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Best water-based moisturizer

Which water-based moisturizers are best?

As the colder months approach, it is important to ensure that your skin stays moisturized. Adding necessary hydration to the skin can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and revive dull, stressed skin. Those who struggle with clogged pores and skin irritation tend to benefit from water-based moisturizers.

The formula for a water-based moisturizer is typically lightweight and does not leave any access oil on the skin. In search of the best water-based moisturizer, consider your skin type and the ingredients. 

What to know before you buy a water-based moisturizer

Skin type 

A good water-based moisturizer will provide maximum benefits for all skin types, but sometimes this is not the case. If a product works only for a specific skin type, it will be noted in the description.

  • Oily skin: Those with oily skin should look for products that provide lightweight moisturization that reduces oil and cleans the dirt out of pores.
  • Combination skin: People with combination skin will want to follow similar rules as those for oily skin. Products that work best for combination skin have a gel consistency. 
  • Dry skin: Those with dry and sensitive skin will want to look for thick, creamy moisturizers that work to soothe the skin. The best idea for those with dry and sensitive skin is to avoid products containing drying agents and fragrances.

No matter your skin type, finding a water-based skin moisturizer that works best for you and provides the best results is important. What works for others may not work for you. After identifying your skin type, consider trying multiple products before adding a moisturizer to your skin care routine. 


Now that you have analyzed your skin type and are certain of what kind of product will deliver the best results for your skin, you can target specific ingredients.

As a general rule of thumb, if you have sensitive skin, check the ingredients listed online for fragrances or drying agents that may irritate the skin. Any essential oils and alcohols may work to adversely impact the skin.

If you are looking to hydrate your skin with the best water-based moisturizer, make sure it contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin and either vitamin C or vitamin E. These ingredients alone draw water to the skin and allow it to be greatly absorbed.

Some products go above and beyond and break up the ingredients one by one in the product description, so you know exactly what you are putting on your skin. If a product does not add these details to the description, be sure to research an ingredient that you are unsure of before purchasing the product. 


Most essential oils are all-natural and can benefit the skin in many ways. Those with sensitive skin should actively avoid products that contain these oils as they can easily irritate and dry out the skin.

If you know that your skin is sensitive to chemical or natural fragrances, opt for an unscented hypoallergenic product. This will ensure that your skin is not irritated.

When purchasing a product online, you can find out if a product is unscented and hypoallergenic in the description. You can also check the ingredients list to ensure it does not list any fragrances. 

How much you can expect to spend on a water-based moisturizer

Water-based moisturizers will cost anywhere from $20 to $75 depending on the bottle size, the ingredients and the brand. However, since you will likely use a moisturizer every day, search for items on sale when bought in multiples. 

Tips for using a water-based moisturizer

To get the most out of your water-based moisturizer, squeeze a dime-sized amount into your palms. Apply the product to your cheeks first in circular motions. Work your way up the forehead continuing in circle motions, then apply to the rest of the face. The key is to use light strokes upward across the face and neck to increase circulation and sculpt while hydrating the skin. Applying this product in an upward motion across the face will make the skin firmer. 

Water-based moisturizer FAQ

What ingredients hydrate skin the most? 

Check the ingredient list when searching for a moisturizer that will hydrate the skin. If a product is hydrating, it will contain ingredients that draw water into the skin, such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid. These substances work to allow for maximum absorption, leaving the face hydrated for longer. 

How many times a day do I need to moisturize? 

Dermatologists recommend that moisturizers be used with serums at least twice a day. Users should apply their water-based moisturizer once in the morning and once before bed to ensure that the skin stays moisturized all day. 

Best water-based moisturizers under $50

Peach and Lily Glass Skin Water Gel Moisturizer

Thanks to its gel formula, this moisturizer has a weightless finish that quickly sinks into the skin. It provides long-lasting hydration and has a vegan and cruelty-free formula. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty


Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

This lightweight gel moisturizer will help make sure that even the oiliest skin is hydrated without clogging pores. The highly praised gel texture softens and smooths your skin without making you feel like you have heavy cream on your face. This moisturizer helps you even more in the long run by building up your skin’s moisture barrier over time.

Sold by Amazon, Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream 

This advanced moisture-release cream delivers firmer, smoother, more supple-feeling skin. It gives the skin a dewy glow and is made without parabens, silicon, fragrances, dyes or animal testing. It is hypoallergenic and was tested by dermatologists.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Tula 24/7 Moisturizer Hydrating Day and Night Cream 

This moisturizer combines powerful probiotics and superfoods to make the skin appear healthy, growing and balanced. It delivers deep hydration to revive tired and dull skin and is suitable for all skin types due to its water-based formula.

Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty 

Best water-based moisturizers under $60

Dermalogica Calm Water Gel Moisturizer 

This gel-based water formula is lightweight and nongreasy, so it’s great if you want optimal hydration without greasy skin. It’s perfect for dry and sensitive skin. 

Sold by Ulta Beauty and Sephora

Drunk Elephant F- Balm Electrolyte Water Facial 

This vegan and cruelty-free moisturizer is best used overnight to plump, hydrate and restore the skin. It serves to rehydrate dry skin to make it soft and supple. The key ingredient, vitamin F, allows the skin to absorb extra hydration.

Sold by Ulta Beauty

Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream

This water-based moisturizer contains adaptogenic herbs to calm the skin and prevent the effects of daily stressors such as UV rays and environmental pollutants. This product is suitable for use on all skin types, especially sensitive skin. It is supplied in recycled packaging and contains no added parabens, sulfates or mineral oil. This product was not tested on animals.

Sold by Amazon and Sephora 

Best water-based moisturizer under $80

Tatcha The Water Cream 

This oil-free water cream releases skin-improving nutrients, powerful botanicals and optimal hydration for pure, smooth skin. It provides balanced hydration without leaving the skin sticky or greasy. It works to clarify the skin with Japanese botanicals such as wild rose and leopard lily. 

Sold by Amazon and Sephora

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Logan DeLoye writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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