Keeping the skin on your face hydrated is SO important. Hydration = life! If you’re looking for your new holy grail face moisturizer from the best ethical beauty brands, you’ve come to the right place. These natural face moisturizers will keep your skin ultra-hydrated, flake-free and so soft. Whether you’re looking for a luxury face cream or a more budget-friendly choice, we have you covered!
By: Lisa Fennessy
If you know anything about me, you know I love my face oils. I will talk until I’m blue in the face about Laurel’s Sun Serum, Maya Chia’s The Straight A and True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil but no matter what the oil, there is something all oils have lacking in common: HYDRATION.
Face oils v. moisturizers
Here’s the thing: oil and water do not mix. I learned this lesson the first time I tried to make salad dressing. And, it’s the same with skincare.
To make an oil + water formula, it has to be what’s called “emulsified” (forcing the oil and water to mix). This in turn creates a lotion or a cream. And because of this, creams and lotions can be extremely hydrating for our skin in ways that oils can’t.
The Mayo Clinic recommends using moisturizers because “dry skin shrivels plump skin cells, which can lead to premature fine lines and wrinkles. And although moisturizers can’t prevent wrinkles, they may temporarily mask tiny lines and creases.”
But not all face moisturizers are created equal. I grabbed this list of what a moisturizer should do from this NIH paper and I also added a few of my own requirements too.
An ideal moisturizer should…
- Reduce and prevent water loss, often referred to as TEWL or transepidermal water loss.
- Restore lipid barrier and enhance the skin’s moisturizing retention mechanisms.
- Be ethically produced.
- Be nontoxic/natural.
- Absorb immediately providing beneficial hydration.
- Accommodate your budget.
Above all, I really want my face cream to deliver and retain MOISTURE. So, after years of testing, I’m detailing out my current faves that do just that. I’ve broken down these recs into 4 different categories (best lightweight, best medium weight, best serious and best drugstore find) listing just ONE top pick in each. This was so hard but I’m here for it.
I also wanted to include both luxury picks for those of us who enjoy investing in skincare and more budget friendly picks for all of us who want the shoes, the bag, the makeup and the skincare too.
Best natural face moisturizers
Let’s start with a bit of a caveat: there is no one cream that the TOG team uses on its own. Each of us always adds a a serum underneath or maybe a nourishing oil under or over a cream for maximum results. We love playing around to find that perfect combo. That said, here are my top picks (with consensus from the team!) on the best natural face moisturizers to add to your routine.
Best lightweight natural face moisturizer
Osmia Founder Dr. Sarah Villafranco formulates with skin sensitivities in mind, and this cream moisturizer (which was recently reformulated to be even MORE hydrating) is awesome for reactive skin.
I love that it’s light and absorbs incredibly fast, but also provides ample hydration. It’s formulated in an aloe vera base, which in and of itself is anti-inflammatory and soothing. Then Sarah adds in organic jojoba and apricot kernel oils to soften the skin as well as sweet almond oil and vitamin E to help replenish and strengthen the skin barrier.
There are a couple of essential oils in this formula (rose, chamomile and neroli), but they’re at such a low concentration (3/100ths of one percent total) that they shouldn’t irritate any skin type. In fact, you can even use this cream over dermatitis-prone skin (though use it sparingly).
A great pick for sensitive, reactive, normal skin and perioral dermatitis.
Best medium weight natural face moisturizer
Where wildcrafted meets clinical, this pink, moisture-boosting, aloe-rich cream is formulated with three clinically proven forms of skin-brightening vitamin C and line-smoothing wild chokecherry.
I tried this cream on a whim and was distracted all day by how hydrated my face felt. I had actually tried a few new products at the same time so then I spent the following week dismantling this rogue routine, isolating each product in an attempt to figure out which one was responsible for my tacky, plump, bouncy, mega-moisturized skin (that stayed that way all day)—and turns out, it was THIS!
I also love how lightweight this cream is. It’s like I get to enjoy all the hydration without any of the grease or weight. Plus, let’s not ignore all that added vitamin c to help brighten.
Hand-harvested in Jackson Hole, I love the fresh citrus scent and the way my skin feels after using Alpyn Beauty’s Triple C Brightening Bounce Cream. Also, I suspect this is a fantastic choice for people who live in higher altitudes too. I’m 100% obsessed.
Best SERIOUS natural face moisturizer
The face cream to end all face creams! This cream is so great at hydrating and retaining hydration, me and Nicolle have been sending it to everyone we know, lol. (We really have though).
What’s the deal? Well, one of Prima’s co-founders is one of the former owners of The Honest Company and he comes super connected. They hooked up with this lab that cracked the code when it comes to making creams, because I’m obsessed with every cream they’ve formulated including Skin Therapy and R+R. The texture and hydration are super nourishing without being greasy.
Texture aside, Prima’s Afterglow Vegan Collagen Cream contains pure, whole plant hemp extract to work synergistically with a blend of hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen and Ayurvedic adaptogens for hydrated, restored skin. Love this as an extra hydration layer during the day or before I go to bed.
Best budget natural face moisturizers
Because, let’s be honest, sometimes you need something right here, right now—and sometimes you need to grab something at your local Target. Both these picks are more accessible and easy to find.
More face moisturizing favorites!
Prima’s Afterglow Vegan Collagen Cream is wicked hydrating. It contains pure, whole plant hemp extract to work synergistically with a blend of hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen and Ayurvedic adaptogens for hydrated, restored skin.
Osmia’s Purely Simple Face Cream is great pick for sensitive, reactive, normal skin and perioral dermatitis. One look at the hundreds of reviews and you will be sold!