How To Finally Choose The Best, Most Effective Moisturizer For Your Skin Type

Experts share which ingredients to look for if you have oily, dry, or breakout-prone skin.

January 10, 2018
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Winter weather is hard on our skin—to protect it, moisturizer is one of the most potent tools. The question is: what kind?

Holly Cutler, Medical Esthetician & Founder of FACE Skincare~Medical~Wellness, notes that it’s important to pick a moisturizer that’s suited to your skin type.

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“Most people, they go into a Sephora, they go online, they hear, ‘Oh, this celebrity is using this...’” she says. “They still don't know, even out of all the products out there, which product is right for them.” This is further compounded by the choice in natural moisturizing products: from coconut oil to shea butter, people are testing and trying a variety of all-natural ingredients to keep their skin moist, but some of these options are better suited to certain skin types than others.

We chatted with skin experts to discover the key ingredients you should be looking for in a natural moisturizer to suit your skin.

cereva renewing cream
Photograph courtesy of Jet

Dry Skin

People with dry skin suffer greatly in the winter: skin can go from being just a bit dry to feeling taut or even painful. To fix this, you’ll want to opt for moisturizers that do double-duty: not just adding moisture to the surface, but replenishing your skin’s moisture to the core.


This starts with diet. Antioxidants are great for keeping skin healthy, but hyaluronic acid may be even more important for folks with very dry skin. Naturally present in leafy greens, root vegetables, soy products, and bone broths, hyaluronic acid can help natural increase moisture levels in your skin from within.

Related: Lotion Vs. Oil: Which Is Better For Your Skin?

You’ll also want to use a topical moisturizer, and for dry skin, face oils are some of the best options. Cutler suggests jojoba oil, which mimics the natural sebum on your skin, while David Lortscher, licensed physician, board-certified dermatologist, and founder of Curology, recommends rosehip oil, which he suggests that you layer under another moisturizer or cream. (They're not just good on your face: both jojoba and rosehip oil make our list of the best organic ingredients to look for in your body lotion, too.)

For even more extreme dryness, Cutler suggests using olive oil, which is molecularly quite close to the oils in your skin and therefore easily absorbed. It’s also rich in antioxidants, to help renew and repair skin. Organic olive oil used for cooking is fine, but you could also opt for an olive-oil based skincare line, like cruelty-free Olive + M.

Related: These 4 Cooking Oils Make The Best Natural Moisturizers For Dry Skin

Another awesome natural option for very dry skin is shea butter. Rich in vitamins A and F, both of which help alleviate dry skin, it is a heavier moisturizer—best used before bedtime, rather than during the day, or as part of a formula, like Eminence, which makes an organic shea butter and hyaluronic acid moisturizer that’s also chock full of antioxidant-rich blueberry and raspberry extracts.


If dryness is made worse by conditions like eczema, Lortscher notes that increasing levels of ceramides can help. Eczema depletes these naturally occurring lipids, so restoring the balance with ceramide-containing formulas like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream can decrease dry skin and irritation. (Here are the 7 best natural remedies for eczema that will actually relieve the itch.)

Chapped lips often go hand-in-hand with dry skin—especially during winter. Watch how to make a moisturizing lip balm:

Oily Skin

People with oily skin may believe they can (or should) forego the moisturizer, but according to Cutler, that would be a mistake. “They think, oh, ‘I don't need anything’—no, they do!” Cutler says. “You can be oily and be dehydrated. You can be oily and be sensitized. Your barrier function could be compromised. You could be prone to redness and inflammation in the skin.”

She suggests using clay masks, which are great to draw out oil and restore the balance in your skin; Beauty by Earth makes a great organic hydrating facemask made with bentonite clay and kaolin.

You can also make your own all-natural solutions right in your kitchen: Cucumbers, for example, are a great source of hydration and promote blood circulation, which does wonders for your skin. Puréed cucumber makes a wonderful hydrating face mask that’s won’t be too heavy for oily skin.

Related: I Tried 5 Natural Ingredients To Fight My Oily Skin—Here's What Worked Best

You might also mix in some aloe vera gel. Widely used in skin products for its high moisture content and lack of greasiness or heaviness, aloe is rich in nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E. Choose organic unprocessed aloe vera gel for the best results. (Make one of these 10 easy, DIY masks in your blender.)

miracle moisturizer
Photograph courtesy of Amazon

Breakout-Prone Skin

People who are prone to breakouts are constantly on the search for a moisturizer that won’t make acne worse. Luckily, there are natural moisturizers that have antimicrobial properties, helping to kill the bacteria that cause breakouts and moisturize your skin all at once.

Natural antimicrobials you might already have at home include raw, organic honey, and coconut oil. A mask combining these two ingredients can work wonders for some, but be aware: coconut oil can actually worsen breakouts for some people; if this is the case for you, consider combining honey with non-comedogenic aloe vera.

Related: 8 Times You Should Never Use Coconut Oil

Cutler also suggests choosing over-the-counter moisturizers containing salicylic acid, if your skin tends to be oilier, or low-level retinoids, if you tend to be drier. While some folks swear by retinoids—not just for acne, but also for lines and wrinkles—others point to evidence that it can be an endocrine disruptor. Be sure to check with your dermatologist before adding retinoids to your skincare regimen, especially if you’re pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing. If your dermatologist signs off on them, Radha Beauty Retinol Moisturizer Cream is a great option that combines retinol with natural moisturizers like aloe, jojoba oil, and shea butter.

Related: 6 Ways You Can Use Essential Oils To Treat And Prevent Acne Naturally

Whichever moisturizer you pick, don’t forget to change it up every three months or so: your skin’s texture can change due to the weather, your diet, or even using a certain skincare product for a period of time.

“You’d be surprised,” says Cutler. “If we do a consultation in July, and then we do a consultation in October, it's a different skin. It’s going to behave differently.”