The 7 Best Oil Free Moisturizers

The 7 Best Oil Free Moisturizers

When it comes to choosing the best moisturizer for your skin, there are almost too many options, and it can be difficult to determine which moisturizer is best for certain skin types. While dry skin or even combination skin may be desperate for some serious hydration, if you have acne-prone skin or oily skin, moisturizers may feel like a bit of a minefield.

“When you have oily skin, the last thing you need is a heavy moisturizer that will clog your pores.”

  • Shani Darden, esthetician

If you’re choosing a face moisturizer and you struggle with excess oil, the last thing you want is a daily moisturizer that has oils as its key ingredients, as this might lead to pore clogging and breakouts. 

So let’s talk about seven oil-free moisturizing ingredients that can help keep your skin hydrated and glowing all day long.

Why Is Moisturizing Important?

You may have noticed that moisturizing is on every single list when it comes to taking care of your skin. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t skip this crucial skincare step.

For one, keeping your skin hydrated can help support your skin barrier. Your skin barrier is your outermost layer of skin, which keeps bacteria and impurities out while letting the good things — such as moisture — in. It also helps keep those things in so you can stay hydrated all day long.

Moisturizing properly is also important because no matter how high-functioning your skin barrier is, you’re going to lose moisture throughout the day. This is called trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), and it varies with your skin barrier as well as with your environment. 

For instance, you may be more likely to lose water during the day in a dry, humid environment — which means it’s especially important to support your skin barrier during your skincare regimen.

Moisturizing can also help with visible signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, depending on what your facial moisturizer is formulated with, individual skincare products can offer additional support. 

These can include brightening benefits, antioxidants, and even oil control. It’s safe to say that your moisturizer can do more than just add to your skin’s moisture levels!

What Makes an Ingredient Hydrating?

When it comes to choosing the best, most hydrating moisturizer, you have a lot to consider. There are so many ingredients out there on the market that can deliver unparalleled hydration. 

On the one hand, you have a lot of options. On the other, it can be difficult to determine which moisturizer is best without the help of a dermatologist, especially if you have sensitive skin or a more oily skin type. If you’re not sure what your skin type is, it’s time to figure that out.

Before we get into more detailed information about the ingredients you should look for, let’s talk about the broader categorizations of these moisturizing ingredients so you can get an in-depth understanding of how your moisturizing lotion works.


Moisturizers are made up of three hydrating components, one of which is called a humectant. Humectants are molecules that attract water to themselves and have the ability to bind many times their own weight in water. By incorporating humectants into your skincare routine, you can help to hydrate your skin.

Humectants are non-negotiable when it comes to moisturizers, but they’re especially important if you live in a dry environment because they may help to counteract TEWL. If you’ve ever seen a moisturizer called a water cream or have been told to apply a hydrating moisturizer or serum to wet skin, it probably contained humectants.


While humectants can attract water to your skin, emollients are a source of moisture in and of themselves. They can be super effective on their own in addressing uncomfortable skincare concerns because they can help to soothe dryness, redness, and irritation.

Emollients are sometimes called barrier creams because they can act to form a film on top of your skin barrier, which can help to maintain hydration. It’s important not to confuse this type of moisturizer with occlusives, which also form a barrier on your skin (more on that next.) 

The key thing to remember is that emollients can use fatty lipids to fill the gaps that occur between your cells when your skin is dry, leading to smoother, softer-feeling skin.


Occlusives are typically oils or waxes that act to form a barrier over your skin. Unlike emollients, which deliver fatty acids, oils may deliver a wide range of helpful nutrients to your skin and act as a sort of second skin barrier.

Applying an occlusive at the end of your skincare routine or using a heavy night cream as the last step of your evening routine can help to trap moisture and nutrients from other skincare products into your skin, allowing them time to absorb properly. 

Occlusives can minimize your skin’s TEWL throughout the day, too — so if you have dry skin, live in a dry area, or are just struggling with dry winter weather, occlusives are king.

That said, if your oil production is already on overdrive, you may worry that using a face cream with heavy oils may lead to even more excess sebum and, therefore, blemishes. If a cream moisturizer leaves your skin feeling slick and oily, you probably want to look for a non-comedogenic, lightweight formula instead.

What Moisturizing Ingredients Should You Look For?

In addition to trying to check all the boxes we listed above — with some mindfulness toward oil-based moisturizers if you have breakout-prone skin — there are also some specific ingredients you may want to consider when shopping for a moisturizer. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is the go-to humectant. It can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, helping it support a nourished skin barrier and leaving you with a plump, supple complexion. It also may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, support skin elasticity, and encourage an overall youthful-looking complexion.

Hyaluronic acid also occurs naturally in your skin, so it doesn’t have any noteworthy side effects and tends to work well when paired with just about any other ingredient available. This makes it a non-problematic hydrator, especially if you have dry or irritated skin due to exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid or retinol.

2. Collagen

Collagen is a vital moisturizing ingredient often found in gel creams and other rich moisturizers. Collagen is a natural protein that can help support your skin’s structure, firmness, and elasticity and is a key part of what keeps your complexion looking and feeling young.

By replenishing your skin’s collagen levels, you can help to provide your skin with hydration that also can support your skin’s resilience and smoothness, and even address visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

3. Antioxidants

In addition to ingredients that are entirely targeted at hydrating your skin, incorporating vital nutrients such as antioxidants can be key to supporting radiant, hydrated skin. Potent antioxidants can come from a wide range of natural sources, such as green tea and vitamin C, and can help provide powerful protection against environmental stressors.

Antioxidants also possess soothing properties that can assist in calming redness and irritation. Some antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are also known to have brightening properties, which can help your skin glow even brighter. Other nutrient-rich ingredients, such as aloe, can help to hydrate your skin on top of offering botanical benefits.

4. Peptides

Peptides are key to a great moisturizer because these small-chain amino acids can contribute to collagen production. This is huge if you’re looking to hydrate your skin, especially if you’re hoping to minimize visible signs of aging.

By supporting natural collagen synthesis, peptides can help minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and even sagging skin. Peptides can also contribute to a firmer, more toned complexion overall.

5. Niacinamide

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is known for its soothing properties. It’s a powerhouse ingredient when it comes to skincare products due to its multifaceted benefits.

Niacinamide can help minimize the appearance of pores if they’re enlarged and can work wonders when it comes to promoting an even skin tone. It is also thought to help support healthy sebum production, so it’s a great ingredient to use if you have oily skin or breakouts.

6. Ceramides

Ceramides are essential to a good moisturizer because they can help support your skin barrier. These lipid molecules — part of the emollient family — can help your skin retain moisture, minimize water loss, and fortify your skin against any aggressors that may cause breakouts or damage.

7. Squalane

Typically derived from botanical sources, squalane is a super hydrator that can act as a protective barrier over your skin, locking in moisture and preventing dehydration — and it does all that without being a pore-clogging oil. It has exceptional hydrating and skin-softening properties and can leave your skin feeling supple, hydrated, and radiant.

Which Oil-Free Moisturizer Should You Try?

I’m not going to deny it — I’m pretty biased when it comes to oil-free moisturizers, but that’s because I’ve done the research and taken the time to create oil-free moisturizers that are super hydrating and ultra-nourishing while also being cruelty-free and fragrance-free.

Here are my go-to options for every skin type.

For Normal to Oily Skin

If you’re on the oily end of the spectrum or just know that lightweight formulations work best for your skin, my Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer is a great option. It’s powered by three heavy-hitting hydrators that deliver weightless moisture without clogging pores or causing breakouts.

Instead of applying moisturizer and being left looking shiny and oily, an oil-free moisturizer should leave you with a hydrated but matte finish. It’s not the same as mattifying makeup, of course — but if you want soft, smooth, glowing skin without shine, oil-free is the way to go.

With ultra-moisturizing hyaluronic acid and hydrolyzed collagen to plump the skin’s appearance, this moisturizer can leave you feeling hydrated and balanced.

For Normal to Dry Skin

If your skin is normal to dry, you may be looking for a slightly heavier solution while still avoiding potentially pore-clogging oils and waxes. Enter my HydrationPeptide Cream, a rich oil-free moisturizer that delivers on the hydration front without leading to congestion.

My formula uses a few hard-hitting hydrators, such as peptides, squalane, niacinamide, ceramides, and even hydratingglycerin. Apply it in the morning and the evening to clean, slightly damp skin, and you can have brighter, more even, and hydrated-looking skin in no time.

As always, your morning skincare routine should end with sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to protect your hydrated skin from the sun’s potentially harmful UV rays. While moisturizing regularly can help to minimize visible signs of aging, no amount of moisturizer can fix sun-damaged skin, which can lead to damage and premature aging.

The Bottom Line

When you have oily skin, the last thing you need is a heavy moisturizer that will clog your pores. Instead, look for a lightweight moisturizer that will support and nourish your skin without exacerbating oil production.

If you’ve struggled in the past to find a moisturizer that hydrates your skin thoroughly without leaving your skin feeling oily, shiny, and ripe for breakouts, look no further than my hydrating yet oil-free moisturizing solutions.


Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner | National Library of Medicine

Transepidermal Water Loss in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Update | National Library of Medicine

Moisturizers: The Slippery Road | National Library of Medicine

Emollients | Cleveland Clinic


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