Best Types of Moisturizers For Your Skin

Moisturizers affect how well other skincare products in your skin regimen work- so choosing the best type of moisturizer for your skin type is important.  I have been treating patients in my dermatology practice in Miami for over 25 years and I have found that the type of moisturizer you use determines the benefits and side effects of other products in your skin care routine.

This is a guide to the many different types of moisturizers and face creams.


Best Type of Face Moisturizer

Which is Best: Lotion, Cream, Ointment or Serum?

Ointments are best at slugging ingredients into the skin,but are greasy

Creams are the best moisturizers for dry skin types.

Lotions are best for normal skin or slightly oily skin.

Serums are not considered moisturizers unless they have humectants like hyaluronic acid

The biggest mistake people make with moisturizers is using the wrong moisturizer for their skin type.

Before you spend money on a face moisturizer, make sure it is worth it and that it is the best type of moisturizer for your skin type.


Best Moisturizer For Men

The only difference between moisturizers for men and women is the marketing, packaging, fragrance and feel of the product. In other words, men can use the same moisturizers as women.

The 4 best moisturizers for men are:

  1. Medature PSL Repair Cream for dry skin
  2. Zerafite Soothing and Calming for dry, sensitive skin
  3. PCA Clear Skin is a noncomedogenic light moisturizer for men with clogged pores or oily skin.
  4. Alastin HA Immerse Serum for a light nongreasy moisturizer to make men's skin dewy and glowing.


Types of Face Moisturizers

Occlusive moisturizers- 

Occlusive coat (or occlude) the skin's surface and prevent water from evaporating. 

Occlusive moisturizers have oils, lipids, waxes and butters and are full of fatty acids.

These are the types of moisturizers used for skin slugging.

Humectant Moisturizers

Humectant moisturizers pull water from the environment to the skin's surface in a humid climate.

 The 4 most commonly used humectant ingredients in moisturizers are:

Glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronic acid and heparan sulfate


Polyglutamic acid


Humectants give skin firmness,  a jello feel, and temporarily plump fine lines and wrinkles.

Best Moisturizer for your Skin Type

To find the very best moisturizer for your skin type, take the quiz and we will give you a list of products from many brands that are right for you.

Best Face Moisturizer For Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is more prone to inflammation and irritation and needs calming and soothing ingredients.  Acne and rosacea are examples of sensitive skin.

The best moisturizer for sensitive skin is Zerafite Soothing and Calming.

The best moisturizer for dry, sensitive, aging skin is Zerafite Wrinkle Defense Barrier Cream.

The best moisturizer for dry, sensitive, aging skin with dark spots is Zerafite Skin Brightening Barrier Cream.


Best Face moisturizer for Acne-prone Skin

Acne-prone skin needs face moisturizers that do not have acne-causing ingredients.

These non-comedogenic moisturizers should have ingredients that help make the acne treatment products work better and reduce side effects.

The best light moisturizer for oily, acne prone skin is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Matt Mattifying Moisturizer.

The best moisturizer for dry acne prone skin is Zerafite Soothing and Calming.


Best Face Moisturizer for Rosacea

Rosacea is a type of sensitive skin that has facial redness, stinging and burning. Dry skin types with rosacea need a soothing barrier repair moisturizer or a soothing facial oil.  

Look for rosacea creams that have anti-redness ingredients such as argan oil.

The best face oil for rosacea is PAORR 100% Organic Argan Oil.

The best light lotion for rosacea is Derma-Made Niagenic Lotion.

The best heavy face cream for rosacea is Zerafite Soothing and Calming.

Best Moisturizer For Aging Skin

Best Moisturizer For Dry Skin

The best moisturizers for dry skin are barrier repair moisturizers

These are the 5 best heavy moisturizers for dry skin:

Learn more about why these are the best moisturizers for dry skin in our interview with barrier repair expert cosmetic chemist Dr. Jong-Kyung Youm.

Best Moisturizer For Oily Skin

The best moisturizers for oily skin should be light, noncomedogenic moisturizers. 

Top 5 noncomedogenic moisturizers:

Best Face Moisturizer With SPF

We prefer moisturizing sunscreens over moisturizers with sunscreen.

The best moisturizing sunscreen is Elta MD UV Replenish Broad Spectrum Sunscreen.


Best Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizers

There are many types of hyaluronic acid containing moisturizers and hyaluronic acid serums.

Hyaluronic acid has a huge effect on the penetration of other ingredients in the skincare routine. 

For this reason, you really should take the skin care routine quiz and follow our skin care routine suggestions before you buy an expensive HA serum.

These are the best HA containing moisturizers:

ingredients in face moisturizers

Best Ingredients In A Face Moisturizer

Dermatologists are often asked, “What ingredients should I look for in a face moisturizer?”

The short answer is, “It depends upon your Baumann Skin Type®”.

There are many categories of moisturizing ingredients. 

You can find a list of types of moisturizing ingredients in face creams and body creams here.

A list of all types of cosmeceutical ingredients can be found here.

Choose a moisturizer by your skin type

The best moisturizer for you depends upon many factors such as your:

  • Baumann Skin Type® 
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Daily schedule
  • Budget
  • Preferences for natural, organic, clean, environmentally friendly
  • Favorite skin care brands

Moisturizers have a huge effect on the efficacy of other skincare products in the regimen. 

So let us guide you with a list of the best moisturizers for you from many brands.

Best references and peer reviewed studies on moisturizers:

Blank IH. Factors which influence the water content of the stratum corneum. J Invest Dermatol. 1952;18(6):433-40.

Baumann, L. Ch.43 Moisturizers in Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology, 3rd edition ( McGraw Hill 2022)

Baumann L Chapters 7-31 in Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)

Buraczewska I, Berne B, Lindberg M, Lodén M, Törmä H. Moisturizers change the mRNA expression of enzymes synthesizing skin barrier lipids. Arch Dermatol Res. 2009;301(8):587-94.

Ye L, Mauro TM, Dang E, Wang G, Hu LZ, Yu C, et al. Topical applications of an emollient reduce circulating pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in chronically aged humans: a pilot clinical study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2019;33(11):2197-2201.

Lowe AJ, Leung DYM, Tang MLK, Su JC, Allen KJ. The skin as a target for prevention of the atopic march. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2018;120(2):145-151.

Yang M, Zhou M, Song L. A review of fatty acids influencing skin condition. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020;19(12):3199-3204.

Spruit D. The interference of some substances with the water vapour loss of human skin. Dermatologica. 1971;142(2):89-92.

Draelos Z. Moisturizers. In Atlas of Cosmetic Dermatology. Draelos Z, ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone, 2000, p. 83.

Wehr RF, Krochmal L. Considerations in selecting a moisturizer. Cutis. 1987;39(6):512-5.

Kligman AM. Regression method for assessing the efficacy of moisturizers. Cosmet Toilet. 1978;93:27-35.

Morrison D. Petrolatum. In Dry Skin and Moisturizers. Loden M, Maibach H, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000, p. 251.

American Academy of Dermatology Invitational Symposium on Comedogenicity. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1989;20(2 Pt 1):272-7.

Schnuch A, Lessmann H, Geier J, Uter W. White petrolatum (Ph. Eur.) is virtually non-sensitizing. Analysis of IVDK data on 80 000 patients tested between 1992 and 2004 and short discussion of identification and designation of allergens. Contact Dermatitis. 2006;54(6):338-43.

Tam CC, Elston DM. Allergic contact dermatitis caused by white petrolatum on damaged skin. Dermatitis. 2006;17(4):201-3.

Ulrich G, Schmutz JL, Trechot P, Commun N, Barbaud A. Sensitization to petrolatum: an unusual cause of false-positive drug patch-tests. Allergy. 2004;59(9):1006-9.

Harris I, Hoppe U. Lanolins. In Loden M, Maibach H, eds. Dry Skin and Moisturizers. Loden M, Maibach H, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000, p. 259.

Proserpio G. Lanolides: emollients or moisturizers? Cosmet Toilet. 1978; 93:45-48.

Kligman AM. The myth of lanolin allergy. Contact Dermatitis. 1998;39(3):103-7.

Boonchai W, Iamtharachai P, Sunthonpalin P. Occupational allergic contact dermatitis from essential oils in aromatherapists. Contact Dermatitis. 2007;56(3):181-2.

Bleasel N, Tate B, Rademaker M. Allergic contact dermatitis following exposure to essential oils. Australas J Dermatol. 2002;43(3):211-3.

DiNardo JC. Is mineral oil comedogenic? J Cosmet Dermatol. 2005;4(1):2-3.

Blanken R, van Vilsteren MJ, Tupker RA, Coenraads PJ. Effect of mineral oil and linoleic-acid-containing emulsions on the skin vapour loss of sodium-lauryl-sulphate-induced irritant skin reactions. Contact Dermatitis. 1989;20(2):93-7.

Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Dermatitis. 2004;15(3):109-16.

Tolbert PE. Oils and cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 1997;8(3):386-405.

Rawlings AV, Lombard KJ. A review on the extensive skin benefits of mineral oil. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2012;34(6):511-8.

Boucetta KQ, Charrouf Z, Aguenaou H, Derouiche A, Bensouda Y. Does Argan oil have a moisturizing effect on the skin of postmenopausal women? Skin Res Technol. 2013;19(3):356-7.

Darmstadt GL, Mao-Qiang M, Chi E, Saha SK, Ziboh VA, Black RE, et al. Impact of topical oils on the skin barrier: possible implications for neonatal health in developing countries. Acta Paediatr. 2002;91(5):546-54.

Darmstadt GL, Saha SK, Ahmed AS, Chowdhury MA, Law PA, Ahmed S, et al. Effect of topical treatment with skin barrier-enhancing emollients on nosocomial infections in preterm infants in Bangladesh: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2005;365(9464):1039-45.

Berbis P, Hesse S, Privat Y. Essential fatty acids and the skin. Allerg Immunol (Paris). 1990;22(6):225-31.

Williams HC. Evening primrose oil for atopic dermatitis. BMJ. 2003;327(7428):1358-9.

Koca U, Süntar I, Akkol EK, Yilmazer D, Alper M. Wound repair potential of Olea europaea L. leaf extracts revealed by in vivo experimental models and comparative evaluation of the extracts’ antioxidant activity. J Med Food. 2011;14(1-2):140-6.

Aburjai T, Natsheh FM. Plants used in cosmetics. Phytother Res. 2003;17(9):987-1000.

de la Puerta R, Martínez Domínguez ME, Ruíz-Gutíerrez V, Flavill JA, Hoult JR. Effects of virgin olive oil phenolics on scavenging of reactive nitrogen species and upon nitrergic neurotransmission. Life Sci. 2001;69(10):1213-22.

Kränke B, Komericki P, Aberer W. Olive oil—contact sensitizer or irritant? Contact Dermatitis. 1997;36(1):5-10.

Danby SG, AlEnezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, et al. Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care. Pediatr Dermatol. 2013;30(1):42-50.

Weisberg EM, Baumann LS. The foundation for the use of olive oil in skin care and botanical cosmeceuticals. In Olives and Olive Oil in Health and Disease Prevention. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press, 2021 pp. 425-434.

Idson B. Dry skin: moisturizing and emolliency. Cosmet Toilet. 1992;107(7):69-78.

Mitsui T. Humectants. In New Cosmetic Science, Mitsui T, ed. New York, NY: Elsevier, 1997, p. 134.

Chernosky ME. Clinical aspects of dry skin. J Soc Cosmet Chem. 1976;27:365-76.

Choi EH, Man MQ, Wang F, Zhang X, Brown BE, Feingold KR, et al. Is endogenous glycerol a determinant of stratum corneum hydration in humans? J Invest Dermatol. 2005;125(2):288-93.

Orth D, Appa Y. Glycerine. a natural ingredient for moisturizing skin. In Dry Skin and Moisturizers. Loden M, Maibach H, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000, p. 217.

Orth D, Appa Y, Contard E, et al. Effect of High Glycerin Therapeutic Moisturizers on the Ultrastructure of the Stratum Corneum. Poster presentation at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. New Orleans, LA. February, 1995:3-8.

Fluhr JW, Mao-Qiang M, Brown BE, Wertz PW, Crumrine D, Sundberg JP, et al. Glycerol regulates stratum corneum hydration in sebaceous gland deficient (asebia) mice. J Invest Dermatol. 2003;120(5):728-37.

Hara M, Ma T, Verkman AS. Selectively reduced glycerol in skin of aquaporin-3-deficient mice may account for impaired skin hydration, elasticity, and barrier recovery. J Biol Chem. 2002;277(48):46616-21.

Hara M, Verkman AS. Glycerol replacement corrects defective skin hydration, elasticity, and barrier function in aquaporin-3-deficient mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003;100(12):7360-5.

Draelos ZD. Active agents in common skin care products. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010;125(2):719-724.

Harding C, Bartolone J, Rawlings A. Effects of natural moisturizing factor and lactic acid isomers on skin function. In Dry Skin and Moisturizers. Loden M, Maibach H, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000, p. 236.

Kligman AM. Dermatologic uses of urea. Acta Derm Venereol. 1957;37(2):155-9.

Wohlrab W. The influence of urea on the penetration kinetics of topically applied corticosteroids. Acta Derm Venereol. 1984;64(3):233-8.

Wohlrab W. Effect of urea on the penetration kinetics of vitamin A acid into human skin. Z Hautkr. 1990;65(9):803-5.

Serup J. A double-blind comparison of two creams containing urea as the active ingredient. Assessment of efficacy and side-effects by non-invasive techniques and a clinical scoring scheme. Acta Derm Venereol Suppl (Stockh). 1992;177:34-43.

Celleno L. Topical urea in skincare: A review. Dermatol Ther. 2018;31(6):e12690.

Lawrence N, Brody HJ, Alt TH. Chemical peeling. In Cosmetic Surgery of the Skin, 2nd ed. Coleman W, Hanke W, eds. St. Louis, MO: CV Mosby, 1997, pp. 85-111.

Van Scott EJ, Yu RJ. Control of keratinization with alpha-hydroxy acids and related compounds. I. Topical treatment of ichthyotic disorders. Arch Dermatol. 1974;110(4):586-90.

Draelos ZD. Rediscovering the cutaneous benefits of salicylic acid. Cosm Derm. 1997;10(Suppl 4):4.

Van Scott EJ, Yu R. Hyperkeratinization, corneocyte cohesion, and alpha hydroxy acids. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1984;11(5 Pt 1):867-79.

Berardesca E, Distante F, Vignoli GP, Oresajo C, Green B. Alpha hydroxyacids modulate stratum corneum barrier function. Br J Dermatol. 1997;137(6):934-8.

Takahashi M, Machida Y, Tsuda Y. The influence of hydroxy acids on the rheological properties of the stratum corneum. J Soc Cosmet Chem. 1985;36(2):177-87.

Draelos ZD. Therapeutic moisturizers. Dermatol Clin. 2000;18(4):597-607.

Perricone NV, DiNardo JC. Photoprotective and antiinflammatory effects of topical glycolic acid. Dermatol Surg. 1996;22(5):435-7.

Kaidbey K, Sutherland B, Bennett P, Wamer WG, Barton C, Dennis D,et al. Topical glycolic acid enhances photodamage by ultraviolet light. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2003;19(1):21-7.

Tsai TF, Bowman PH, Jee SH, Maibach HI. Effects of glycolic acid on light-induced skin pigmentation in Asian and Caucasian subjects. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000;43(2 Pt 1):238-43.

Stiller MJ, Bartolone J, Stern R, Smith S, Kollias N, Gillies R, et al. Topical 8% glycolic acid and 8% L-lactic acid creams for the treatment of photodamaged skin. A double-blind vehicle-controlled clinical trial. Arch Dermatol. 1996;132(6):631-6.

Stern EC. Topical application of lactic acid in the treatment and prevention of certain disorders of the skin. Urol Cutaneous Rev. 1943;50:106.

Rawlings AV, Davies A, Carlomusto M, Pillai S, Zhang K, Kosturko R, et al. Effect of lactic acid isomers on keratinocyte ceramide synthesis, stratum corneum lipid levels and stratum corneum barrier function. Arch Dermatol Res. 1996;288(7):383-90.

Yamamoto A, Serizawa S, Ito M, Sato Y. Stratum corneum lipid abnormalities in atopic dermatitis. Arch Dermatol Res. 1991;283(4):219-23.

Wertz PW, Miethke MC, Long SA, Strauss JS, Downing DT. The composition of the ceramides from human stratum corneum and from comedones. J Invest Dermatol. 1985;84(5):410-2.

Thueson DO, Chan EK, Oechsli LM, Hahn GS. The roles of pH and concentration in lactic acid-induced stimulation of epidermal turnover. Dermatol Surg. 1998;24(6):641-5.

Algiert-Zielińska B, Mucha P, Rotsztejn H. Lactic and lactobionic acids as typically moisturizing compounds. Int J Dermatol. 2019;58(3):374-379.

Hannuksela M. Glycols. In Dry Skin and Moisturizers. Loden M, Maibach H, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2000, pp. 413-415.

Draelos Z. Moisturizers. In Atlas of Cosmetic Dermatology. Draelos Z, ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone, 2000, p. 85.

Man MQ, Feingold KR, Elias PM. Exogenous lipids influence permeability barrier recovery in acetone-treated murine skin. Arch Dermatol. 1993;129(6):728-38.

Zettersten EM, Ghadially R, Feingold KR, Crumrine D, Elias PM. Optimal ratios of topical stratum corneum lipids improve barrier recovery in chronologically aged skin. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1997;37(3 Pt 1):403-8.

Ishida K, Takahashi A, Bito K, Draelos Z, Imokawa G. Treatment with Synthetic Pseudoceramide Improves Atopic Skin, Switching the Ceramide Profile to a Healthy Skin Phenotype. J Invest Dermatol. 2020;140(9):1762-1770.e8.

Park BD, Youm JK, Jeong SK, Choi EH, Ahn SK, Lee SH. The characterization of molecular organization of multilamellar emulsions containing pseudoceramide and type III synthetic ceramide. J Invest Dermatol. 2003;121(4):794-801.

Naik A, Pechtold LA, Potts RO, Guy RH. Mechanism of oleic acid-induced skin penetration enhancement in vivo in humans. J Control Release. 1995;37(3):299-306.

Jiang SJ, Zhou XJ. Examination of the mechanism of oleic acid-induced percutaneous penetration enhancement: an ultrastructural study. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26(1):66-8.

Ando H, Watabe H, Valencia JC, Yasumoto K, Furumura M, Funasaka Y, et al. Fatty acids regulate pigmentation via proteasomal degradation of tyrosinase: a new aspect of ubiquitin-proteasome function. J Biol Chem. 2004;279(15):15427-33.

Ando H, Ryu A, Hashimoto A, Oka M, Ichihashi M. Linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid lightens ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation of the skin. Arch Dermatol Res. 1998;290(7):375-81.

Rieger MM. Hyaluronic acid in cosmetics. A review of its chemistry and biochemistry. Cosmet Toilet. 1998;113(3):35-42.

Berkó S, Maroda M, Bodnár M, Erős G, Hartmann P, Szentner K, et al. Advantages of cross-linked versus linear hyaluronic acid for semisolid skin delivery systems. Eur Polymer J. 2013;49(9):2511-7.

Brown MB, Jones SA. Hyaluronic acid: a unique topical vehicle for the localized delivery of drugs to the skin. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2005;19(3):308-18.

Simon Davis DA, Parish CR. Heparan sulfate: a ubiquitous glycosaminoglycan with multiple roles in immunity. Front Immunol. 2013;4:470.

Gallo RL, Bucay VW, Shamban AT, Lima-Maribona J, Lewis AB, Ditre CM, et al. The potential role of topically applied heparan sulfate in the treatment of photodamage. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(7):669-74.

Pigatto P, Bigardi A, Caputo R, Angelini G, Foti C, Grandolfo M, et al. An evaluation of the allergic contact dermatitis potential of colloidal grain suspensions. Am J Contact Dermat. 1997;8(4):207-9.

Vié K, Cours-Darne S, Vienne MP, Boyer F, Fabre B, Dupuy P. Modulating effects of oatmeal extracts in the sodium lauryl sulfate skin irritancy model. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002;15(2):120-4.

Thioune O, Ahodikpe D, Dieng M, Diop AB, Ngom S, Lo I. Inflammatory ointment from shea butter and hydro-alcoholic extract of Khaya senegalensis barks (Cailcederat). Dakar Med. 2002;45(2):113-6.

Lodén M, Andersson AC. Effect of topically applied lipids on surfactant-irritated skin. Br J Dermatol. 1996;134(2):215-20.

Denda M, Tsutsumi M, Inoue K, Crumrine D, Feingold KR, Elias PM. Potassium channel openers accelerate epidermal barrier recovery. Br J Dermatol. 2007;157(5):888-93.

Baldwin HE, Bhatia ND, Friedman A, Eng RM, Seite S. The Role of Cutaneous Microbiota Harmony in Maintaining a Functional Skin Barrier. J Drugs Dermatol. 2017;16(1):12-18.

Gonzalo MA, de Argila D, García JM, Alvarado MI. Allergic contact dermatitis to propylene glycol. Allergy. 1999 Jan;54(1):82-3.

Baumann LS, Spencer J. The effects of topical vitamin E on the cosmetic appearance of scars. Dermatol Surg. 1999;25(4):311-5.


Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

    1 out of ...