The 13 Best Moisturizers For Combination Skin — Tested & Vetted By Experts
Preview of the best moisturizers for combination skin
- Best all-around: Tatcha The Water Cream ($72)
- Best for mature skin: Alpyn Beauty Plant Genius Melt Moisturizer ($60)
- Best for sensitive skin: Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer ($27)
- Best for acne-prone skin: skinfix barrier+ Skin Barrier Niacinamide Refillable Restoring Gel Cream ($48)
- Best for brightening: Indie Lee Brightening Cream ($42)
- Best for enlarged pores: OLEHENRIKSEN Cold Plunge™ Pore Remedy Moisturizer with BHA/LHA ($51)
- Best for uneven texture: Summer Fridays Cloud Dew Oil Free Gel Cream ($45)
- Best everyday: BeautyCounter Countermatch Adaptive Moisturizer Lotion ($54)
- Best drugstore: Burt's Bees Clear & Balanced Skin Balancing Gel Cream ($18)
- Best splurge: Tata Harper Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer ($130)
- Best budget: The Inkey List Omega Water Cream ($11)
- Best with SPF: True Botanicals Skin Barrier Sun Shield SPF 30 ($65)
- Best organic: Savor Beauty Truffle Face Cream In Normal/Combination ($78)
As I got older and my skin got drier and drier, my once acne-prone and oil-slick skin has transformed into something that more closely resembles a combination complexion. (However, I identify as having sensitive skin primarily—lucky me). Often, I feel at a loss for where to turn for hydrators that keep my oil in check and the dry patches dewy.
"Combination skin is part oily, part dry," says board-certified dermatologist Jeanine Downie, M.D. "Typically, it's oily in the T-zone and drier on the cheeks." This has been exactly my experience. My cheeks are dry and prone to flushing, while my nose goes through flare-ups when it produces excess oil.
This one-two punch of terrains makes for a complicated choice of moisturizer. Ideally, you want something that will control the oil in the overproduced areas, hydrate flaky areas, and balance skin all over.
Well, we did the work for you. Here, the best moisturizers for combination skin.
The best moisturizers for combination skin
- Not only is this great for controlling shine, but it also has healthy aging benefits
- The brand partners with Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program to give back
- Contains fragrance, if you’re sensitive. However it is synthetic fragrance free, if that makes a difference to you.
Ingredient highlights:Japanese leopard lilyGreen tea
This oil-free moisturizer has the most amazingly light texture: It bursts onto the skin and is soaked up almost instantly. The effortless feel somehow achieves that ideal balance of refreshing hydration and light, silky slip. The star ingredient is what helps keep oil at bay and minimize pores: Japanese leopard lily controls sebum production and purifies skin. It’s also infused with green tea, algae, and 23-karat gold to give skin antioxidant protection, soothing properties, and a dewy glow.
What mbg’s beauty director says:
This is a mindbodygreen beauty team favorite. I’ve recommended picking up a jar to countless friends and acquaintances. And now, I’m recommending it to you, dear reader. I don’t have oily skin any more (the joys of getting older!), but now that my skin has hints of combination skin, this is a regular in my skin care rotation. The excellent formula keeps skin deeply hydrated, but not shiny, which is a tough balance. Even as someone with sensitive skin now, I still love using this formula as it’s very gentle.
Best for mature skin: Alpyn Beauty Plant Genius Melt Moisturizer
- Contains sustainable, wild-harvested ingredients
- A portion of all orders help the rewilding of the Grand Teton National Park.
- Contains essential oils if you’re sensitive to those
Ingredient highlights:SqualaneCeramidesVitamin CBakuchiolHyaluronic acid
While skin tends to get drier with time, sebum does not magically disappear once you start to see signs of aging. In fact, lots of folks have to deal with mature and combination skin at the same time. This formula tackles both. The star of the show is bakuchiol, a botanical alternative to retinol. The ingredient has been shown to act similarly to retinol, reducing the appearance of fine lines, controlling sebum, and encouraging cell turnover. This crowd-pleasing formula takes it a step further, however, with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and loads of botanical antioxidants. Ceramides are naturally found in the skin, and when used topically, they can support the skin barrier and improve water retention. Hyaluronic acid can help plump up fine lines. And antioxidants (like vitamin C, apple extract, and aloe vera) reduce the effects of free radical damage.
What mbg’s beauty director says:
This face cream melts into skin and absorbs so quickly, like the name suggests. This texture is ideal for those with sensitive skin. The jam-packed formula contains some of my favorite ingredients, so it's really no wonder it works. When I was using this, the fine lines on my forehead weren’t as noticeable. Also worth noting: The velvety finish (the brand describes it as “soft-focus” which is an apt description) helps blur pores and reduces shine.
Best for sensitive skin: Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer
- Great for under makeup & day
- High quality for the price point
- Uses synthetic beeswax so it’s vegan
- Somewhat unpleasant smell
Ingredient highlights:PrebioticsCentella asiaticaFeverfewOat extractsHyaluronic acid
For a splash of hydration, barrier-strengthening actives, plumping hyaluronic acid, and antioxidant-support, look no further than this jar. It’s ideal for those with sensitive skin as it contains soothing centella asiatica and oat extracts—but it’s also super lightweight and non-greasy. To be honest, that’s a tough balance to find, and this does it to perfection.
What mbg’s beauty director says:
As someone with very sensitive skin who can also deal with combination skin (especially in humidity), this formula is ideal for my skin. This texture is the embodiment of the word “replenishing.” My skin just drinks it up. It’s so hydrating and calming—with one use, your skin feels refreshed and dewy. Oh, and it definitely punches above its weight for the price point. It performs like creams double its price.
Best for acne-prone skin: skinfix barrier+ Skin Barrier Niacinamide Restoring Gel Cream
- Contains the anti-inflammatory and healing superstar allantoin
- Shown to improve barrier function after one hour
- Effective at helping mild to moderate acne cases—but we recommend visiting a derm for more intense cases
Ingredient highlights:NiacinamidePeptidesAllantoinHyaluronic acid
Quite often combination skin is also acne-prone (excess oil production leads to clogged pores and blemishes). This cream yields the power of niacinamide which is shown in clinical trials to reduce sebum production and help ease pimples. It also contains an antibacterial peptide to help balance acne-causing bacteria. But unlike many acne-fighting topicals, this won’t strip the barrier as it contains hyaluronic acid, allantoin, and more.
What our reviewer says:
This actually tops our list of the best face creams for acne-prone skin. “I love this lightweight formula for daytime use. The gentle 2% niacinamide boost helps to brighten the skin and ease redness while simultaneously regulating oil production,” writes mindbodygreen assistant beauty editor Hannah Frye.
- A lightweight lotion texture that’s very hydrating
- Contains several antioxidants, which can combat dull skin
- Glass bottle
- Sells out often
Ingredient highlights:SqualaneCentella asiaticaStrawberry Leaf extractLicorice root extractHyaluronic acid
Combination skin may appear shiny at times, but it can still be dull or experience dark spots (likely due to acne scars). This lightweight, non-clogging brightening cream uses the power of licorice root extract, which acts like a dark spot corrector by controlling pigment production. The cream also contains centella asiatica, which research shows can help dial down redness, balance the skin, and promote fibroblast proliferation (or, the things in our cells that create collagen and elastin).
What our reviewer says:
Our beauty editor Jamie Schneider loves this so much that she wrote a full review about it, including this tidbit: “This is my go-to for a soft daytime glow. With hydrating and radiance-inducing actives, I notice my skin becoming more luminescent with every use, and I can't imagine my routine without it. As for the application itself, the formula instantly sinks into my skin without leaving a greasy film.”
Best for enlarged pores: OleHenriksen Cold Plunge™ Pore Remedy Moisturizer with BHA/LHA
- Antioxidants can help fight free radicals
- BHAs can be irritating for some folks
- Contains fragrance if you’re sensitive to scent
Ingredient highlights:Green teaAlgaeSalicylic acidLipohydroxy AcidEucalyptusMoss extract
Pore size is genetic, but several things can influence the appearance. For example, excess sebum production and clogs can make them look larger in size. Using beta- and alpha-hydroxy acids can help balance oil and de-gunk pores. This cream uses salicylic acid and lipohydroxy acid to reduce oil and gently exfoliate skin cells. The acids are buffered with a soothing complex that contains green tea, algae, eucalyptus, and moss extract.
Best for uneven texture: Summer Fridays Cloud Dew Oil Free Gel Cream
- Soft, whipped texture
- Also contains ceramides for barrier support
- Very light texture, in case you want something with more weight
Ingredient highlights:CeramidesAmino acidsFruit enzymesHyaluronic acid
Smoothing uneven texture can be challenging to treat, but this cream does so in three-fold. First it uses hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin. Then amino acids can help support collagen and elastin production (they’re the building blocks of the structural proteins). And finally, the pineapple enzymes gently buff away discoloration and texture at the surface.
Best everyday: BeautyCounter Countermatch Adaptive Moisturizer Lotion
- Phytic acid is a super gentle chemical exfoliant to help balance sebum production and unclog pores
- Plum oil is rich in fatty acids
- Slightly unpleasant smell
Ingredient highlights:SqualanePlum oilPhytic Acid
This smart formula adapts to your skin throughout the day, amping up hydration where it’s needed and laying low where your own oil production is doing the work. The silky lotion glides over skin effortlessly and pairs well under makeup, which makes it ideal for an easy day-to-day option. The blend is made of squalane, phytic acid, and plum oil.
Best drugstore: Burt's Bees Clear & Balanced Skin Balancing Gel Cream
- The No. 1 derm recommended natural skin care brand
- CarbonNeutral certified
- Not vegan if you adhere to a strict vegan lifestyle
This non-comedogenic, balancing face moisturizer uses squalane and a prebiotic to sooth and calm oil and acne-prone skin. The prebiotic is a polysaccharide called inulin that’s been shown to balance the skin microbiome, helping control sebum production, reduce blemishes, and manage inflammation.
What mbg’s beauty director says:
As someone who struggled with acne for years, I wish something like this had existed for me when I was in my teens and twenties. I spent far too much time trying to dry out and attack my acne, only to be left with skin that was more irritated and angry than before. This super light lotion is so calming and soothing—an ideal moisturizer to add to your routine to help balance the skin.
- 70% of the total ingredients come from organic farming & are COSMOS ORGANIC certified by Ecocert Greenlife
- Contains essential oils if you have sensitivities to them
Ingredient highlights:Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is the star ingredient in this formula. The humectant truly shines thanks to the innovative delivery system that helps flood the skin with moisture—without a heavy or tacky feel. The lightweight, silky fluid texture makes it ideal for those with combination skin who want thinner textures, yet still crave moisture. The formula is also loaded with organic, antioxidant-rich botanicals and extracts that the brand is known for.
- Great ingredients at an affordable price point
- Niacinamide may cause flushing when used in excess, so just be mindful not to use it elsewhere in your routine
This uses a smart and clinically effective blend of 5% niacinamide, 0.2% ceramides, and 3% betaine to provide hydration and control oil. The super-lightweight gel texture is oil-free and noncomedogenic. It checks all the boxes for those with combination skin, and does so at a great price.
Best with SPF: True Botanicals Skin Barrier Sun Shield SPF 30
- Peach tone for more universal wearability
- Chebula and astaxanthin are powerful antioxidants that soothe the skin and fight free radicals
- Not as hydrating as other options on the list
Ingredient highlights:ChebulaAstazanthinZinc oxide
Lots of folks with oil- or acne-prone skin complain about sunscreen—it makes them break out, clogs pores, and makes the complexion even more shiny. The hard truth is that those with acne and clogged pores need SPF even moreso: Sun damage can worsen acne scars and make pores even bigger (UV radiation breaks down collagen, which collapses pore walls). This option was formulated specifically with breakout prone skin in mind. It’s made with all non-comedogenic ingredients (including nixing pore-clogging waxes), plus soothing chebula and astaxanthin.
What our reviewer says:
This blend is so good that it topped our list of best natural sunscreens and best moisturizers with SPF. As beauty editor Jamie Schneider shared, "I have textbook combination skin, that gets super finicky in the summer, and this sunscreen beautifully mattifies my shine while keeping drier spots dewy. It’s magic! Don’t fear the peachy tint: It melts beautifully into the skin without a trace of white cast.”
Best organic: Savor Beauty Truffle Face Cream In Normal/Combination
- Organic ingredients
- Thicker texture for those looking for gels
Ingredient highlights:Pumpkin seed oilSage extractRice bran
This delightful organic brand blends together K-beauty rituals with holistic, natural touches. Their cream comes in three varieties, each designed to cater to a different skin type. For those with combo skin, they blend together pumpkin seed oil, sage extract, and rice bran to hydrate, soothe, and tend to inflammation.
What our reviewer says:
I adore this cream, and have used it in all three of the varieties (dry, combination, and oily). Each is special in its own way, using only the best ingredients specifically chosen to meet the needs of the unique skin type. I personally love the thicker texture of the cream (I tend to like thicker textures in general), but it may be a touch rich for some. Regardless, it works well as a nighttime product. I have used this cream for years and it never gets old.
How we picked
Since those with combination skin need to control sebum production and hydrate dry areas, we looked for formulas that could achieve both.
We only recommend products that use effective, safe, and quality ingredients.
Everyone has unique needs, goals, sensorial preferences, and budgets. We included a wide range of products to accommodate.
Tested & vetted
The products here have been vetted and tested by the mbg beauty team, with input from professionals and reviews.
Best balancing ingredients to look for
Those with combination skin need balance—meaning they need to control sebum production in oily areas (T-zone typically is an issue) yet moisturize drier areas such as the cheeks. Typically that will mean finding formulas that strike the delicate balance between lightweight hydrators and gentle actives to manage sebum. Here are a few ingredients to keep an eye out for:
- Hyaluronic acid: A super light, breathable humectant that attracts and holds moisture, without clogging pores.
- Ceramides: Lipids naturally found in the skin that help make up the skin barrier. Using them topically can mean increased water retention, reduced signs of irritation. They're beneficial for those with any skin type, from acne-prone to sensitive.
- Niacinamide: Niacinamide is shown to balance oil production and reduce breakouts when formulated at levels 2% and 4% respectively.
- AHAs & BHAs: Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids are two classes of chemical exfoliators that can help those with combination skin deal with sebum. If your combination skin skews more oily, then opt for salicylic acid (a BHA). If your combination skin is on the drier end, use AHAs (like lactic or mandelic). Glycolic acid tends to be a good middle-of-the-road option.
- Bakuchiol & retinol: Retinol (and its natural alternative bakuchiol) increase cell turnover and can help manage acne. These can be irritating to some, so it's best to start slow when introducing the ingredients to your routine. Learn more about using retinol here.
- Pre- & postbiotics: When the skin microbiome is unbalanced, it can often lead to increased sebum production. So lots of skin care products use fermented ingredients, prebiotics, and postbiotics to help nurture the microbiome.
- Oat extracts: Irritation and inflammation actually trigger the skin into producing more oil. Lots of balancing formulas work by, first, calming the skin. Oat extracts are some of the most effective soothing botanical ingredients.
- Antioxidants: Every skin type and concern could benefit from antioxidant production. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, reduce inflammation, and help manage oxidative stress. There are many to pick from, including vitamin C, E, panthenol, coQ10, and botanical extracts.
Should combination skin use moisturizer?
Lots of folks with combination, oily, or acne-prone skin skip using moisturizers, but this is a common skin care mistake that can actually make your complexion more oily in the long run. Dehydrated skin tends to produce even more oil, and thus adding moisture is key. A light veil of moisture can keep your skin breathable during the day. Then at night, you can slather on the same formula in a thicker layer, as your skin needs a bigger dollop of moisture while you sleep.
Which moisturizer is best for combination skin?
Moisturizers that are light, breathable, and contain balancing ingredients are best for those with combination skin. A few of our favorites include:
What is not good for combination skin?
Like acne and oil-prone skin, those with combination skin should avoid pore-clogging ingredients and products that are too heavy. These can overwhelm the skin, leading to breakouts. However, on the flip side, they shouldn't skip hydrators altogether (a common skin care mistake). They should also avoid being overly aggressive with exfoliators.
Caring for combination skin can be tricky—as you'll want hydrating ingredients to tend to the dry patches and gentle balancing actives to help manage oil. But luckily these sophisticated blends use a combo of the right ingredients to help get your skin to its healthiest, happiest, glowiest point. Now, if you want more tips on how to deal with blemishes, here's our guide to treating acne.