When your face is feeling extra dry (maybe from the cold weather or using something like retinol), your skin might require a rich, heavy moisturizer to keep it hydrated. But as the weather fluctuates or changes in your skin occur, a lighter, oil-free option might become more your speed. This is especially true for oily and acne-prone skin types, as those heavy oils that seal moisture in can also clog pores and produce even more oil. The best oil-free moisturizers will still keep skin hydrated without leaving behind a greasy residue.
Aside from looking for the obvious "oil-free" label on your moisturizer, you can also determine if your moisturizer is oil-free by looking at the ingredients. Avoid anything that contains heavier oils like petrolatum, mineral oil, and lanolin, and look for lightweight hydrators instead, like glycerin, dimethicone, and hyaluronic acid.
Acne-prone skin types might also benefit from choosing an oil-free moisturizer that treats breakouts with ingredients like salicylic or glycolic acid, or even retinol. You can also try to combat shine from showing up mid-day by looking for a moisturizer with a mattifying ingredient in it, like zinc.
You'll also want to consider sun protection. If you prefer to put your sunscreen on after your moisturizer, check out this list of the best facial sunscreens, which includes a handful of great oil-free options for greasy and/or acne-prone skin. But if you want to save yourself an extra step in the morning, invest in an oil-free moisturizer that also contains an SPF 30 or higher to keep your skin protected from sun damage.
To help get you started, here are four of the best oil-free moisturizers on the market — whether you have skin that's more oily or acne-prone, or you're looking to keep your skin from feeling greasy as the temperature increases.
1. The Best Oil-Free Moisturizer For Oily, Dehydrated Skin
For an oil-free moisturizer that's deeply hydrating, this best-selling drugstore pick can't be beat. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is noncomedogenic and alcohol-free, and it has a gorgeous lightweight texture that absorbs easily into skin, leaving no greasy residue behind. It boasts hyaluronic acid as its hero hydrator, an ingredient known for its ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, as well as glycerin, a humectant that draws moisture to the skin. This is a great option for drier skin types looking for a non-greasy daily moisturizer, as it instantly hydrates and wears beautifully under makeup.
2. A Similar Formula For Those Who Prefer A Pump Bottle
For those looking for a similar water-gel formula, but in a pump-bottle, try this award-winning moisturizer from L'Oreal. Some people prefer pump bottles because they're more hygienic, since you don't have to dip your fingers into the bottle, while others just like the convenience. Like Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Water Gel, L'Oreal's Hydra Genius Moisturizer for Normal to Oily Skin contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate, as well as glycerin — but it also incorporates aloe water, which is rich in vitamins and minerals, to further soothe and hydrate. It hydrates skin for up to 72 hours and subtly mattifies, so you won't get greasy throughout the day.
This specific product is ideal for skin that's oily and dehydrated, but the Hydra Genius line also has an oil-free formula for dry skin (yes, there is a difference), in case that sounds more like your skin type.
3. Best Oil-Free Moisturizer That Treats Breakouts
This oil-free moisturizer contains 1.5 percent salicylic acid, a BHA with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that dissolves acne-causing debris and bacteria that might be clogging pores. Vichy's Beautifying Anti-Acne Care also includes glycerin and dimethicone to gently hydrate, as well as the brand's signature mineral water, which naturally contains 15 minerals that help strengthen and protect the skin's barrier.
"It does not dry out my skin as many acne medicines have, but instead leaves it smooth and moisturized," shares one Amazon reviewer. Another writes, "Saw a huge difference in my skin within just a couple of days," adding, "This is a fantastic product and really works to clear up acne."
4. Best Oil-Free Moisturizer That Mattifies Shiny Skin
An oil-free moisturizer that also happens to be the perfect makeup base for oily skin types, La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Mat Face Moisturizer helps reduce excess oil from being produced. The brand's sebulyse technology, which was tested under dermatologist control, creates this mattifying effect that also refines the appearance of enlarged pores. Plus, it's further enriched with micro-spheres with perlite that help to keep skin matte by absorbing humidity and oil. Dimethicone, glycerin, and La Roche-Posay's thermal spring water also help to moisturize and soothe skin.
5. Best Oil-Free Moisturizer With SPF
Use this as your daytime moisturizer for oil-free hydration as well as a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. CeraVe's Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM was developed with dermatologists, and is noncomedogenic and fragrance-free, making it suitable not just for oily skin types, but for sensitive skin as well. Hyaluronic acid teams up with ceramides and niacinamide to deliver moisture to the skin while also helping to restore and protect the skin barrier so that it can better hold onto moisture in the first place.
6. Best Budget-Friendly Pick
For an under $10 pick, you can't go wrong with this oil-free gel cream from Garnier. It hydrates for up to 24 hours and is packed with antioxidants and vitamin E to soothe skin and strengthen its natural moisture barrier. The non-comedogenic gel-cream formula won't clog pores, and it also contains glycerin to further attract moisture. Store it in the fridge during the warmer months for an even more soothing, refreshing sensation — it'll feel like a special treat, particularly after a hot day in the sun.
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