Welcome to Deep Reviews —your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. The Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market’s most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations.
Every time I feel like branching out and trying a new moisturizer, I’m frozen by the paradox of choice. There are so many moisturizers on the market—on Sephora’s website alone, there are 437 pages of choices. It’s tough to choose a new moisturizer when you’re faced with thousands of options that are all essentially meant to do the same thing (moisturize your face).
Here at Who What Wear, we set out to find a definitive answer for the best moisturizers on the market. A crew of 13 testers decided to put some of the best-of-the-best formulas up to the test by adding them to their skincare routine. Keep reading for the 23 we would recommend to anyone—plus why we love them so much.
Testing notes: “I have never used a moisturizer that I keep coming back to quite like Dieux Instant Angel. It’s a barrier-repair cream that feels lush and moisturizing but doesn’t leave behind the same residue as many other occlusive creams might. I truly think any skin type could use this moisturizer and be happy. It leaves your skin glowy but never too dewy, and after a month of consistent use, I genuinely felt like my skin’s barrier was stronger and my face was less reactive.” — Berohn. Pros: Moisturizing, no residue, fragrance-free, repairing. Cons: Though it’s fragrance-free, there is a slight scent that some may not like
Testing notes: “Peptides are the buzzy ingredient right now, and after using this moisturizer for a few months, I see why. The price point is so incredible it’s worth trying out, and it gave me an instant glow.” — Mayhew. Pros: Budget-friendly, unscented, in-between texture of a cream and a lotion, sinks in easily, doesn’t leave heavy residue. Cons: May not be moisturizing enough for drier skin
Testing notes: “There’s no time quite like the summertime to pick up a refreshing, glossy moisturizer to keep your skin in check. In the warmer months, I usually skip a heavy cream altogether, opting instead for a lightweight sunscreen formula to add a bit of bounce to my skin. For days when my face is feeling more dehydrated than usual, I’ve been using the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, and I have to say it works like a charm. Not only is it incredibly cooling and refreshing on extra-warm days, but it also wears incredibly well under my other products. For best results, try not to cake it on. Too much of the gel-like consistency can feel just as heavy as a traditional cream. For a product sitting right in the affordable-price-point category, it works like a charm, beating some of my ultra-expensive jars when it comes to skin feel and formulation.” — Escalante. Pros: Budget-friendly, sinks in instantly, super lightweight. Cons: Lightly scented, may not be moisturizing enough for drier skin
Testing notes: “A little goes a long way with this product! It’s thick and has a lotion-like consistency. Because of how thick it is, I find that it’s super heavy to wear during the day, especially under sunscreen. I will be reserving this for the winters when my combination skin needs some extra moisture.” — Morinia. Pros: Intensely moisturizing, refillable, buttery texture . Cons: May be too thick for oily or combination skin
Testing notes: “It blended in very nicely and felt lightweight under my sunscreen, even in this summer heat. My skin immediately felt more supple than before and extremely hydrated.” — Morinia. Pros: Hydrating, lightweight, works well under makeup. Cons: Contains potentially irritating preservatives
Testing notes: “I typically don’t go for scented moisturizers, but this one feels too good on the skin to pass up. It blended in very nicely and felt lightweight under my sunscreen, even in this summer heat. My skin immediately felt more supple than before and extremely hydrated.” — LaPlaca. Pros: Gel texture that morphs into a water-like texture as you apply, sinks in easily, feels more moisturizing than some other gel formulas while still being lightweight. Cons: May not be moisturizing enough for drier skin
Testing notes: “I can’t remember the last time I used a moisturizer as luxurious as this. I could notice a difference in my complexion even after using it for less than a week. It’s formulated with lipids and ceramides to help repair a weakened skin barrier. The texture is indulgently thick and what I would call heaven. It’s a heavier formula (it feels like whipped mashed potatoes TBH) and perfect for someone with dry, rosy cheeks like me. A little goes a long way, but the richness doesn’t weigh skin down or feel greasy at all.” — Schlisserman. Pros: Light textured cream, feels silky, sinks in quickly but leaves skin plump. Cons: Expensive, may be too thick for oily or combination skin
Testing notes: “This is a simple, classic, no-frills, perfect multitasking moisturizer that could be your go-to not just for daily life but also for decades. It’s your mother’s and your grandmother’s and your auntie’s secret ageless solution you didn’t know you needed. Seven days into using it, my skin actually feels like its texture is nourished and recovering from dryness and damage. The most gratifying experience was using it as an overnight mask and waking up in the morning to see how supple and radiant my skin still looks even after rinsing my face.” — Acevedo. Pros: Bouncy gel-to-water texture, feels cooling, light, sinks in easily . Cons: Lightly scented, may not be moisturizing enough for drier skin
Testing notes: “For me, a hydrated, even-toned complexion is the priority. Honestly, it feels like this moisturizer was made specifically for me because it targets all my concerns, including dryness, redness, sensitivity, and texture. (Also, I just have to say I love the pink packaging.) The formula has two of my all-time favorite ingredients: aloe vera and hyaluronic acid. I love them because they give my skin a dewy glow and soothe the redness that I can get on my cheeks and around my nose. A couple of layers of this cream primes the perfect even canvas—whether I’m wearing makeup or having a no-makeup day.” — Walsh. Pros: Sinks in immediately, feels a bit tacky like a primer. Cons: Best for under makeup
Testing notes: “I truly feel like this is the ultimate moisturizer for anyone who’s prone to breakouts or worried about clogged pores and anyone who craves moisture but quite literally doesn’t want to feel anything sitting on their face. It’s incredibly fast absorbing but provides ample, high-quality hydration that lasts. I’m 30 years old with combo, acne-prone skin and love it, and my mom—who is 75 with dry, mature skin—also loves it. I think that speaks volumes!” — Jahns. Pros: Lightweight, absorbs quickly. Cons: May not be moisturizing enough for drier skin, the packaging isn’t the easiest to use
Testing notes: “The thing with so many oil-free moisturizers is that they can sometimes be too lightweight and are unable to actually provide the skin with the surge of moisture it needs to stay balanced and healthy. I swear by this formula from Renée and have used it for years. It’s one of the few face creams out there that doesn’t make me break out, but it also really leaves your skin feeling hydrated and lightly glowy, never greasy! This formula doesn’t receive near enough attention or praise.” — Jahns. Pros: Light texture, feels soothing, sinks in quickly, leaves skin feeling hydrated. Cons: Lightly scented
Testing notes: “I am slightly obsessed with how pretty this makes my skin look, and you know a product is good when random strangers walk up to you at the airport to tell you how beautiful your Dewy Skin Cream–lathered, makeup-free complexion looks. Unlike other rich moisturizers out there, it’s noncomedogenic and delivers the brightest, plumpest, healthiest-looking skin right before your eyes. (I have this on standby for mornings when I wake up hungover and my skin needs extra help.) Oh, and it works generously under makeup, something I can’t say for a lot of moisturizers I try! That said, if you run oily, this formula will probably be a little too much and could get a little slippery and greasy on the skin as the day wears on. ” — Jahns. Pros: Makes skin glow, plumping. Cons: May be too thick for oily or combination skin
Testing notes: “This moisturizer has a lightweight, water-gel texture, so it’s basically like a glass of water for my dehydrated skin. I love that it has plumping peptides and barrier-strengthening probiotics. And when I tell you it makes my skin feel soft, I mean like newborn-baby, lamb’s-wool, rose-petal soft. I only have one small critique: It has a slight fragrance, and I usually like to stick to fragrance-free formulas for my redness-prone skin.” — McLintock. Pros: Bouncy gel-like cream, dewy sheen. Cons: Lightly scented, expensive
Testing notes: “I usually avoid sleeping masks if they’re highly fragranced or too rich for my dehydrated, redness-prone skin. This one is lightweight, cooling, and calming, and there’s no overwhelming fragrance. My skin loves it, and it literally calms, smooths, and plumps my skin overnight.” — McLintock. Pros: Doesn’t leave a heavy residue, calms and hydrates skin overnight. Cons: Best used at night
Testing notes: “Glow Recipe’s Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer has landed itself in my top five favorite moisturizers thanks to its ultra-hydrating and skin-balancing ingredients. After a few days of use, I couldn’t believe how much more healthy, dewy, and refreshed my skin looked. With a week of use, it looked completely transformed.” — Thomas. Pros: Refillable, somewhere between a gel and a cream texture, sinks in quickly, leaves skin plump. Cons: Lightly scented
Testing notes: “I have super-dry skin, especially in the winter. During the colder months, my face will start flaking, even with the heaviest moisturizers. I always used to wonder if La Mer is worth the hype, and the answer is yes. If you have dry skin, mature skin, or a compromised skin barrier, La Mer won’t just help your skin but also make it look better than it ever has.” — Berohn. Pros: Luxe and heavy packaging, ultra-rich formula, skin feels incredibly soft after using. Cons: May be too thick for oily or combination skin, expensive
Testing notes: “I like this cream because it seems rich when you first pump it (and it is rich), but once you start rubbing it in, it transforms into an almost water-like texture. It leaves your skin dewy and plump—maybe even on the glossy side.” — Berohn. Pros: Sinks in easily, leaves skin dewy. Cons: May be too thick for oily or combination skin, expensive
Testing notes: “One thing I really love about this cream is its unique packaging—each pump gives you the perfect amount of product for your whole face. With six different African oils and ceramides, it’s a powerhouse for dry skin, and its rich, whipped texture is easy to spread and leaves skin plump and dewy.” — Berohn. Pros: Pump pre-measures how much moisturizer you need, highly moisturizing, no thick residue. Cons: May be too thick for oily or combination skin
Testing notes: “I typically keep my moisturizers and my sunscreens separate, favoring putting on sunscreen after I moisturize. This is one of my only exceptions to that rule. It’s moisturizing enough for my dry skin, and it doesn’t leave a sunscreen-y film.” — Berohn. Pros: SPF 30, no thick residue. Cons: Requires a bit of rubbing in
Testing notes: “If you’re in the market for an ultra-occlusive overnight moisturizer, this is the one. I deal with dry, dehydrated, and occasionally dull skin, but when I use this product, my skin feels plump the next morning. I also had a few breakouts this week, and I noticed the redness was reduced when I woke up. It says you can use this morning and night, but I would recommend applying it just at nighttime, as it does have a sticky feeling to it. ” — Gray Herder. Pros: Highly moisturizing, calming. Cons: Best used at night
Testing notes: “Ever since I saw my favorite beauty YouTuber (hi, Allana Davison) use this as her makeup base, I have been dying to test it out. She and I have similar skin types (dry, dehydrated), and her makeup always looks flawless when she uses this product. At first, I was a bit nervous to use such a thick moisturizer in the midst of summer, but it sank right into the skin, and I noticed a huge difference in my makeup longevity. I think this has potential to be my new holy grail, but just note it does have fragrance.” — Gray Herder. Pros: Sinks in easily, works well under makeup, highly moisturizing. Cons: Lightly scented
Testing notes: “I just tried this moisturizer for the first time, and it instantly reminded me of one of my favorite luxury buys for a fraction of the price. It feels extremely hydrating without making my skin too greasy, and even though it’s fragrance-free, it smells great.” — Mayhew. Pros: Gentle, hydrating, sinks in easily. Cons: May be too thick for oily or combination skin
Testing notes: “I’ve tried First Aid Beauty’s regular Ultra Repair Cream and had okay results, but clearly, my skin type was in need of the Intense Hydration version. It’s lighter and fluffier, which I prefer in a moisturizer because thick creams often cling to my dry patches and cause me to break out. This moisturizer, however, was easily absorbed, and it left my skin feeling soft and supple. Like other First Aid Beauty products, it includes colloidal oatmeal, which soothes my red and splotchy eczema spots—which is no easy feat. I even found myself using the cream to target other parts of my body that I have eczema like my ears and arms.” — Siddiqui. Pros: Rubs in fairly quickly for how rich it is, feels soothing, highly moisturizing. Cons: May be too thick for oily or combination skin
Hint: They don’t
just work to keep skin from flaking. “Skin that is well-moisturized is stronger, has a healthier barrier, and can keep out potential damaging aspects from the external environment, such as bacteria, fungus, viruses, [and] even microscopic pollutants that are more likely to irritate or inflamed dry skin,” says Nazarian. “Additionally, even though cleansing your skin is a vital part of your skincare regimen, cleansing can strip some of the natural oils and hydrators, weakening skin over time. Moisturizing is an important step to maintain a healthy skin barrier despite daily cleansing.”
When picking out a moisturizer, Gohara recommends looking for ingredients that are already found in your natural skin barrier to boost it. Think ceramides, hyaluronic acid, squalene, and urea. Engelman agrees, noting that you should also opt for moisturizers without added fragrance or harsh chemicals, as they can irritate skin—this is especially important if you’re already sensitive.
“When preparing to purchase a moisturizer, the most important things to know first are your skin type and what results you are looking for,” says Engelman. “For example, if your concerns are aging, you may want to look for a night cream that incorporates retinol or phyto-retinol. If your skin is dry, look for a more occlusive and hydrating formula that will deeply moisturize the skin and prevent transepidermal water loss.”
First, we asked our experts the best way to choose moisturizers and used that as a starting point. With their expertise in mind, I combed through 63 moisturizers that had made other publications’ “best-of” lists and landed on 30 formulas for our editors to test. From those, we chose and ranked the top 23.