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Recently a reader asked me for my recommendations for “best lotions.” The request brought me up short, realizing that it is easy to get carried away with all those fancy serums out there and forget that we all need a damn good moisturizer. I have rounded up not only the best I have found, but also tried to make a selection that will appeal to different needs: anti-aging, dry or combination skin, oily/breakout-prone skin, light or rich. They can be used on their own or layered over a serum. Either way, here are my Five Best moisturizers.
BRAD Biophotonic Ultra Elastin Sculpting Firming Cream Complex ($195/1.70z in the shop). This day or night cream (or both) can be used on the face and neck to firm, brighten, and hydrate. Unscented and absorbent, it is a great base for makeup. The ingredients consist of a very solid list of vitamins, natural oils, herbs, extracts, butters, antioxidants. In fact it just about has it all in a complex everything-including-the-kitchen-sink combination that will moisturize and exfoliate (the latter with glycolic acid and vitamin A). Aside from being a great moisturizer, with hyaluronic acid and phospholipids, there are also a few good anti-aging ingredients, including green tea and expression line inhibiting peptides and a ton of botanical antioxidants. Read the full review.
Royal Nectar Moisturizing Face Lift ($55/1.7oz in the shop). A good choice for oily skin, as this moisturizer is light with an almost whipped texture and is non-greasy and easily absorbed. Like its sister Face Mask, there is bee venom here, which is mainly made up of anti-inflammatory peptides. There are nourishing antioxidants in the form of avocado, vitamin E, apricot and rose hip. I like the inclusion of marshmallow as it has an inhibitory effect on hyaluronidase, the enzyme that degrades hyaluronic acid in our skin tissue. A lovely moisturizer at any price and great value for under $60. Read the full review.
Snowberry Bright Defence Day Cream No. 2 ($63 in the shop). This is a moisturizer for dry to combination skin. There are some unique ingredients, such as “silver ear,” a mushroom (also known as tremella) whose water-retaining capacity is greater than hyaluronic acid! Emollients used include: rosehip, grapeseed, passion flower, macadamia and the New Zealand harakeke. Then there is kombuchka, produced from the fermentation of sweet black tea; this compound decreases glycation and skin roughness, improving radiance. Regular use will impart a subtle brightness and a velvety softness to the skin. Read the full review.
Arcona Magic White Ice (1oz/$38 in the shop). Arcona has a thing about cream and without putting words in the brand’s mouth, I’d go so far as to say it doesn’t like them. Its moisturizers – whether Magic White Ice or Desert Mist – are lightweight gels. Generally, they serve oily, sensitive skin well and leave it refreshed but matte. There’s hyaluronic acid and a bevy of antioxidants including totara (a native New Zealand tree, known for its healing properties), cranberry and green tea. Read the review.
M.A.D Illuminating Daily Moisturizer (1.7 0z/$50 in the shop). This describes itself as a “lightweight daily moisturizer,” but don’t expect something that is watery or insubstantial. It is part of M.A.D’s “Brightening” line and so you can expect to find ingredients that will even out skin tone as well as moisturize. One of the key actives is B-White, a peptide that binds to the TGF-b receptor in skin cells to inhibit the enzymes involved in skin pigmentation. The other is Lumiskin, also known as diacetyl boldine. Extracted from the bark of the Chilean Boldo tree, this is another skin-lightening agent. Plus there’s strawberry seed, elderberry and blackcurrant. Like all M.A.D products, this has a good quality to price ratio. Read the full review.
See all our FIVE BEST recommendations including Five Best for sagging skin, Five Best with vitamin C and Five Best eye creams
Ingredients for BRAD: Biophotonic Purified Water, Organic Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe), Organic Helianthus Annus (Sunflower Oil), Glyceryl Stearate, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Octyl Palmitate, Glycolic Acid, Organic Cocos Nuciffera (Coconut Oil), Squalane, Lactic Acid, Isopropyl Palmitate (Palm Oil), Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methylsulfonylmethane (Msm), Theobroma Cocao (Cocoa Butter), Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Stearate, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber Distillate), Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Organic Beeswax, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Phytic Acid, Phospholipids, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Vitis Vinifera (Grapeseed Oil), Organic Mahonia Aquifolium (Oregon Grape), Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea), Camellia Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avacado Oil), Organic Euphrasia Officinalis (Eyebright), Helichrysum Gymnocephalum (Helichrysum Essential Oil), Organic Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice), Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass), Butylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Palmitate), Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Calophyllum Tacamahaca (Tamanu Oil), Organic Borago Officinalis (Borage Oil), Organic Linum Isitatissimum (Flax Seed Oil), Organic Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose Oil), Organic Rosa Canina, (Rose Hip Oil), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Organic Arnica Montana (Arnica), Organic Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender), Organic Calendula Officinalis (Calendula), Organic Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Grapeseed Oil, Macadamia Integrifolia (Macadamia Nut Oil), Sodium Carbomer, Sclerotium Gum, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopheryl (Antioxidant), Lecithin, Pyrus Malus (Apple), Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon), Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane), Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin
Ingredients for Royal Nectar: Distilled Water, Nectar Ease (Manuka Honey & Bee Venom), Lannett wax, Avocado Oil, Tocopherol Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Rose Hip Oil, Rose Water, Beeswax, Evening Primrose Oil, Optiphen Plus, Cocoa Butter, Natural Fragrance, Ticaxan, Marshmallow Extract, Manuka Oil, Lavender Essential Oil
Ingredients for Snowberry: Aqua (Demineralised), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Hydrogentated Lecithin & C12 - 16 Alcohols & Palmitic Acid, Prunus Armeniaca Annuus (Apricot) Kernel Oil , Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment & Glycerin & Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Palmitoylproline & Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Oil, Glycerine (Coconut), Hydrogenated Lecithin, Isoamyl Laurate, Sodium Lactate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sclerotium Gum, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Oil, Phormium Tenax (Harakeke) Seed Oil, Octadecenedioic Acid, Phosphatidylserine, Parfum (p-Anisic Acid), Vitis Vinifera (Grape Seed) Extract, Hydroxyresveratrol, Parfum, Tocopherol (mixed) & B-sitosterol & Squalane, Dimethylmethoxy Chromonal Palmitate, Dimethylmethoxychromanol, Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract
Ingredients for Arcona: Aqua (Water), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Glycerin*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Alcohol Denat., Fructooligosaccharides (D-beta), Sodium Hyaluronate (L), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Juice, Camellia Sineosis (White Tea) Extract, Syringa Vulgaris (Lilac) Leaf Cell Culture Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Totara Extract, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), Tocotrienols (Vitamin E), Phytic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Acacia Gum, Citric Acid, Allantoin, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Essential Oils
*Denotes Organically Sourced
Ingredients for MAD: Water, Propanediol, Runus armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Cyclopentasiloxane, Squalane, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Niacinamide, DI-C12-15 Alkyl Fumarate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Panthenol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Oligopeptide-68, Diacetyl Boldine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chamomilla recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Uva ursi (Bearberry) Fruit Extract, Morus nigra (Mulberry) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Phyllanthus emblica Fruit Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Fragaria ananassa (Strawberry) Seed Oil, Ribes nigrum (Black Current) Seed Oil, Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) Seed Oil, Citrus aurantium bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethiconol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acrylates/C0-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sodium Oleate, Lecithin, Sorbitol, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Metabisulfite, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol