle ground.
Foreo’s Serum Sérum Serum has everything someone with acne-prone skin needs to get a glowing complexion without teetering too far into oily territory that could result in a breakout.
Doing a majority of the heavy lifting for the formula is the company’s patented hyaluronic acid complex, which works to draw moisture from deep within the skin, creating hydrated skin from the inside. That method helps keep too much topical formula from interfering with acne-prone skin.
Also participating is plant-based squalene, another powerful hydrator that leaves minimal marks on oily skin. And the whole thing comes together in an overall lightweight formula that feels barely-there, despite working long after your skincare routine is over.
What Customers Love: Customers raved about the overall lightweight feel of the product, praising it as the best moisturizer they’ve tried on their acne-prone skin. Others were wrapped up in how well the formula helped smooth out their overall complexion, including helping plump up pesky wrinkles to create an overall youthful glow.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Smile CBD Face Cream
- Creates soft, supple skin
- Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free
- Organically-grown hemp
- Size: 50 mL
- Secret Ingredient: CBD
- How Much to Use: Small dollop, twice a day
Overview: Smile is another company that turns to the wisdom of Mother Nature to help create some of the safest, highest-quality and best facial moisturizer options on the market.
To help customers with particularly sensitive skin, the company looks to all-natural fixtures like aloe vera juice, avocado oil, and jojoba oil, which have been long-noted for their ability to help promote a healthy glow and maintain the kind of moisture that keeps skin looking young. All three are also notably gentle on the system, making them smart choices for those with sensitive skin.
The rest of the all-natural lineup, including vitamin C and vitamin E, is equally as encouraging to plump skin. But the star of this show is the CBD isolate the company includes in the mix. Cannabidiol — the full name for CBD — works directly with the body’s internal systems to keep hormone levels in balance, which translates to skin that’s less irritated and more receptive to the healing properties of this formula.
What Customers Love: Customers gushed that this face cream helped deliver hydrated skin without any flare ups, red spots or other signs of irritation for their product-sensitive skin. Some said it made their skin look better than it’s ever been, while others reported that it simply “worked”.
How We Picked Our Winners
We know how important moisturized skin is to you — but with a skincare industry filled with pseudo-science, half-truths and outright lies, it can be difficult to make sure you’re getting the best products possible.
That’s why we’ve scoured the market, using a comprehensive checklist to weed out any dangerous mixes.
While many companies focus on the full-package of their final product, we like to dig a little deeper to see how that nicely-formed package came together.
In fact, where a company sources its ingredients from, and how, where, and when they’re all mixed together, is one of the most important aspects of the entire process. And this goes double in the skincare world, which is loosely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration at best.
Companies that are upfront about their sourcing always get high marks from us, and those that go the extra step to safely source their ingredients, of course, are even better. We’re especially watchful of products with CBD. The ingredient can easily hold on to harmful toxins absorbed by the hemp plant’s roots, so getting it from an organic or all-natural farm is important.
And who’s doing the mixing also matters. We also stay on the lookout for companies that promote Good Manufacturing Practices-certified products, which are made in facilities — and by experts — that are up to industry safety standards.
No good product was ever made from bad ingredients.
Aside from focusing on where a company gets its ingredients from, we pay attention to the ingredients themselves. The skincare world is notorious for pumping its products full of artificial fillers and other additives that can be downright dangerous in high enough amounts. Rubbing those kinds of toxins into your body’s largest organ is never a good idea.
Instead, we look for companies with clean ingredients lists, preferring to see a slew of all-natural, botanical ingredients. Mother Nature, after all, has already created so many herbs that can help create beautiful, hydrated skin.
Certified organic ingredients also get high marks. And on top of looking for quality and safety, we keep science in mind too, checking ingredients against the latest information to make sure they actually make sense in a skin care product.
Most people aren’t thrilled about the idea of spending a lot of money on a product that doesn’t work. (And when it comes to skincare, things can start to get pricey pretty quick).
That’s why we do everything we can to ensure they’ll deliver the goods.
Third-party lab tests are one way to independently verify whether a company is being up-front about what’s going into their mix. The analysis can be ordered to check on any number of factors, revealing the exact levels of certain chemicals and compounds in any given mix and whether any toxins are present.
Still, even in our scientific age, there’s nothing quite like word of mouth to sing the praises of a product — or shatter the illusions of slick advertising. So before any product makes it to our list, we also scour the internet for comments and reviews about the product to see what real users had to say about their experience.
How to Use Face Moisturizer
It can be tricky to zero in on how much moisturizer you should use, when and how best to use it. (Estheticians have to go to school for a reason, after all).
First thing’s first: The product should always be applied to a clean face, no matter what your skin type or which type of moisturizer you’re using. This gives the product a clean pallet to work with. But make sure not to dry your face too much; there should still be some slight dampness on your face to help the product absorb more deeply into your skin.
Individual products will offer specific recommendations after this point, but by and large, you’re going to want to use far less product than you think you should. Most face moisturizers require only a pea-sized amount to be spread around in order to take effect.
Rub the formula into your damp face with your fingertips, moving in circular motions to help spread out the moisturizers and encourage blood flow.
You may also feel some residual effects right away. Your skin will likely — or, at least, should — feel refreshed and full of helpful moisture. But it can take as long as 2 weeks for longer-term effects to kick in, especially if you’re looking for help with dry skin, acne-prone skin or oily skin.
Benefits of Using Moisturizer
If an apple a day can help keep the doctor away, a moisturizer may do the same for the dermatologist. The vitamins, nutrients — and, often, SPF — involved in the mix can help skin stay nourished and healthy, aside from looking younger.
Vitamin A and Vitamin B5 can help skin build and maintain a precious store of moisture, which is important for skin health. Vitamins E and C are particularly potent for protecting skin and fighting off damage from the sun, which, in the most dangerous situations, can lead to forms of melanoma. And aside from keeping the most harmful rays of the sun away, SPF can help keep skin wrinkle-free.
Moisturizing skin every day can also help reduce issues with oily, dry or acne-prone skin by promoting hormonal balance and keeping the surface free from microbes and other impurities that can contribute to the problem.
And that’s to say nothing of the aesthetic value of moisturizing your skin. The best face moisturizers are packed with potent ingredients that help encourage natural beauty through skin that stays hydrated, plumper and overall more refreshed, leading to a fresher look overall.
Beauty routines are extremely personal, and important parts of many peoples’ day. And so, when it comes to finding the best face moisturizer for you, you may have a number of questions — some of which might be answered here.
Is moisturizer good for oily skin?
Though it may sound counterintuitive, moisturizer is actually good for oily skin. In fact, when skin is properly hydrated, it sends signals to the brain to stop producing excess sebum, the secretion that leads to the oily look and feeling.
Still, there are some factors to keep in mind if you have oily skin and are looking for the right kind of moisturizer. Make sure to stick to a lightweight, oil-free formula that uses non comedogenic ingredients (or those that will not block your pores). Looking for moisturizers specifically formulated for people with oily skin is another good option, as these products will likely include all of the above.
What time of day is best to use moisturizer?
Every product will come with its own specific suggestions and instructions for optimal use, but in general, there are a few times that are better than others to apply moisturizer to your face.
Many people prefer to apply their moisturizer as part of their morning routine. Before you go out to greet the day, make sure you put your best face forward, with a cleanser, moisturizer and any additional parts of your skincare routine, including toners, serums and eye creams.
Post-shower is another great time to moisturize. It’s when your skin is most primed to receive the product, with your pores expanding under the warm water and ready to absorb all the goodness your moisturizer has to offer.
And before bed is another key time, setting your skin up to soak up everything it can while you catch some zzz’s. Some research even shows that our skin is able to most effectively repair itself at night, roughly between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Of course, you don’t have to just pick one time. The best face moisturizers are gentle and safe enough to use throughout the day, making them a great option for all three of these times.
Whichever routine feels best for you, though, keep in mind that consistency is key when applying moisturizer. Even the best face moisturizer won’t do what it’s supposed to if you only use it reactively.
And no matter what time of day you decide to moisturize, make sure you wash your face first.
Should you moisturize every day if you have oily skin?
Yes. Though many people associate moisturizers with extra oil and clogged pores, even oily skin can get a boost from a daily moisturizing routine.
Using the stuff daily is, in fact, the best way to get the most out of your moisturizer. When your brain gets the message that you have hydrated skin, it stops sending out the signal to add more oil to the mix.
Using moisturizer every day also allows the body to absorb all the good stuff the formula has to offer, and adjust accordingly, leading to less oily skin overall. But remember, it can take up to 2 weeks to see all the effects from your skincare routine.
The human face is one of the most beautiful and unique things on this planet, and the skin that covers it is just as special, but there are still a few tips and tricks that can go a long way toward helping people with all types of skin get a healthy and natural glow.
Utilizing the best face moisturizer for you is a perfect way to help keep your skin looking younger and feeling healthier and happier. With some time, consistency and self-love, you can truly take care of and transform the skin you’re in.
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