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Your Personalized Guide to Moisturizing for Your Skin Type


While everyone should moisturize, not every moisturizing regimen is created equal. In fact, which moisturizer you use–and how often–depends on your skin type, or whether you have sensitive, normal, dry, oily, or combination skin. 

Don’t know your skin type? We break down a few easy ways to get to know your skin type better here, so you can create the best skincare regimen for you. And once you do know your skin type, the right moisturizer is a total game changer–it’ll keep your skin not only silky-smooth and hydrated, but balanced and protected as well.

Read on for everything you need to know about moisturizer, when to apply it, and how to choose the best facial moisturizer product for you.


The Benefits of Moisturizer

Moisturizer is essential to keeping your skin looking and feeling its best. The right moisturizer both adds strength to your skin’s protective barrier and improves its elasticity by promoting collagen creation. Collagen is the major protein in your skin, so anything that helps keep your collagen levels high is essential to any successful skincare regimen.

But I Have Oily Skin–I Don’t Need to Moisturize, Right?

While it might seem counterintuitive to slather a hydrating moisturizer on already-oily skin, every skin type needs to moisturize. In fact, dermatologists believe that the excess oil production that occurs in people with oily skin might actually be your skin’s way of overcompensating for a lack of moisture. In other words, if you have an oily skin type, your skin might be producing oil because it thinks it’s too dry or under-hydrated, so using a moisturizer can actually restore balance to your oil production. 

The trick is to use a product designed for your skin type. For example, those with oily or combination skin likely need a lighter moisturizer than those with dry skin, who might need a heavier moisturizer to boost, rather than curb, their oil production.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Moisturizing for Every Skin Type

Most skincare professionals suggest moisturizing twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. This ensures your skin’s moisture will remain constant both throughout the day and while you sleep, so you can always look forward to supple, healthy skin.

While your exact skincare routine will be unique to your skin and its needs (we explain how to create your own skincare routine here), in general, dermatologists recommend moisturizing before applying your sunscreen and makeup in the morning. If you're pressed for time in the morning or just want to cut down on the number of steps in your moisturizing regimen, you can of course use a moisturizer with SPF, like Clinique's Superdefense Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 20, for all the protective benefits of sunscreen and the skin-soothing benefits of moisturizer in one.  

At night, apply your moisturizer after using a cleanser, toner, and exfoliator, like Skin & Co. Roma's Truffle Therapy Face Gommage. This gently-exfoliating product clears dead skin cells and prepares your skin for all of the hydrating benefits of a moisturizer, without over-drying or stripping your face of necessary nutrients. If you're not sure which exfoliator to use, though, or even how to exfoliate, check out our guide to exfoliating here

Below, we break down how you can best moisturize for your skin type, and our picks for the best products for you.

How to Moisturize Dry Skin

Moisturizing for dry skin is all about hydration, so you'll want to make sure any moisturizer you use has a few key ingredients to hydrate and restore your skin. The most important of these is hyaluronic acid. This acid is naturally produced by your body to help your skin (and your eyes and connective tissues) retain water, so it's especially beneficial to hydrate parched, dry skin. 

In the morning, apply a moisturizer with SPF (like Bobbi Brown’s Extra Repair Moisturizing Balm) after cleansing. This heavy-duty hydrating balm is specially formulated for dry skin, and protects your skin from the sun while smoothing, firming, and, of course, moisturizing.

After cleansing at night, we recommend using a hydrating serum, like First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, for an extra dose of hyaluronic acid and skin-calming ingredients like aloe leaf juice. Simply warm up the serum between your fingertips or palms, then press into your skin with gentle, upward strokes. Finish up with a night cream, like Derma E's Hydrating Night Cream, for an insanely-hydrating moisturizer that will prevent fine lines and other signs of aging while you sleep. 

Need an extra moisturizing boost, especially in the winter months? We recommend using an ultra-luxurious mask, like NUXE's Moisturizing Mask Crème Fraîche de Beauté, up to four times a week. This rich cream soothes and softens even the driest of skin, while relieving any skin discomfort often caused by flaking, itchy dry skin.

How to Moisturize Oily Skin

Oily skin needs moisture without any added oil or pore-clogging ingredients that can lead to breakouts. As such, you'll want to look for oil-free moisturizers and hydrating products specially designed for blemish-prone skin.

For your morning moisturizer, apply a product with SPF, like Juice Beauty’s SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer, after cleansing. This lightweight moisturizer is specially formulated for skin prone to breakouts and clogged pores, and is loaded with good-for-you nutrients to restore your skin's natural balance, like sea algae, aloe vera, pomegranate, and grape. 

After cleansing, toning, and exfoliating in the evening, apply a light serum, like Clarisea’s Pretty Skin Vitamin A + C Oil Serum & Boost, for a gentle dose of hydration that won't clog your pores or increase your oil production. Then, opt for an oil-free moisturizer, preferably gel-based to keep your skin hydrated without being too heavy, like First Aid Beauty's Skin Repair Oil-Free Mattifying Gel. If you're especially prone to oil or shine, lighten up your routine by simply adding a drop of the serum to the gel-based moisturizer: this will keep your skin hydrated without overdosing on product.

For extra moisture as-needed, apply a gel-based moisturizing mask one to two times per week. We recommend Farmacy's Coconut Gel Sheet Masks for a moisturizing product that won't leave your skin greasy or slick.

How to Moisturize Combination Skin

Combination skin types need a balancing moisturizer that will hydrate your dry skin areas without increasing oil production in your oily areas. As such, you'll want to look for an oil-free or water-based moisturizer to keep your skin supple yet shine-free. 

Begin the day by applying a mattifying SPF moisturizer, like Coola Suncare's Mineral Face Matte Tint Moisturizer, after cleansing. This mattifying product keeps your skin moisturized without being oily, and has water-resistant SPF protection, too, so you can go about your day without worry.

At night, use a balancing serum after cleansing and toning, like Bobbi Brown’s Skin Clarifier No. 75, followed by a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer. Pacifica’s Cactus & Kale Oil-Free Recovery Lotion is great for hydrating combination skin without feeling sticky or stripping drier areas.

For extra moisture, we recommend a hydrating mask that will target oily areas while moisturizing dry ones. Use Glow Recipe's Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer one to two times a week for a refreshing boost of soothing moisture and gel-based hydration.

How to Moisturize Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin may react to products that are too harsh or strong, so you'll want to make sure you patch-test whatever you buy on the inside of your arm before applying all over your face. If you're not sure what ingredients you're sensitive too, try to stay away from harsh chemicals or ingredients like formaldehyde, retinol, parabens, and even fragrance, as these can irritate your skin. 

Luckily, there are so many products available nowadays for sensitive skin. In the morning, we recommend using a simple, clean product like No B.S.'s Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer with SPF 20. True to its name, this moisturizer defends against damaging UVA rays while soothing inflammation and redness, all without parabens, sulfates, or artificial fragrance. 

After cleansing in the evening, apply a gentle serum, like Way of Will’s 10 Essential Sensitive Skin Face Oil, followed by a moisturizer specially formulated for sensitive skin, like C’Est Moi's Gentle Moisture Lotion. This fragrance-free lotion will soothe your skin while it hydrates, leaving your face soft, clean, and irritation-free.

Since sensitive skin can be more prone to dryness or flaking, you might want to consider applying a skin-calming moisturizing mask three to four times a week. Feel Beauty's Feel Mindful Palo Santo Soothing Mask is oh-so-relaxing for both you and your skin, as it's infused with adaptogenic mushrooms and calming lavender to instantly de-stress and soothe your skin. It's also vegan and cruelty-free, too!

How to Moisturize Normal Skin

Normal skin types have no major skin concerns to solve for, so your moisturizing routine is all about using what works for you. To get you started, we've rounded up our favorite moisturizing products that will not only keep your skin healthy, but prevent common anti-aging skin concerns like fine lines and wrinkles.

Using a moisturizer like Origins' VitaZing SPF 15 Energy-Boosting Moisturizer is a great way to wake your skin up in the morning, while opting for a mild, soothing serum at night, like Dermadelli's Pumpkin Seed Serum, will keep your skin nourished and hydrated. For a moisturizer specially formulated to keep skin healthy and prevent discoloration and dryness, try Sunday Riley's Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream. This cream is oil-free and formulated with two types of hyaluronic acid, so you can be sure your skin will be smooth and baby-soft in the morning.

If you find your skin needs extra moisture, perhaps in the winter months or during a period of high stress, opt for a hydrating mask up to three times a week. Bobbi Brown’s Skin Nourish Mask is a great choice for keeping your skin plump and moisturized without feeling heavy or cakey on your skin, and will also prevent fine lines, too.

Tried one of these moisturizing products? Let us know by leaving a review on any of your favorite products, or post a picture on Instagram and tag us @IPSY–we'd love to hear how you keep your skin healthy, happy, and hydrated!

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Article Last Updated March 19, 2020 12:00 AM