As you change your wardrobe to fit the time of year, your skin care routine can also use a seasonal adjustment. When it’s time to shed your winter coat come spring time, the rich moisturizers that keep your skin hydrated in the colder months may start to feel heavy and greasy as the weather warms up. Instead, opt for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to maintain your skin’s hydration without overburdening it with extra oils and emollients.
“Your skin is bound to produce more oils [in the spring and summer] and applying a moisturizer with oil can make your skin more prone to breakouts, as the pores are more likely to get clogged, so an oil-free/lighter moisturizer would work,” explains Dr. Purvisha Patel, board-certified dermatologist, founder/owner of Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Associates and creator of Visha Skin Care.
The dermatologist particularly recommends oil-free formulas for oily and acne-prone skin. “They will feel much better than a heavier-based formula and are less likely to contribute to breakouts,” she says. Oil-free formulas can be for anyone, though, especially as a daytime moisturizer.
“Oil-free moisturizers are the best for your morning routine, they often create a matte palette for a more even application of makeup,” says Rachel Gallo, esthetician and chief operating officer of Silver Mirror Facial Bar.
When choosing an oil-free moisturizer, celebrity facialist Shani Darden recommends looking for noncomedogenic (meaning non-pore-clogging) ingredients such as “peptides, squalane, hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed collagen and hydrosella,” which are “all ingredients that can help to deeply hydrate, plump up the skin and support a healthy barrier.”
See the experts’ picks for the 11 best oil-free moisturizers here.
Gallo says this gel-cream from Dr. Dennis Gross is the number-one oil-free moisturizer at Silver Mirror. It's "perfect for all skin tones and textures" and "plumps the skin with hydration without leaving a shine," the esthetician says.
Patel recommends this drugstore option that features hyaluronic acid and can double as makeup primer thanks to the fast-absorbing gel formula.
Hayley Wood, licensed esthetician for The New Knew, says Indie Lee's oil-free moisturizer is a great option for "for an oily skin type that is looking for graceful aging support." It features vitamin C-rich natural ingredients like mandarin and daisy, plus antioxidants from pomegranate and milk thistle.
This top-rated oil-free moisturizer packs in 30% hyaluronic acid for weightless moisture. Reviewers in cold, dry climates have specifically shared that the ultra-lightweight formula keeps their skin hydrated.
Wood also recommends Farmacy's Daily Greens moisturizer for those who need some help with oil control and minimizing pores. Hyaluronic acid boosts hydration, niacinamide assits with oil control and moringa and papaya help brighten and purify the complexion.
"My oil-free, non-comedogenic Hydration Peptide Cream replenishes skin with moisture — without clogging pores," Darden shares. The formula is made specifically for normal to dry skin and features a "buttery blend of plumping peptides, moisture-drenching hydrosella and replenishing squalane," with the facialist adding that it "supports your natural skin barrier for instantly plump skin."
While squalane is technically an oil, it is a lipid that is found naturally in the skin and therefore makes a compatible moisturizer for all skin types. As a skin care ingredient, it is often derived from sugar cane, like in Darden's formula.
An affordable daily moisturizer that Patel recommends, Holy Hydration! delivers hyaluronic acid, peptides and glycerin to dry skin.
Keep skin soft and hydrated with Summer Fridays' gel-cream moisturizer, which I found was especially great for my combination skin in the hot, humid New York City summer last year. Hyaluronic acid, ceramides and amino acids nourish the skin's moisture barrier, while pineapple enzymes provide a gentle smoothing effect.
Seaweed and pre- and post-biotics make this a microbiome-friendly moisturizer. It contains a bit of squalane, which makes it a great option for dry skin types since "most dry and sensitive skin types may require a bit more support in the oil department as they naturally don't produce as much sebum (our skin's natural oil) as a combination or oily skin type may," Wood explains.
Another oil-free option from Darden's line, the facialist recommends this noncomedogenic moisturizer. "Hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed collagen and red algae help to attract and retain lost hydration while nourishing the skin for a shine-free glow," Darden shares.
This dermatologist-developed gel has thousands of 5-star reviews. Great for combination and oily skin, the reliable formula is made with glycerin, hyaluronic acid and natural extracts to maintain the skin's moisture levels.