The Best Moisturizers Under $40

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
Avène Skin Recovery Cream
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer

You may recall a few days back when we asked you a simple question: what's your favorite moisturizer under $40? (We asked because, well, people always ask us, and we figured the more suggestions, the merrier.) In the end, over 300 of you gave us recos (have we mentioned that you guys are the best? You're the best).

So, we tallied them all up, and now we're presenting the top 10 most-loved moisturizers, along with that most essential tidbit—why they're the greatest—for your/our edification and enjoyment. Take a look below, then read the original comments to get even more spot-on hydration advice.

1. CeraVe PM
Why it's a favorite:
"Cured my dehydrated skin and left me gloriously acne free. Problem solved. For $15. Hallelujah."
"I used to have really bad skin issues (acne caused by overly dry skin. It has a name, but it's long and I forgot it immediately after my dermatologist said it), and the only thing that cured it was switching to CeraVe cleanser and moisturizer. Healing and glow-ifying, for sure."
"I love CeraVe PM. It provides a lot of moisture without being slick or shiny. It's also great for sensitive skin."

2. Embryolisse
Why it's a favorite:
"It's so hydrating. I find that my skin absorbs it best right out of the shower, when my face is still steamy. Then I ride that hyper-moisturized glow all day."
"I have combination oily/dry skin and it leaves my face feeling moisturized but never greasy."
"Even with my oily and acne prone skin it's fantastic."

3. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
Why it's a favorite:
"It's nice and lightweight, absorbs quickly, and doesn't leave a greasy feeling behind for my combo skin."
"The gel formula keeps my face from getting too oily and my makeup sliding off by lunch."
"Lightweight, non-greasy, and very moisturizing."

4. Avène Skin Recovery Cream
Why it's a favorite:
"It's ultra moisturizing and soothing."
"This moisturizer is THE moisturizer; it's like a cosy blanket for your face. Absolutely non greasy (even for mixed skin), it's just the perfect hydration and quench for your tired skin (summer and winter!) When I get to bed with it, my skin says thanks you."
"It's amazing, inexpensive and calms down my skin. It's very rich and heavy, so I only use it at night—but it's frikkin magic"

5. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer 
Why it's a favorite:
"After seeing it sitting around the apartment, my boyfriend started stealing some and now it's his favorite as well."
"It absorbs really well thanks to the squalane in it, & doesn't clog my pores at all."
"Light but hydrating and doesn't feel like it just sits on your face all day."

6. La Roche-Posay Toleriane
Why it's a favorite:
"The ONLY thing that saves my skin in the fall/winter/spring."
"Lifesaver for sensitive skin!"
"It's rich, fragrance free, NO preservatives, no parabens, no lanolin. Perfect for reactive or sensitive skin. I use it every night over Roc retinol serum; I never get redness from the retinol now that I layer this on top."
"Its under $30 and the perfect winter moisturizer. It has a thick, creamy texture but melts in to the skin easily and leaves a protective barrier from the wind."

7. Dr.Hauschka Rose Cream
Why it's a favorite:
"It wears extremely well under makeup. Very hydrating but not too heavy."
"It's natural, awesome moisturizing, it smells good...what more do we need from a moisturizer?"
"Dr.Hauschka rose day cream is amazing. Works all year round for me."
"Dr Hauschka Rose Cream for winter, for other seasons Dr.Hauschka Melissa/Quince or Rose Light Cream. Love this natural skin care."

8. Oil of Olay Complete
Why it's a favorite:
"Never leaves me greasy, and I've NEVER gotten a sunburn wearing the daytime moisturizer."
"SPF 30, plus it's lightweight and not smelly!"
"I love Oil of Olay Complete. It was the first moisturizer I used at 13 and it's still my go-to over 10 years later."
"Olay Complete! Doesn't break me out!"

9. Weleda Lotions
Why it's a favorite:
"Weleda Iris Hydrating Facial Lotion—smells great, light but moisturizing. Kinda perfect!"
"My boyfriend uses Weleda Skin Food: smells so good!!!!"
"Weleda Skin Food always feels good (sometimes I just use it on dry patches like my elbows or chin)."
"The Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Lotion. They make a lotion and a cream—the lotion is the one to get! I bought it last winter when my skin got REALLY dry and sensitive out of nowhere. I have extremely oily skin normally, and this stuff just calms everything down. I'm obsessed with it and have gone through like five tubes over the last eleven months...."

10. DIY Oil Blends
Why it's a favorite:
"A spritz of NaPCA followed by a thick layer of safflower oil."
"Coconut oil every night. It's all natural, moisturizing, doesn't cause breakouts, and it's so cheap!! Doesn't get any better than that. As I've gotten older, I've realized being less harsh on my skin is better."
"Almond oil—as a 52 year-old with skin that is getting drier, I love to apply this to my neck, décolletage, and sparingly around my eyes."
"Rosehip oil. It's affordable, a little goes a long way, and it's a great source of retinoic acid."
"After using cold pressed coconut oil on my face at night my sensitive, acne-prone skin is loving me! Yes you can't wear it during the day (imagine going outside with oil on your face—lobster material!) because your makeup will slide off. But my skin feels ever-so-soft, moisturized and hydrated. Seriously get with the hype and give it a go—amazing!"
"I like using straight jojoba oil. I use the one from, but I think Trader Joe's sells it too. My dermatologist recommended it when I was on Accutane and it's been great when my skin gets super dry in the winter."
"Mine is a homemade mix of jojoba and rosehip oils."

Photos by Mathea Millman. 

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • janet

    Though the tin is pretty and the oil is yummy, I think there may be something about roasted oils that makes them not so useful for skin. Spectrum almond is my fav.

  • Aubrey Green

    Which do you think is better for reactive, rosacea, allergy type skin - the Avene or LaRoche Posay? I'm torn.

    • mels

      CeraVe -
      the ceramides do wonders on rosacea skin types.

    • murt

      I think it depends - the LaRoche Posay is a bit lighter than the Avene.

    • kathS

      Probably neither - try vanicream. It is the best for sensitive skin, very thick and moisturizing, and has less ingredients than a lot of other creams.

    • wcw

      I have severe eczema (dry, red irritated skin all the time) and I love the Avene Cicalfate. It's heavier. LRP is too light for me. Another HUGE favorite is Dr Hauschka Rose Day cream (regular, never the light). Cerave body cream is okay too but doesnt do much for the face. I highly recommend the DR H or Avene.

  • Sara

    But this is pretty useless without SPF. Can you guys do a version of this for moisturizers with sunscreen? Thanks!

    • Mady

      I agree that sunscreen can be a useful addition to a good moisturizer when worn outdoors in the daytime. That said, I'd rather just put on a separate sunscreen as needed and have my go-to moisturizer free of sunscreen. They're likely not an entirely benign group of ingredients, so why absorb them while we're sleeping?

      • Lisa

        You realize that SPF only lasts like 2 hours? So are you really going to moisturize every 2 hours too?

        • Mady

          Did you mean to reply to someone else? Because the comment makes no sense in reply to mine.

    • Dana

      The Avene Hydrance Optimale comes with SPF 25 ... and it's an amazing moisturizer. It reminds me of Elte the way it goes on and makes your skin glow but it's less expensive.

    • Sarah

      I disagree! I need a good, simple and affordable moisturizer without SPF, especially before I go to bed.

  • Nita

    Lately I have been hearing so much about Avene. I think I may have to add it to my ever growing wishlist!

    • kash

      Avene is GREAT. My skin is super, super dry, and the avene products are just as good as the creams that are double the price.

  • Dina

    I have the Clinique gel and it's AMAZING! Definitely recommend it :)

    Beauty for the Beauty

  • Roni Faida

    I still say get some lotion and vaseline, make a paste and you have instant moisturizer. And it's cheap!

  • Maggi

    Cerave and Cerave PM are two completely different formulations.

  • POC

    Where's the extra-virign coconut oil at?
    It's definition of "bang for your buck!"; it's multi-purpose (hair sealant and moisturizer, make-up remover, highlighter for cheekbones, body oil, smells delicious, and your body shimmers), chemical free and inexpensive.

    Side-note: For some persons, evco is known to clear acne and for others it tends to aggravate it. You can find more info about it by doing a quick google search.

    Also, where are any of the oils at?
    Where's the shea butter at?
    I mean...

    After doing a complete body rub down with a mixture of oils, you'll be turning yourself on - wanting to do a diet cleanse, exercise a bit more and generally, be healthier. It's a catalyst man.

    P.S. My personal favourite evco is Spectrum. You can find it at any Whole Foods Market.

    • denisa7

      I have just discovered shea butter and I am totally blown away! I would love to feature on ITG the butters too (shea, cocoa...). Thank you!

  • Sarah


  • mk123

    That's surprising! If anybody ask me which of the best moisturizers I recommend..big 4 of them is my #1!Kiehl's kiehl's kiehl's ...the best for every weather - in summer it balances your skin, it is not oily!in winter- it protects, like lipid-creams- does not dehydrates, it is non comendogenig, absorbs really fast!
    Clinique DDML - best under makeup, never rolls, lovely smell and so economic!it last for ever..., avene - face look so radiant and is so of my favourites, especially for winter!La Roche...on my 4th position, but really good especially for sensitive skin, it works- really good, however I dont like the scent, on my 5th posiition I will allocate Nivea Skin So Soft... really cheap and works:)

  • The Fashiournalist

    DDMG from Clinique, can't go a day without it! Love it because it doesn't make your face all shiny and still moisturizes it :)

    XX TF

  • Adina

    I can say that my combo skin has literally changed and is exquisitely luminous (no pores, fine skin, perfect base for make-up, no redness, no shine) due to the Vinoperfect cream from Caudalie. Too bad it's not a general effect.

  • Alexandria Jasmine

    I insist that Salma Hayek Nuance AM/PM Anti-Aging Super Cream is THE very best. Tepezcohuite is one wonderful ingredient :)

  • ni ni

    I love aesop mandarin, too!!!

  • Vero

    I thoght I'm the only one using avene skin recovery cream at night and found it ... magique!! so true!

  • Noune

    Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre <3
    Definitely THE best one

  • kamo12

    I tried CeraVe PM after reading this roundup and it broke me out HORRIBLY. Tiny rash-like whiteheads everywhere, including my eyelids (ewwww). Thankfully it went away quickly after stopping use.

    I am not going to knock the product though, because apparently this reaction is semi-common in some people due to niacinamide, found in CeraVe PM and the SPF lotion (but not the regular lotion in a tub.) This ingredient does wonders for some people's skin, but others are very allergic to it. So please, if you try it, do a patch test first.

  • lobasalvaje

    I just wanted to come down and point out that, for some people, coconut oil can cause acne, so it's not for everyone. It's mildly comedogenic, so that's why.
    Also, it has a natural amount of SPF, so there's no reason to worry about it causing a sunburn. I think it's naturally SPF 4? Not a lot, obviously, but it's definitely not the same as putting baby oil on your skin and frying in the sun. Also, that isn't something to worry about if you're putting sunscreen on top of it. I love it as a body moisturizer, and in the summer, I'd apply it, let it sink in, and then put my sunscreen on top of it before going to the beach.

  • Sarah Boxer

    Try Somatique's Moisturizer. My doctor recommended it while I was pregnant with my fourth child, because its ingredients are safe for pregnant women. I would not put the jar down.

    It really helped fight my dry skin, and those wrinkles around my eyes. After my baby was born, my skin because extra dry and this moisturizer was able to handle it. I just wish they made a biger jar because I use so much of it. Well worth it if you have sensitive skin like me, and need something gentle yet effective. I bought at

  • Munmun Nishi

    Awesome Article!
    This is so important Idea.I think that your article will be helpful for us.I read your your all of post that you make.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this Blog.

  • Wish

    I'm almost done with my tube of cetaphil cream. Going to try the cerave one!

  • elizabeth

    what would you recommend for a person who has extremely sensitive skin that also breaks our fairly easily? (not bad acne but small pimples, skin congestion)

  • Vivian Westwood

    If you cannot afford an expensive moisturizer, please just try the Sensitive Moisturizer by Citrus Clear. You will see results instantly. And its under $25....and they always have discounts they mail to customers, so I got mine for like $16. It last 2 months, and has saved my face.

  • melissa r

    I have used every expensive lotion for the face from Kinerase to Clarins but the Made from Earth Vitamin Moisturizer really is the best. It has the crucial ingredients, collagen and elastin and really replenish my skin and make it look and feel like I am 20s again (I am 41). The scent is also very light and very pleasant as I am trying to avoid heavy, perfume laden creams and lotions.

  • Candi Flores

    I was given the Made from Earth Vitamin C Moisturizer as a gift - and I wasn't disappointed - it lives up to all the claims the company makes!!!

  • mangomadness

    My favorite moisturizers are CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion PM and Olay Moisturizing Lotion - Sensitive Skin. Both are great for my oily, acne-prone and hyperpigmentation-prone skin

  • Savanna

    I would love an updated version of this article for winter!


La Tourangelle
La Tourangelle Roasted Almond Oil, 8.45 oz
Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Lotion, 1 oz
La Roche-Posay
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche
Olay Complete
Olay Complete All Day UV Skin Shield Moisturizer Lotion SPF 15, Normal, 6 fl oz
Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Night Cream
Weleda Iris Hydrating Facial Lotion
Weleda Skin Food
Nu Skin
Nu Skin NaPCA Moisture Mist
Spectrum Naturals
Spectrum Naturals Organic Safflower Oil, 16 oz
Cult Beauty Ltd.
Rosehip Oil 20ml
Sunfood Superfoods
Sunfood Superfoods Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 24 fl oz
Desert Essence
Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil
KORA Organics
KORA Organics Luxurious Rosehip Body Oil
Tisserand Aromatherapy
Tisserand Aromatherapy Organic Jojoba Blending Oil
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel
Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream
La Roche-Posay
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser
Dr.Hauschka Skin Care
Dr. Hauschka Rose Body Moisturizer