If your forehead, nose and chin tend to shine like a diamond while your cheeks flake like a pastry, you probably have combination skin. And while multi-masking can be a fun way to tackle disparate patches on your face, attempting to use multiple moisturizers at once is more likely to drive you mad than fix any issues you’re dealing with.
Luckily, evening the differences in oil production across your face isn’t as complicated as you might think. The trick is finding a product that helps regulate your skin’s oil production while also providing ample hydration, rather than tackling just one of those challenges. As Dr. Joshua Zeichner a dermatologist from NYC, puts it, “When choosing a moisturizer for combination skin, stay away from extreme ingredients that may work for one part of the face, but aggravate the other. I usually recommend moisturizers that have a lighter consistency which won’t weigh down oily skin, but are effective enough for dry skin.”
On the bright side, combination skin is actually the most common skin type, which means there are lots and lots of products specifically designed to create a balance for this particular conundrum. So, we talked to Dr. Zeichner and three other dermatologists and skincare experts to find out what are the best moisturizers for combination skin. Here are their picks.
1. INNBEAUTY PROJECT Next Level No BS Moisturizer
Best Affordable Option
Dr. Zeichner’s first choice is from clean, vegan beauty brand Innabeauty Project. “The specialized gel cream base is super lightweight and won’t weigh down the skin. It also delivers soothing niacinamide along with botanical extracts (like ribrose and licorice) with natural hydrating benefits.”
2. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer
Best Clean Beauty Option
In addition to treating flaky and oily sections of your skin, Dr. Sunitha D. Posina, a beauty internist in New York with certification in dermatology therapies, emphasizes continual nourishment to prevent those imbalances from getting back out of control. “Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow is packed with antioxidants and botanical extracts to help neutralize free radicals and protect against environmental irritants. It is also developed with hyaluronic acid, which I recommend for dry skin. On top of this, the product contains watermelon extract, which is filled with vitamins and amino acids, helping nourish the skin. Watermelon extract is touted for its cleansing and exfoliating properties, while the vitamin C within it helps cells regenerate. This helps combination skin stay hydrated, regulate excess oils, and address dryness.
3. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream
Best for Those with More Oily Patches Than Dry
“I recommend this to some of my patients who have oily skin with dry patches in some spots of their faces,” says Dr. Posina. “The formula combines vitamin E for antioxidant benefits with hyaluronic acid for hydrating and retaining moisture in the dermis and epidermis throughout the day. Vitamin C and B12 are also present in this product, which help boost collagen production, reduce inflammation and brighten the skin for a more supple feel and look.”
4. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Mineral Water Gel
Best for Those With More Dry Patches Than Oily
According to Dr. Stacy Chimento, MD, based out of Miami Beach, Florida, this water gel is a great “lightweight option for those on the dryer side of combination skin” thanks to glycerin, which pulls water into the outer layers of your skin. “[The Vichy moisturizer] also contains hyaluronic acid to attract moisture from the environment to leave your skin feeling cooler (a bonus in the summer months) and better moisturized. This will have a ripple effect as this proper hydration helps level oil production and revitalize and minimize pores.”
5. Ole Henriksen Counter Balance Oil Control Hydrator
Best Pre-Foundation Prep
The combination of potent botanicals—green tea, eucalyptus, algae and Irish moss—works to both mattify skin and provide a dewy complexion. This might sound like an oxymoron, but what that really means is that this moisturizer can limit oil production while providing deep hydration for a deep, healthy glow that comes from within. Another bonus of this oil-controlling formula is its ability to work in conjunction with your makeup for a guaranteed eight hours of melt-free foundation.
6. SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture
Best for Those Who are Willing to Splurge
Dr. Chimento also recommends cult-favorite brand SkinCeuticals. “It’s is a reliable brand, and this lightweight moisturizer is a favorite among patients dealing with aspects of both oily and dry skin. This moisturizer helps stabilize oil production, hydrate, and address enlarged pores while also working to keep the skin smooth without overwhelming it. It’s at a higher price range than brands available at the pharmacy, but it is worth it.”
7. Herla Damask Rose Nourishing and Firming All-Day Cream
Best All-Natural Option
NYC dermatologist Dr. Hadley King is a big fan of moisturizers that work fast and don’t sit on the skin for long periods of time for those with combination skin. “Rich in damask rose oil, rosehip oil and argan oil, this creamy formulation moisturizes but absorbs quickly. These oils help balance the skin's oil production with low risk for comedogenicity (good news for acne-prone individuals). Hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin, while extracts from gingko biloba, grapes, rooibos plant and milk thistle work to minimize oxidative stress.”
8. Tatcha The Water Cream
Meghan Markle’s Top Choice
Both the former duchess of Sussex and Kim Kardashian West have gone on the record about their love of Japanese brand Tatcha. Using Japanese botanicals, this cream clarifies and refines skin. Wild rose tightens pores and smoothes texture. Leopard lily helps to control excess oil and supports natural skin turnover. And green tea, rice and algae restore radiance. This soothing formula also imparts a super-subtle glow that’s less shiny and more “Yes, I really am a goddess.”
9. NakedPoppy Revitalize Organic Facial Oil
Best Face Oil
Skin oils are another great option for people with combination skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Their natural, emollient benefits soften and hydrate the outer skin layer without making the skin feel greasy. NakedPoppy’s revitalize organic oil is an ultralight oil that dries fully on the skin. It combines several botanical oils Like rosehip, jojoba, argan and poppy seed oil that hydrate and soothe without weighing down the T-zone.”
10. GoodJanes H2O My God Water Moisturizer
Best Vegan Option
“This rich cream hydrates and moisturizes using vegan ingredients dimethicone, squalane, safflower seed oil, argan kernel oil and glycerin,” explains Dr. King, “While licorice, daisy and rose extracts provide additional skin-soothing properties. It also contains anti-aging peptides, vitamin C and plant stem cell extracts with potent antioxidant properties.”
Read on for more PureWow picks for the best moisturizers for combination skin.
11. Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream
Best Drugstore Pick
For $9, you can’t beat Garnier’s gel moisturizer. In addition to feeling really refreshing and cooling on the skin (a trademark of gels), it’s super lightweight and breathable, making it the perfect first layer for your daily skincare routine. Your skin will be markedly more supple without that heavy, covered-up feeling you get from other moisturizers.
12. Origins Clear Improvement Pore Clearing Moisturizer with Salicylic Acid
Best for Acne-Prone Skin
Bamboo charcoal is incredibly efficient at absorbing impurities in the skin, aka cleaning out your pores, while salicylic acid works to gently exfoliate dead skin cells to keep those newly clean pores looking fresh. Those same ingredients also work to eliminate excess oil in your T-zone and scrub away dead flakes on your cheeks making this a sort of Jack of all trades when it comes to address the concerns of acne-prone combination skin.
13. Urban Skin RX Complexion Protection Mineral Moisturizer
Best Moisturizer with Built-In SPF
This inexpensive daily moisturizer is one of my personal top favorites because of its super-lightweight formula and the fact that it’s totally scentless. It boasts many of the same skin boosting ingredients as the other products on this list— hyaluronic acid, squalene and vitamin E, to name a few—and is also vegan. And because it was originally formulated for darker skin tones, the genius minds behind Urban Skin RX worked hard to guarantee it goes on sheer with no white residue, despite the added SPF.
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