Experts say the best facial moisturizers contain hydrating ingredients appropriate for your skin type: lightweight emollients, such as glycerin and silicones for oily skin and denser emollients, such as shea butter, cocoa butter and various essential oils for dry skin. Other beneficial ingredients include antioxidants (which protect skin from environmental damage), niacinamide (which increases fatty acid levels in the skin and prevents water loss), glycerin and hyaluronic acid (both of which are humectants that draw water to the skin). For daytime use, a moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF) is essential to protect skin from sun damage that leads to skin cancer and premature aging. Experts suggest looking for one that contains avobenzone, Mexoryl SX, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide for broad-spectrum protection. (For more information on those ingredients, please see the ConsumerSearch report on sunscreen.)
Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer SPF 15, Normal (*Est. $10 for 6 oz.) tops our list of facial moisturizers because it has a lightweight texture and is loaded with good-for-skin ingredients. Paula Begoun, author of the book "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter without Me," says it "contains an impressive amount of niacinamide and antioxidant vitamin E." It also contains stabilized avobenzone for broad spectrum UV protection. All of these ingredients work together to prevent skin damage and early signs of aging. It contains fragrance, but reviewers say it's hardly noticeable.
Olay Complete has won an Allure magazine Readers' Choice award for two consecutive years. Readers say it's "so lightweight it feels like nothing at all." It was also chosen as Readers' Choice Moisturizer with SPF for both the 2011 and 2012 TotalBeauty.com Awards. Users say it provides just enough moisture without feeling greasy. The face lotion is also available in formulations for sensitive and combination/oily skin types, but they aren't reviewed as often.
Olay Regenerist UV Defense Regenerating Lotion SPF 15 (*Est. $22 for 2.5 oz.)
If you prefer a fragrance-free formula, Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM (*Est. $14 for 3 oz.) is an excellent option. It lacks the antioxidants found in Olay's Regenerating Lotion, but it's loaded with other beneficial ingredients -- including ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. It also provides broad-spectrum UV protection. Users say the formula is "just thick enough that it supplies excellent moisture but not so much so that it sits on your face like a mask." Begoun says it has a "lightweight lotion texture that feels elegant." Cerave Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM (*Est. $13 for 3 oz.) is very similar but lacks sunscreen. While both formulas are great options, Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer SPF 15 has a slight lead in reviews.