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The Best Moisturizers for Mature Skin, According to Dermatologists

Photo: George Marks/Getty Images

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 40s and 50s. That’s because, with age, your 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. The best, according to the pros, 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.) Read on for all their favorite moisturizers for mature skin — and although we’re mainly talking about moisturizers for the skin on your face, there are a few options specifically for bodies and lips, too.

Best overall moisturizer for mature skin

$16

According to Dr. Debra Jaliman, an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, “Cerave Moisturizing Cream is a very basic, inexpensive product that is great for dry skin,” because it contains glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid in order to deliver excellent hydration. “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 acne-prone mature skin

As we age, “using gentle products made from high-quality ingredients with less irritants, fragrances, and additives becomes more important,” explains Diakow. This moisturizer from Cetaphil, a brand you can find on the physical (or virtual) shelves of many retailers, came recommended as one of the gentlest you can buy. It will “hydrate skin without clogging pores, can be used year-round, and is tolerated well by almost all skin types,” says Dr. Francesca Fusco. King agrees: It’s noncomedogenic and packed with hydrating ingredients, including moisturizing glycerin and hyaluronic acid, skin-softening glyceryl stearate and sweet almond oil, and vitamin E, an antioxidant that fights UV damage.

Best drugstore moisturizer for mature skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost
$16

Zeichner also loves this hyaluronic acid–packed Hydro Boost Gel Cream from Neutrogena, which “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.” The lightweight, gel-based cream has also earned a spot in our roundups of the best moisturizers for dry skin and the best moisturizers for oily skin, making it a good choice for many different skin types.

Best moisturizer for itchy mature skin

“Many patients with mature skin come to the office complaining of itching or irritation,” says Gonzalez, who explains that is a sign the skin barrier is compromised. For these patients, she recommends moisturizers that contain ceramides, which are lipids that work to repair and protect the skin barrier. While it’s not cheap, Gonzalez says SkinCeuticals AGE Interrupter is one of the most effective moisturizers you can buy to treat itchy mature skin because, in addition to ceramides, it also contains blueberry extract, which “acts as an antioxidant that helps to both strengthen the skin and prevent wrinkles.” It also “helps diminish the appearance of crepey skin, which makes it a great option for aging skin,” she adds.

Best moisturizer for uneven mature skin

According to Jaliman, the powerhouse ingredient niacinamide “helps even pigment and skin color.” In addition to niacinamide, this fragrance-free option from Olay also contains glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and aloe which is super-soothing to the skin.

Best moisturizer for oily mature skin

She also recommends this oil-free, noncomedogenic moisturizer from Peter Thomas Roth that will give your skin a glow, without getting it greasy.

Best moisturizer for severely dry mature skin

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, due to the ceramide and antioxidant-infused formula.

Best moisturizer for mildly dry mature skin

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 the SkinCeuticals product above, 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.”

Best moisturizer with retinol for mature skin

“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.” Finding products that will boost the natural production of collagen will result in skin that looks and feels tighter. One ingredient that can help with collagen production is retinol, because the vitamin A derivative works to stimulate collagen production as well as the growth of new skin cells. 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.”

Best (less-expensive) moisturizer with retinol for mature skin

$17

According to Zeichner, “retinol is perhaps the best-studied ingredient we have over-the-counter to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles” and “help rebuild and strengthen mature skin.” He likes this affordable cream from RoC, which also contains retinol (though it does not list an exact amount).

Best brightening moisturizer with retinol for mature skin

“I always recommend vitamin C and retinol for mature skin,” says Dr. Melissa Doft, the founder of Doft Plastic Surgery, because the two ingredients together have been shown to increase collagen and brighten your complexion. This face lotion contains both, as well as green tea and niacinamide for extra brightening, making it “the perfect choice for aging skin.” Whether you go with this or any other retinol-infused moisturizer, it is important to know that retinol makes the skin more photosensitive. So if you aren’t already, you should apply sunscreen every day after using a moisturizer with retinol.

Best tinted moisturizer with SPF for mature skin

Speaking of sunscreen, 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. Plus, “it has a beautiful universal tint that can blur pigment irregularities, blotchiness, or fine lines, which are common concerns in mature skin.” She recommends using one pump for the face, one pump for the neck and decolletage, and one pump for the back of the hands.

Best lightweight moisturizer for mature skin

Doft loves the “the texture and light hydrating feel” of Tatcha’s Water Cream. She adds that it’s safe for all skin types and an ideal choice during warmer months when you might want to avoid a heavier cream. Its ingredients include Japanese wild rose, which “helps reduce pores,” according to Doft, and algae to “help increase radiance.”

Best brightening, nighttime moisturizer for mature skin

While there are several nighttime moisturizers on this list (all those with retinol, as well as the Cetaphil, are meant to be used in the evening), if you’re looking for a brightening moisturizer to use before bed, look no further then the niacinamide-infused EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer. Dr. Patricia Wexler, the founder of the Wexler Dermatology Group, says that this is ideal for mature skin because it will improve “skin color and tone, repair and restore elasticity and vitality, and strengthen the moisture barrier,” all while you catch up on your beauty rest. It’s also “oil-free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, and safe for sensitive skin,” she adds.

Best K-Beauty moisturizer for mature skin

According to Dr. Kenneth Howe, the key to “creating a great moisturizer for mature skin means finding the ideal balance between how much the product moisturizes the skin and how easily it spreads on.” He says that K-beauty brand Amore Pacific’s Time Response Cream is particularly successful in striking this balance due to its silky texture. The price point, he admits, can be prohibitive, but promises “you can’t find a richer night cream — the deep emollient effects go a long way toward justifying the price.” Not only that, but the “trademarked Chrono-T green tea extract adds anti-aging activity, as well,” adds Howe.

Best (less-expensive) K-Beauty moisturizer for mature skin

For a more affordable K-beauty option, Howe suggests Sulwhasoo’s Hydro-aid Moisturizing Soothing Cream — which happens to be his mother-in-law’s favorite product — due to its rich hydrating formula that skin can still drink in with ease. “Liriope platyphylla (sounds like a character from Greek mythology, but it’s common name is lily turf) and ginseng sprouts give the product its moisturizing properties, while birch sap extract soothes inflamed skin,” he explains.

Best French moisturizer for mature skin

“This French moisturizer is a favorite in my office,” says Doft. With a combination of low- and high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid (for better penetration), aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamin E, it is an excellent choice for dry and mature skin. “Everyone should have it in their medicine cabinet,” she says.

Best moisturizing serum for mature skin

This moisturizing liquid serum “specifically targets mature and photoaged skin” with a blend of skin-replenishing proteins called glycosaminoglycans, which help tighten skin, restore its firmness and elasticity, and decrease the appearance of wrinkles, explains Gonzalez. “I make my mother use this every single day,” she adds.

Best body moisturizer for hydrating mature skin

“Over time, the skin’s sebaceous glands produce less natural oils to lubricate, rendering skin dryer and itchier,” explains Diakow. For this reason, those with mature skin should look for creams or ointments with a higher oil content than regular lotions when shopping for body moisturizers. Diakow says that this La Roche-Posay moisturizing balm has a “rich, luxurious feel that immediately rehydrates the skin,” and contains niacinamide that “works to repair the skin’s moisture barrier.” It’s also formulated with prebiotic thermal water, which “provides nutrition for the diverse bacterial flora that enriches and balances our skin.” Diakow told us that the best time to apply it is right after a brief lukewarm shower, so it really seals moisture into the skin.

Best body moisturizer for exfoliating mature skin

This slightly cheaper Eucerin body lotion that King likes is formulated with glycerin, shea butter, and ceramides to “effectively deliver 48 hours of hydration.” It is also enriched with urea to gently chemically exfoliate. According to King, “It smooths and softens rough and bumpy skin,” especially in dry areas like the elbows, knees, and heels.

Best lip moisturizer for mature skin

When moisturizing mature skin, it is important not to forget your lips, because “this delicate area is prone to dryness, thinning, sun damage, and precancerous growths,” explains Diakow. She told us she particularly loves Vanicream’s line for using on mature skin, because the products are formulated without parabens, lanolin, formaldehyde, dyes, or fragrances, making them ideal for “mature skin that tends to be easily irritated.” This Vanicream Lip Protectant not only “soothes and calms dry lips,” according to Diakow, but also provides water-resistant, broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection, so it’s great to keep close by for multiple reapplications.