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The 16 Best Face Creams: Organic, Drugstore, Luxury & More

Last updated on November 3, 2022
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

The beauty space is filled with plenty of "nice to haves"—products you can add to your routine but certainly don't have to. However, for skin care two steps remain essential: You need to wash, and you need to hydrate.

On that latter point, we're here to walk through face creams and moisturizers. It's a category with lots of variety depending on your personal preferences and skin type needs. Some folks love dense, rich textures—while others prefer light-as-air and fast-absorbing formulas. Some people may have oily- or acne-prone skin, so they need appropriate actives to combat inflammation or oil production. And others deal with irritation and want gentle ingredients to soothe reactive skin.

So before you make a new face cream purchase, be mindful of what exactly your parameters are: A good face moisturizer can do wonders for the health of your skin but only if it addresses your unique complexion. Think about the product texture, price point, your specific concerns, lifestyle, and ultimate skin goals—then dive into the list below.

How we picked

High-quality formulas

The products here use powerful ingredients that work to hydrate your skin. We tried to avoid most common allergens and iffy ingredients that may irritate the skin.

Efficacy

We prioritized products that used science-backed actives and research-informed formulas.

Variety

As we've noted, everyone's skin is different. So we included a wide range of textures, types, price points, and ingredients to suit lots of folks.

Tried & tested

Every product here was tested by me, an mbg beauty editor, or staffer. Additionally, we also included user reviewers to inform our choices.

Best face creams of 2022:

Best lightweight: Tatcha The Water Cream

Pros:

  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Oil-free
  • OK for sensitive skin

Cons:

  • Uses silicones, if you avoid those
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeAloeAlgaeGreen teaRoseProtiensGlycerin

For lots of folks, skin care comes down to how it feels on the skin: If it feels good, you'll use it. And for those who want a lightweight, fast-absorbing formula, this water balm is the best around. The texture of this oil-free cream is an unparalleled sensorial experience. The cream-gel hybrid practically explodes with moisture when rubbed in, leaving behind a trail of hydration and soothing botanicals, like wild rose, leopard lily, algae, and green tea. These help control midday shine, smooth texture, refine pores, and brighten tone.

What the mbg beauty team says:

Users and editors alike are impressed by how this cream plays double duty: It feels airy yet provides sustained hydration. As assistant beauty editor Hannah Frye wrote about this combination skin-friendly cream, "While something lightweight may be your best bet for managing an oily complexion, you should opt for something deeply hydrating too. The beauty of this water cream is that it does both: While the consistency is lightweight, your skin will be drinking up essential nutrients. Tatcha's signature Hadasei-3 Complex includes a trio of antioxidant-rich Japanese superfoods that work in combination to detoxify the skin and replenish essential moisture." Or as mbg's beauty editor Jamie Schneider says, "I can't count how many Tatcha Water Creams I've emptied over the years—and each time, I'm scraping the sides of the jar to get just another ounce of this liquid gold. It's lightweight yet deeply hydrating, so it doesn't just create a greasy film on top of your skin (a pet peeve I have with most water creams)."

Best rich texture: Jones Road Miracle Cream

Pros:

  • An ideal nighttime product to stop transepidermal water loss
  • For day, use the Light Moisture Cream, which goes well under makeup

Cons:

  • Ideal for super dry skin types—may be comedogenic for those who breakout easily
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganShea butterAvocado oilAllantoin

On the opposite end of the texture spectrum, we have the dense, decadent, lavish creams—and this one from Jones Road is as rich as they come. The blend uses a hefty dose of shea butter, which is loaded with antioxidants like vitamins A and E and fatty acids to nourish the skin better. Plus, the plant-based butter naturally contains allantoin, which is a superpowered healing ingredient. Warm the balm in your hands before applying, then gently pat it on top of your skin for maximum hydration. 

What mbg's beauty director says: 

This cream makes for an excellent nighttime moisturizer, as it traps in hydration and helps your skin wake up dewy. Whenever I use it, I can't believe how soft and supple my skin looks the morning after. I actually look refreshed, which is nothing short of a miracle. Reviewers agree, as one wrote in: "You won't regret buying this cream. I love this product, it's thick but doesn't feel thick on the face and makes my face glow the next day."

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Best organic: Savor Beauty Organic Truffle Face Cream

Pros:

  • Comes in 3 versions for various needs: Dry, Normal/Combination, and Oily

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Not for those who like thin formulas
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganAloeShea butterGlycerinWhite truffle extractBilboa extractRasbery seed oilVitamin EEssential oilsCocoa seed butter

Savor Beauty is an editor-favorite brand that makes sophisticated, organic formulas. This buttery face cream features white truffle extract (called the "white diamond" of skin care superfoods, apparently), which hydrates skin cells while encouraging regeneration and vibrancy. It also contains a special enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which can help smooth fine lines and improve dark spots.

What mbg's beauty team says:

I've written a whole love letter to this face cream (read it here), so you know I love it. I started using it right when I hit 30, and it couldn't have come at a better time: It feeds my dry skin nutrients, comforts my many skin sensitivities, and helps me proactively deal with fine lines. I'm not the only fan; Schnieder loves it too: "This cream is pure luxury. White truffle contains fatty acids and enzymes that make your skin feel just plain rich—plus, it just sounds fancy. My only callout: The consistency is thick. I have the combination skin version, and I prefer to use it as a night cream with a lighter moisturizer during the day."

Best drugstore: Honest Beauty Hydrogel

Pros:

  • Comes in 2 sizes (get the $10 0.5-oz one as a tester or on-the-go)
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Uses some PCR packaging

Cons:

  • Great for a day cream but likely too light for evening
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganVitamin ECocoa seed butterSqualaneHyaluronic acidApple fruit extractJojoba oil

Proving that high-quality, clean formulas can be produced at every price point, Honest Beauty's offerings have always outperformed their price points. Certainly, this lightweight face cream feels like it should come with a heavier price tag: The blend uses jojoba and squalane to moisturize and soothe the barrier and two types of hyaluronic acid to plump up fine lines. 

What reviewers say:

About 93% of users would recommend it to a friend, including this reviewer who wrote, "I have normal-dry skin and live in a high elevation and dry climate, and this has been nice to use morning and night. I think it's better as a morning/daily moisturizer (I prefer a little heavier moisturizer at night). Overall, it's lightweight and creamy, absorbs quickly, and leaves my skin looking and feeling moisturized."

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Best with SPF: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen SPF 50

Pros:

  • Dermatologist- and ophthalmologist-tested
  • Minimal white cast, so it's more universally wearable

Cons:

  • While we prefer physical sunscreens for environmental reasons, the best sunscreen is one that you'll actually wear
  • Some reports of pilling if you use it immediately after your other steps
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganAloeGlycerinHyaluronic acidSPFWatermelon extractNiacinamide

If your priority is to minimize your skin care steps, combining sunscreen and moisturizer into one product is perfectly acceptable. This sunscreen is extremely wearable day-to-day, thanks to its blend of skin-supporting ingredients like hydrating aloe, plumping hyaluronic acid, soothing niacinamide, and antioxidant-rich watermelon extract. The sunscreen uses a safe blend of both physical and chemical sunscreens (zinc oxide being the physical, and homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene being the chemical). 

What users say:

This sunscreen made a splash when it hit the market, as one user wrote, "I love this sunscreen! It doesn't have that overpowering sunscreen smell and absorbs well when I don't use any products immediately prior. If your skin is dewy from other products prior to applying the sunscreen, it WILL pill."

Best budget: Alaffia EveryDay Coconut Face Cream

Pros:

  • Uses fair trade ingredients at a very affordable price point
  • Suitable for most skin types and needs

Cons:

  • Avoid if you find coconut oil to be comedogenic for your skin
  • Contains lavender oil for scent, if you're sensitive
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganGlycerinEssential oilsCoconut oilNeem extractKpagnan butter

When you hear "budget" and "everyday moisturizer" used together in the same write-up, you may think "basic"—but this formula is anything but. The base of the blend is a high-quality, fair-trade virgin coconut oil, as the plant extract helps fortify the barrier and is rich in nurturing vitamin E. It's also infused with kpangnan butter to soothe skin, neem extract for healthy aging, papaya extract to feed the skin antioxidants, and brightening AHAs

What users say:

Not only do reviewers like the skin care benefits, but they align with their personal values and mission: "This is by far my favorite facial moisturizer ever. Nice and thick and absorbs quickly. I normally buy unscented products, but this has a very pleasant and light smell that I do not mind. The price is amazing for the quality and I am in love with this company's mission. Buying products from a company that is socially and environmentally responsible is very important to me."

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Best luxury: Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream

Pros:

  • Safe for sensitive skin
  • PEG-free

Cons:

  • Very pricey
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganShea butterGlycerinVitamin EPurslane extractSkullcap

When it comes to aspirational skin care products, Dr. Barbara Sturm's products are simply a tier of their own. The brand is known for its clean formulas safe for sensitive skin, delicious textures, and innovative extracts. The cult-favorite face cream uses vitamin E for antioxidant support, skullcap for anti-inflammatory benefits, purslane extract for skin longevity, as well as shea butter, squalane, and glycerin for hydration. 

What users say: 

The brand has a devoted following for a reason—the products prove effective. Customers rave about this cream, including this user who says, "I have tried so many different high end facial moisturizers and this one is so great. Dr. Sturm's products have transformed my skin. I would recommend this to anyone."

Best for oily skin: Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer

Pros:

  • Japanese green tea has been shown in studies to reduce sebum production when used topically

Cons:

  • Uses silicones if you avoid those
  • Avoid if you have combination to dry skin, as this is very lightweight
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganGreen tea

One would hope that we've all moved past the myth that those with oily skin don't need to use a moisturizer. (It's quite the contrary: If you skip lotions, it may signal to your skin that it needs to put sebum production in overdrive.) However, those with acneic or oily skin may want to find a face lotion free of oils or comedogenic ingredients. This oil-free moisturizer uses the power of green tea to soothe and balance skin, helping reduce redness and oil production. 

What users say:

It receives high praise from folks with oily skin, like this multi-time purchaser: "I have purchased MANY moisturizers marketed as oil-free/oil controlling, but this is the only one that I have re-purchased multiple times, and that I would recommend. I use it daily and have never experienced any breakouts. The 'scent' is very mild and pleasant. It is not a thick, super moisturizing cream, which is great for us oily girls, but if you have dry skin this is not for you!"

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Best for acne-prone skin: Skinfix Barrier+ Skin Barrier Niacinamide Restoring Gel Cream

Pros:

  • Many products for acne-prone skin can be drying or strip your natural oils, but this strengthens the barrier
  • Eases both blackheads and angry, inflamed breakouts

Cons

  • Too much niacinamide can cause flushing—so be sure to limit the use of the ingredient elsewhere in your routine
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganAllantoinSqualaneHyaluronic acidNiacinamide

Acne is a complicated, complex skin condition that has many overlapping contributing factors. And when addressing acne, it's important to look at your skin care routine holistically. (For example, what does your stress level look like, how much are you sleeping, and what are your nutrition needs?) And as one part of that overall picture, your skin care routine should be gentle, soothing, and use actives with evidence to support their effectiveness in treating breakouts. This barrier-supporting cream uses niacinamide (which has strong research showing it can ease acne), antimicrobial peptides, and zinc PCA to target breakouts without disrupting your barrier function. 

What mbg's assistant beauty editor says: 

You can have acne-prone and thirsty skin at the same time. In fact, it's quite common! And for those folks, Frye notes this will work well in your routine, "For people that have acne-prone skin but still crave deep hydration—this one's for you. While the classic barrier cream may be a cult favorite, I love this acne-safe version even more. The hydration will last you all day long even on dry winter days, and even leave you with a subtle glow. It's the perfect moisturizer to have on hand if you're using any strong acne treatments, retinoids included."

Best for mature skin: Maya Chia The Advanced Response Complex Face & Neck Cream

Pros:

  • Made for both the neck and face, so it targets two areas
  • Packaging is refillable, which cuts down on materials long term

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Strong fragrance made with essential oils, so avoid if you're sensitive
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganAloeGreen teaProtiensAmino acidsShea butterVitamin EEssential oilsPeptidesGrowth factorsChebulaAstaxanthin

There are many ways to care for your skin as you age: No two "anti-aging" skin care routines will look the same. However, this coveted cream has earned its way into many skin care experts' lineups. Why? It addresses multiple signs of skin aging by using innovative, botanically based ingredients. The most impressive is the plant transforming growth factor beta-2 (plant-TGFβ2), to help skin regenerate at the cellular level. It also uses peptides to hydrate and improve the appearance of fine lines, amino acids for collagen support, and two very powerful antioxidants (astaxanthin and chebula) to neutralize free radical damage.  

What users are saying:

People who are willing to pay the price all note just how powerful this formula is: "I have sensitive, dry, mature, autoimmune skin, and have tried more creams and spent more money than I care to count. Now I can stop counting. This cream is it for me! I began seeing results with two weeks, and my skin only continues to feel softer and look better with use. RUN, don't walk, to get this cream and its incredible results." 

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Best for barrier support: Symbiome The One Cream

Pros:

  • Simple formula that's highly effective
  • Ideal for folks with sensitized skin
  • 1% of all sales donated to the Amazon Conservation Team
  • Traceable ingredients

Cons:

  • Subtle, natural scent (inherent to the ingredients), so avoid if you can't tolerate any smell whatsoever
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganLactobacillus ferment

For the last several years, the beauty industry has gotten wise to the fact that our skin barriers need tending to. Thanks to over-exfoliation, harsh soaps, and modern lifestyle (things like diet and stress), the skin barrier has a lot to deal with. And many common skin care concerns can all be linked to a compromised barrier, such as inflammation, signs of aging, breakouts, redness, and sensitivities. So if your skin is in need of repair, this face cream should skyrocket to the top of your list. It contains just three ingredients. The first is water for hydration. The second is sanoma leaf oil for antioxidants, fatty acids, and thymol, a beneficial terpene that can "reset" the skin microbiome. The final addition is the postbiotic Lactobacillus Ferment, which contains lactic acid, phospholipids, enzymes, cofactors, bacteriocins and polysaccharides to all support barrier function and skin aging. 

What mbg's beauty director says: 

I believe that the future of skin care and skin health lies in unlocking the secrets of the skin microbiome. I'm personally impressed by Symbiome's incredible advancements in the field of biome-friendly skin care, both because I find the area interesting—and because the collection really works. I've been using this cream religiously for weeks now, and my skin looks fresher, isn't as easily irritated, and is more hydrated. I try a lot of products, which has inevitably sensitized my skin over the years (cost of being a beauty reporter), and this is the only product that has even come close to giving me a genuine reset. 

Best for dry skin: Biossance Squalane Omega Repair Cream

Pros:

  • Has the seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association
  • Comes in 3 sizes

Cons:

  • Complaint of the smell (it has no added fragrance, so any scent is inherent to the ingredients)
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganShea butterGlycerinSqualaneAcai berryFatty acids

This cream blends the brand's star (squalane, a powerhouse hydrator in its own right) with a trio of other moisturizing ingredients: hyaluronic acid to attract water, omega fatty acids to soften skin, and acai berry sterols for antioxidant protection. The result is a decadent cream that checks all the boxes.

What mbg's beauty editor says: 

This thick, lavish cream has lots of fans, especially those who are dealing with inflammation as Schneider writes: "For those with chronically dry, inflammation-prone skin, allow us to introduce you to the joy of squalane. This fatty-acid-rich ingredient replenishes the moisture barrier, and its cousin, squalene, make up a significant portion of your skin already. This number from Biossance features hyaluronic acid and ceramides as well (compounds also naturally found in your skin already), so it's like you're feeding your skin exactly what it's missing."

Best for sensitive skin: Naturium Marshmallow Root Barrier Balm

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced for high-quality ingredients
  • Dermatologist-tested

Cons:

  • Contains silicones if you avoid those
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganShea butterGlycerinCentella asiaticaArnicaMilk thistle

For those with easily angered skin, you'll want to utilize soothing ingredients and botanicals to calm inflammation and restore the skin barrier. The star of this formula is the colloidal oatmeal, which is the gold standard for sensitive skin, according to derms. It also includes marshmallow root, centella asiatica, arnica, and milk thistle, which are all ingredients that have strong evidence to support their calming effects on the skin. 

What mbg's beauty director says: 

I was sent the brand's sensitive skin collection to test out a while back, and I immediately took it home to give it a go. (I have sensitive skin, so I am always looking for options to soothe inflammation.) The texture is thick but not sticky, and it leaves your skin feeling hydrated, plump, and calm. It wasn't until later when I went to look up more information on the product that I realized it was only $25—I could have sworn it was at least double that. 

Best for dull skin: Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer

Pros:

  • Bright citrusy smell (a pro if you're a fragrance fan)
  • Can help dark circles around the eyes
  • Vitamin C can help with collagen production

Cons:

  • Contains essential oils, if you're sensitive to those
  • Has niacinamide, which can cause flushing when used in excess, so be mindful of the rest of your routine
Ingredient considerations: VeganShea butterGlycerinEssential oilsNiacinamideGinsengVitamin C

For skin that's in need of a vibrancy boost, this day cream contains caffeine extracted from coffee, as well as the herb ginseng. Caffeine helps brighten and energize skin by reducing puffiness, improving tone, and increasing circulation. And ginseng provides antioxidant support and can help bring a bit more glow back to the complexion. Feel free to dab a little bit more around the eyes to get rid of dark circles or bags. 

What mbg's assistant beauty editor says:

Not only is this great for dull skin, but it can also help those with combination skin. As Frye wrote, "This moisturizer feels like a breath of fresh air—and it's not just the aroma of citrus. The gel formula contains caffeine and ginseng to encourage a wide-awake look to the skin. Shea and jojoba butter work together to return moisture to the skin (and lock it in) without leaving behind a film. Plus, grapefruit and orange peel extracts help brighten the skin while also leaving behind a divine scent."

Best antioxidant cream: Indie Lee SuperFruit Facial Cream

Pros:

  • Ideal for those who live in the city, as antioxidants can help against pollution
  • Peptides have been shown to reduce fine lines

Cons:

  • Pricey
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganGlycerinEssential oilsHyaluronic acidPeptidesVitamin CPomegranateAcai berryBilberry fruitSunflower seed oilTangerine peelAcerola fruit

Antioxidants are a vital part of any skin care routine, as they can support the collagen layer, fight free radicals, and improve overall tone. Well, this option is packed with antioxidants—just check out the list of superfoods it contains: pomegranate, acai berry, bilberry fruit, sunflower seed oil, tangerine peel, and acerola fruit. But this isn't just about the antioxidants; it's also a rich hydrator with hyaluronic acid and peptides. 

What mbg's beauty editor says:

The mbg beauty team are basically Indie Lee superfans at this point—and this face lotion is no exception to our fandom. As Schneider notes, "This face cream is literally a nutrient-dense smoothie in a bottle. It melts into my skin so effortlessly (the texture feels like silk), and all those antioxidants make my complexion instantly brighter."

Best retinol cream: Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol and Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream

Pros:

  • Powerful ingredients but not too irritating for the skin barrier
  • Uses buffering hydrators to ease any retinol purge or dryness

Cons:

  • Only for nighttime use (retinol causes photosensitivity during the day), so skip if you need a cream that plays double-duty
Ingredient considerations: Cruelty-freeVeganShea butterGlycerinRetinolBakuchiolFerulic acidRambutan

Retinol is a beloved ingredient for its healthy aging properties: The vitamin A derivative increases cell turnover, promotes collagen production, eases acne, reduces dark spots, and so much more. This cream buffers the ingredients with hydrating butters and oils, as well as several additional antioxidants, such as ferulic acid and rambutan. 

What mbg's beauty writer says:

I've used this retinol collection to great success (and I have sensitive skin, so that's saying something). Plus, other mbg beauty contributors are fans, too. As beauty reporter Emily Rekstis writes, "The embodiment of a retinol cream, this buttery moisturizer is formulated with hydrating antioxidants like centella asiatica alongside anti-aging powerhouses retinol and bakuchiol. Bakuchiol is often compared to retinol thanks to its similar abilities to fight acne, minimize wrinkles, and reduce photo-aging by targeting similar cellular pathways. However, bakuchiol is more tolerable and gentle, making it a great retinol alternative for people with sensitive skin. It also works great alongside retinol to help promote its skin care benefits without irritation. Thanks to this ingredient combo, this moisturizer will improve wrinkles, texture, and dullness, all without leaving skin greasy."

FAQ

What step should you apply a face cream?

Face creams should be applied after your serum (also known as the treatment step) but before facial oil or sunscreen. If you do not use serums, then it should immediately follow your face wash. If you don't like using oil, you can skip that step. Sunscreen, however, is nonnegotiable during the day.

What ingredients should you look for?

As a base, look for a blend of emollients (like botanical oils, vitamin E, ceramides, colloidal oats), occlusives (thick butters, waxes, and heavier oils), and humectants (hyaluronic acid and glycerin). Additional ingredients that can help the skin usually include antioxidants, like niacinamide, vitamin C, and fruit extracts. 

How often should you moisturize your face?

You should moisturize your skin after every time you wash your face, so once or twice a day.

mbg's review process.

At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).

Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we've tried and loved.

Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here.

The takeaway.

Moisturizers are the backbone of healthy skin. Getting a high-quality face cream can keep your skin moisturized, plump, and luminous. If you want to take your skin care routine a step further, add in a treatment step—here are our favorite healthy aging serums.

Want to turn your passion for wellbeing into a fulfilling career? Become a Certified Health Coach! Learn more here.

Meet The Experts

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.