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The Best Drugstore Moisturizers for Dry, Oily and Combination Skin

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Written by Jenna Cartusciello

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Hoping to buy the perfect drugstore moisturizer on the first try? We don’t blame you — it’s expensive to get it wrong and buy multiple products, and you risk upsetting your skin in the process. Unfortunately, you may be tempted to give up in the middle of your research (I’ve done this myself!) because there are too many choices and ingredients to worry about. How can you possibly narrow it down? Let us do the thinking for you.

With the help of product testing, reviews, ingredient lists and toxicity ratings, we’ve chosen 16 of the best drugstore moisturizers. We’ve analyzed each product for potentially irritating or comedogenic ingredients (anything that clogs pores), and given each formula a rating between zero and five — zero being the least comedogenic. In addition, none of our recommendations have a toxicity rating above four out of 10. We care deeply about what you put on your skin so that you can just relax and enjoy the product. Without further ado, here are our top choices.

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Finding the Best Drugstore Moisturizers

“Moisturizers are an essential part of skincare,” says Dr. Jenny Liu, dermatologist and YouTuber. “All skin needs a moisturizer. Even if you have oily skin, you will still benefit from using moisturizer.” This is why it’s so important to pick a product that aligns with your skin type. But how can you tell whether a moisturizer is a good pick or not?

According to Dr. Liu, an effective moisturizer contains three components: occlusives, emollients and humectants. Occlusives, such as petrolatum and fatty acids, help seal in moisture. Emollients, like petrolatum and fatty acids, also help seal in moisture but primarily soften the skin. Humectants, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, help draw water to the top layer of the skin to keep skin supple and hydrated.

Dr. Liu believes that there are a few universal moisturizers that work for all skin types. Still, a custom product designed for dry, oily or sensitive skin can help your skin thrive. Check out the following important factors to consider before making a purchase.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drugstore Moisturizers

Skin Type

Do you have dry, normal, oily or combination skin? Your answer will determine which moisturizers are best for you. All skin thrives on non-comedogenic hydrators such as glycerin, squalane, hyaluronic acid and aloe vera.

However, some skin types won’t be able to tolerate certain ingredients. Dry to normal skin, for example, is more likely to react to denatured alcohol. Normal to oily skin may become acne prone if your moisturizer contains overly-hydrating and potentially pore-clogging ingredients such as shea butter. Combination skin tends to do best with very few drying and irritating ingredients and lightweight hydration.


How compatible will your moisturizer be with the rest of your skincare routine? Applying a serum beneath your cream, gel, or lotion may cause the product to pill on your face, depending on the ingredients. Unfortunately, you won’t know whether your skincare products are compatible until you try them together, so you may need to try a couple moisturizers to find the right match.


Whether you have sensitive, dry, oily, normal or combination skin, knowing what’s in your moisturizer is extremely important. A few irritating or comedogenic ingredients can make or break a formula, no matter how much you love the other ingredients. If you’re unsure of any ingredients, check your product on INCIDecoder, SkinCarisma and EWG Skin Deep.

Bottle Design

Moisturizers usually come in two container styles: hand scoop and pump. A hand-scoop container means you dip your fingers into the container, which isn’t as sanitary but allows you to use all of the product. These containers are also more easy to recycle. In contrast, a pump container is more sanitary but less environmentally friendly, and some of the product will forever be lost inside the pump.


Drugstore moisturizers tend to be less expensive than other moisturizers on the market, but prices can add up quickly. These days, the best deal is a 14 to 16-ounce bottle of CeraVe or Vanicream for $10 to $16. Most other moisturizers offer only one to two ounces and range between $10 and $25 in price.

What Are the Different Types of Drugstore Moisturizers?


In general, lotions contain more water than creams, which makes them lightweight and easy for your skin to absorb. Lotions are a great option for normal to oily skin, but be careful: Many lotions contain droplets of oil to increase hydration. While this may be great for the body, it isn’t always great for the face — especially if your skin is acne prone.


Creams are usually thicker than lotion and help create a barrier against cold, dry air which can draw moisture out of the skin. They are a great choice for people who naturally have dry skin. However, anyone can switch to a cream-based moisturizer in the winter months when they need it. Creams are not always ideal for people with oily skin because they provide too much moisture.


Gel moisturizers are effectively water-based lotions. They have the most water out of all moisturizers, and as a result they are easily absorbed into the skin. Plus, they are very lightweight and contain fewer emollients and oils, which makes them a great option for oily skin. Be careful about purchasing gels that are blue or green — these are unnatural dyes that may irritate sensitive skin.


Best Overall: Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream With Hyaluronic Acid


  • 0/5 comedogenic rating
  • EWG verified
  • Soothing


  • Finish may look shiny
  • May be too hydrating for oily skin
  • Expensive

Unless Honest Beauty changes this formula in the future, the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream will always be my top recommendation. I have dry, sensitive, acne-prone skin and this product soothes and moisturizes it like nothing else, thanks to two forms of hyaluronic acid and squalane. It has a naturally cooling sensation, and the creamy texture somehow feels more like water when you apply it.

Though this formula is great for all skin types, it may be a little too hydrating on oily skin, especially in warm weather. (If you still want to give it a go, try applying less than you normally would). It also has the tendency to look shiny, so I use a mattifying powder or sunscreen to counteract it. This product is verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which means it contains no questionable ingredients. We gave it a comedogenic rating of zero out of five.


Best Budget: Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream 16 Oz. Pump


  • 1/5 comedogenic rating
  • Affordable
  • Great for eczema


  • 3/5 toxicity rating
  • May not work for oily skin
  • Difficult to evenly spread

There are a few rare drugstore moisturizers that work for both the body and the face, and the Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream is one of them. Personally, I’ve been a Vanicream fan for years because their formulas never cause acne or irritation, and a little goes a long way. This product also comes in a 16-ounce container, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.

However, there are a few ingredients in this cream that give us pause, including petrolatum, which may clog pores, and BHT, a masking fragrance. The cream is also very thick and a little difficult to spread evenly. We gave this product a comedogenic rating of one out of five, and the EWG gave it a toxicity rating of three out of 10.


Best Splurge: La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer with Ceramide


  • Great for dry to oily skin
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Great for acne


  • 3/5 comedogenic rating
  • 3/10 toxicity rating
  • May irritate sensitive skin

Looking for a high-end moisturizer that works around the clock to hydrate your skin and reduce irritation? Try La Roche Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer. Ceramides help repair the natural skin barrier while probiotic thermal water reduces inflammation and redness. Many buyers swear by this product as their holy grail, with some noting that they see results in 24 hours.

This product has a toxicity rating of three out of 10. We gave it a comedogenic rating of three out of five as it contains five potentially pore-clogging ingredients, including certain skin conditioners and fragrances. The formula also has a propellant that may cause irritation, and some buyers note that it pills when paired with certain serums.


Best for Dry Skin: Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin


  • 0/5 comedogenic rating
  • 1/10 toxicity rating
  • Great for all skin types


  • May leave a sticky feel
  • Doesn’t pair well with certain serums
  • May have a shiny finish

When you need an extremely hydrating moisturizer to reduce skin flakes without causing breakouts or irritation, Vanicream is the one to answer the call. The Daily Facial Moisturizer contains thirst-quenchers like hyaluronic acid, squalane and glycerin to create supple, elastic skin. Best of all, it’s lightweight and easily absorbed. This is a great alternative to the 16-ounce Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream if you have oily skin.

A few buyers have noticed that this moisturizer leaves a sticky feeling on the face, and it doesn’t fully sink in if applied on top of certain serums. Others note that it has a shiny finish. This product has a low toxicity rating of one out of 10, and we gave it a comedogenic rating of zero out of five.


Best for Oily Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel With Hyaluronic Acid


  • Lightweight
  • Absorbs quickly
  • Oil free


  • 3/10 toxicity rating
  • Blue colorant
  • Shipping issues

Sometimes, gel performs better than a cream or lotion on oily skin because it’s lightweight and absorbs quickly. We think the best one for the job is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, as it efficiently hydrates skin without causing irritation or clogged pores.

Unfortunately, some buyers have received damaged products when they purchased from Amazon. We gave this product a comedogenic rating of one out of five. It also has a toxicity rating of five out of 10 — ingredients we don’t like include methylparaben, fragrance and blue colorant.


Best for Combination Skin: CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, Ultra Lightweight, Oil Free


  • 1/5 comedogenic rating
  • Dry to oily skin types
  • Reduces inflammation


  • 3/10 toxicity rating
  • Pump bottle makes it hard to use it all
  • Small bottle for price

If you have combination skin, you need a lightweight, oil-free formula that hydrates while reducing inflammation — like the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. This product contains three ceramides to help repair the skin barrier and niacinamide to help diminish redness. It also works well in the morning (not just in the PM).

Some buyers dislike the pump because it’s hard to get all of the moisturizer out when the bottle nears the end. We also mourn the days when the CeraVe products were under $10 (the price nowadays isn’t great for the bottle size). We gave the CeraVe PM a comedogenic rating of one out of five — it contains polyglyceryl-3 diisostearate, an ingredient that could potentially block pores. The EWG gives this product a toxicity rating of three out of 10.


Best Clean Ingredients: Honest Beauty The Daily Calm Lightweight Moisturizer


  • Lightweight
  • Glowy finish
  • Intense hydrators


  • Some buyers experienced irritation
  • Expensive
  • May not work for oily skin

If you’re looking for a lighter alternative to the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream, consider the Daily Calm Lightweight Moisturizer. This formula contains excellent, non-comedogenic hydrators and skin protectors, including glycerin and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid), but it’s light enough to wear in warm weather.

Though this product is EWG verified, some reviewers report that they’ve experienced irritation or allergic reactions. If you have sensitive skin, we recommend performing a patch test first (apply a small amount to the inside of your wrist for at least an hour). We gave the Daily Calm Moisturizer a comedogenic rating of zero out of five.


Best for Mature Skin: Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide Hydrating Moisturizer


  • Improves elasticity
  • Increases cell turnover
  • May reduce fine lines and wrinkles


  • Not for acne-prone skin
  • 3/5 comedogenic rating
  • 3/10 toxicity rating

Mature skin usually needs a little extra TLC, and the right moisturizer can help you keep your skin healthy for years to come. We love the Olay Regenerist Moisturizer because it contains collagen peptides, which improve skin elasticity, and niacinamide, which improves brightness and increases skin cell turnover. Plus, the formula has ultra-hydrating ingredients to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

A few buyers dislike that this formula is not lightweight, so it doesn’t always perform well under makeup or on oily skin. We gave this product a comedogenic rating of three out of five as it contains isopropyl isostearate, which is known to clog pores. The EWG gave it a toxicity rating of three out of 10.


Best Under Makeup: CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Gel


  • 0/5 comedogenic rating
  • Great for combination skin
  • Weightless feel


  • Not enough moisture for dry skin
  • May cause irritation
  • Unknown toxicity rating

Sometimes creams and lotions are too thick, depending on the serums and sunscreens you use, and may feel too heavy under makeup. If this is your case, we recommend the CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Gel. It turns watery when you spread it across your face, but instantly hydrates and soaks in quickly. In addition, it doesn’t pill, which means it works well with foundation and concealer.

If you have very dry skin, however, this gel may not provide enough moisture. A few buyers also report that their skin reacted to this product. We gave this gel a comedogenic rating of zero out of five. The formula does not yet have a toxicity rating, though similar CeraVe products have ratings between two and four out of 10.


Best for Acne: Differin Restorative Night Moisturizer, Gentle Skincare for Acne Prone Skin


  • 1/5 comedogenic rating
  • Soothing
  • Improves skin barrier


  • 4/10 toxicity rating
  • Not for daytime wear
  • Box may come damaged from Amazon

We’ve all been through the phase where we stop using moisturizer, fearing it’ll make us breakout. However, tossing your moisturizer is one of the worst things you could do. Acne needs hydration to heal, and if you’re worried about what to put on your skin, we recommend the Differin Restorative Night Moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid, ceramides and allantoin soothe the skin and protect it from further damage.

While this is an excellent nighttime moisturizer, it may not work for all-day wear because it contains a few intense hydrators like shea butter, which may clog pores. We gave this product a comedogenic rating of one out of five. The EWG gave it a toxicity rating of four out of 10.


Best for Eczema-Prone Skin: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, Face and Body Moisturizer for Dry Skin


  • 1/5 comedogenic rating
  • NEA seal
  • Great for face and body


  • 3/10 toxicity rating
  • Easy to contaminate container
  • May cause stinging sensation on sensitive skin

Looking for a cream that’s safe for eczema? The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream has a National Eczema Association (NEA) seal of acceptance meaning it shouldn’t exacerbate symptoms. Also, this formula doesn’t feel oily and never causes breakouts, though it can have a stinging sensation if you’ve just done a chemical peel. The tub is big enough to use it for both face and body.

We strongly recommend washing your hands before dipping them into the container, as you’ll be contaminating the product each time you use it. CeraVe offers a squeeze bottle to prevent this, but it is more expensive per ounce. We gave this formula a comedogenic rating of one out of five (it contains petrolatum, which may block pores), and the EWG gave it a toxicity rating of three out of 10.


Best Tinted: NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil


  • Light to medium coverage
  • Satin finish
  • Hydrating


  • 3/10 toxicity rating
  • Only 12 shades
  • May be too hydrating on oily skin

Layering makeup over skincare doesn’t always end well — it can cause products to pill or become greasy. So, a tinted moisturizer like the NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil is an excellent way to get around the problem. Light to medium coverage helps color correct the skin while ingredients like glycerin and aloe vera add hydration.

Unfortunately, this product comes in just 12 shades and may be too hydrating for oily skin. The formula also has a toxicity rating of three out of 10, and we gave it a comedogenic rating of zero out of five.


Best Formula With SPF: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer With Sunscreen, SPF 50


  • 0/5 comedogenic rating
  • Broad spectrum
  • Unscented


  • 3/10 toxicity rating
  • May irritate sensitive skin
  • Expensive for size

It’s true: You should never mix a moisturizing product with sunscreen before applying, which would dilute the SPF and leave you with uneven sun protection. However, a carefully-formulated SPF moisturizer is a smart solution if you want an all-in-one product. The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizer With Sunscreen is our pick because it offers broad-spectrum protection without any pore-clogging ingredients. We also love that this formula never looks greasy.

This product has a toxicity rating of three out of 10, and we gave it a comedogenic rating of zero out of five. Note that the formula contains denatured alcohol, which may irritate or dry out sensitive skin.


Best Brightening Formula: Honest Beauty Everyday Radiance +C Moisturizer


  • EWG verified
  • 0/5 comedogenic rating
  • Great for dry skin


  • Expensive
  • Certain natural ingredients may be irritating/drying
  • Pump may break

Topical vitamin C is an excellent ingredient that may brighten skin, slow early signs of aging and fight sun damage, which is why we love moisturizers that contain it. The Honest Beauty Everyday Radiance +C Moisturizer not only has vitamin C, but also vitamin B3 which provides similar benefits. The formula is creamy, so a little goes a long way.

This product is EWG verified, and we gave it a comedogenic rating of zero out of five. However, it contains several potentially irritating allergens and drying ingredients, including lavender oil, rose geranium oil, citronellol and alcohol.


Best After a Chemical Peel: e.l.f. Happy Hydration Cream


  • Gentle
  • Doesn’t pill under makeup
  • Great for dry skin


  • 3/10 toxicity rating
  • May be too thick for oily skin
  • Takes a while to sink in

Not all moisturizers work well after a chemical peel or similar facial treatments, because they may sting and cause irritation. The e.l.f. Happy Hydration Cream, however, has a very mild, gentle formula that provides ample hydration while reducing inflammation. This product is also a good pick for dry, cold weather.

We gave this product a comedogenic rating of one out of five. Note that it may not work well for oily skin because it contains a few potentially pore-clogging ingredients. In addition, this product has a toxicity rating of three out of 10.


Best Drugstore Body Moisturizer: Acure Seriously Soothing 24 Hr Moisture Lotion, Unscented


  • 2/10 toxicity rating
  • Non-irritating
  • Intense hydration


  • 2/5 comedogenic rating
  • Some reviewers dislike smell
  • Shipping problems with Amazon

Need a deeply moisturizing, non-irritating body moisturizer that won’t empty your wallet? Try the Acure Seriously Soothing 24 Hr Moisture Lotion. This unscented formula contains soothing squalane, glycerin and colloidal oatmeal to hydrate and ease inflammation. Plus, it’s vegan and cruelty free.

What we didn’t like: The unscented scent of Acure products isn’t for everyone. This product has a toxicity rating of two out of 10, and we gave it a comedogenic rating of two out of five (it contains olive oil and cocoa seed butter, which may clog pores).

People Also Ask

  • Q: What face moisturizer should I use?

    A:If you have dry skin, we recommend using a cream or lotion. For oily skin, consider using a gel. And if you have combination skin, try a gel-based moisturizer first, then explore other options if it isn’t hydrating enough for you.

  • Q: What ingredients should I avoid if I have sensitive skin?

    A:If you have sensitive skin, we recommend avoiding products that contain alcohol and fragrance. You may also need to avoid naturally-derived oils, such as lavender and rose oil, if you have allergies.

  • Q: How much do drugstore moisturizers cost?

    A:Most drugstore moisturizers cost at least $10. In general, you should expect to pay between $10 and $25 for a month’s supply of facial moisturizer.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

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By Jenna Cartusciello

Affiliate Commerce Writer Jenna loves recommending great products to her friends and family, so helping the rest of the internet on their quest to find the best stuff makes tremendous sense! Though she mainly writes in-depth buyer’s guides these days, Jenna still enjoys crafting the occasional health article. In her spare time, she loves immersing herself in creative writing. Her favorite authors (for anyone who is willing to geek out with her) include Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, and Jennifer Egan.

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