Making sure your skin maintains moisture is super important—it can even help keep breakouts at bay: check out point no. four—but there's a fine line between being moisturized and overly so. If you've tried countless cream formulas and realized that they're just too thick and heavy for your skin, consider using a gel one instead.
Why gels, you ask? "They're the most lightweight and typically formulated with ingredients suspended in alcohol and water," says Shereene Idriss, M.D, a board certified dermatologist in NYC. "This allows the product to settle into the skin quickly without leaving behind any thick or greasy residue."
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OK, But What Skin Types Benefit Most From Using Gel Moisturizers?
Good question. Although gel moisturizers are compatible with a variety of skin types, Dr. Idriss says they're best for those with oily or acne-pr0ne skin because they don't contain any traces of pore-clogging mineral oils. If you don't have acneic skin (Lucky!) but are looking for the perfect summer formula, these featherweight hydrators are ideal for hotter temperatures. The reason being? They're more easily absorbed and, since they're water-based, can lend a cooling effect to your skin.
Still have yet to find the right moisturizer that won't clog your pores or feel too thick on your face? Consider the below 10 formulas.
5 Hydrating Products That Won't Break the Bank
For Hydrating Products That Won't Break the Bank
The Balancing Cream
Who should buy it: People who have oily skin and want to reduce excess oils
The Quick Absorber
Who should buy it: People who like formulas that absorb super fast
The Caffeinated Formula
Who should buy it: People who want to brighten and revitalize tired-looking skin
1. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream
This gel cream works with your skin's natural oils to create a balance of moisture, building a barrier that shields your face from dry weather (i.e. those miserable winter months). The result: Your skin will not only be protected from environmental elements (humidity, climate, etc.), it will look and feel more healthy and hydrated sans any unwanted sheen.
2. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
While your body naturally has its own reserve of hyaluronic acid, giving it a dose more (HA can carry 1,000 times is weight in water, Dr. Idriss adds.) will only help your skin absorb and retain more moisture—which, as you can guess, is crucial if you're feeling *extra* dry. Enter this gel formula. It settles into your skin lightening-fast, yet leaves it feeling dewy for hours without it looking greasy.
3. Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer
If your skin needs a boost in the hydration department, why not use a formula that'll give it the moisture kick it needs? This oil-free formula is packed with thirst-quenching aloe leaf extract, glycerin, and jojoba and shea butter with a side of caffeine that'll help tighten your skin. Don't believe me, just read the two THOUSAND and some reviews on Sephora.com that say, and I'm paraphrasing, that it doesn't feel greasy, will leave you with glowing skin, and causes zero breakouts or irritation.
4. L'Occitane Aqua Réotier Ultra Thirst-Quenching Gel Moisturizer
You can thank the Réotier natural spring in Provence for keeping your skin hydrated all day. Why? It contains a high calcium content that allows your moisture barrier to stay intact. Basically, if your skin feels constantly and severely dry, this is the formula for you.
5. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
If your mom took you to the Clinique counter when you first became interested in skincare, it's with good reason—the brand is legit and delivers on its claims. Case in point: This lightweight, dermatologist-tested gel that will actually leave your skin looking dramatically different, hydrating it with water, dimethicone, and glycerin and without fragrance, alcohol, and sodium laurel sulfate (the first two ingredients can be super drying and the latter is a harsh cleansing agent that also dries out skin further). Bonus: It caters to those with oily or combination skin, helping to balance it and is labeled non-acnegenic, meaning it won't irritate your complexion or trigger breakouts.
Don't mind spending a little more on that mush-needed dose of hydration?
5 Gel Moisturizers That Are Worth the Splurge
Gel Moisturizers That Are Worth the Splurge
The Calming Hydrator
Who should buy it: People who have sensitive, dry skin who want to lock in moisture
The Probiotic Moisturizer
Who should buy it: People who experience redness and want an even complexion
The Anti-Aging Cream
Who should buy it: People who want to minimize pores and smooth skin texture
The Brightening Gel
Who should buy it: People who are experiencing dullness, wrinkles, and loss of firmness
6. Dermalogica Calm Water Gel
Have sensitive skin? Trying a ton of new formulas can be nerve-wracking, especially because you never know how your complexion is going to react. Allow me to introduce you to this safe bet. This insanely hydrating gel moisturizer not only forms a moisture barrier, protecting against environmental aggressors, it has dual hyaluronic acid technology that penetrates multiple layers to deeply lock in moisture, and contains water-binding cactus pear extract, so your moisture reserve is basically overflowing (in the best way). Plus, it feels as smooth as velvet on skin, so you don’t have to sacrifice the luxuriousness of a cream just because it’s a gel.
7. Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
If you experience redness or rosacea, this moisturizer will have your back, err, face. First, the squalane oil in it mimics natural sebum (oil), helping to amp up your skin's moisture levels, while the probiotics it contains help to promote a healthier skin barrier. The ginger extract and Swiss garden cress sprouts also play a role in evening out your skin tone, since they help reduce redness.
8. Tatcha The Water Cream
A cult favorite for good reason, this oil-free water cream is packed with amazing ingredients, like Japanese wild rose that aids in tightening pores and smoothing your skin's overall texture, Japanese Leopard Lily to balance oil production and ramp up cell turnover (Goodbye, patchy dead skin!), and ultra-nourishing trio of green tea, rice, and algae. In short: This creams packs a major punch of hydration—aka you only need a pea-sized amount when applying, so while it's pricey, it'll last you a while.
9. Shiseido Essential Energy Moisturizing Gel-Cream
Looking for plump, radiant skin? Your search can stop at this hydrating gel, since it gives skin a dewy finish that'll make a patchy, dull complexion a thing of the past. How? The citrus unshiu peel extract jumpstarts your skin's natural moisture production, leaving your complexion positively glowing.
10. Dior Hydra Life Fresh Hydration Sorbet Crème
The cool, tingly feeling of this formula is as addicting as it is hydrating (pop it in the fridge for an extra chilly, refreshing effect). It claims to quench thirsty skin with the help of the French Mallow flower, which works to retain an even level of moisture in the skin, while leaving behind a healthy glow. However, if you're not into strong scents or if your skin is highly sensitive to them, you might want to stick a fragrance-free formula with moisturizing properties.
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Best Overall – Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Face Moisturizer. Fortified with hyaluronic acid, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Face Moisturizer is a promising formulation that can work well for almost everyone.Which is best gel based moisturizer? ›
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Water Gel Daily Face Moisturizer. ...
- L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Crystal Gel Cream. ...
- Minimalist 0.3% Ceramide Moisturizing Gel Cream. ...
- The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Gel Moisturiser. ...
- POND'S Super Light Gel Oil-Free Face Moisturizer.
Best Overall – Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Face Moisturizer. Fortified with hyaluronic acid, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel Face Moisturizer is a promising formulation that can work well for almost everyone.Is gel moisturizer good for mature skin? ›
Gel moisturizers are great for aging skin as they don't feel heavy or settle into lines. Instead, they give the same deep hydration as a rich cream while feeling comfortable on the skin.What skin type should use gel moisturizer? ›
Gel moisturizers are compatible with a variety of skin types but typically their absence of oil makes them extremely compatible with oily and combination skin. This is because they do not add any extra oil to skin.