Oil-based moisturizers are the perfect antidote for dehydrated and cracked skin. They work great to replenish moisture and restore the skin’s natural barrier. That’s why most experts recommend having one in your beauty arsenal for those times when your skin craves hydration, like during the harsh winter months. We scoured the internet and pulled together a list of the best oil-based moisturizers. They’re filled with oils and skin-loving ingredients that’ll give you an intense hydration boost.
What are oil-based moisturizers?
If you’ve ever wondered how to tell if your moisturizer is oil-based or water-based, look no further than the ingredients list. If the first ingredient is water, you are holding a water-based moisturizer in your hand. On the other hand, if the first ingredient is an oil (for example, jojoba or rosehip oil), then it’s an oil-based moisturizer. They most often come in the form of ointments, body butter, or thick creams, and the difference between them is solely in the amount of oil in the product. Oil-based moisturizers also contain mostly occlusives and emollients, while water-based moisturizers focus more on humectants.
Who should use them?
Oil-based moisturizers are ideal for dehydrated skin that has a damaged barrier or lacks sebum. That’s because they’re effective in retaining moisture and keeping the skin well hydrated. Most oils are occlusives and create a protective film that reduces the amount of water that evaporates from the top layer of the skin. They’re also packed with a wealth of nourishing fatty acids and minerals that strengthen the natural moisture barrier, which is often compromised in people with dry, sensitive skin.
Moreover, if your skin is itchy, flaky, showing aging signs, or struggling with eczema, you’re a good candidate for oil-based moisturizers. Their softening properties provide instant relief and smooth fine lines.
However, there is one con about oil-based moisturizers. They’re not suitable for oily or acne-prone skin, as they can potentially exacerbate oiliness and clog pores. Still, some lightweight oil-based formulas are available that are specifically designed to be non-comedogenic.
The best oil-based moisturizers
One Love Organics Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm
This versatile moisturizer arguably claims the top spot on our list. To begin with, it incorporates a blend of oils (coconut, soy, and jojoba) that impart skin a silky touch and infuses it with antioxidants to combat the harmful effects of free radicals. Not stopping there, the inclusion of orange wax and mango butter smooths out wrinkles and relieves dryness without greasy residues. The gentle balm-to-oil formula is proudly Ecocert-certified and crafted with organic ingredients sans unnecessary fillers and stabilizers. As if that weren’t enough, the multi-tasking wonder serves as a makeup remover, a conditioning mask, and an ultra-rich moisturizer.
Elta MD Intense Moisturizer
One pea-size amount of this water-free moisturizer does wonders for irritated or post-op skin and works for both the face and body alike. The formula contains only two ingredients (petrolatum and paraffin) that share three common traits: a moisture-sealing barrier, protection against external irritants, and ease for chapped skin. The best thing is that you can feel the relief as soon as you apply it to the skin; the formula melts on contact and absorbs immediately. However, given its thick and heavy texture, it might be better for nighttime use to avoid interfering with your SPF or foundation. Also, products like these don’t necessarily add moisture as much as they help lock it in, so you should use a humectant moisturizer beforehand to get the best of both worlds.
CeraVe Healing Ointment
CeraVe Healing Ointment is our favorite affordable alternative for the above option. Similarly, it addresses those dealing with a dehydrated complexion, eczema, or redness or who want to recover their skin after a cosmetic procedure. Because it’s an ointment, this formula has a thicker and greasier texture than your regular moisturizer. Its main job is to provide intense hydration and create a protective barrier on your skin, making sure moisture stays put. It’s all thanks to the combination of petrolatum, mineral oil, and dimethicone, known as occlusives, and the best at doing those mentioned above. There’s more about this one: It also contains three types of ceramides and cholesterol, which are natural components of your skin’s protective layer.
Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow
This one is made in a base raspberry seed oil, a potent source of omega fatty acids that help soothe dryness. But what steals the spotlight is a blend of vitamin C and turmeric, two brightening ingredients that boost radiance and impart a natural glow. The formula does everything from moisturizing, correcting uneven tone, relieving flareups, and neutralizing redness. And it works amazingly on all types of skin, including those that are sensitive or prone to acne.
SkinCeuticals Hydra Balm
SkinCeuticals Hydra Balm has an impressive array of ingredients as a base, starting with petrolatum, which seals your skin with a water-protective film. Next, the formula boasts rosehip oil, rich in fatty acids with softening effects, followed by squalane, a sebum-like compound that locks moisture. This hydrating balm is great for everyone with sensitized or really dry skin, and the fact that it doesn’t contain alcohol makes it even better. There’s one thing: The balm feels a bit greasy and thick when applied, but it absorbs quite fast.
Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil
This product strikes the perfect balance between a cream and an oil, boasting a formula that can be used from head to toe. Whether it’s your hair, face, eye area, lips, cuticles, or elbows, there’s simply no place that this creamy oil cannot soften and nourish. It does it all thanks to its safflower oil base, kernel oil, and avocado oil, all of which are abundant sources of fatty acids that play a crucial role in maintaining healthy skin. The shea and mango butters not only give the product a rich texture but also make it even more moisturizing. Most people love how this product starts as a cream and melts into an oil when massaged into the skin, resulting in a beautifully plumped and smooth complexion.
Herbivore Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil
Dry skin loves anything squalane-based, and this oil is a go-to whether your skin is flakey, red, inflamed, or even blemish-prone. In addition to olive-derived squalane that ensures rich moisture and a healthy lit glow, it features hemp seed oil which is abundant in omega fatty acids and known to soothe and alleviate dryness. Other ingredients worth mentioning are ashwagandha and shiitake (a herb and mushroom), that calm stressed-out skin and provide antioxidant benefits against harmful free radicals. A miracle in a bottle, Herbivore Emerald Glow Oil nourishes without clogging pores, feels lightweight and absorbs quickly sans greasy residues. That means even oily-skinned people prone to acne can use it.
La Mer Moisturizing Cream
Posh, intense, and restorative are the three words that describe the iconic La Mer Moisturizing Cream. At the core of the formula lies algae extract with moisturizing, calming, and detoxifying benefits, followed by mineral oil and petrolatum. This trio gives the cream an ultra-rich consistency that combats dryness and smooths out wrinkles, which is why it has earned the cult status for those with mature skin. Plus, the formula is loaded with protective antioxidants and fortifying minerals, and it’s suitable for both day and nighttime use. To ensure optimal application, warm the product between your palms to thin it out a bit and make it spread with ease. Price aside, there’s nothing not to love about this one.