If you’re looking to add an effective, non-irritating moisturizer to your skincare routine, this guide is for you. Here are our recommendations for the best gentle moisturizers.

Our Recommendations

1. Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

Aveeno Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization

Aveeno Calm and Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

This lightweight, gentle moisturizer is formulated with a variety of ingredients that hydrate and soothe irritated skin. It is formulated specifically with sensitive skin in mind.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Moisturization
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Cleanse the skin and apply serums or treatments. Then, apply this moisturizer to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with sunscreen during the day.
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One of the key ingredients in this drugstore moisturizer is the prebiotic triple oat complex, which helps soothe and hydrate the skin and relieve itchiness and dryness. Another star ingredient is feverfew, which calms the skin and helps minimize redness.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons

  • Some reviewers note it felt greasy on the skin

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this gel moisturizer contains centella asiatica, which has been shown to soothe inflammation in the skin.

Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Olivate, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Sorbitan Olivate, Polyacrylamide, Synthetic Beeswax, Phenoxyethanol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Panthenol, Chlorphenesin, Dimethiconol, Carbomer, Laureth-7, Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) Flower/Leaf/Stem Juice, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Centella asiatica in cosmetology"

    Accessed Nov. 10, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Nov. 10, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review"

    Accessed Nov. 10, 2021.

2. Daily Facial Moisturizer

Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer

Vanicream Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization

Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer

This fragrance-free moisturizer is lightweight but deeply hydrating. It is gentle on the skin, and specifically formulated with sensitive skin in mind.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Daily Moisturization
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Cleanse the skin and apply serums or treatments. Then, apply this moisturizer to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with sunscreen during the day.
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This daily moisturizer is packed with 5 key ceramides, which help restore the skin’s barrier. It also contains hyaluronic acid, squalane, and glycerin, which all help keep the skin hydrated.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Non-greasy

Cons

  • May not be moisturizing enough for very dry skin

The formula of this affordable moisturizer is perfect for sensitive skin, because it is fragrance-free, dye-free, essential oil-free, and free of virtually anything else known to irritate the skin. It is also dermatologist tested.

Purified Water, Squalane, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramide Eop, Ceramide Ng, Ceramide Np, Ceramide As, Ceramide Ap, Carnosine, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Phytosterols, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-11, 1,2-Hexanediol

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Hyaluronic Acid"

    Accessed Nov. 10, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products"

    Accessed Nov. 10, 2021.

3. Healing Ointment

Cerave Healing Ointment

CeraVe Moisturizer for Very dry skin

CeraVe Healing Ointment

This is one of the best CeraVe products for restoring and protecting areas of the skin that need intense hydration. It is a staple year-round, but can really come in handy to provide relief for skin dried out by winter weather.

Skin types: Normal, Dry and Sensitive
Best for: Very dry skin
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Apply to any areas of the skin that are cracked, chafed, or extremely dry. It can be applied over a body or face lotion to lock in moisture.
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This is one of the best CeraVe products for restoring and protecting areas of the skin that need intense hydration. It is a staple year-round, but can really come in handy to provide relief for skin dried out by winter weather.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Dye-free
  • Lanolin-free
  • Non-comedogenic

Cons

  • Greasy

This affordable ointment is formulated with petrolatum, which provides a physical barrier to protect the skin and prevent moisture from escaping. It also contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides to restore and hydrate.

Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Paraffin, Ozokerite, Dimethicone, Ceramide Np, Ceramide Ap, Ceramide Eop, Carbomer, Water, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Proline, Cholesterol, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol, Pantolactone, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "The structure, function, and importance of ceramides in skin and their use as therapeutic agents in skin-care products"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Hyaluronic Acid"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Petrolatum: Barrier repair and antimicrobial responses underlying this "inert" moisturizer"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

4. Tolérance Extrême Emulsion

Avene Tolerance Extreme Emulsion

Avène Moisturizer for Daily Moisturization

Avène Tolérance Extrême Emulsion

This gentle and fragrance-free moisturizer contains six simple but effective ingredients that soothe and moisturize the skin without leaving behind a greasy feeling.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Moisturization
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing and applying any serums or treatments, apply the moisturizer to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with sunscreen during the day.
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This lightweight, oil-free moisturizer is perfect for combination, oily, and sensitive skin types. Two key ingredients are the Avène thermal spring water, which soothes and softens the skin, and squalane, which hydrates and acts as an antioxidant.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Fragrance-free
  • Oil-free
  • Dye-free

Cons

  • May not be moisturizing enough for drier skin types

In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, this gentle moisturizer contains glycerin and capric triglyceride, which both further help hydrate the skin.

Avène Thermal Spring Water, Squalane, Behenyl Alcohol, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Sodium Acrylates C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Water

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Moisturizers: The Slippery Road"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.
  2. Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"

    Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

5. Toleriane Ultra Night Moisturizer

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Moisturizer

La Roche-Posay Moisturizer for Nightly Moisturization

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Moisturizer

This gel-cream moisturizer is one of the best La Roche-Posay products for sensitive, dry skin. It contains intensely moisturizing ingredients, and has been formulated without potentially irritating ingredients.

Skin types: Normal, Dry and Sensitive
Best for: Nightly Moisturization
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: After cleansing and applying serums and treatments, apply to the face, neck, and chest.
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This night moisturizer is packed with ingredients that help restore the skin’s moisture barrier. The shea butter is anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant effects, and is intensely moisturizing. Glycerin, squalane, and vitamin E also help moisturize and soothe the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Suitable for sensitive skin

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain about the packaging

This moisturizer has been tested on allergy-prone skin, and is free of any ingredients that may potentially cause irritation, including fragrance and drying alcohols.

Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Squalane, Propanediol, Butylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter/Shea Butter, Pentylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Dimethicone, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polysorbate 20, Tocopherol, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester, Allantoin, Toluene Sulfonic Acid, Dimethiconol, Xanthan Gum, Carnosine, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Aug. 19, 2021.

6. Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Paula's Choice Moisturizer for Daily Sun Protection and Moisturization

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

This creamy moisturizer contains mineral-based SPF to protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. It also contains hydrating and replenishing ingredients to soften dry skin.

Skin types: Normal, Dry and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Sun Protection and Moisturization
Tested on animals: No
How to use: In the morning, after cleansing and applying any treatments, apply the moisturizer all over the face, neck, and chest.
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This SPF moisturizer uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, two mineral sunscreens that are suitable for sensitive skin. It also contains a blend of antioxidants, ceramides, and peptides that help to soften, protect, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle

Cons

  • Some reviewers note it feels greasy on the skin
  • Not water-resistant

The ceramides in this moisturizer help to restore the moisture barrier and strengthen the skin, while the peptides help provide anti-aging benefits.

Titanium Dioxide 3.85%, Zinc Oxide 3.12% (mineral sunscreens), Water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient/texture-enhancing), Isononyl Isononanoate (texture-enhancing), Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil (apricot oil/non-fragrant oil/emollient), Cyclopentasiloxane (hydration/texture-enhancing), Glyceryl Stearate (emollient/texture-enhancing), PEG-100 Stearate (emollient/texture-enhancing), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Pentylene Glycol (hydration), Cetearyl Alcohol (emollient/texture-enhancing), Dimethicone (hydration), Glycine Soja Sterols (emollient), VP/Eicosene Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/skin-soothing), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Allantoin (skin-soothing) , Tocopheryl Acetate (antioxidant), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Superoxide Dismutase (antioxidant), Ubiquinone (antioxidant), Ceramide NG (hydration/skin replenishing), Methicone (hydration), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (skin-restoring), PEG-10 Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract (cucumber extract/skin-soothing), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient/texture-enhancing), Tribehenin (skin-restoring), PEG-10 Phytosterol (texture-enhancing), Sorbitan Stearate (texture-enhancing), Polyhydroxystearic Acid (texture-enhancing), Alumina (texture-enhancing), Polysorbate 20 (texture-enhancing), Aluminum Stearate (texture-enhancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative).

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. "Is Sunscreen Safe?"

    Accessed Aug. 4, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin's own natural moisturizing systems"

    Accessed Aug. 4, 2021.

7. Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin

Paula's Choice Moisturizer for Redness and Daily Sun Protection and Moisturization

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin

This mineral-based SPF moisturizer is one of the best Paula’s Choice sunscreens for sensitive and redness-prone skin, and is even gentle enough for rosacea-prone skin. It contains additional ingredients that calm and hydrate the skin.

Skin types: Normal, Dry and Sensitive
Best for: Redness and Daily Sun Protection and Moisturization
Tested on animals: No
How to use: In the morning, after cleansing and applying any treatments, apply the moisturizer all over the face, neck, and chest.
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This is a great SPF moisturizer for sensitive and redness-prone skin, partially due to the fact that it contains mineral sunscreen (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), which is gentler on the skin. Additionally, it has calming, hydrating, and redness-reducing plant extracts, antioxidants, and peptides.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle

Cons

  • Not water-resistant

Some of the nourishing and calming ingredients in this gentle formula include apricot oil, oat extract, allantoin, and vitamin E.

Titanium Dioxide 3.85%, Zinc Oxide 3.12%, Water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (texture-enhancing/emollient), Isononyl Isononanoate (texture-enhancing/emollient), Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil (apricot oil/non-fragrant plant oil/emollient), Cyclopentasiloxane (hydration), Glyceryl Stearate (emollient), PEG-100 Stearate (texture-enhancing), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Pentylene Glycol (hydration), Cetearyl Alcohol (emollient), Dimethicone (hydration), Glycine Soja Sterols (soybean/emollient), VP/Eicosene Copolymer (texture-enhancing), Avena Sativa Kernel Extract (oat extract/skin-soothing), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E/antioxidant), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin replenishing), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Superoxide Dismutase (antioxidant), Ubiquinone (antioxidant), Ceramide NG (hydration/skin replenishing), Methicone (hydration), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (texture-enhancing), PEG-10 Dimethicone (texture-enhancing), Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract (cucumber extract/skin-soothing), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (emollient), Tribehenin (emollient), PEG-10 Phytosterol (texture-enhancing/emollient), Sorbitan Stearate (texture-enhancing), Polyhydroxystearic Acid (texture-enhancing), Alumina (stabilizer), Polysorbate 20 (stabilizer), Aluminum Stearate (texture-enhancing), Xanthan Gum (texture-enhancing), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative).

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. "Is Sunscreen Safe?"

    Accessed Aug. 4, 2021.

FAQs

What is the best moisturizer for dry sensitive skin?

The Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer and the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Moisturizer are both excellent gentle moisturizers for dry and sensitive skin. If you have extra-parched spots that need additional hydration, you can also layer the CeraVe Healing Ointment on top of these products. If you’re looking for a moisturizer with SPF, the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 and the Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin are excellent choices. These both contain mineral sunscreen filters, which are less likely to cause irritation compared to chemical sunscreen filters.

How do I choose a face moisturizer?

When picking out a face moisturizer, you need to keep in mind your skin types and any concerns or needs your skin may have. Once you have that information, you can find an option that suits your needs. For example, if you have oily skin and want a gentle, oil-free moisturizer that won’t make your skin look or feel greasy, you can look for a product that works for those requirements (like the Avène Tolérance Extrême Emulsion).

What moisturizer should I use at night?

Any of the options on this list are suitable for nighttime use, excluding the moisturizers with SPF. The choice ultimately depends on your skin type, concerns, and budget. The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Moisturizer is a great product that is specifically formulated for nighttime use, particularly for those with dry or sensitive skin.

The Bottom Line

There are some super effective gentle moisturizers available on the market, and you’ll find great options for all skin types. Consider adding one of these standout moisturizers to your skincare routine.