Tackle every concern—from anti-aging to acne—head on.

By Mary Gillis
March 02, 2020
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Whether you’re dry or oily, sensitive or acne-prone, finding the right face moisturizer for your skin type is no easy task. Purchasing a new moisturizer only to find it’s not suited for your skin is frustrating, stressful, and costly.

“As a dermatologist, the number one question that patients ask is ‘What is the best moisturizer for my skin type?’” says Douglas Altchek, MD, and clinical professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine in New York. “It’s difficult to find a moisturizer that addresses all skin types that is safe and effective with visible results seen quickly.”

Basically, it’s complicated. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work. For most of us, facial care is a mystery that remains unsolved. Especially when there may be more than one issue we’re dealing with. 

“Some have skin prone to premature aging requiring early attention to proper care,” says Judith Hellman, MD, a Manhattan-based board-certified dermatologist. “Some complicated conditions exist simultaneously,” she continued. Dry skin, for example, is prone to aging in addition to being prone to rosacea, which makes the skin more sensitive to allergic reactions if using the wrong products.

What’s more, high maintenance routines—using several sequentially applied products—is just not possible for many busy working women. But simple, consistent daily care is possible. Once you find the right cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and anti-aging products, your skin regimen will require little time and effort while yielding maximum results. 

We spoke with a team of experts who broke down the different skin types, providing recommendations on what works best for each. Shop the top expert-recommended face moisturizers below, and keep scrolling to read why each of these made the cut.

Best for Aging Skin: Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream

Sephora

This moisturizing cream combats the effects of dry, aging skin by hydrating and restoring damage caused over time, according to San Diego-based esthetician and founder of UltraViolet Skincare, Marci Malbrough. “The product’s active ingredient, red algae, increases skin moisture, moisture retention, and improves elasticity,” she said. Red algae is known to support the skin’s barrier and draw water to the area. As a bonus, Malbrough added, the product is rich in antioxidants that protect skin cells from environmental exposure, thus slowing the aging process. 

Available at sephora.com, $68

 

Best for Oily Skin: Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum

Sephora

Oily skin is more complex than dry skin and requires a multimodal approach. Marlbrough recommends using a product with niacinamide, which reduces enlarged pores, wrinkles, and fine lines. Peptides provide a similar effect and plant-based phyto-retinoids improve moisture. The combination of the three “delivers big results without irritation” and “restructures the skin’s barrier by regulating oil production.” 

Available at sephora.com, $72

 

Best for Dry Skin: CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum

Ulta Beauty

“For my patients with dry skin, I tend to favor the CeraVe line,” says Erum Ilyas, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Philadelphia-based Montgomery Dermatology and founder of skincare line Ambernoon. She describes the Skin Renewing Cream Serum as an “excellent combination of retinol—a vitamin A derivative—with ceramides to hydrate the skin.”

Available at ulta.com, $19

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: RoC Deep Wrinkle Serum

Amazon

A game changer for acne-prone skin is RoC Deep Wrinkle Serum. “It works so well and I sometimes switch my younger acne patients to the product,” Dr. Ilyas said. It’s an over-the-counter acne solution gentle enough to use on a daily basis. The unique formula includes jojoba oil and witch hazel—both known for fighting skin bacteria.

Available at amazon.com, $17 (was $23)

  

Best Anti-Aging Option for Acne-Prone Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Professional 3% Retinoid Plus

Peter Thomas Roth

Another good option that curbs acne with added anti-aging benefits is Peter Thomas Roth Professional 3% Retinoid Plush. “Being so lightweight, it avoids that acne trigger,” added Dr. Ilyas. If you’re looking for an age-fighting option but don’t want to risk breakouts, this should be your go-to. 

Available at peterthomasroth.com, $82

 

Best for Mature Skin: Kate Somerville +Retinol Vita C Power Serum

Sephora

This topical serum addresses many maturing skin concerns such as thinning, discoloration, and wrinkling. “There are many factors that go into choosing the right product [for aging skin],” Dr. Ilyas says. Getting as much as possible out of one product is key for those on a budget. In addition to the benefits of retinol, this serum includes the added benefit of vitamin C “to boost its effectiveness at addressing multiple issues such as fine lines and discoloration.” 

Dr. Ilyas cautions to be smart when shopping for topical vitamin C-containing serums. Make sure they are combined with ferulic acid, a compound that neutralizes free radicals, which damage skin cells leading to premature aging. The combination, she added, can actually boost the effects of vitamin C nearly eight-fold. Also, make sure the product is housed in a dark bottle. “When vitamin C is exposed to light, it gets deactivated in the bottle making it useless by the time it makes it to your skin.”

Available at sephora.com, $98

Best for Sensitive Skin: OleHenriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème

Sephora

This nighttime formula is an alternative to retinol-containing creams. “It’s a functional analog of retinol meaning it has the exact same effect as topical retinol, but with one huge exception,” Dr. Ilyas added. “It’s less irritating because it’s also an inflammatory agent.” This makes it perfect for those with sensitive skin.

Available at sephora.com, $55

Best Option With SPF: Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum Sunblock

Amazon

If there’s one thing all skin specialists agree on: Prevention is key, so never leave the house without your sunblock. “The reality is that much of the sun exposure that triggers these changes in the skin occurred during childhood or young adult years,” Dr. Ilyas says. But while most premature skin aging can be blamed on childhood exposure to ultraviolet rays, it’s never too late to protect our skin from further damage. One of the most popular products among her patients these days is Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum Sunblock. Whether acne-prone or on the sensitive side—this one is a winner. Plus, the healing properties of zinc oxide in the product come without the dreaded white cast found in most sunscreens.. Even folks with rosacea can benefit from this product, as the sunblock lessens the redness that comes with the condition. 

Available at amazon.com, $33

Best for Combination Skin: bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream

Amazon

 

Combination skin is when both dryness and oiliness occur simultaneously, Dr. Ilyas explained. The nose and forehead are oily while the rest of the face is dry. In these instances, BareMinerals Complexion Rescue can be a life-saver. In addition to its great moisturizing benefits, Dr. Ilyas says “the light-weight formula prevents that cake-y make-up look and doesn’t clog pores, providing coverage without product build up.”

Available at amazon.com, $22 (was $30)

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