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9 hydrating, non-greasy moisturizers that are perfect for combination skin


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A composite image of the best moisturizers for combination skin on a gradient blue background.Maintain a balanced skin barrier without the excess oil thanks to the best moisturizers for combination skin.

Amazon; Sephora/Business Insider

If you’ve noticed your skin doesn’t quite fit into the standard categories of oily, dry, sensitive, or normal skin, you likely have combination skin. “Combination skin is when someone is both oily and dry at the same time,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Leah Ansell, who is based in Rye, New York. People with combo skin “tend to be oilier in the central T-zone but dryer on the lower face and at the cheeks and periphery.” 

When shopping for the best moisturizers for combination skin, you’ll want to find a product that provides sufficient hydration for dryer areas while not exacerbating the oiliness in your T-zone. Products with hyaluronic acid, squalane, or aloe are great choices because they maintain a healthy moisture barrier without clogging pores. The lightweight, gel-like texture of the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream is what makes it stand out as our top pick overall. 

Below, you’ll find our favorite moisturizers for combination skin, including a handful that we’ve tested and some of Dr. Ansell’s top choices.

Our top picks for the best moisturizers for combination skin

Best overall: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream – See at Sephora 

Best drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel – See at Ulta

Best luxury: Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Rich – See at Sephora

Best for mature skin: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream – See at Amazon 

Best for sensitive skin: Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion – See at Amazon

Best for dry skin: Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream – See at Sephora

Best for acne-prone skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat Daily Face Moisturizer for Oily Skin – See at Amazon 

Best for melanated skin: The INKEY List Omega Water Cream – See at Amazon

Best with SPF: Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Mineral SPF 30 Refillable Moisturizer – See at Sephora

Best overall

Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream has been beloved by beauty enthusiasts and celebrities for years. The brand launched this ultra-hydrating water cream version last year, which is even better suited for combination skin than the original. “Gel creams are thicker and more nourishing than gels but not as heavy as creams,” notes Dr. Ansell. “They usually maintain a fresh feel when applied.” 

Indeed, this niacinamide-packed cream feels like a cooling splash of water on the face, and it maintains its deep level of hydration for hours — up to one hundred hours, according to the brand — after application. It tackles dryness, reduces redness, and minimizes the look of pores all at once. I especially love this cream in the warmer months since it feels a bit lighter on the skin than a rich cream, and it releases a cooling sensation upon application.

Best drugstore

Dr. Ansell says this “super hydrating but not overly occlusive light moisturizer option” is among the best moisturizers for combination skin. It’ll hydrate dryer areas of the skin thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, but it won’t clog pores in oiler sections. The oil-free, non-comedogenic formula even doubles as a primer, which is a nice benefit if you don’t love layering excessive products on your face. 

Best luxury

Formulated by an aesthetic doctor with a background in anti-inflammatory medicine, this richly moisturizing cream — which is one of the best moisturizers for combination skin — strengthens sensitive skin, protects against free radicals, and promotes healthy skin function. It’s made with skullcap (part of the mint family), which supports cell renewal and has intense anti-aging properties. Additionally, antioxidant vitamin E smooths skin while avocadin hydrates and calms. 

Though the product is a splurge, I immediately understood why after applying it to my face, neck, and decolletage. It felt deeply moisturizing upon use and long after, without feeling greasy or sticky at all. When I applied it at night, my skin still felt hydrated the next morning. 

Best for mature skin

There’s something about a “whipped” moisturizer that just sounds delightful — and after testing this product alongside some of the top moisturizers for combination skin, I can confidently say it is. The ceramide-packed product felt lightweight on my skin, yet it provided long-lasting hydration, well throughout the night and into the next morning. It’s particularly well-suited for mature skin thanks to the inclusion of antioxidant-rich fermented green tea, which helps combat signs of aging. I especially love that, even though the product comes in a tub, it is dispensed through a pump, which is much more sanitary than dipping your fingers into a jar.

Best for sensitive skin

If you’re in the market for an oil-free facial moisturizer that feels light on the skin and is well suited for combination skin, Dr. Ansell recommends this drugstore find infused with hydrating hyaluronic acid. Dr. Ansell likes hyaluronic acid for combination skin because it “attract[s] water to the skin’s surface without being overly occlusive.” The product is also safe for sensitive skin.

Best for dry skin

Combination skin can tend to include dry patches, especially in the colder months. If this sounds relatable to you, you may enjoy this dewy cream from Tatcha, one of the top hydrating moisturizers for combination skin. It’s formulated with deeply hydrating hyaluronic acid and squalane, which works to seal in moisture. Meanwhile, antioxidant Japanese purple rice protects skin from free radical damage, like fine lines and wrinkles. 

Best for acne-prone skin

If your combination skin has extra oily or acne-prone areas, Dr. Ansell recommends this product, which is a favorite moisturizer for combination skin, because it’s “non-comedogenic yet hydrating. The matte finish helps reduce the oily appearance of the skin.” With the inclusion of vitamins C and E, the lightweight and oil-free moisturizer tightens pores, reduces oil, and protects against free radical damage. This winner was also the best mattifying option in our guides for the best moisturizers for oily skin and the best moisturizers for acne-prone skin.

Best for melanated skin

If you love a lightweight gel texture that feels cool and comfortable on the skin, this pick by the Inkey List may be your new favorite moisturizer for combination skin. It contains a hydrating ceramide complex and 5% glycerin, which work to pull in moisture without clogging pores. Additionally, 5% niacinamide provides further oil control and helps to fade dark spots.

Best with SPF

Rihanna’s cult-favorite SPF 30 daily moisturizer is one of our top moisturizers for combination skin because it uses niacinamide to help fight shine and reduce the look of pores and dark spots. Meanwhile, zinc oxide provides sun protection, and Kalahari melon delivers vitamin and antioxidant-packed hydration. We love that the vegan, cruelty-free lightweight cream comes in a refillable pump that’s part of sanitary and environmentally friendly packaging.

What to look for

Ingredients:
When shopping for the best moisturizers for combination skin, consider the ingredients. “Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe are good options for combination skin because they attract water to the skin’s surface without being overly occlusive,” explains Dr. Ansell. “I’d avoid occlusive agents such as Vaseline, petrolatum, or frank face oils, which will be problematic for the oily areas of the skin.”

Consistency:

The right consistency for the best moisturizers for combination skin “may vary by season,” notes Dr. Ansell. “In the summer, a lightweight moisturizer is best. Be sure to look for [a] non-comedogenic [formula], which means it won’t clog pores (and cause problems in the oily areas). In the winter, you may need a thicker moisturizer, and this is fine as long as it doesn’t contribute to an oily feeling on the center of the face.” 

Most creams will be labeled in a way so you can better understand the texture. “Gels are water-based and have a cool, jelly-like texture. They are a nice option for oily skin or when one desires a matte finish,” explains Dr. Ansell. “Gel creams are thicker and more nourishing than gels but not as heavy as creams. They usually maintain a fresh feel when applied.” 

If your skin is drier, or you want a bit of a thicker texture in the winter, “a rich cream differs from gels because they are thicker and contain more fats and emollients, including shea butter, vegetable oils, and fatty acids,” she says. 

Hydration is key whether you prefer a lightweight or richer texture—but you’ll want to be mindful of how that hydration is delivered. “Emollients, humectants, and occlusive are all moisturizing agents that work in different ways to moisturize and protect the skin. Humectants attract water molecules to draw in moisturize. Emollients soften and smooth the skin, creating a protective film to trap in moisturizer. They are classified by how oily or greasy they are. Occlusives seal in moisturizer and prevent water loss by creating a protective seal over the skin,” Dr. Ansell explains. 

FAQs

What type of face cream is best for combination skin?

While humectants such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe, and lactic acid are great for combination skin, Dr. Ansell advises against using occlusives, which can worsen oil-prone areas. 

What does combination skin look like?

“Combination skin is when someone is both oily and dry at the same time,” says Dr. Ansell. “One knows they [have] combination skin when they tend to be oilier in the central T-zone but dryer on the lower face and at the cheeks and periphery.” 

What makes combination skin worse? 

“Overwashing/cleansing your skin and over-toning can strip your skin from important elements of the skin microbiome and further dry out one’s skin,” notes Dr. Ansell. In addition, she says, “I’d avoid overly occlusive agents such as Vaseline, or petrolatum, or frank face oils, which will be problematic for the oily areas of the skin.”

How often should you use moisturizers for combination skin?

Moisturizers for combination skin may be used twice daily: once in the morning and once in the evening. “Start with a gentle cleanser to reset and balance your skin. A simple, gentle cleanser or a cleanser with glycolic or salicylic acid could be good options,” advises Dr. Ansell. “A non-comedogenic serum would go OK next. This could be a vitamin C or a hyaluronic acid serum. The last step is a simple non-comedogenic moisturizer with SPF or a separate moisturizer with SPF.” 

Is hyaluronic acid good for combination skin?

Hyaluronic acid is great for combination skin because it helps keep your skin hydrated and plump, especially in drier areas, without exacerbating the oilier T-zone. If you’re looking to boost your hyaluronic acid intake, try a layering serum from our guide to the best hyaluronic acid serums underneath your moisturizer.   

You can consult our guide to hyaluronic acid benefits to learn more about this powerful ingredient.

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