When it comes to choosing a moisturizer, there’s a lot of confusion. Gels or rich creams? Hyaluronic acid or glycerin? Is fragrance-free really better? When we asked top dermatologists which moisturizers they stock in their medicine cabinets and recommend to patients, these are the ones that came out on top.
Louisville, KY, dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD‘s “hands down” favorite moisturizer happens to be an SPF-spiked one. “It’s hydrating and I love the tint,” she says. “It’s not too dark, but gives me just a little color.”
“This is an excellent moisturizer that makes the skin look and feel soft, radiant, and moisturized all while providing antioxidant benefits,” says New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD. “The instant and long-lasting moisturization includes niacinamide, which promotes healthy skin barrier and helps visibly brighten skin, and panthenol, a humectant which attracts moisture to the skin and holds water in, keeping the skin hydrated. This moisturizer defends against oxidative stress through physalis pubescens and creates an enhanced lipid barrier and lipid resilience with sunflower and soy derived phospholipids.”
“It’s soothing post-procedure or anytime skin needs extra nourishing without greasiness,” says Houston dermatologist Jennifer Segal, MD. “It feels delicious!”
Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda Honet, MD says her three favorite moisturizers also double as gentle multitaskers. “Each is not only an excellent moisturizer but they also have various anti-aging boosters like salmon-egg enzyme for gentle exfoliation, hyaluronic acids, antioxidants, humectants, or peptides,” she says.
Dr. Day also calls her own moisturizer a favorite. “It is rich in peptides, ceramides, vitamins E and C, shea butter and other skin-restoring agents as must-haves to help restore the skin barrier, improve collagen production and reduce inflammation that leads to discoloration and premature skin aging,” she says. Vitamins E and C shield skin against environmental stressors, five peptides increase the look of skin’s firmness and help to hydrate, and fatty acids and shea butter soften skin.
Proof that effective skin care doesn’t need to be costly, New York dermatologist Orit Markowitz, MD says she’s a big fan of this drugstore staple because it’s formulated with licorice extract, making it “incredibly soothing for sensitive skin and decreasing redness.”
Another benefit? “It has the perfect balance of being thick and moisturizing, but it’s not too sticky or difficult to apply. I find it to be very similar to the most expensive luxurious creams but at an affordable price.”
Dr. Segal says she uses this “mask” as a moisturizer. “It is calming and soothing. I mix it with my sunscreen during the day for a moisture boost and it gives a beautiful glow!”
“One of my favorite ingredients in a moisturizer is ceramide, a naturally occurring lipid in the skin which helps the skin retain moisture,” says Greenwich, CT, dermatologist Lynne Haven, MD. “Two great product that contain ceramides are SkinMedica’s TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream and CeraVe Moisturizing Cream.”
Dr. Cassis says her go-to pick is EltaMD’s Daily Tinted Moisturizer. It’s loaded with SPF and hyaluronic acid, and is great for all skin types—acne-prone, sensitive and even oily.
Montclair, NJ, dermatologist Jeanine B. Downie, MD, says this moisturizer does a great job of hydrating skin because it contains five different types of hyaluronic acid. “It will not clog pores and doesn’t cause acne. It’s great for even the most sensitive skin, as it’s not irritating.”
“I can’t get through winter—or a plane flight—without this moisturizer,” says New York dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD. “It includes glycerin and hyaluronic to hold moisture, shea butter to seal it in, and resveratrol, antioxidants and botanicals to reduce inflammation and promote skin health and anti-aging.”
“This hydrator has the highest amounts of hyaluronic acid and vitamins A, C, E available together in a cream,” says Dr. Downie, explaining it won’t clog your pores and also delivers anti-aging benefits.
“I love this for the daytime,” says Dr. Talakoub. “It goes on very light, exfoliates without irritating and smells great! They have a proprietary ingredient that micro-exfoliates the skin without irritating it.”