For those with oily, combination, or acne-prone skin types, moisturizers can feel like one of the more complicated steps in a skincare routine. Moisturizing formulas can be packed with oils that irritate these skin types, clog pores, or feel too heavy on the skin. And if you have an oily skin type, you know how counterintuitive it can feel to reach for a moisturizer (even though excess sebum—your skin’s oil—can actually be a sign that your skin is dry and is overcompensating by producing more oil). Luckily, there’s one easy solution: an oil-free moisturizer. Oil-free formulas offer hydration without any oils, and they’re also usually lightweight, more easily absorbed into the skin, and almost always non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t clog your pores!).
In place of oils, dermatologist Dr. Jason Emer says, “alpha-hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid), citrus extracts (like lemon, grapefruit, apple), enzymatic exfoliants (like papaya extract), hyaluronic acid, and peptides can all help to hydrate the skin while also giving it anti-aging benefits like decreased redness, pigmentation, and pores.”
Like Dr. Emer, dermatologist Dr. Arash Akhavan also suggests these skin types turn to hyaluronic acid for effective oil-free hydration. “I would recommend looking for a very lightweight lotion or gel moisturizer containing a base of hyaluronic acid or aloe vera to effectively hydrate the entire face without contributing to oiliness.”
Now that the experts have told us what to look for, let’s dive into the best oil-free moisturizers. We’ve highlighted 14 of our favorite formulas below, so all you have to do is read on to find your perfect fit.
For those with oily, combination, or acne-prone skin types, moisturizers can feel like one of the more complicated steps in a skincare routine.
About the Experts:
Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder and director of The Dermatology & Laser Group in New York City. Dr. Jason Emer is a dermatologic surgeon based in Los Angeles. He runs his own practice in Beverly Hills and regularly shares skincare tips and insight into skin treatments on his popular Instagram page.
1. BEST FOR LAYERING UNDER MAKEUP
MURAD Skin Perfecting Lotion
If you’ve yet to find a moisturizer that layers under your makeup just right, look no further. This lightweight, oil-free lotion hydrates your skin and speeds up your makeup routine by perfecting your complexion naturally. Antibacterial honey extract (a great ingredient for blemish-prone skin) hydrates without leaving any sort of tacky or greasy feeling behind, while a blend of natural plant extracts refines your skin’s texture, minimizes the appearance of pores, and soothes redness.
“A great everyday moisturizer,” one Ipster writes. “Not greasy, but does the job and won’t interfere with your foundation.”
2. BEST ANTIOXIDANT-PACKED MOISTURIZER
PURLISSE BEAUTY Matcha Green Tea Antioxidant Priming Moisturizer
News flash: Green tea isn’t just for your morning brew. Green tea extract takes center stage in this cruelty-free and oil-free moisturizer. The antioxidant powerhouse is an ideal ingredient for all skin types, but it can be especially great for those in search of anti-aging benefits. Matcha helps the skin to better retain moisture, shields it from pollution and free radicals, and even helps to control oil production (which, in turn, helps to eliminate breakouts—win!).
“My 49-year-old face just sucks up all the healthy antioxidants,” one Ipster writes. Another says, “Worked instantly on my combination skin and felt wonderful. Like a breath of fresh air!”
3. BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Oil-Control Moisturizer
For those times when you really need your skin to chill the F out, reach for this sensitive skin-approved formula that’s free of parabens, sulfates, and synthetic fragrances. Heavy-hitting hydrators like hyaluronic acid moisturize, while soothing oat extract keeps your skin soft and smooth. Oil-absorbing microspheres and niacinamide also keep excess oil in check and provide a totally non-greasy, shine-free finish.
“Okay, this is amazing, especially if you have combination skin or oily skin,” says Ipster lala01771. “I have a super oily t-zone and this kept my face from looking shiny the whole day,” another says.
4. BEST MOISTURIZER FOR GLOWING SKIN
IT COSMETICS Confidence in a Gel Lotion Moisturizer
This weightless formula absorbs into the skin almost instantly, providing intense hydration as well as a number of other skin-loving benefits. The primary ingredient here is cactus flower extract, an ingredient oily and sensitive skin types will love as for its high vitamin E content and ability to control excess sebum. Ceramides are also used here to help keep all that replenished hydration locked in for a natural, healthy glow.
“It glides on easily without the need to tug on your face and is super hydrating,” one Ipster writes. “It leaves my skin feeling oh-so-soft and supple after applying it or even the morning after using it. I’ve never liked gel moisturizers until now.”
5. BEST MATTIFYING MOISTURIZER
PRIVAI Matte Moisturizer
Is a shine-free finish your main goal? Then you’re in luck: This moisturizer provides deep hydration without a trace of shine. Part of the reason for this moisturizer’s totally matte finish is the fact that it’s oil-free. In lieu of oils, this formula pairs fast-absorbing aloe vera with citrus extracts to hydrate, balance, and mattify your skin.
“This really did apply on as matte and canceled any unwanted shine and greasiness,” one Ipster writes. Another says she layered it under her makeup and it helped her stay “oil-free for hours.”
6. BEST PLUMPING MOISTURIZER
FIRST AID BEAUTY Coconut water cream
If you had one too many glasses of wine last night or you didn’t catch quite enough zzzs, lather on this ultra-hydrating, oil-free cream to instantly perk up and plump up your skin. The non-comedogenic formula infuses skin with a potent dose of electrolyte-packed coconut water, strengthening amino acids, exfoliating enzymes, and pollution-blocking antioxidants. And yes, your skin will thank you for it.
Those who love ultra-lightweight face lotions will definitely swoon over this one. Ipster a_janicekoot01 writes, “It goes on like a moisturizer but feels just like water!”
7. BEST HYALURONIC ACID MOISTURIZER
H2O+ Hydration Oasis Refreshing Gel Moisturizer
This ultra-lightweight gel moisturizer puts dermatologist-recommended hyaluronic acid at the forefront of its formula. The powerful humectant can hold up to up to 1,000 times its weight in water, meaning it can provide moisturized, bouncy skin without the need for any heavy or greasy oils. After hyaluronic acid hydrates and plumps, other ingredients like ceramides, lipids, and amino acids fortify your skin’s moisture barrier to keep that hydration locked in all day long.
“Even with my older skin I can be prone to breakouts and this was perfect,” one Ipster says. “Feels fantastic, like it’s really seeping deep into the skin,” writes another.
8. BEST MOISTURIZER FOR WARM TEMPERATURES
PURLISSE BEAUTY Watermelon Aqua Balm
We’ve all been there—using our fave heavy-duty moisturizer while on a beach vacay, only to find that it becomes one big greasy mess by the end of the day. This ultra-lightweight formula avoids a (literal) skincare meltdown with its unique weightless texture. In lieu of oils, this moisturizer hydrates with aloe vera, a natural ingredient that can also soothe skin and reduces puffiness. Vitamin C also helps to boost glow while white tea protects your skin from environmental stressors. Finally, watermelon extract gives this oil-free moisturizer a major hydration boost and makes it smell like a sweet summer dream.
“This is by far my favorite moisturizer,” one Ipster writes. “I have sensitive skin and this makes my skin so calm and happy.”
9. BEST FOR COMBINATION SKIN
SUNDAY RILEY Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
This bestselling SUNDAY RILEY formula is a dream come true for combination skin. It feels light as air on your skin and is super gentle, while also being powerful enough to tackle any patches of dry skin. The oil-free gel-cream even contains two forms of advanced hyaluronic acid to infuse your skin with an optimal amount of moisture without clogging pores. The formula also includes exfoliating papaya enzymes (a favorite of Dr. Emer) to smooth and refine your skin, as well as alpha-arbutin to brighten and fade dark spots.
“This is one of my favorite moisturizers of all time,” says one Ipster. “It leaves my skin so soft and smooth without making it greasy. It just does everything right for my skin.”
10. BEST BALANCING MOISTURIZER
CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator
Dry skin types don’t have to be left out of the oil-free moisturizer fan club. This oil-free cream-gel is a bit richer than some of the other formulas on this list, but it still absorbs quickly without leaving a heavy or greasy feeling behind. Hyaluronic acid and aloe vera team up here to boost moisture levels in the skin by nearly 150%. What’s even better is that you can expect your skin to stay hydrated, soft, and plump for up to an impressive 72 hours with this fragrance-free formula. Say goodbye to dry, flaky skin and hello to a dewy, healthy-looking complexion that lasts (almost) forever.Not only does this oil-free gel-cream smell heavenly (like watermelon candy!), it’s also perfect for getting balanced, healthy skin. Made with vitamins A, B, and C, this lightweight moisturizer hydrates combination skin without leaving your skin feeling (or looking) shiny or greasy. Aloe vera, a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient, reduces any puffiness, while white tea protects your skin from cellular damage, and cucumber firms and soothes. It’s the ultimate balancing moisturizer for a sweet-smelling burst of freshness and a natural-looking glow.
11. BEST FOR MATURE SKIN
DR. BRANDT SKINCARE Dr. Brandt Skin Care – pores no more anti-aging mattifying lotion
To powerfully fight fine lines and the appearance of wrinkles, this age-defying face moisturizer uses a potent combination of apple stem cells and retinol. The former can actually reinvigorate aging stem cells in the skin which, in turn, reduces signs of aging and boosts elasticity. The latter boosts cell turnover for smooth, younger-looking skin. Major bonus: Retinol can also be an effective treatment for acne, so if you have mature, acne-prone skin, this is a win-win.
One Ipster with oil-prone skin says this moisturizer did wonders to control her shine. Another says, “One of the best moisturizers I’ve tried for my combination skin type.”
12. BEST OIL-FREE TINTED MOISTURIZER
PURLISSE BEAUTY Youth Glow Vitamin C CC Cream SPF50
For those days when foundation is too much but moisturizer is not enough, you need a good BB cream or CC cream. This elevated tinted moisturizer not only hydrates but color corrects and brightens too. While a buildable tint evens out the skin tone, hyaluronic acid hydrates and vitamin C fades dark spots and boosts radiance. This miracle multitasker even includes SPF 50 for your daily dose of sunscreen—so it’s no wonder it’ll become your new staple.
“Perfect shade. Smooth and comfortable,” writes Ipster deba1601. “Great color addition to minimal daily look.”
13. BEST DAILY OIL-FREE MOISTURIZER
MURAD Nutrient Charged Water Gel (10 ml)
This lightweight water-based gel moisturizer is an ideal everyday go-to for all skin types, and one you’ll find yourself reaching for time and time again. The formula features a combo of five minerals, five vitamins, and five peptides, all of which work to strengthen your skin’s barrier and lock in hydration. While it keeps the good in, it also leaves the bad stuff out. You won’t find any parabens, sulfates, or phthalates here.
“Loved this for my combo skin. Great morning moisturizer,” one Ipster writes.
14. BEST SOOTHING MOISTURIZER
PIXI BEAUTY H2O Skindrink
This fast-absorbing gel moisturizer is perfect for whenever your skin is irritated or broken out, as the natural formula combines aloe vera with rosemary extract to immediately hydrate and soothe. Meanwhile, green tea extract provides nourishing antioxidants while also controlling excess oil (which can often be triggered by irritations). Finally, glycerin piggybacks off of aloe’s moisturizing powers to provide soft and totally soothed skin.
“I have combination to oily skin, so I love this as a nighttime moisturizer,” says Ipster asych928. “Lovely fresh scent to it as well. It really does feel as if your skin is getting a luscious drink of moisturizing ingredients!”
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