Skincare, Two Ways is our new series exploring skincare routines in-depth, from the perspective of two humans who have very different skin types. In this fifth installment, our resident skincare enthusiasts, Courtney and Becca, are taking on serums and essences for different skin types, at different price points, and beyond.
Finally: we’ve reached moisturizers.
This, out of all the steps in a skincare routine, is probably the one we’re all most familiar with. Moisturizers can range in textures from light to heavy, with water-based gel creams on the lighter side, and night creams on the thicker side. The right moisturizer for you is going to depend on your skin and the season.
Skin type: Oily and sensitive
“My skin is oily with visible pores and it’s moderately sensitive. I’m always combating cystic hormonal acne under my chin, and will get small whiteheads if I’m not careful about cleansing after sweating. Over the last couple of years, my cheeks and forehead become slightly tighter when I’m traveling to cold, dry climates.”
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
$68 at Sephora
"This bb has 3K reviews and 200k 'loves' on Sephora which I think is the most ~clout~ of any product on my shelf. I bring this up because of the price tag, and for that much money it better come with heavy recommendations! You can snag this one in a mini size pretty easily, though. *Cough* I’m on my third one bc not in this holiday economy. *Cough*
ANYWHO. This is my #1 favorite daytime moisturizer I think I’ve ever used. It’s SO soothing, and I can imagine would be great to even out dry, dull patches in the winter. The texture is light and incredibly creamy. Protini has the perfect sink-in time: not too fast to where you’re wondering if it’s working at all, but she doesn’t overstay her welcome and leave you feeling gross. I use it most mornings under my makeup at the end of my skincare routine or before a heavier serum, and it makes my face SO SOFT. I honestly want this in a jumbo size to bathe in. Beautypedia
did a great review on their ingredients if you’re curious!"
Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream
$58 at Sephora
“If you have oily skin and are looking for one moisturizer that you can invest in as both a light morning situation and a mid-weight evening treatment, I’d recommend this one. A moisturizer is really the only time I prefer 'clean' products like this one because with my sensitive skin, this category is most likely to break me out. This product uses Caprylic Triglyceride
which makes it a little heavier than something like Protini, but it’s a good alternative to chemical thickeners that would aggravate or clog your skin.”
Youth To The People
Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask
$48 at Sephora
“Prickly pear isn’t just for your margs, people! The ingredients in this one are really brightening and it turns out cactus juice can protect you against UV rays, which is helpful in combination with vitamin C.
Oh, and SHE THICC. But somehow not greasy? I’ve used it as a mask a couple of times but also experimented mixing a *tiny amount* with a serum foundation
and the result is very glowy. I use this as an undereye mask when I’m too lazy for gel patches and it’s been working really well to fix dark circles (looking at you, holiday party ppl). I will occasionally get a small dry patch on my cheek when the weather cools down, and she has yet to make an appearance this year which I don’t think is a coincidence.”
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask
“This product is typically something I use as a night mask during warmer months when my skin is super oily, but I love the smell and feeling of it so much that I’m still reaching for it in December. If I do a heavier cream or sheet mask in the evening, I follow up with this one in a thin layer to lock in moisture. It has this technology called MoistureWrap™ that claims to time-release and let the ingredients sink deeper into your skin. And it smells SO NICE. Would recommend this one as a gift for sure.”
$25 at Sephora
The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil
“This might be classified as more of a 'treatment' but I use it like a serum so here we go. I highly recommend keeping this around when you feel a breakout on the horizon. Sometimes I need a product that covers more surface area than spot treatments and zit patches, something that’s not too complex that I can layer with other products. For the last two years, I’ve been able to rely on this for my frequent hormonal breakouts or *gasp* if I wake up after a night out and realize I didn’t completely remove my makeup. She’s cheap. She’s effective. Some might say she’s a lil tacky, but she’s a team player who stays on task! It’s okay to layer her with vitamin C, but if your skin is sensitive and you’re unsure, just alternate.”
$9.80 at The Ordinary
Skin type: Normal/Dry
“My skin trends (and I say this with enormous quotes) “normal”, but tends to get dehydrated fairly easily. While I don’t get breakouts often, I am extremely prone to clogged pores (talk to me about how I once shocked my derm by getting milia all over my face!). Since my skin is on the dry side, I end up relying on a cocktail of moisturizers to keep my skin from feeling tight throughout the day.”
Waso Clear Mega-Hydrating Clear Moisturizer
“I tried this out at Sephora one day, and bought it based exclusively on the texture. Usually my skin approaches gel creams like a dog to dinnertime, which is to say it absorbs it in .2 seconds and then looks up with a face that says, 'Okay, where’s the rest?' This one is different! It has an oily gel cream texture, and it sticks around a little longer. It does have fragrance, which is typically an automatic no to a product for me, but this one hasn’t been irritating. I love using this as the last product right before I put on SPF and makeup for the day, because it gives you a nice, hydrated base. It is definitely still light, so in winter”
$38 at Sephora
Second, Third, and Fourth Moisturizers
A brief note on La Roche Posay: I love this brand because they consistently make very functional products at good prices, and also, you can actually purchase them in a drugstore. They make a lot of solid moisturizers, but here are three of my favorites, ranked from most-appropriate-for-daytime to most-appropriate-for-a-skin-apocalypse.
La Roche Posay
La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Moisturizer, and La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5
La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer (Thin): "The double repair is an incredibly standard, reputable moisturizer. This moisturizer doesn’t give dramatic results, nor does it disappoint you, it just moisturizes your skin, brightens it up a little (thanks to niacinamide), and… that’s it. It’s a perfect daytime moisturizer, and I bring it with me while traveling when I need to rely on less products. Sometimes, all you want is a moisturizer you don’t have to think much about."
$19.99 at La Roche Posay
$29.99 at La Roche Posay
$14.99 at La Roche Posay
La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Night Moisturizer (Thicker): "I got this when I was desperate on vacation after a surf lesson, wherein I got out of the water, looked in the rental car mirror, and saw 3hrs of sun and salt water had given me the skin of a grisled, lifelong sailor. It would simply not do. I found this in a CVS, and it’s such a lovely, velvet moisturizer. This is the one to pick if you need something a little heavier than a daytime moisturizer, and it layers beautifully. In the winter I’ll even use this as a daytime moisturizer (but don’t tell Mr. La Roche Posay!).”
La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 (Thickest): "This has a WILD texture. It comes out very thick and you will probably think "No, I should not be putting this on my face." But, as you rub it in, it gets thinner and more runny. I use this anytime my skin needs some repair, (i.e. in winter or after tretinoin), and wake up with skin that actually looks like it repaired overnight. This moisturizer undoes your mistakes! And it’s $15! What's not to love?!"
Go-To Skincare Face Hero
$34 at Sephora
“There are a few things to know about oils: they cannot moisturize your skin (they can soften skin, and act as an occlusive to trap in hydrating ingredients, but they cannot draw water to your skin), they should be the final step in your routine (they’ll prevent *mostly* anything applied after from penetrating the skin), and boy can they clog your pores if you aren’t careful (if you’re interested in learning more on oils, The Cut has a great article
). I have tried many, many oils, but this is the only one I’m going to recommend to you, and here is why: it’s a great price per bottle, it gives you the glow and softening you expect from an oil, and is the only (!) one that hasn’t clogged my pores, no matter how much I put on. I use this near-daily now, and it hasn’t clogged a pore yet. ”
Courtney is a brand designer living in Austin. You can find her posting about dogs and several attempts to leave her house @courtneyleonard (ig) and @courteroy (twitter).
Becca is professionally a software engineer, and personally a reality tv enthusiast living in Brooklyn. You can find her online @becckitt.
Want more skincare recommendations and reviews? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.