Best moisturizer for face: How to Apply It & How Often

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Some people may cringe when they hear the word moist, but when it comes to moisturizers, we've got nothing but love. For many, it's the final step in a skin-care routine, and whether you're looking for a lighter option to wear during the day, or a souped-up version for an overnight glow-up, we've tested countless formulas in our day-to-day work as beauty editors. Whether you've got dry, oily, or combination skin, odds are the perfect face cream for you has passed through our offices.

Find Your Perfect Match: The Best Moisturizers for Your Face - A Comprehensive Guide

"Moisturizers are an essential part of every skin-care routine," Shereene Idriss, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City, tells Allure. "Just as our bodies require us to hydrate with water, so does our skin." While our skin appears dewier almost instantly, the real benefits show up in the long term. Idriss says that consistent use of moisturizers slows down the rate and intensity at which fine lines and wrinkles appear.


This daily philosophy applies to all skin types, and not just dry skin. "Overwashing without the appropriate use of a moisturizer will actually trigger an over production of oil on your skin," Divya Shokeen, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Torrance, California previously explained. In short, if you don't rehydrate your skin, it will become dried-out and irritated — which then opens your skin up to a cache of troubles.

"People confuse oil with hydration, so they don't properly hydrate the skin," New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Doris Day, MD, noted. "We now have really great ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, which balances oil and water in the skin." Increased hydration supports a stronger barrier, she said, which then helps curb oil production.

Why moisturizing is important

Our wearied bedtimes and bustling mornings may make us consider skipping steps in our skincare regimens. But don’t give in to temptation! Every step is important. Especially the final crucial step—moisturizing.

Benefits of moisturizing your face

As we know, moisturizers can help hydrate the skin. But that’s just the beginning. Moisturizing your skin can also help repair it. Think of it: our skin goes through the wringer every day—weather, pollution, and stress can all wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy complexion. All of these things can lead to dehydration and (gasp!) signs of aging. That’s where its moisturizer to the rescue! A good moisturizer can help nourish and quench thirsty skin. And, if it has SPF, it can also help protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays—score!

So, the signs of aging we mentioned? Glad you asked. They’re the villains we all know and most certainly do not love—wrinkles and sagging and dull skin. Oh my! But when you regularly apply a moisturizer, it can help keep these baddies at bay, leaving you with visibly healthier, glowing skin. Yes, please!

Now, if you’re prone to blemishes, or blemish-prone, and worry that adding more moisture will bring out the dreaded breakout, you’re not alone. But don’t fear this common misconception. Because contrary to popular belief, excess oil means your body is trying to make up for a lack of hydration by producing more oil. So, if you give your skin more moisture so your body doesn’t have to go it alone, you’re actually helping. It’s a win-win for you and your skin.

Dry, patches? Not on your skin! And bothersome, red spots? Hard pass. Another great thing a moisturizer does is soothe and calm the skin. So, if your skin is throwing a hissy fit, leaving rough patches in its wake, stop the tantrum right now with a timeout (aka, a nice smooth application of a moisturizer containing soothing ingredients like chamomile or aloe vera).


Face Moisturizer nuskin

tips on moisturizing your face

First and foremost, apply moisturizer at least twice a day, as the final step of your morning and evening skincare regimens. For day, you’ll want to use a moisturizer with SPF for that all-important sun protection we mentioned. For night, opt for a moisturizer that helps support skin’s natural recovery process and moisture retention while you sleep.

To apply your moisturizer, after cleansing and applying toner and serum, put a quarter-sized amount onto your fingertips and gently apply it to your face, neck, and décolleté (don’t skip the neck!) in an upward-outward motion. Make sure to avoid stretching your skin or pressing too hard. Instead, let the moisturizer settle and absorb for maximum moisturization power!

Pro tip: moisturizers can help set your makeup and aid in its “laying down” benefit. Woo-hoo!

Face moisturizer by skin type

Let’s start with day moisturizers. Our picks all contain SPF to pull double-duty by helping moisturize and protect as you go about your day.

Our favorites for everyday hydration that also amp up protection are Nutricentials Biodaptive Skin Care™ Day Dream moisturizers. Not only do they contain SPF 35 to help shield skin from UVA and UVB rays, but also a special Blue Light and Infrared Filtering Blend that helps protect against blue light and infrared. Choose the lotion formula for a lightweight moisturizer or the cream for a richer formula.

If you’re looking for more anti-aging power, we recommend Nu Skin 180°® UV Defense Hydrator Broad Spectrum SPF 18. It’s specially formulated with photosomes—marine plankton enzymes that use energy from the sun to help protect skin (how cool is that?). Defense Hydrator also helps reduce the appearance of age spots, sagging, and fine lines & wrinkles. What more could you want?

Now let’s get to know some moisturizers that you should use when you snooze.

One of our favorites is Nutricentials Bioadaptive Skin Care™ Dew All Day Moisture Restore Cream. This creamy, dreamy formula helps smooth, soften, soothe, nourish, and condition skin—plus it provides immediate hydration and 24 hours of continuous moisturization. Now that’s serious moisturization stamina! As if that weren’t enough, Dew All Day also supports skin’s natural recovery process, helping promote healthy skin while you get your beauty sleep.

For ultimate anti-aging power, we love Nu Skin 180°® Night Complex. It enhances the skin’s natural recovery process by helping protect against free radical damage, fortifying the skin’s natural barrier, and protecting skin from environmental stressors.

Another favorite multitasking moisturizer is ageLOC® Tru Face® Essence Ultra Uplifting Cream. It’s specially formulated with Tru Face Firm Plex to deliver visibly firmer skin. But that’s not all. It also delivers rich hydration, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps soothe, nourish, strengthen, and protect against environmental aggressors. At this point, you may be wondering what this moisturizer can’t do. Quite honestly, so are we.

Take your moisturizing to the next step

Hydrate on the go with NaPCA Moisture Mist, a light moisturizing spray that features moisture-binding ingredients like sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid. This blissfully hydrating mist helps support your skin’s natural ability to stay hydrated, helps protect skin from the damaging effects of your environment, and even helps hair feel silky soft. Smooth, supple-feeling skin is just a spray away!

And why not indulge in some much-deserved “me” time with a moisturizing mask two to three times a week? Nutricentials Bioadaptive Skin Care™ Pillow Glow Sleeping Mask is a moisture-recharging gel-cream mask that delivers an intense rush of immediate and long-lasting overnight hydration. Just apply it before bed to support your skin’s natural moisture barrier throughout the night and wake up to skin that is glowing, radiant, and 150% more hydrated.

There you have it. Now that you know how important it is to keep skin hydrated, make sure to add moisturizers to your daily regimen. Want more “skinspiration”? Check out to explore more skincare must-haves.

Others 27 best face moisturizers

Others 27 best face moisturizers (the crème de la cream, if you will), including Allure Best of Beauty Award winners and recommendations from dermatologists to help you find the moisturizer of your dreams.


1. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer UV


A common complaint about sunscreens (and even moisturizers with added SPF) is that they can show up ashy on tan to deep skin tones. Not La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer UV Broad Spectrum SPF 30. The thermal water-infused face lotion won't cause makeup to slip and slide and quickly absorbs with a translucent finish.

2. Caudalie's Premier Cru The Cream


Caudalie's Premier Cru The Cream

Caudalie's Premier Cru The Cream features three active ingredients that are so good that they earned this treatment 2022 Best of Beauty Award. The formula helps minimize wrinkles, followed by hyaluronic acid to replenish moisture, and last but not least, sugars derived from honey locust, which tighten skin in three minutes' time.

3. Laneige Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream Moisturizer


The second you slather on this Allure Best of Beauty Award-winning airy cream, you know it's a hit. It's really lightweight and moisturizing, full of some of the best hydrators out there like squalane, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid.

4. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream


If you have eczema or sensitive skin, the award-winning First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream is for you. (It's won a Best of Beauty and Readers' Choice Award, so you know it's legit.) Made with soothing colloidal oatmeal, this thick moisturizer hydrates any dry spots or patches without irritating the skin.

5. Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer


How do you follow up the success of a fan-favorite serum? By releasing a moisturizer version, of course. Paula's Choice's latest addition to the Omega+ family, Complex Moisturizer, features ceramides, botanical oils, and antioxidant-rich guava and passionfruit to nourish dry skin.

6. Aveeno Calm + Restore Redness Relief Cream


Soothe your skin with a pea-sized amount of the Aveeno Calm + Restore Redness Relief Cream. This moisturizer is loaded with vitamin B5 and ceramides to relieve redness and calm your complexion. Plus, it has oat flour that smooths down any textured skin.

7. The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer


With its one-percent peptide complex and special smoothing royal jelly protein, The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer's price seems like a typo. For just $15, this shea butter-rich cream does the heavy lifting of moisturizers 10 times the price, deeply moisturizing and smoothing skin while absorbing quickly for a non-heavy feel.

8. Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer


Farmacy's Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer has a feel-good formula in every sense of the word. For starters, its lightweight gel texture is satisfyingly bouncy and glassy when scooped out of the jar, and melts into skin as you apply it. The moisturizer also includes a cocktail of skin-perfecting ingredients like a quadruple dose of hyaluronic acid (for mega hydration), papaya extract (for gentle exfoliation), and moringa seed extract (for removing impurities) which leave skin looking dewy and brighter. The cherry on top: The farm-sourced, cruelty-free formula is bottled up in recycled packaging.

9. Bubble Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer


Made with aloe leaf juice and hoya lacosuna flower extract, Bubble's Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer is sure to do exactly what its name states, hydrate. Use this moisturizer day or night to reveal a soft, dewy look that never feels oily or too heavy.

10. Glow Recipe Plum Plump Refillable Moisturizer


Glow Recipe is known to be one of the Internet's buzziest brands with the brightest formulas, and the skin-perfecting goodness of its Refillable Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream is further proof. The whipped gel-cream gets its gorgeous lavender color from three different types of plums (kakadu, illawara, and Burdekin) and its intense moisture-replenishing powers from five weights of hyaluronic acid. Slather it on your face and neck twice daily for a radiant glow and healthy bounce that leaves skin looking plump and dewy. The brand also upped the ante on its sustainability pledge, offering replacement pods that pop into the glass jar when you need to restock.

11. Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream


The texture is weightless, but don't let that fool you. Youth to the People's Best of Beauty-winning Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream is loaded with leafy ingredients such as spinach and kale, making the antioxidant-rich formula one lean, green, free-radical-fighting machine. Layer it under sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) daily.

12. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream for Extra-Dry Skin


The Neutrogena Hydroboost Water Gel moisturizer is a cool, bouncy gel-cream that feels delightfully cushiony on skin. That's only one of the many reasons we love it. It also boasts exceptional hydrating benefits. "Although it feels gel-like, it's packed with glycerin and dimethicone which add moisture to the skin, seal it in, and help the product go on smoothly," notes Dr. Sarkar. As an added bonus, she notes that it doesn't cause breakouts even among her acne-prone patients.

13. Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Calming Gel Cream


Extremely lightweight in texture and feel, Dr. Jart+'s Cicapair Tiger Grass Calming Gel Cream contains glycerin, niacinamide, cica, and the brand's proprietary microbiome complex to not only moisturize skin and soothe irritation, but strengthen your skin's defensive abilities as well. Dr. Jart's Cicapair line is a favorite among skin-care enthusiasts, but the Calming Gel Cream takes the cake in terms of no-fuss, daytime moisturizers, which is why it won a 2020 Allure Best of Beauty Award. 

14. Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream


Packed with superhydrators — squalane, ceramides, omega fatty acids — this gel-cream is a big, calming hug for your skin. The texture is light and fluffy like a cloud and absolutely heavenly.

15. SK-II Skinpower Cream


SK-II Skinpower Cream is the definition of a splurge-worthy skin-care product, especially since it took the honor of a 2022 Best of Beauty Award in the — you guessed it — splurges category. SK-II's famed (and proprietary) pitera complex comes from a yeast fermentation process that almost mimics that of sake and is packed with over 50 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and acids to intensely moisturize and condition skin.

A bouquet of floral extracts including calla lily extract, dokudami extract, and peony extract supercharges the plumpness of your skin — in addition to fan-favorite ingredients like glycerin, niacinamide, and shea butter. Give your skin a quick massage by working the cream into your forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck, and call it a day.

16. Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream


The price tag on Augustinus Bader’s widely adored Rich Cream may make you do a double-take, but so will the unbelievably impressive results. The formula is anchored by the brand's patented Trigger Factor Complex (TFC8), which is rooted in 30 years of clinical research and includes over 40 powerful natural ingredients — like peptides, hyaluronic acid, rice proteins, and shea butter — that intensely hydrate and support cellular turnover. The buttery cream feels decadent as you apply it and pampers the heck out of skin, soothing dry patches, making skin appear visibly smoother, and brightening an uneven skin tone.

We love the Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream so much we added it to our March 2022 Allure Beauty Box lineup. You can score the Allure Beauty Box here for access to even more editor favorites — for just $23.

17. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream


Kiehl's best-selling Ultra Facial Cream has been a beloved skin-care staple for years and with good reason: It works. "In the winter my skin needs moisture but can't take too much fragrance," notes Boston-based board-certified dermatologist Papri Sarkar, MD. "This cream, packed with glycerin, squalane, and plant oils (like apricot and avocado) hydrates and helps to seal in moisture without irritating." All you need is a dime-sized amount to seal your entire complexion in comforting hydration.

18. E.L.F. Holy Hydration! Face Cream Fragrance Free


If you like E.L.F.'s Holy Hydration! Face Cream but your nose or skin prefers moisturizer without added scent, you will love the fragrance-free version. You still get all the plumping, brightening, and hydrating benefits of hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamide — just without the fragrance frills.

19. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream


A winner of our 2016 Best of Beauty Award and three-time Readers' Choice Award winner, the Lala Retro Whipped Cream by Drunk Elephant is the ultimate fancy-but-not-too-fancy, unscented moisturizer that, despite being packed with nourishing ingredients, doesn't feel the least bit heavy. It'll wrap your skin in an airy blanket of plant-derived ceramides and moisture-boosting oils (e.g. green tea, soybean, etc.) that guard against water loss for all-day (or all-night) relief.

20. Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide24 Moisturizer


You probably already know and love the Olay Regenerist line. (We're big fans of the Micro-Sculpting Face Cream ourselves.) Well, the Regenerist Collagen Peptide24 Moisturizer kicks it up a notch and pumps collagen peptide and Olay's signature vitamin B3 (also known as niacinamide) into your skin to improve texture and appearance of pores, while cutting back on redness, irritation, excess sebum production, and even acne. For these reasons, we predict this fragrance-free, hydrating cream — which received a 2021 Best of Beauty Award — will become a skin-care staple of yours.

21. Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb


Belif's The True Cream Aqua Bomb has a light gel-like texture that absorbs in seconds, gives skin a rush of hydration, and helps it look smoother. The K-beauty staple is formulated with calming ingredients, including calendula and oat kernel extracts, to soothe skin as it hydrates.

22. Eminence Organics Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer


If you're on the hunt for a lightweight gel-cream moisturizer that'll immediately sink into your skin without a trace, we have a hunch Eminence Organics' Mangosteen Gel Moisturizer could be your perfect match. This 2021 Best of Beauty Award winner hydrates skin without leaving a greasy finish. Inside you'll find a formula packed with antioxidant-rich mangosteen to promote radiance, red clover flower extract to refine pores, and ribose (from corn seeds) for an overall smoother complexion.

23. Garnier SkinActive Water Rose 24H Moisture Cream


Loaded with rose water and hyaluronic acid, Garnier's SkinActive Water Rose 24H Moisture Cream has a delightful, lightweight water cream formula that your skin immediately drinks up. This 2020 Allure Best of Beauty Award winner leaves your skin feeling soft, smooth, and smelling faintly of roses, making it the perfect daytime moisturizer. 

24. Beauty Stat Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Cream


Leave it to the work of a cosmetic chemist to develop a product that strikes the fine balance of achieving a rich, pampering texture, with a lightweight feel. Ron Robinson formulated BeautyStat's soothing Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Cream to deliver on both, with a healthy dose of hyaluronic acid and ceramides that replenish moisture to skin and leave a healthy, glowy finish.

26. Murad Intense Recovery Cream


For dry to severely dry skin, you want to bring the heavy (hydration) hitters into your nighttime skin-care routine. Murad Intense Recovery Cream, a rich, seafoam-green-tinted cream, is a 2021 Best of Beauty Award winner because it puts a stop to redness and visibly calms signs of stressed skin. Star ingredients include shea butter, macadamia oil, redness-soothing mirabilis jalapa plant extract, and fine-line-smoothing microalgae extract, making it the ideal nightcap for your skin.

26. Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion


Looking for a drugstore pick that holds up to its pricier counterparts? Cetaphil's Daily Hydrating Lotion contains hyaluronic acid, a dream ingredient for anyone with dry skin.

27. Skinfix Barrier Lipid Peptide Cream on white background


If your skin is thirsty for some serious hydration, look no further than this 2019 Allure Best of Beauty Awards winner. The super-rich Skinfix Lipid-Peptide Cream has it all: emollient shea butter, sodium hyaluronate, and a triple-packed blend of fatty oils that feed even the most dehydrated skin. And protein-packed peptides help strengthen skin barriers against environmental damage.