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How to pick the best moisturizer for your skin

Choose your texture

It can be hard to choose a moisturizer when faced with so many options. However, before diving into ingredient lists, product descriptions, and reviews, you can save time and energy by narrowing the moisturizers down to their texture. 

Different formulas and consistencies work and feel better on certain skin types. Generally, dry skin types prefer heavier, more nourishing creams or oils; combination skin types prefer lightweight creams and lotions, while oily skin types prefer very light creams or gel moisturizers. 

Of course, each skin is unique, and the texture preference also depends on the season, climate, and other factors. Still, knowing what texture your skin craves is of utmost importance because if you don't like the feel of it on your skin, you will 99% not use it.

What Moisturizer Texture is Right For You?

If you're new to skincare, it is worthwhile playing with different textures through different seasons to come to certain conclusions. Here is a quick overview of different formulas and how they usually work on different skin types:


Creams are the tried-and-true moisturizers you've seen on the shelves your whole life. They contain a mix of water and oil-based ingredients, and this ratio allows them to draw water into the skin and seal it to prevent evaporation. This category comes in a variety of textures - from light to heavy.

  • Heavier creams

Best works on: People with dry skin or weak skin barriers who need added protection and moisture.

Try with caution: People with oily skin or pores prone to getting clogged. The thick texture can be too much for people whose skin already produces a lot of natural oils.

  • Lighter creams 

Best works on: People with normal to combination skin. Also, works well on oily skin types if you are exposed to a lot of indoor heating/cooling or live in a cooler climate.

Lotions & Emulsions

These have a more liquid texture when compared to creams, as they have a less oil-to-water ratio. It's normal for them to separate, so you may need to shake them before use. They layer very well and don't feel greasy or dense like creams.

Best works on: People with normal, slightly dry, slightly oily, or combination skin. Customize the amount of moisture you get by applying more or fewer layers. Lotions are great for extra moisture during transition months or under a thicker cream.

Try with caution: People with dry skin type will likely find that a lotion isn't moisturizing enough and doesn't last as long as a cream.


Gels are very lightweight, water-based moisturizers that are cool and slippery to the touch. They look more solid in their container but quickly turn watery when applied. They're generally oil-free and known to make a good base for makeup. Within the "gel" category, there are also "water gels" (more liquid, less "sticky" feeling) and "gel creams" (thicker gel texture). Which you use is dependent on your preference. 

Best works on: People with oily or acne-prone skin. They don't clog pores and won't feel heavy. Gels are also great for all skin types for hot-weather months or if you live in a humid climate. 

Try with caution: Those with dry skin types may find it insufficient for their skin, especially in colder months. Gels generally don't contain oils, so they won't be enough for people whose skin doesn't produce much natural oil.


Facial oils are highly moisturizing and contain a lot of nutrients. Many experts suggest facial oil as a supplement for people with dry skin type, but not as a moisturizing cream or lotion replacement. Use them last - they can prevent other water-based products from absorbing.

Best works on: People with dry skin type who need extra nourishment. Useful in colder seasons or dry environments to prevent flakey, tight skin. You can use facial oils specifically on dry spots and elsewhere on the body.

Try with caution:  People with oily skin might find oils to add additional shine. Some oils can be triggering to acne-prone skin, so do your research. Also, people who suffer from rosacea or an altered skin barrier may find oils can trigger flare-ups in their skin.

Find Your Texture

NIASHA makes it easy by helping you find the texture you want. When choosing a moisturizer, click "Product Type" under the filters on the left side, and select the texture you want. Test it out yourself!