Save vs. Splurge: The Best Moisturizers for Your Skin Type and Budget

BY Mary Kearl · April 17, 2017

Moisturizers-and-textures-on-a-blue-background-1 | Dermstore Blog

As our skin is the largest organ in our body, taking care of it should be our utmost priority. And one of the best ways to protect this key part of our body? Using moisturizers regularly! “Moisturizers add a layer of protection to your skin,” explains board-certified dermatologist Sandra Johnson, M.D. “Skipping out on regular moisturizing could lead to skin irritation, rash or infections.”

What’s in Your Moisturizer

According to board-certified dermatologist Rosalyn George, M.D., most moisturizers contain a mixture of the three categories: occlusive, emollients and humectants. Here’s how they differ:

  • Occlusives work to lock in moisture. Examples are petrolatum, lanolin, dimethicone, mineral oil and other oils like coconut and jojoba oil and shea butter.
  • Emollients help soften and smooth the skin by filling in the cracks. Examples are ceramides, cetyl alcohol, and lineoleic acid, grape seed oil and sesame seed oil.
  • Humectants bring moisture into the top layer of your skin. This type is usually paired with at least one of the other two categories, Dr. George notes, “because too much of a good thing can actually cause irritation.” Examples are hyaluronic acid, urea, lactic acid, propylene glycol and glycerin.

How to Pick a Moisturizer

When choosing a moisturizer, consider your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, choose products with fewer ingredients, and don’t opt for a product with fragrance. Have dry or eczema-prone skin? Give cream-based moisturizers with ceramides a try. And if you have oily skin, look for moisturizers with dimethicone, or products labeled “non-comedogenic” as these moisturizers won’t clog up your pores and cause breakouts. Here are few more tips on how to choose and apply your moisturizers for best results:

  • Apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp. Waiting until your skin is dry could potentially make dryness worse.
  • Reapply moisturizer to your hands after washing.
  • Consider a different product for your face and your body.
  • Try lighter creams or lotion in warmer weather.

Ready to pick out a new favorite? Dermstore is here to help! Here, we picked a few of our favorite moisturizers across skin types and price points. Whatever your skin type or budget, there’s a moisturizer for you!


Splurge: SkinCeuticals Emollience

This daily moisturizer features a lightweight texture that absorbs quickly to deliver nourishing vitamins B5 and A for a more youthful appearance. Mango seed butter rehydrates your complexion while lavender soothes redness. One reviewer notes: “I have used Emollience for several years and love the light texture. It absorbs quickly and is a great base for foundation.”

Save: EltaMD Moisturizer

This soothing cream is a great all-around moisturizer. Not only does it deliver long-lasting moisture, it also helps promote skin healing after chemical peels, laser treatments and sunburn. For an extra dose of moisture, use day and night. One Dermstore shopper advises to go easy on this moisturizer if you don’t have dry skin: “I first found out this cream when I got a facial. It is a great moisturizer and a little goes a long way!”


Splurge: Nia 24 Intensive Recovery Complex

This moisturizer hydrates and nourishes as it strengthens your skin. Formulated for day and night use, it helps repair damage and improves tone and texture with shea and mango seed butters. It also features licorice extract to brighten skin tone, while Pro-Niacin reinvigorates the skin to promote a healthy and radiant complexion. “Great moisturizer especially in the winter months, the recovery complex is thick and creamy and does a great job,” says one Dermstore shopper.

Save: Theraplex HydroLotion

This quick-absorbing formula penetrates in a matter of seconds to deliver instant hydration. Hydrosilicone allows the emollient to soak deep within the skin for lasting moisture. Non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, this moisturizer also works great for severely dry skin that’s prone to eczema, xerosis and psoriasis. One reviewer even says she prefers this over other more expensive moisturizers: “I now prefer this over my much more expensive moisturizers. Plus the bottle is big, so it’s a very good value.”


Splurge: Eminence Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer

In addition to helping fight dry skin with shea butter and yogurt, this product is aimed at fighting acne, too. It features salicylic acid, which helps slough off dead skin cells and break up oil deposits, while cucumber juice acts as a natural astringent to soothe and calm any irritation. “Love how rich and nourishing this moisturizer is, yet it’s still light enough for acne-prone skin,” writes one Dermstore reviewer.

Save: Honest Beauty Dependably Clear Oil Free Moisturizer

This gentle oil-free moisturizer features a combination of occlusives, emollients and humectants to lock in moisture, fill in dry cracks and bring moisture to the surface of the skin. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic, which makes it safe for those with oily and acne-prone skin.


Splurge: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream

This whipped moisturizer features an airy blend of 6 African oils that slowly deliver intense hydration for hours after application. Loaded with antioxidants, omega acids and vitamin C, this non-toxic, non-irritating moisturizer provides hydrating, anti-aging benefits for all skin types. “I have tried all kinds of moisturizers and it’s possible that I have found the holy grail,” writes one Dermstore purchaser of this two-in-one anti-aging and moisturizing face cream.

Save: Avene Clean-Ac Hydrating Cream

This comforting cream’s rich, non-greasy formula features a high concentration of Avene thermal spring water to hydrate and calm irritation and redness. Gentle and non-comedogenic, this nourishing cream is ideal for sensitive or blemish-prone skin. “My dermatologist recommended this over some of the expensive creams they sell in the office and I’m glad she did. Great price point,” writes one Dermstore shopper.


Splurge: SkinMedica Ultra Sheer Moisturizer

This sheer moisturizer utilizes antioxidant-rich vitamin E to neutralize free radical rays while gently hydrating your skin. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, this facial lotion moisturizes your complexion all day long. Vitamins C and B12 condition your palette while dimethicone smooths away roughness. One Dermstore reviewer highly recommends it, saying: “I have very combination skin: dry in patches and oily in others. This moisturizer goes on smoothly and sinks into skin without any kind of residue.”

Save: La Roche-Posay's Double Repair Moisturizer

Perfect for all skin types, including combination skin, this moisturizer diminishes dryness, free radical damage and oiliness with a powerful formula infused with antioxidants and niacinamide, making your skin appear younger and healthier. Potent and relatively more affordable, this face moisturizer is also paraben-free and oil-free.

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl graduated from NYU with a BA in journalism and Baruch College Zicklin School of Business with an MBA in marketing. She has 10+ years of experience as a professional writer and as a social media, digital content and ecommerce strategist. Re... Read More >

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