Combination skin that doesn’t take kindly to rich, thick creams doesn’t change just because you hit a certain age, but isn’t this the time in life when you’re supposed to be settling into bed every night with a face slathered in ultra-intense night cream? Not if you suffer from an overabundance of oil and breakouts.
While overactive sebaceous glands can ward off wrinkles, having an oily T-zone simply doesn’t mix well with denser moisturizers. Your best bet: water-gel moisturizers. Thanks to their water-based, semisolid gel formulation, they feel lightweight, absorb quickly, and spread easily, yet they still deliver active ingredients that hydrate effectively — minus any pore clogging. Here are seven of our favorites.
H2O+ Beauty Oasis Hydrating Treatment
Not surprisingly, one of the pioneering brands of water-gel moisturizers remains at the forefront with a formula that not only quenches parched skin, but also improves the skin barrier’s water-retaining function. Plus, it absorbs on contact, leaving no traces of stick. Available at h20plus.com, $38.
Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream
Slightly denser than most water-gels, this subtly rose-fragranced moisturizer (it contains soothing rosewater) imbibes skin with hyaluronic acid via time-released hydropatches, a microscopic delivery system that balances skin’s hydration levels by attracting and sealing in moisture throughout the day. Available at fresh.com, $40.
Dr. Brandt Hydro Biotic Recovery Sleeping Mask
Though it doesn’t have the word water in its name, this sleeping mask delivers plenty of hydration to troubled skin in a super-lightweight, lightly lavender-scented gel. Even better: It harnesses probiotics to help balance skin’s naturally occurring flora, aiding skin in combating free radicals and calming irritation. Available at drbrandtskincare.com, $52.
Glamglow Waterburst Hydrated Glow Moisturizer
This weightless water-gel’s cool blue hue is reminiscent of a refreshing dip in the pool, but the formula’s innovation is what truly delivers: Moisture-lock technology dispenses different sizes of hyaluronic acid molecules to effectively quench skin for up to 72 hours. Available at sephora.com, $49.
Murad Nutrient-Charged Water Gel
Skin immediately feels bouncy and supple after applying this feather-light pink gel, which contains five each of mature skin’s must-haves: peptides (to repair), vitamins (to hydrate and soothe), and minerals (to improve skin tone and texture). Available at murad.com, $60.
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream
Can a facial cream be refreshing? This one certainly is: Though it absorbs a bit slower than some others, its formula packs in 30 percent hyaluronic acid to not only hydrate skin, but actually pull water vapor from your surroundings and draw it into your skin for continuous hydration up to 72 hours. Bonus points for its ability to blur fine lines and wrinkles, too! Available at sephora.com, $52.
Dermalogica Calm Water Gel
Meant to act as a weightless barrier against environmental irritants for ultra-sensitive skin, this soothing gel uses hyaluronic acid to increase hydration (the brand claims a 109 percent increase after application) as it decreases skin’s water loss (by a purported 39 percent). Available at dermalogica.com, $48.