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Editor’s Picks: 17 of the Best Gel Moisturizers for Lightweight, Fast-Absorbing and Non-Greasy Hydration

They’re not just for oily skin.
Best gel moisturizer

If most moisturizers feel too heavy on your skin and leave you looking shiny—or even worse, broken out—then it’s time to lighten up. A gel moisturizer is the answer for anyone seeking non-greasy hydration that won’t clog your pores and that you can easily layer.

Unlike creams, gels are high in humectants (such as aloe and glycerin) and low in thicker occlusives (like oils and butters). This gives them a lightweight texture that absorbs into your skin right away, and is less likely to trigger acne. Compared to older formulations, you’ll also see fewer potential irritants, and more ingredients that soothe, brighten and repair in addition to hydrating.

Contrary to popular opinion, gels aren’t just for oily skin. Because they’re so weightless, they’re ideal to wear under sunscreens, face oils or even other moisturizers for an extra boost of hydration.

The Skincare Edit Recommends

Here are the best gel moisturizers on the market, why I chose them, and what you need to know about each one.

The Best Gel Moisturizers of 2021 (At a Glance)

  1. Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra Grape Water Gel Moisturizer
  2. Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel
  3. Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-Cream
  4. Plenaire Droplet Lightweight Moisture Gel
  5. Epicuren Aloe Vera Calming Gel
  6. Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer
  7. Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer
  8. The Inkey List Snow Mushroom Moisturizer
  9. Éminence Organic Skin Care Stone Crop Hydrating Gel
  10. Summer Fridays Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream
  11. Peach & Lily Glass Skin Water-Gel Moisturizer
  12. Tata Harper Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer
  13. OTZI Hydro Crystal Lightweight Gel Moisturizer
  14. COSRX Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream
  15. Dr. Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel
  16. Kinship Supermello Hydrating Gel Cream
  17. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Balance Oil-Control Gel Cream

What to Look for in a Gel Moisturizer

For best results, I recommend using gel moisturizers that meet the following criteria:

  • High in humectants: Gels should be primarily comprised of ingredients that help your skin to attract water. Glycerin, aloe, panthenol, gluconolactone and hyaluronic acid are all examples of humectants.
  • Low in occlusives: Ingredients like oils, butters and fatty alcohols are occlusive and form a barrier on the skin. Gels are meant to be light and fast-absorbing, so these should be in lower concentrations.
  • Low in silicones: Since they, too, create a film on top of your skin (which can trap acne-causing debris and slow down cell renewal), silicones are best avoided. I look for gels without silicones in the first five ingredients, which typically represent about 80% of the product.
  • Low in PUFAs: Oils that are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are prone to rapid oxidation, which can generate aging free radicals. I skip any products with PUFAs in the first five ingredients.
  • Low in fragrance: The number one culprit behind skin irritations is fragrance. If you can’t avoid it altogether, at least go for formulas with fragrance at the end of the ingredients list.
  • Low in alcohol: While fatty alcohols are okay, drying forms (like denatured alcohol) should not be present at the top of an ingredients list, since they can strip too much moisture out of your skin. 

The Best Gel Moisturizers of 2021 (Reviews)

Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra Grape Water Gel Moisturizer
Benton Aloe Propolis Soothing Gel
Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-Cream
Plenaire Droplet Lightweight Moisture Gel
Epicuren Aloe Vera Calming Gel
Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer
Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer
The Inkey List Snow Mushroom Moisturizer
Eminence Organic Skin Care Stone Crop Hydrating Gel
Summer Fridays Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream
Peach Lily Glass Skin Water-Gel Moisturizer
Tata Harper Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer
OTZI Hydro Crystal Lightweight Gel Moisturizer
COSRX Green Tea Aqua Soothing Gel Cream
Dr. Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel
Kinship Supermello Hydrating Gel Cream
Glossier Priming Moisturizer Balance Oil-Control Gel Cream

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