• 10 Best Gel Moisturizers in 2022 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 1
  • 10 Best Gel Moisturizers in 2022 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 2
  • 10 Best Gel Moisturizers in 2022 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 3
  • 10 Best Gel Moisturizers in 2022 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 4
  • 10 Best Gel Moisturizers in 2022 (Dermatologist-Reviewed) 5

10 Best Gel Moisturizers in 2022 (Dermatologist-Reviewed)

Gel moisturizers are a particular favorite for people with oily and acne-prone skin because they're lightweight, non-greasy, and quick-absorbing. But they're also suitable for people with different skin types, too, be it dry, sensitive, or combination.


In this list, we've crafted the 10 best gel moisturizers that take into account a variety of skin types and needs. At the top of our list was Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel for its suitability for most skin types, lack of irritating ingredients, and lightweight, non-greasy formula. To read more on how to buy the right gel moisturizer for your skin, feel free to browse our handy Buying Guide reviewed by a board certified dermatologist.

Featured in this article

Dr. Lauren Levy
mybest US Editors
  • Last updated: 09-11-2022
Table of Contents

Who Should Use a Gel Moisturizer?

Who Should Use a Gel Moisturizer?

Gel moisturizers have a water-based formula free from oils which makes them lightweight and non-greasy, as well as hydrating and quick absorbing. Their light and non-sticky texture are popular for a variety of reasons.


Gel moisturizers are sought out by those with oily or acne-prone skin as these moisturizers are devoid of pore-clogging ingredients. That being said, they're also great for those with normal, dry, or even sensitive skin, and they can also be used to soothe sunburns. Many like to switch to a gel moisturizer during the summer as they're lighter and can even provide a cooling effect.


Though a gel moisturizer may not always hydrate as well as a cream moisturizer, it provides enough hydration for most skin types. Researchers have found that after 12 weeks of using gel moisturizers, people with dry and dull skin saw an improvement in their skin, noting that their skin seemed more fresh, radiant, and dewy.

How to Choose a Gel Moisturizer - Buying Guide

Most gel moisturizers are tailored to help combination and oily skin, but a lot of them can suit other skin types, too. Here's how to choose the right gel moisturizer that matches your skin type. 

Look for Ingredients That Benefit Your Skin Type

Take a look at the most popular ingredients used in gel moisturizers and how they may help your particular skin type.

Extra Moisture for Dry Skin

Extra Moisture for Dry Skin
Keeping your skin moisturized is very important because it can improve the skin’s elasticity. This helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, as well as prevent the signs of aging.

Humectants are water-grabbing ingredients that can draw moisture from the environment or from your skin's lower layers to the top layers of your skin. They help increase your skin's moisture levels and keep it hydrated for a while.


Hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular humectants. It can retain water molecules to deliver long-lasting hydration directly to the skin. Glycerin is a good substitute for hyaluronic acid and can do everything that hyaluronic acid can do for the skin, including nourishing, maintaining water balance, and promoting younger-looking skin.

Extra Moisture for Dry Skin

Aloe vera is another wonderful humectant. It's rich in vitamins A and C, enzymes, and antioxidants, and it's best known as a treatment for sunburn and skin irritation. It helps soothe your skin and reduce inflammation.


In addition, the enzymes in aloe vera help to remove bacteria from your skin. As a result, it helps to reduce redness as well as prevent acne breakouts. If you've got irritated, acne-prone, or sunburned skin, aloe vera is a great ingredient to have in your gel moisturizer.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

Hyaluronic acid is a go-to ingredient for improving skin hydration. It can give the skin an immediate plumping effect. As a humectant, however, overuse of hyaluronic acid can result in drying of the skin in the long run since it sucks water out from the top layer of the skin. Therefore, using an occlusive product occasionally can prevent this paradoxical effect.

Antioxidants for Dull or Mature Skin

Antioxidants for Dull or Mature Skin

When exposed to environmental aggressors such as pollution, heat, and UV rays, our skin tends to develop blemishes such as age spots, wrinkles, and fine lines. Those factors can also facilitate the breakdown of the skin's collagen, causing your skin to become saggy. 


Look for moisturizers infused with antioxidants to neutralize the effects of those environmental aggressors as well as natural aging. Green tea extract, moringa seed extract, and aloe vera are some antioxidant-rich ingredients that can restore the radiance and elasticity of your skin. 


Niacinamide and vitamins C and E are also great antioxidants that can rejuvenate your skin's condition. They not only brighten up your complexion but also contribute to blurring skin blemishes. 

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

If you have rosacea, look for a moisturizer with niacinamide in it. Niacinamide is a great antioxidant that can help with skin redness and inflammation. Use a moisturizer with vitamin C in it to help with hyperpigmentation, sun damage, and fine lines and wrinkles.

Soothing Ingredients for Sensitive or Inflamed Skin

Soothing Ingredients for Sensitive or Inflamed Skin

For those with inflamed skin, you'll need ingredients with strong anti-inflammatory properties such as niacinamides, aloe vera and chamomile extract. Specifically, niacinamide can help reduce acne, calm redness, and prevent water loss in the skin. Moreover, it also helps to improve skin texture and minimize pores! 


Aloe vera, as mentioned above, can provide your skin with much-needed moisture. At the same time, it's effective in treating skin irritation and rashes. Chamomile extract also has strong calming properties and is used to reduce pain and redness from sunburn.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

Sometimes gel moisturizers can be drying or irritating for those with inflamed skin. I recommend more of a rich creamy moisturizer for those with eczema or inflamed skin. Once this condition settles, a gel moisturizer can be used.

Non-Comedogenic Ingredients for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

Non-Comedogenic Ingredients for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

The term non-comedogenic isn't FDA-regulated, meaning that there's no one definition for what it means. However, non-comedogenic ingredients are generally accepted to be ones that are less likely to block pores and cause acne.


If you have oily or acne-prone skin, looking out for this term on products will help ensure that the ingredients in your gel moisturizer are not causing further oiliness and acne breakouts. But, note that even if your moisturizer doesn't have the term non-comedogenic on it, it doesn't mean that it's necessarily going to block your pores!


Since it's up to the manufacturers to label their products as non-comedogenic or not, it's helpful to keep in mind some common non-comedogenic and comedogenic ingredients, so you can look out for them yourself. 

Non-Comedogenic Ingredients for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

Some popular non-comedogenic ingredients are glycerin, which is a common and effective hydrating agent; aloe vera, which has wonderful skin-soothing and antibacterial properties; and vitamin C, which is a great anti-irritation humectant.


Contrastively, some comedogenic ingredients to avoid are cocoa butter, coconut oil, linseed oil, and lanolin. Comedogenic ingredients are sometimes ranked into different levels from one to four to indicate how comedogenic they are, with four being the most harmful and one being the least. There are various online sources that provide lists you can check.

Check for Ingredients That May Cause Irritation

Check for Ingredients That May Cause Irritation

Alcohol, fragrances, mineral oils, parabens, phthalates, and sulfates can cause irritation. In general, these ingredients don't irritate most people, but they can affect those with sensitive and dry skin or those who have had issues with the ingredients in the past. 


Some research shows that in the short term, sulfates and mineral oils may cause irritation or cystic acne. In the long term, mineral oils can enlarge pores, and fragrances and alcohol can promote excess sebum production


Though we don't have conclusive evidence about phthalates and parabens having negative effects on the skin, you may deem it to be better safe than sorry. If you’re not sure what you’ll react to, we recommend doing a patch test first since everyone's skin is different.

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

If you have rosacea or eczema, some botanical ingredients can cause skin redness or irritation. Essential oils and fragrances can also exacerbate these conditions, so look for products free of these. For sensitive skin, products that have few ingredients are usually best.

Choose a Jar or Pump Based on Application Preference

Choose a Jar or Pump Based on Application Preference

Those who are very hygiene-conscious may prefer to use pumps or tubes as they don't require that you dip your finger into the moisturizer every time. A pump is also easy to use with only one hand, and can be less messy with more liquid-like gels.


On the other hand, those who want to apply a lot of moisturizer at a time may benefit from using jars, as they can easily scoop out the amount they need. Some jar moisturizers will come with their own applicator sticks to prevent bacteria from your fingers from contaminating the product.

10 Best Gel Moisturizers

Gel moisturizers come in all different sizes and shapes to cater to a variety of needs. Note that everyone's skin reacts differently to products. For this reason, we always recommend you do a patch test before your first application.


*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Dr. Lauren Levy unless explicitly stated so.

Image
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel 1

Clinique

Origins Ginzing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer 1

Origins

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer 1

Aveeno

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer 1

Glow Recipe

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel 1

Neutrogena

Murad Nutrient-Charged Water Gel 1

Murad

Hada Labo Tokyo Skin Plumping Gel Cream 1

Hada Labo Tokyo

Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Cooling Gel  1

Clarins

Paula's Choice Invisible Finish Moisture Gel 1

Paula's Choice

L'Occitane en Provence  Aqua Réotier Ultra Thirst-Quenching Gel 1

L'Occitane en Provence

Name

Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

Ginzing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer

Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer

Hydro Boost Water Gel

Nutrient-Charged Water Gel

Skin Plumping Gel Cream

Hydra-Essentiel Cooling Gel

Invisible Finish Moisture Gel

Aqua Réotier Ultra Thirst-Quenching Gel

Features

Best Oil-Free, Skin-Strengthening Gel Moisturizer

Best Anti-Aging Moisturizer That Reduces Puffiness

Best Hypoallergenic Moisturizer to Soothe Sensitive Skin

Best Antioxidant-Dense Moisturizer for Most Skin Types

Best Non-Comedogenic Gel for Oily Skin

Best Nutrient-Dense Gel to Fortify Your Skin Barrier

Best Collagen-Based Gel for Deep Hydration

Best Mattifying and Cooling Gel Moisturizer

Best Pore-Minimizing and Lightweight Gel

Best Hydrating Gel Moisturizer That Can Double as Makeup Primer

Price$21.90$24.00$17.07$39.00$17.70$62.00$17.66$29.00$29.45$34.00
Best for Oily, combination skinOily, combination, normal skinSensitive skinOily, combination, normal skinDry skin Dry, normal skinAll skin typesNormal, combination skin Oily, acne-prone Normal, combination
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, glycerin, sunflower seed, barley and cucumber extractsHyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ginseng, jojoba, caffeine Prebiotic oat, feverfew, glycerin Hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, watermelon extractHyaluronic acid, glycerin 5 minerals, 5 vitamins, 5 peptidesHyaluronic acid, collagen, arginine, ceramide, squalaneGlycerin, kalanchoe pinnata extractHyaluronic acid, niacinamide, oat extract, green tea extractHyaluronic acid, glycerin, hydrogenated castor oil
Free fromPhthalates, fragrance, oil, parabens Oil, parabens, phthalatesParabens, fragrance, dyes, phthalates, alcohol Oil, phthalates, parabensOil, comedogenic ingredientsParabens, phthalates, mineral oil, sufates SLS & SLESParabens, fragrance, dyes, mineral oils ParabensParabens, fragranceNot provided
PackagingPumpJarJarPumpJarJarJarJarTubeJar
Amount4.2 oz.1.7 oz.1.7 oz.2 oz. 1.7 oz.1.7 oz. 1.76 oz. 1.7 oz.2 oz. 1.7 oz.
Link

CliniqueDramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

$21.90

Best for Oily, combination skin
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, glycerin, sunflower seed, barley and cucumber extracts
Free fromPhthalates, fragrance, oil, parabens
PackagingPump
Amount4.2 oz.

OriginsGinzing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer

$24.00

Best for Oily, combination, normal skin
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ginseng, jojoba, caffeine
Free fromOil, parabens, phthalates
PackagingJar
Amount1.7 oz.

AveenoCalm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

$17.07

Best for Sensitive skin
Beneficial ingredientsPrebiotic oat, feverfew, glycerin
Free fromParabens, fragrance, dyes, phthalates, alcohol
PackagingJar
Amount1.7 oz.

Glow RecipeWatermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer

$39.00

Best for Oily, combination, normal skin
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, antioxidants, watermelon extract
Free fromOil, phthalates, parabens
PackagingPump
Amount2 oz.
Best for Dry skin
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, glycerin
Free fromOil, comedogenic ingredients
PackagingJar
Amount1.7 oz.
Best for Dry, normal skin
Beneficial ingredients5 minerals, 5 vitamins, 5 peptides
Free fromParabens, phthalates, mineral oil, sufates SLS & SLES
PackagingJar
Amount1.7 oz.
Best for All skin types
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, collagen, arginine, ceramide, squalane
Free fromParabens, fragrance, dyes, mineral oils
PackagingJar
Amount1.76 oz.
Best for Normal, combination skin
Beneficial ingredientsGlycerin, kalanchoe pinnata extract
Free fromParabens
PackagingJar
Amount1.7 oz.
Best for Oily, acne-prone
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, niacinamide, oat extract, green tea extract
Free fromParabens, fragrance
PackagingTube
Amount2 oz.

L'Occitane en Provence Aqua Réotier Ultra Thirst-Quenching Gel

$34.00

Best for Normal, combination
Beneficial ingredientsHyaluronic acid, glycerin, hydrogenated castor oil
Free fromNot provided
PackagingJar
Amount1.7 oz.

Dr. Levy's Recommended Gel Moisturizer

Best for Oily, normal, combination skin
Beneficial IngredientsDimethicone, glycerin, rosa multiflora extract, and more
Free fromOil, parabens, phthalates
PackagingJar
Amount0.34 oz.
Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

My patients with oily skin love the Tatcha Water Cream. It is lightweight, highly moisturizing, and effective at helping control oil on the skin. It also has soothing ingredients to help with facial redness and irritation.

Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to reviewing and commenting on our buying guide, Dr. Levy also took the time to answer some commonly asked questions about gel moisturizers.

What's the difference between gel moisturizers and creams?

"Gel moisturizers are less greasy and less occlusive on the skin," Dr. Levy explains. "They are fast-drying and do not leave a residue on the skin. 


They also blend with the skin easily, so makeup can be applied over the gel base without any white residue that a cream moisturizer can sometimes leave. Both gel and cream moisturizers provide effective hydration to the skin, so it mostly comes down to preference."

Is gel moisturizer good for oily skin?

Dr. Levy says, "Gel moisturizers are great for oily skin since they tend to be more drying then cream based moisturizers. They can seep up oil in the skin and leave it feeling matte as opposed to oily. Gel moisturizers are also safe to use for acne-prone skin and can be used in combination with your acne products if you have oily skin."

Looking for More Skincare Products?

Outside of moisturizers, other types of skincare products can also help protect your skin against the environment while improving your skin texture and complexion. Check out our suggestions for these skincare products.

Amazon's Best Selling Face Moisturizers

If you still feel a bit lost, feel free to browse Amazon's Best Selling Face Moisturizers. You'll see an array of moisturizers here, from lotions and serums to face creams and gel moisturizers.

Buying Guide Reviewed by Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Lauren Levy

Dr. Lauren Levy
Board Certified Dermatologist
Dr. Lauren Levy

This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary, as well as extra tips and advice. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.

Author: Apinya Masuda

Updated by: Mai T., 5/25/2022


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