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Regardless of age, everyone wants their skin to look glowy, radiant, and plump. But the moisturizer that worked so well in your 20s and 30s might not meet the same needs your skin has by the time you hit your 50s. That’s because, with age, skin begins to produce less oil and there is a breakdown of elastic and collagen fibers, according to Dr. Marla Diakow of Schweiger Dermatology Group. “The skin becomes drier and thinner with more laxity,” she explains. Generally, this means a proper skin-care regimen needs to include “products that strengthen and thicken the dermis, provide moisture retention and barrier renewal, and are not too harsh or abrasive,” she says.
To find out which moisturizers are the best for all types of mature skin (and budgets), we asked Diakow and nine more dermatologists about the ones they recommend.
What we’re looking for
A few things happen to skin as it ages. Because collagen begins to break down and skin produces less oil, new skin concerns start to crop up. That can range from dullness to wrinkling to hyperpigmentation. A good moisturizer can be helpful at addressing all of these concerns, provided you have the right combination of ingredients. According to our experts, the best moisturizers for mature skin — whether it’s for your face, body, or lips — include ingredients such as hydrating hyaluronic acid, skin-barrier-protecting ceramides, brightening niacinamide, and wrinkle-fighting retinol. Not every moisturizer will have all of them — and not every person will need all of them, either — but the experts are in agreement that these are the most common ingredients that will give the most noticeable results. We’ve noted which products contain them, with many containing a combination.
A little more about retinol. We’ve noted when it’s included in a formula because if you’re already using a prescription retinoid, there’s no need to double up with your moisturizer. It also requires you to invest extra TLC in your skin. First, you need to use sunscreen when adding a retinol into your routine because it causes skin to be more light-sensitive. Starting a retinoid can also trigger an adjustment period for skin, marked by redness, dryness, and flaking. In other words, things tend to get worse before they get better. Lots of retinoid formulas — particularly the ones mentioned on this list — contain nourishing ingredients to address these side effects, like glycerin, shea butter, or oils. Despite the added steps to a skincare routine, it’s still the most-recommended by dermatologists for brightening skin and smoothing wrinkles. The vitamin A derivative speeds up cell turnover and encourages collagen production, which diminishes the look of fine lines and wrinkles and also helps give skin that bright, plump glow.
Consistency is also important when picking a product. Formulas designed specifically for mature skin types tend to have a richer texture — we’ve noted whether a moisturizer is light like a serum or ultrarich and thick, so you can pick one that fits your needs and routine.
Best overall moisturizer for mature skin
Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
When thinking about the best moisturizer for most people, Cerave came up a number of times. It’s a basic, inexpensive option that contains good-for-skin ingredients like glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid — all of which help to hydrate the skin. It’s my personal go-to for everyday moisturizing, and though it has a rich, creamy texture, it never feels heavy or oily. “As we age, our hyaluronic acid levels decrease,” which can cause mature skin to become itchy or irritated, explains Dr. Noelani Gonzalez. “This moisturizer helps replenish hyaluronic acid” — which Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, calls “a hero ingredient,” especially for mature skin. Dr. Hadley King, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, adds that hyaluronic acid “can hold over 1,000 times its weight in water,” which is what makes it such an effective skin hydrator and plumper. In addition to being packed with key ingredients, this moisturizer is also fragrance-free, making it suitable for those with sensitive skin, and it doesn’t feel greasy, Gonzalez says.
Best moisturizer for oily mature skin
Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Lightweight gel cream
Even though mature skin tends to lose moisture as you age, some people continue to have oily skin throughout their life. We’ve written about the Hydro Boost Gel Cream from Neutrogena a bunch before. It made our best-seller list more than ten times and has been dubbed the best overall moisturizer for oily skin. The lightweight moisturizer is alcohol- and oil-free and noncomedogenic but manages to be deeply moisturizing thanks to ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. It’s also a dermatologist favorite. Zeichner loves this hyaluronic acid–packed Hydro Boost Gel Cream from Neutrogena because it “acts like a sponge to pull water into the outer skin layer to hydrate and plump and even improve the appearance of some fine lines.”
Best moisturizer for dry mature skin
Ingredients: Ceramides, fatty acids, natural cholesterol | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Ultrarich cream
According to Dr. Julie Russak, the founder of the Russak Dermatology Group, aging causes “our cells to become less robust and dry up and shrink.” As a result, “what we see are lines and dry skin.” SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 is a lipid replenisher that “restores the natural physiological composition of our cell wall” so that “younger, healthier cells” can take over. “You can literally feel the ingredients quench depleted skin,” she promises. This is because of the ceramide- and antioxidant-infused formula. “This is full of essential lipids like ceramides, fatty acids, and natural cholesterol that all improve the skin barrier and provide deep — but not heavy — moisture, improving texture, fullness, and uneven skin tones,” adds dermatologist Annie Chiu. “It also contains vitamin E, which supports cell reproduction, helps skin repair itself, and defends skin against environmental damage.” Dr. Marisa Garshick is also a fan and recommends using it if you’re using a retinoid. “It does a great job keeping the skin moisturized,” she says, “enabling people to better tolerate their retinoid.” It’s also a favorite of Dr. Corey L. Hartman’s patients. “I don’t usually recommend something so expensive for just a moisturizer, but once they try it, their skin soaks it up, and they just can’t get enough.”
Best (less expensive) moisturizer for dry mature skin
Ingredients: Contains hyaluronic acid | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
According to King, “The most effective moisturizers combine both humectants and emollients” — or ingredients that attract and lock in moisture. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream, she says, is packed with both, including hyaluronic acid (“a powerful humectant”), shea butter (“a great emollient”), and glycerin (which acts as both). While effective at quenching dry skin, its ingredients are slightly less intense than the ceramides and fatty acids found in SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore, making it a good option for those experiencing mild dryness. Buyers should know this cream has a light fragrance, which means it may not be the best bet for those with sensitive skin. But if you don’t mind fragrance, King promises this one is “light and very nice.” If you do happen to be sensitive to fragrance though, there’s also a fragrance-free option.
Best moisturizer for sensitive mature skin
Ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, pro-xylane | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
French pharmacy brand La Roche-Posay is known for its sensitive-skin formulations and antioxidant-packed products. This moisturizer is designed specifically for aging skin and contains a blend of glycerin, shea butter, and pro-xylane, a sugar-derived molecule that behaves similarly to hyaluronic acid but has the added benefit of increasing collagen in the skin. This is a big benefit for aging skin, which produces less collagen over time. It’s a favorite of dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal, who likes that it is deeply moisturizing while targeting fine lines and wrinkles.
Best less expensive moisturizer for sensitive mature skin
Ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
If you want something a bit cheaper, La Roche-Posay’s popular Double Repair moisturizer is also a good option. It doesn’t contain fragrance (a known irritant) and contains a host of the ingredients recommended by the dermatologists we spoke to, including ceramides, glycerin, and niacinamide. It’s a little lighter than the Substiane Riche, but still has a luxurious, rich texture. Garshick likes this moisturizer for sensitive skin types in particular, noting the soothing, skin-barrier supporting ingredients. It also has an SPF of 30, which offers an added layer of protection and helps to protect skin from aging further.
Best moisturizer for uneven mature skin
Ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, peptides | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
For anyone that struggles with dark marks or spots of hyperpigmentation, niacinamide is a must. The powerhouse ingredient helps to stop the transfer of melanin pigments to skin cells (this shows up as hyperpigmentation on the skin) and also acts as a humectant, preventing additional moisture loss in the skin. This moisturizer from Olay uses niacinamide as its hero ingredient. It’s also a favorite of my mom, who says it has noticeably transformed her skin texture and plumpness. It also contains glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and aloe — which work together to hydrate and soothe skin.
Best tinted moisturizer for mature skin
Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, SPF 25 | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
If you’d like to add a bit of coverage to smooth out the skin, this one from Clinique is a good option. It’s made with hyaluronic acid, has an SPF of 25, and comes in seven shades. The moisturizer is light enough that you don’t need an exact color match but still provides that blurring effect. “It stays in place once applied and doesn’t get caught up in fine lines, which would cause a creasing look or emphasize fine lines,” says makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. “It still looks breathable, dewy, and youthful.” It’s important to note that dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30, so if you’re considering wearing, you should still apply SPF as normal.
Best moisturizer with SPF for mature skin
Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, SPF 44 | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Lightweight lotion
If you want your SPF and tinted moisturizer in one, Diakow says that this product is among the best for daily use as a combination moisturizer and sunscreen because it not only provides “broad-spectrum UV protection using only safe and strong mineral ingredients” but it also contains hyaluronic acid. “It has a beautiful universal tint that can blur pigment irregularities, blotchiness, or fine lines, which are common concerns in mature skin,” she says. She recommends using one pump for the face, one pump for the neck and decolletage, and one pump for the back of the hands. Unlike the Clinique, it comes in a single shade, which makes it a more limited option if you have very light skin or a deeper skin tone.
Best moisturizer with retinol for mature skin
Ingredients: Bakuchiol | Retinol: Contains retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
“DEJ, or dermal-epidermal junction, is where we store collagen,” explains Russak, and “as we age, we produce this collagen less efficiently, so the skin loses its natural elasticity.” This cream from Revision Skincare, which Russak calls “all-in-one moisturizer that works overtime to hydrate the skin and address any visible signs of aging,” contains 0.25 percent retinol to increase cell turnover deep within the skin. “These newer cells reflect light much better, they look healthier, and in turn revive the skin to look brighter.” It also contains popular retinol-alternative bakuchiol, which is known for offering similar results sans irritation. Combined, bakuchiol enhances the effectiveness of retinol while still helping to minimize retinol’s skin-irritating effect.
Best (less expensive) moisturizer with retinol for mature skin
Ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, squalane | Retinol: Contains retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
For a drugstore alternative, Zeichner recommends this affordable night cream from RoC, which, in addition to retinol, contains hydrating ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, and squalane. For further exfoliation, it contains glycolic acid, a strong AHA that fades hyperpigmentation, fights acne, and also helps other ingredients to penetrate the skin more deeply. It’s an incredibly effective option and has tens of thousands of positive reviews, with many saying it works quickly and for a wide range of skin types.
Best nighttime moisturizer for mature skin
Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, niacinamide | Retinol: Contains retinol | Consistency: Lightweight cream
Most of your skin’s reparative work happens at night, so a dedicated nighttime moisturizer can be particularly effective for reaching your skin goals. Lal recommends this one from L’Oréal Paris, which contains retinol to help with fine lines and wrinkles, and niacinamide, which brightens skin tone overall. He also likes the inclusion of hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which he says makes the retinol more tolerable and less irritating.
Best moisturizing eye cream for mature skin
Ingredients: Peptides, growth factors, glycerin, vitamin C | Retinol: Does not contain retinol | Consistency: Rich cream
Because the skin around your eyes is so sensitive, it’s important to use a moisturizer designed specifically for that area. Dr. Ainah Tan likes this eye cream from Lumiere and often recommends it to her patients with mature skin. “Some have more sensitive skin around the eyes,” she explains, and this “does not rely on retinol-based ingredients, but other growth factors, to help with fine lines and wrinkles.” The formula also contains antioxidants and caffeine, “which will help reduce puffiness,” Tan adds.
Some other moisturizers we’ve written about
• Dr. Anne Chiu, dermatologist and founder of the Derm Institute
• Dr. Marla Diakow, dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group
• Dr. Marisa Garshick, dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology
• Dr. Noelani Gonzalez, dermatologist
• Dr. Corey L. Hartman, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology
• Dr. Hadley King, dermatologist
• Dr. Karan Lal, dermatologist
• Dr. Julie Russak, founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic
• Dr. Ainah U. Tan, dermatologist at Duly Health and Care
• Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mt. Sinai
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