Are you using the right face cream for your skin? Here’s how to choose the best fit for your skin types and concerns.
Are you overwhelmed when you shop to find the perfect moisturizer for your skin? There are many options to choose, from gels to creams to lotions all at different prices – drugstore names to luxury high-end brands. I know this can be very confusing and you may even experience choice paralysis.
According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, the more choices you have to choose from, the less satisfied you will be with your results. Don’t worry – we’re here to make it a breeze for you with everything you need to know to make it a happy decision and to simplify the complicated world of skin care products.
What’s a moisturizer?
Facial moisturizers are designed to increase water levels, soften skin, and create skin barriers, keeping your skin healthy and youthful. However, using the wrong products for your skin type could lead to worse skin. It causes breakouts, dry flaky patches, and wrinkles. It’s important that you understand how all the ingredients work because every formula contains different moisturizing agents to cater to unique skin types and concerns. Let’s dive in and find the best ones to complete your skin care routine!
3 Different Types of Moisturizing Agents
Humectants are hydrophilic, water-loving ingredients that bond with water molecules and draw water from the air and the dermis (deep down the second layer of skin) to the epidermis (top layers of skin). It’s made of thin molecules and many common ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, AHA (alpha hydroxyl acids – glycolic acid, lactic acid), salicylic acid, urea, sugars (fructose, glucose, sucrose, honey), amino acids, panthenol (vitamin B), sodium PCA, elastin, and collagen are examples of humectants.
Some have exfoliating abilities that shed dead skin cells by breaking down the proteins that hold cells together. Many tend to be used with occlusive agents to seal the moisture the humectants draw into the skin.
Emollients help fill the cracks, soften and smoothen the skin which reduces the dry rough patches of skin – common ingredients are ceramides, butters, lipids, fatty acids, dimethicone, and other plant-based oils (coconut, jojoba, grapeseed and more).
Many of the face moisturizers have both emollients and humectants together to maximize the moisturizing benefits. Emollients provide some occlusive properties (dimethicone is a good example) while many humectants also have emollients.
Occlusive agents are generally made up of large molecules and are oil-based which makes it hard for them to penetrate skin, so they sit on the surface of skin and create a physical barrier to trap moisture and prevent water loss. Think about thick ointment products like Vaseline. This type of ingredient is zinc, bee wax, butters, petroleum jelly, stearic acid, allantoin, mineral oils.
Dimethicone and cyclomethicone are silicones that work as occlusive agents. When some products labeled “oil-free”, they usually contain dimethicone instead of mineral or vegetable oils. They are generally great for body products or ideal for very dry skin – face, hands, elbows, knees, and feet.
Best Korean Moisturizers for Different Skin Types
⭐️ Face moisturizers for normal skin
You’re in luck if your skin is neither dry nor oily but doesn’t mean that you don’t need moisturizers or it will always stay that way. The good news is that finding face cream for this skin type is relatively easier, try to choose products that target your current skin concern. Or find functional moisturizers like exfoliating ones formulated with AHA BHA PHA or SPF creams for sun protection.
Some ingredients can be beneficial to every skin type such as antioxidants, vitamins, hyaluronic acid. Remember, balance, hydrate, protect skin are the keys to keeping your skin healthy and radiant.
Cosrx Advanced Snail 92 All in one Cream
Enriched with 92% snail mucin and marine collagen, this repair cream triggers cell turnover, promotes moisture and firmness of the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This innovative and nourishing formula aids in improving overall dry, damaged, and blemished skin conditions by providing deep nourishment and moisture.
💘 See more details for Cosrx Snail 92 Cream
Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Cream with Green Tea Seed
Moisture-rich cream replenishes and helps seal in moisture without any stickiness. Made with green tea extract and green tea seed oil sourced from the brand's USDA-certified organic farm in Jeju Island, South Korea. These star ingredients are powered with amino acids and antioxidants that help fortify the skin barrier and protect it from environmental stressors, leaving skin feeling quenched with intense hydration.
Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream
This is a luxe anti-aging cream that cares for comprehensive signs of aging to revive youth-depleted skin for a healthy and revitalizing look. Infused with Korean red ginseng, retinol, BHAs/salicylic acid, and white mulberry extract to give powerful antioxidant benefits into the skin while enhancing moisture. This regenerating cream helps defend against damaging free radicals while producing more firming collagen and leaving skin feeling bouncier and plumper.
⭐️ The best face moisturizer for dry skin
When you suffer from dry skin and/or mature skin, your skin may lack oil rather than water, and it’s most likely to be deficient in both cold, dry winter seasons; however, it can vary greatly between individuals. If you fall into this category, look for oil-based, thicker creams and lotions with rich texture but avoid products containing alcohol and fragrance.
The products formulated with occlusive ingredients can provide intensive hydration and it’s particularly great for very dry skin types (and dry hair) and can be of a benefit to those who need eczema treatment. You can always double up with a product that works as humectant and occlusive to attract water and seal to prevent hydration from evaporating and protect skin from external irritants.
Huxley Secret of Sahara Cream More Than Moist
A buttery-soft nourishing cream protects delicate and sensitive skin from environmental pollution while imparting lasting hydration to the skin. This thirst-quenching moisturizer has a luxuriously dense texture that helps fortify the skin's natural barrier with a potent blend of plant extracts such as prickly pear seed oil, cactus extract, and shea butter.
💘 See more details for Huxley Moisture Cream
Dr.Jart+ Ceramidin™ Cream
A deeply moisturizing cream supercharged with 5-Cera Complex to strengthen the skin barrier and shield from water and moisture loss. Dr. Jart’s proprietary 5-Cera Complex fundamentally improves the overall tone and texture of your skin including excellent relief for redness, dryness.
Pyunkang Yul Intensive Repair Cream
This ultimate hydrating cream is made of an innovative formula that combines peptides, ceramides, and botanical extracts. It's designed for those with dull and dry skin looking for some extensive hydration and nutrients to transform it into a healthy supple complexion. It's a fragrance-free and vegan product.
💘 See more details for Pyunkang Yul Repair Cream
⭐️ The best moisturizer for oily skin
Many people have a misconception that oily skin doesn’t need moisturizers or using facial cream can make the skin break out and produce even more excess sebum. It’s partially true because it can happen when using the wrong products but you need to understand that oil and water are two different things – oils trap water in the skin and create oil barriers to prevent water loss while moisturizers replenish it.
The best face moisturizers for oily skin are lightweight, gel-type products with oil-free or non-greasy formulas. They are easily absorbed into skin without any heaviness that can clog pores. Avoid heavy creams that are formulated with occlusive emollients, oils with a high level of oleic acid because this can lead to your skin congested, resulting in blocked pores, breakouts, and acne.
Occlusive ingredients are notoriously thick and greasy and they are unable to perpetrate skin due to its large molecules, making the skin oilier and cause further congested. Oleic acid (omega-9, fatty acid) is heavy thicker oil that sits on top of skin – great for dry or mature skin but a big no-no for oily skin. Few examples of oils that are high in oleic acid are sunflower, marula, and coconut oils.
Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap
This weightless subtle lotion is packed with 70% birch sap and natural ingredients that deliver an abundance of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants into your skin. This fast-absorbing formula helps improve hydration levels in skin while maintaining oil and water balance to prevent excess sebum production and further breakouts.
💘 See more details for Cosrx Oil-Free Moisturizer
Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel
Infused with powerful soothing ingredients, 80% of aloe vera juice and 10% off bee propolis. Together, this lightweight gel helps hydrate and balance your skin while relieving dryness, irritation, sensitized skin. With antibacterial and healing properties, this gentle moisturizer helps brighten skin tone and fade acne scars and imperfection.
💘 See more details for Benton Aloe Propolis Gel
Isntree Green Tea Fresh Emulsion
Infused with natural green tea extract from Jeju island, this soothing moisturizer hydrates and revitalizes tired, redness and irritated skin. This innovative formula with Anti-Sebum P (HD) reduces excess sebum and restores moisture and oil-balance on skin with a moist and soft texture. Made of EWG safe ingredients and passed skin irritation test. It's also free from artificial dyes and fragrance.
💘 See more details for Isntree Green Tea Emulsion
⭐️ The best moisturizer for acne-prone skin
If your skin is prone to spots and blackheads, your skin is skewed to the oilier side, so you can refer to the guidance for oily skin types. Try to find water-based, non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic products - lightweight gels and emulsions formulated with salicylic or lactic acid.
Those AHA BHA exfoliating ingredients help to combat acne and remove excess oil and dead skin cells without being harsh on the skin. Avoid pore-clogging ingredients like occlusive agents.
Pyunkang Yul Acne Cream
It's a lightweight, oil-free gel-cream that soothes acne-prone skin and prevents bacterial invasion into pores while keeping excessive sebum under control. Formulated with Forsythia fruit extract and white willow extract to help cool down irritated, stressed skin. Copper tripeptide works as a natural antioxidant, removes damaged collagen and elastin from the skin and regenerate new ones, and promotes strengthen the skin barrier.
💘 See more details for Pyunkang Yul Acne Moisturizer
Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA 30 Days Miracle Cream
Packed with acne-fighting ingredients such as tea tree, AHA, BHA and PHA, this miracle soothing cream is the perfect treatment for blemished skin. AHAs help exfoliating dead skin cells from the skin's surface, BHAs get rid of clogged impurities and excess sebum while PHAs prevent stripping moisture from the skin. Tea Tree is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which help calm redness, and inflammation, leaving you with clear, smooth skin.
💘 See more details for AHA BHA PHA Miracle Cream
⭐️ The best facial moisturizer for combination skin
It’s challenging to find the right facial moisturizer for combination skin as some areas of your face are dry and others are oily. You might have a question like “Do I need to use a product that helps get rid of dry rough patches of skin or annoying oily spots?”.
Your best bet is to pick a moisturizer that works for both skin types – lightweight, gel-like, and oil-free formula with humectant agents like hyaluronic acid. Apply more face lotion to typically dry parts of face like cheeks and jawline and less to the T-zone area like forehead, nose. Finding a good balanced skin product is fundamental to improve these tricky skin types.
Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream
Made with deep seawater and marine plant extracts, this water-based face cream hydrates and refreshes your skin while creating a shield layer on your skin to protect skin from the external environmental stressor. The smart formula helps clarify the t-zone area and effectively control the balance of oil and water levels. Being weightless, it's a great moisturizer for combination skin for long-lasting hydration.
Belif The True Cream ㅡ Aqua Bomb
This ultra-lightweight gel-cream instantly cools and hydrates your skin while minimizing the appearance of pores for soft, smooth skin. This non-greasy, water-based formula contains a blend of apothecary herbs, including antioxidant-rich lady's mantle which helps neutralize skin-damaging free radicals, improving skin elasticity. Ideal for normal, combination, and oily skin types.
⭐️ The best facial moisturizer for sensitive skin
Trying new products can be intimidating and fearsome to those who have sensitive or easily irritated skin but the right face moisturizer can protect skin from dehydration and prevent your skin from becoming red, itchy, and blotchy. You need to keep things gentle and stick to natural skin care products formulated without harsh chemicals, artificial fragrance, dyes, parabens, mineral oil, and alcohol.
If you have rosacea or eczema, buy products which have calming and soothing properties like aloe vera, green tea, centella asiatica, and jasmine. Keep an eye out for “fragrance-free” and don’t forget to patch-test new products.
Pyunkang Yul Nutrition Cream
This powerhouse moisturizer is designed to replenish the skin's hydration and nutrition for those with dry, rough, and dull-looking skin. Made of only EWG safe ingredients without fragrance and other harmful chemicals, making it great for sensitive skin. In place of purified water, it's filled with a powerful anti-aging ingredient, milk vetch root extract. A luxuriously thick texture melts into skin, leaving your skin feels deeply nourished and soft.
💘 See more details Pyunkang Yul Nutrition Cream
Olivarrier Cream All Barrier Relief Moisturizer
This essential daily moisturizing cream helps provide long-lasting moisture, maintains pH balance while it nourishes your skin. Powered with squalane, rose water, and other cold-pressed organic oils including squalane, rosehip, jojoba oil which have powerful anti-aging properties, it retains the plant's nutrients provide vitamins and rich nutrition to the skin. Vegan Ceramide is rich in fatty acids that does not contain chemical solvents which makes it excellent for strengthening the skin barrier. It's a vegan and cruelty-free moisturizer.
💘 See more details for Oliverrier Cream Moisturizer
⭐️ Anti-aging cream with sun protection (SPF30+)
Stop thinking anti-wrinkle cream is just for grandma! You start to take care of your skin earlier and you’ll have a better chance that you can prevent or slow down signs of aging. As we get older, skin tends to get thinner and drier due to decreased oil production, elastin, collagen, and hormone changes.
Thankfully anti-aging products can be great game changers that provide support to the skin and keep it plump and moist. Since the sun exposure speeds up the process of aging, you want a face moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher with broad-spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays) and water-resistant claims.
If you have premature skin with dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles, it’s a good idea to opt for oil-based occlusive products or staple anti-aging ingredients like retinol, vitamin C and E, and chemical exfoliants.
Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++
Formulated with aloe arborescens leaf extract to deliver ultimate hydration and soothe skin while defending against UVA & UVB rays. This daily sunscreen is weightless which feels like you're using a light moisturizer instead of a greasy sunblock product. It's a vegan, cruelty-free, and hypoallergenic sun protection item.
Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Gel SPF 50+ PA++++
This watery-light sun gel is infused with 68% moisturizing essence made of lotus, raspberry, birch sap, and Japanese cypress which help dramatically cool down your skin's temperature by 4.7°C while keeping your skin moisturized and supple for a long day. With a powerful UV protection of SPF50+ PA++++, it provides excellent ability to protect skin from even from the exposure to the direct sunlight and UV rays. This Korean sunscreen gel leaves no white cast, but, a smooth feeling. Works greatly under makeup as a foundation!
⭐️ The best Korean tinted moisturizers
Have you ever pondered how to easily nail the Korean-inspired no-makeup look with a dewy natural glow? A good tinted moisturizer is one of the secrets to creating the all-natural look which has been making waves in makeup trends. A tinted moisturizer is a hydrating cream that has added pigment to help even out complexion, blur imperfections and enhance the skin’s natural appearance.
Very similar to foundation, but it’s lighter and more hydrating - giving you light to medium coverages. This double-duty product is perfect for time-pressed beauty lovers or when you’re trouble with breakouts and/or dryness. The best way to pick the right product is to choose the shade which is closet to your natural skin tone and select one carefully based on your skin types.
Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA+++
This multi-function Korean BB cream offers a novel skincare concept which helps to conceal blemishes, dark circles, visible wrinkles, and discoloration with hydrating dewy coverage. This is a perfect lightweight foundation for those who want high coverage but want to embrace natural makeup and no-makeup makeup look with a flawless finish. It works as a tone-up cream that brightens and evens out your skin tone while providing UV protection.
IPKN Moist and Firm BB Cream SPF 45
A moisturizing BB treatment is packed with vitamin E, collagen, and SPF 45 protection for perfect matte coverage, rich hydration and nutrient. This tinted sunscreen promotes brighter and more even skin tone while supporting elasticity. It applies perfectly to the skin with a non-sticky feeling, leaving you with velvet soft perfection.
*** If you are unsure about your skin type how do you know which product is right for you, please refer to our blog post "How To Identify Your Skin Types and Care For Each?"