Illustration: Sally Spratt
Thirsty for new moisturizers? You used to have to switch over to ultra heavy creams in the dead of winter, but not anymore. Innovative textures and delivery systems like lightweight serums and cream-gels now make moisturizing less about overdosing with rich formulas and more about actual hydration. And they absorb so thoroughly and quickly into your skin that they wear better under cosmetics—goodbye mid-morning makeup meltdown. Here are 10 picks for a variety of skin types.
This oil-free gel from Canadian company Indeed Labs comes loaded with hydrating hyaluronic acid and leaves a flattering blur finish—both pluses in my book and excellent for daytime to potentially sub for foundation. It’s best for oily skin, but it’s easy to layer if you have combination skin. Apply the Hydraluron first and then dot a moisturizer or oil of your choice on your cheeks and any dry spots.
This creamy gel has been around for a few years, but it’s as good as ever. It features Shiseido’s Hydro-Balancing Complex, which translates to not overwhelming you with moisture. It’s a lighter formula than Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica above, so better suited for normal to combination complexions or milder winter climates.
An excellent pick if your skin is on the sensitive, very dry end of the spectrum. This cream-gel also happens to be oil-free, while packing plenty of moisturizing wallop per application. A little goes a long way.
My favorite of the bunch, Chanel’s latest addition (out this month) to the Hydra Beauty line is the antithesis of greasy. Instead, the refreshing formula, which features micro-capsules of camellia oil that break on your skin on contact, absorbs in lightning speed. It’s also for those who care less about a dewy finish and more about straightforward hydration; it won’t mess with matte or velvet finish foundations.
This serum-gel in a pump is billed as more of an antioxidant product, but it boosts any moisturizer it was paired with. Rather than buying a winter-only moisturizer, stick with your usual all-around choice and then layer this underneath.
If you prefer the old school texture of classic creams, this pot is a savvy choice. It’s rich without going overboard, and leaves a dewy finish (give the product a few minutes to fully sink in before reaching for the foundation). Ideal for combination to dry complexions.
Better known for its color cosmetics, MAC isn’t top of mind when it comes to skincare, which is why this lightweight cream-gel was such a delightful surprise. The freshly-scented formula soaked in quickly but didn’t skimp in the hydration department. There was also a hint of radiance.
Especially excellent for acne-prone skin, this gentle water-gel emulsion is featherweight while delivering a healthy dose of hydration via a blend of oils (rose hip, safflower, evening primrose) and extracts (rose, camellia leaf, grape seed). Bonus: the subtle rose scent is as delightful as a walk through the garden.
Sure this fancy double-barrel (one pump dispenses a creamy and clear serum) product comes at a precious price, but for those with extra dry complexions, the results were impressive—not a single dry flake to be found, plus a subtle glow after about a week’s use.
A couple pumps of this silky liquid will cover your entire face. Best of all, the lipids-retinol combination is oil-free, yet leaves a believable glowy finish. The retinol also smooths out skin texture with repeated use but be sure to tack on a SPF for day.