There are a few kernels of knowledge every adult should have in their arsenal. Some examples: how to set a budget, when to apologize, and the best drugstore moisturizer to buy in a pinch. Whether you’ve traveled somewhere new and forgotten your skincare or just want the biggest bang for your buck, a solid moisturizer is crucial for your every day. (It’s been said that a cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen is really all you ever need.)

However, it should be noted, “drugstore” is a bit of a blanket term these days, but it really just translates to “affordable.” And thanks to dermatologist-loved brands like Versed, Neutrogena, and Cetaphil, we know there are some incredible formulas that are wallet-friendly and efficacious.

Feature image by Winnie Au.

Image by Michelle Nash

Of course, knowing what ingredients your skin really needs is always the best way to navigate the beauty aisles. So I tapped one of my favorite aestheticians, Natalie Burt, for expert guidance.

Natalie Burt
  • Aesthetician
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Natalie Burt is a lead aesthetician in Dallas who specializes in customized facials and Korean beauty techniques.

How often should we use a moisturizer?

“Twice a day,” Burt affirms. Maintaining a strong moisture barrier is key for preventing irritation and oiliness. Commit to treating your face with a solid moisturizer morning and night for balanced, beautiful skin.

Image by Michelle Nash

When should we use a face moisturizer in our routine?

In the morning, Burt recommends slathering on moisturizing cream as the last step of your routine before SPF (and after a vitamin C lotion or antioxidant). In the evenings, moisturize as the final step—or the final step before your face oil for ultimate hydration.  

“If you’re venturing into retinols, you can also mix your retinol with moisturizer to acclimate easier with less irritation,” Burt adds. “Good for my sensitive skin clients!”

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What ingredients should we look for in a good quality moisturizer?

A healthy skin barrier requires barrier-supportive ingredients—i.e., ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. Below, Burt breaks down the best types of moisturizers based on your skin type.  

The Best Moisturizer For Oily/Combination Skin Types: Humectants

These lightweight moisturizers pull in water to maintain skin elasticity. Look for hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

The Best Moisturizer For Dry Skin, Fine Lines, and Wrinkles: Emollients

These moisturizers help restore barrier function and improve skin texture. Look for shea butter, squalane, and oils like rosehip or argan.

The Best Moisturizer For Extremely Dry or Damaged Skin: Occlusives

These moisturizers help form a protective seal over the skin to prevent water loss. Look for petrolatum, dimethicone, and waxes like carnauba or beeswax.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Drugstore Moisturizer for Every Skin Type

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Best For Combination Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Glycerin, niacinamide, and ceramides combine with La Roche-Posay’s prebiotic thermal water, a signature of the fan-favorite French brand.

Best For Oily Skin: La Roche-Posay Matte Face Moisturizer

The lightweight gel-cream version of La Roche-Posay’s bestselling moisturizer is formulated for all-day, oil-free hydration that helps decrease the size of visible pores.

Best For Dry, Mature Skin: CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

This popular CeraVe moisturizing cream is packed with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides. Biomimetic peptides make it a perfect pick for aging skin.

A Great Vegan, Cruelty Free Moisturizer: Versed Skin Soak

For those prioritizing vegan beauty, Burt recommends this dreamy cream, packed with vitamin E, squalane, and algae extract. However, it’s on the richer side, so oily skin types may want to dip into Skin Soak purely during the winter months.

Best For All Skin Types: COSRX Snail Mucin 92% Repair Cream

Burt loves this cult-favorite K-beauty moisturizer, made almost entirely with the brand’s signature snail mucin (aka snail slime) which calms and locks in moisture. The fragrance-free cream also includes sodium hyaluronate, a water-soluble salt derived from hyaluronic acid.

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