The 5 Best Water Based Moisturizers

The Best Water Based Moisturizer Options

As someone with combination, acne-prone skin, I know how important a good moisturizer is in my skin care routine. I’ve had many a run-in with formulas that break me out and irritate my skin. Luckily, though, I discovered water-based moisturizers, which I pretty much exclusively use at this point. These formulas are far gentler on the skin, I find. They offer lightweight, non-clogging moisture and hydration and can’t be beat. Read on for FAQ and some of my favorite water-based moisturizers:  

Some Basic FAQ about Water Based Moisturizers

What are Water Based Moisturizers?  

Also called oil-free moisturizers, water-based moisturizers use water as the primary ingredient. This is what distinguishes them from oil-based moisturizer formulas. By using water-attracting humectant ingredients, these moisturizers are able to hydrate the skin from within, as opposed to creating a layer that seals moisture in. 

Are Water Based Moisturizers Better than Oil-Based Formulas?

According to some dermatologists, water-based moisturizers are able to provide more of a plumping effect, rather than only providing hydration. Without the possible clogging effects of excess oils, these moisturizers are able to create hydration and an overall dewy look.

The 5 Best Water Based Moisturizers

I tend to rotate through skin care products, and these are the top five moisturizers I always return to. They are the best water based moisturizers for my acne prone skin, and they seem to be crowd pleasing across most skin types.

Belif’s The True Cream Aqua Bomb

Belif’s Cream Aqua Bomb is one of the thickest water based cream options. I had to double check the ingredients to make sure it was a water based lotion, because it is so rich and thick. This is a great option for sensitive skin and a little goes a long way. It smells nice, as well, without being overly-fragranced.

Available at Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, Sephora, and Ulta.

Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

Biossance is a master of clean beauty, and their Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer is a giant among anti aging moisturizers. Squalane, in particular, is great for skin health (more on squalane oil here). With a robust list of skincare super ingredients, this is a great option for anyone looking to reduce redness and scarring or to improve overall skin tone.

Available at Amazon, Harrod’s, Sephora, and the Biossance website.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer

The Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Moisturizer was the first water based face cream I used and it remains one of the better deals on this list. This non-oil based lotion is cooling and shine-reducing, ideal for oily and normal skin types. It is a fast-absorbing gel, so it’s great for in the morning before makeup. The shine-reducing and hydrating benefits also last up to 24 hours, offering prologued benefits.

Available at Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Ave, Sephora, and the Kiel’s website.

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer 

The Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cream is one of my all-time favorite water-based moisturizers. It’s a bit like the Belif cream mixed with the Youth to the People option described below. Fluffy and lightweight, this formula features three molecular sizes of hyaluronic acid, along with Pentavitin, to provide extended hydration.

Available at Amazon, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Ulta, and the Peter Thomas Roth website.

Youth to the People Superfood Air Whip Moisture Cream

Last but not least, you can’t go wrong with the Youth to the People Superfood Air Whip Moisture Cream. This clean beauty formula is a fan favorite and great for all skin types and ideal for combination or oily skin. It is a lightweight gel that features antioxidant-rich superfoods, phytonutrients, and hyaluronic acid, all of which nourish and protect the skin. This water based moisturizer absorbs quickly, making it great to use before makeup. The brand even recommends mixing a small amount with foundation for a hydrating boost.

Available at Sephora, Nordstrom, and the Youth to the People website.

Have you tried any of the water based moisturizer options from this post?
If not, what is your favorite moisturizer to use and why?


*This post was originally published on March 22, 2022. It was most recently updated on May 13, 2022.

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