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    11 Game-Changing Moisturizers That Belong In Your Skincare Routine

    Tried, tested, and loved by (deeply hydrated) BuzzFeed editors!

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    1. Garnier SkinActive Clearly Brighter Daily Moisturizer steers you away from dull-skin territory and plucks you directly onto the path of hydrated, smoother, *actually* brighter skin (especially under-eye circles) that looks as good as it feels — with the bonus of SPF 15.

    Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed / Via

    As someone with normal-to-dry skin not particularly prone to breakouts, I've never spent more than $15 on a daily moisturizer. So when I noticed that this Garnier moisturizer had a whopping 15K customer reviews with a 4.1-star average, I wanted to see what was up. I'm 35, and along with the journey into one's mid-thirties comes the journey into dreaded ~dull skin~ territory. I've been using the same basic Olay moisturizer for years with no issue, but figured it couldn't hurt to try a product that literally has the word "brighter" in its name, right? Long story short: I have been very pleasantly surprised by how effective this humble little bottle of moisturizer has been, and it's actually become my new go-to!

    It's pretty tough to prove that a moisturizer has truly made one's skin more luminous via side-by-side iPhone pics. So the best I can do is this photo of me without makeup or filters, four months into using the product every morning, and you'll just have to take my word that this is what I've noticed since using it: 1) It seriously makes my skin feel smooth AF — which, yes, is the one main job of a moisturizer, though compared to what I had been using, the difference has very much been noticeable. 2) My nose, which gets very dry and patchy in the colder months, has been visibly more hydrated and even-toned. 3) I'm predisposed to under-eye circles; I've had them since I was a teenager, and I have noticed that they don't quite look as dark.

    As customer reviews attest to, despite being a lightweight to mid-weight product, a little goes a long way. One 2.5 oz. bottle lasted about four months with daily use on my face and neck. It has a light, refreshing floral scent, but that said, if you are sensitive to scented beauty products, you might want to spot-test it. With SPF 15, it packs year-round sun protection; there's an SPF 30 version of the product as well. The packaging of the TSA-friendly bottle is also perfect for traveling: You can click the pump over to one side to lock in it place so it doesn't leak all over your ziplock baggie or cosmetics case. TL;DR: Is this a miracle product? Not necessarily. But based on my experience (and the testimonials of thousands of happy moisturized faces), is it a fantastic choice for anyone with dry skin who doesn't want to drop a ton of money on their daily moisturizer? I would absolutely say so! —Emmy Favilla

    Get it from Amazon for $11.04 (and $11.32 for the SPF 30 version) or from Walmart or Jet for $11.62.

    2. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is your no-frills, dermatologist-recommended hydrator because it simply gets the job done: It doesn't freak out your skin, it absorbs super fast, and it keeps moisture locked in all day.

    Sarah MacMillan / BuzzFeed

    Last year I moved to a new town and saw a new dermatologist who recommended CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for my dry skin and eczema. I can't tell you how many products doctors have recommended in the past that turned out to be just okay — so naturally, I took this advice with a giant grain of salt. But being the hopeful soul I am, I still gave it a shot. AND HOLY SHIT, I'M SO GLAD I DID.

    First of all, you can use it all over, including on your face, which is very convenient. Second, it absorbs completely without leaving you feel either ~dry~ or gross and greasy. It's got some skin-strengthening ingredients and some fancy technology for releasing moisture all day (I read the jar...ha). But from experience, I can say that, yes, it does leave your skin perfectly soft and really does last all day. And for sensitive folks, it's also one of those free-of-everything creams. Can't recommend it enough. —Sarah MacMillan

    Get it from Amazon for $12.19+ or Walmart for $12.68.

    3. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream calms and resets your irritated skin — whether it's been aggravated by a change in weather or a not-so-friendly new product — plus it's gentle and totally safe and effective for eczema-prone skin!

    Gyan Yankovich / BuzzFeed / Via

    A couple of months ago, I had the worst dermatitis flare-up I've had in years. As a teenager I was on medication to control the painful patches of eczema across my chin and cheeks, but now that I'm in my twenties and learning more about my skin, I'm usually able to keep it under control — so you can imagine my surprise when my redness came back with a vengeance.

    I'd been traveling, and in one flight I moved from a freezing climate to a very humid New York City. My skin freaked the hell out, and none of my usual faves could get it back under control, so I decided to try something new. Every promise this cream's tub makes is true because within two weeks my face was almost back to normal. This cream is now my go-to whenever my skin becomes irritated by a change in the weather or a new product. Since discovering this cream I've also fallen in love with the brand's Facial Radiance Pads, which I use every few nights (or once a week if my skin's being extra sensitive) after cleansing, to exfoliate and tone. —Gyan Yankovich

    Get it from Amazon for $11.98+ (available in 2, 6, 12, and 14 oz.) or Jet for $12 (2 oz.) or $30 (6 oz.).

    4. Missha Waterfull Clear Cream looks like an oceanic work of art and infuses an intense but feels-like-nothing dose of cooling hydration that melts into your skin as soon as it's applied.

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    I honestly never thought I would love a moisturizer as much as this one. After all, they're typically what I consider the least interesting part of my skincare routine (no offense). But oooh boy, Missha proved me so wrong with its Ultra Waterfull Clear Cream. How can I describe my love for it coherently? I'm OBSESSED with the texture. You see that wave-like suspension through the bottle? Shake it all you want and it doesn't move, but when you go in to grab some, it instantly slips and slides on your fingers. So fun!

    The best part, though? It takes what feels like seconds to absorb. It just melts right in and gives my skin a serious ~plump bump~ (coining that now). It's so satisfying to apply, like a treat for actually applying the rest of my skin care (I'm usually half-asleep and need motivation, okay?). Especially on extremely trying nights when a heavier sleeping pack just isn't happening and my face can barely spend 0.5 seconds apart from my pillow, I can slap this on and dive face-first back into bed (from my previous lounging state). And because you can barely feel it once it's on, it's the only moisturizer I actually *enjoy* wearing under my makeup. Is it really there? Yes, but it doesn't feel like it AT ALL. My skin is a flip-floppy mess but on average a mix of normal/sensitive plus winter-induced dryness, and this "cream" deeply hydrates without upsetting my easily reddened skin. However: It supposedly works for all skin types, especially oily/combination types. Versatile!

    It's slightly cooling, which makes my skin feel extra soothed and pampered, and you only need a small amount of it to cover the entire landscape of your face (especially if you like dousing your face in essence beforehand like me). It has baobab tree extracts and glacial water to enhance moisture retention and white birch and Camellia flower extract for extra conditioning. *makes ooh-ahh noises* I'm no skincare expert, but don't those just sound so wonderful? It doesn't really have a scent, which I'm a fan of, because it minimizes any risk of irritation. I'm now almost done with this mostly full container I snapped for this review and will be picking up my third very shortly! ✨ —Sarah Han

    Get it from Soko Glam or Missha for $26.

    5. Nature Republic Aloe Vera Gel contains a whopping 92% of — you guessed it! — aloe vera leaf extract to lock in moisture for hours, make desert-dry legs feel as soft as silk, and help you achieve the cleanest and smoothest shave in recent memory.

    Sarah Han / BuzzFeed

    I have dry skin. This is a fact that I have lived with my whole-ass life, but frequently I’ve elected to blissfully ignore it until the dry air of fall and winter catches up to me and I HAVE to do something.

    The only thing I’ve ever known about aloe vera is that it helps soothe sunburns in the summer because it works quickly — so imagine my surprise when I rubbed Nature Republic Aloe Vera Gel onto my Sahara-like legs after a long, luxurious shower, and they felt as soft as silk! I don’t know what kind of witchcraft is in aloe, but I absolutely fuck with it.

    It isn’t sticky like other aloe vera gels, and it smells so fresh you might want to cry. I’ve also pulled it out for shaving my legs and oh my fucking god, it does the job EVERY. TIME. The gel is super long-lasting too, which means, for all of my dry skin folks, your legs won’t look like a dirty or dusty chalkboard by midday. All in all, if you want soft and supple extremities, give it a try! —Ignacia Fulcher

    Get it from Nature Republic for $6.60 or Amazon for $7.10.

    6. Kiehl's Oil Eliminator 24-Hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer keeps face grease at bay for an entire day with its super lightweight and refreshing gel-like texture.

    @kiehls / Via

    Like a lot of people, I have really oily skin. For me, that means after washing and moisturizing my face in the morning, my skin looks decent for about an hour before it becomes blindingly reflective.

    At this point, I've lost count of the number of face washes and moisturizing gels I've used to manage my oily skin. None have worked as well Kiehl's Oil Eliminator 24-Hour Anti-Shine Moisturizer. (It's labeled as a product for men, but at the end of the day moisturizer is moisturizer, right?) More of a gel than a lotion, it's light and fresh, and it really does absorb oil all day long. Having used it daily for more than a month now, I find myself wiping excess oil from my skin much less often these days.

    At $27 for 2.5 oz, it's not the cheapest option for dealing with oily skin. But in my experience, it's definitely the best. —Jon-Michael Poff

    Get it from Kiehl's for $27.

    7. GlamGlow Volcasmic Matte Glow Moisturizer doubles as a buttery but not greasy moisturizer *and* a makeup primer by keeping your skin matte and shine-free throughout the day — and most importantly, sensitive AF skin can breathe easy and wear this with no problem, despite the Creamsicle-like smell!

    Maitland Quitmeyer / BuzzFeed

    A recent bout of forgetfulness proved to be the best thing to happen to my beauty routine. Let me elaborate: I returned from vacation over Christmas and left my daytime moisturizer behind. Before totally tearing my hair out, I remembered I had a jar of GlamGlow Volcasmic Matte Glow Moisturizer in my bathroom drawer waiting to be tried out. Knowing me and my skincare loyalty (stubbornness?), who knows when I would have gotten around to trying it without being in such dire straits!

    Thank goodness I did, because I've found my new morning love! At night I use Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Night Cream (side note: I love this cream so much I would bathe in it if I could), but it's too heavy to use in the morning under my makeup. So this is the perfect combo! The GlamGlow moisturizer seems like a weird texture at first — it's solid, almost like a butter, but when you glide your warm finger over it, juuuust the right amount comes off. It melts perfectly into your skin, never turning greasy and always creating a perfectly matte base for your makeup. That's right, it also works as a PRIMER. I know! My forehead always gets shiny throughout the day, but with this, it definitely stays oil-free for far longer. And my sensitive, when-I-try-a-new-product-I'm-gonna-break-out skin hasn't flared up AT ALL. I'm nervous typing this because I'm afraid I'm going to jinx it, but my skin is looking calm and truly clear, a hard balance to find in the middle of winter.

    The ONLY thing I do not like about it is the smell. I have super-sensitive skin, so skincare fragrances worry me; at most I like a light, clean, lightly green kind of scent. And this bb smells like a lit'ral Creamsicle. Orange and vanilla sweetness — it's a bit much first thing in the morning. But frankly the other benefits far outweigh the annoying smell. And if that smell sounds nice to you, yay for you! I like my desserts IRL, not in odor form only. —Maitland Quitmeyer

    Get it from Sephora for $49.

    8. Glossier Priming Rich Moisturizer, as its name suggests, feels luxurious as it restores hydration, calms redness, preps the skin with a makeup-ready dewy finish, *and* makes makeup last significantly longer — le gasp, it does it all.

    Anamaria Glavan / BuzzFeed

    My skin gets pretty damn dry in the winter, meaning I need to put a crap ton of moisturizer on my face...both morning and night. But here’s the problem, my friends: Most heavier creams make my skin initially oily, and putting ‘em on in the morning means looking like a greaseball all day. But have no fear, because Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich is here!

    First thought: The smell is very pleasant, almost like a subtle lavender. Second thought: It absorbs into my skin SUPER quickly. Within minutes, my skin feels super moisturized, but there’s no greasy film enjoying itself on my T-zone. AND! It calms down the redness around my nose and cheeks and leaves a smooth, dewy canvas for makeup to glide on and blend in with ease. Plus, I’ve noticed that my concealer stays on significantly longer when I use this, which, to be honest, is nothing short of a miracle because my makeup NEVER lasts.

    And while the container itself looks really small, I’ve been using this moisturizer since early October and am only just seeing the bottom of it now. I definitely recommend this for people who have sensitive, dry-to-normal skin! —AnaMaria Glavan

    Get it from Glossier for $35.

    9. Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Face Butter is made from the brand's famous 100% Pure Argan Oil and other good-for-you ingredients — like watermelon seed oil, cucumber extract, and aloe nectar — that majorly boost moisture levels.

    Treye Green / BuzzFeed

    I am a huge fan of Josie Maran Argan Oil, which I have been using for several years. So when I purchased a Josie Maran kit that included a travel-sized sample of the Argan Oil Face Butter, I was beyond excited to give the product a try.

    I had already been eyeing it for a few months, given my affection for the line's argan oil, but I never committed to snagging a jar for myself. And I must admit: I was missing out! The face butter has a lightweight, creamy texture that leaves my skin feeling hydrated but not weighed down. I typically layer it under my argan oil as one of the last steps in my morning skincare routine; it gives me a nice moisture boost without making my face feeling oily. I also appreciate that it doesn't have a strong scent (I use the unscented version), which often turns me off when it comes to face products.

    I would recommend the face butter for anyone looking for a lightweight moisturizer or some extra hydration to pair with their daily moisturizer. Just make sure to get the full-size jar. Because you'll likely love it that much! —Treye Green

    Get it from Sephora for $40 (available in unscented and Juicy Mango).

    10. Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Silky Cream quenches parched skin cells and, with the help of ingredients like succulent plant extract and a special anti-pollution complex, instantly soothes tightness and irritation along the way — dry patches who?

    Jennifer Tonti / BuzzFeed

    I have pretty oily skin, so the moisturizers I normally use tend to be thin and oil-free. But 2017 was the year when ~all norms were tested and nothing made sense~ and the state of my skin was no different! December rolled around and I had DRY SPOTS in my T-zone. I had never had this issue before, so I figured it was just the change in weather and that it would go back to Oil City, population: me, in no time. Well, that didn’t happen. After a while of my skin feeling dry and irritated, I decided to switch up my moisturizers.

    I walked into Sephora with a Beauty Insider card and a dream and I walked out with the BEST MOISTURIZER I’VE EVER USED: Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Silky Cream, which is formulated specifically for normal to dry skin. It lathers on so soft and I can feel it instantly quenching my skin’s thirst. It doesn’t leave my face feeling oily or sticky in the morning, which was the biggest issue with my previous moisturizer. And as an added bonus, I love the pretty blue jar the product comes in! —Jennifer Tonti

    Get it from Sephora for $48.

    11. Tatcha The Water Cream more than justifies its hefty price tag, and not just with 23-karat gold (though that's pretty damn cool too): It's an oil-free moisturizer that 🙌 works 🙌 for sensitive combination skin, so it calms down existing inflammations and won't let new pimples pop up, while smoothing out dry patches and reducing T-zone shine.

    Yi Yang / BuzzFeed

    Everyone, I have finally found THE ONLY moisturizer that soothes my sensitive combination skin. I had pretty decent skin as a teenager, but my skin type changed drastically after I turned 18; the oily areas (T-zone and chin) became oilier and the dry spots (cheeks) became drier. I tried everything to calm it down, from drugstore products to higher-end ones, but it was constantly irritated and kept breaking out. Acne-treating products dried my skin, while hydrating products and oils clogged my pores.

    This ordeal continued until I received a sample of Tatcha's The Water Cream from Sephora. I applied some onto my hand, and to my surprise, the cream instantly turned into a water-like consistency — it absorbed quickly and didn’t leave a sticky residue, and the smell was incredibly fresh and not too perfumey. According to its description, the product is oil-free, noncomedogenic (aka it doesn’t block pores), non-irritating, non-sensitizing, dermatologist-tested, and cruelty-free. It also doesn’t contain mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. I decided to give it a try, and within a week, my skin was noticeably less irritated. The pimples were still there (because this is not an acne-treating moisturizer), but new ones stopped popping up. The formula was gentle enough that it didn’t make any existing zits inflamed, which tends to happen when I try new products. It was light enough that my T-zone didn’t get too shiny, but also hydrating enough that my cheeks felt properly moisturized. My makeup went on smoothly too — no more random dry patches.

    By the time the sample ran out, most of my pimples had healed on their own and my face looked clearer than it had in a long time. I took a leap of faith and ordered the full-size jar, and I haven’t looked back since! Even though it's pricey ($68!!) and I hate spending a lot on beauty products, I do believe it’s worth it: NOTHING ELSE has achieved the same effect for me. Plus, a little goes a long way with this cream. —Yi Yang

    Get it from Tatcha for $68.

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    Check out our other holy grail moisturizers roundups for dry skin, oily skin, and all skin types!

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