Keeping the skin on your face hydrated is SO important. Hydration = life! If you’re looking for your new holy grail face moisturizer from the best ethical beauty brands, you’ve come to the right place. These natural face moisturizers will keep your skin ultra-hydrated, flake-free and so soft. Whether you’re looking for a luxury face cream or a more budget-friendly choice, we have you covered!
By: Lisa Fennessy
IN THIS POST:
- Face oils v. moisturizers
- An ideal moisturizer should…
- Best natural face moisturizers
- Best lightweight natural face moisturizer
- Best medium weight natural face moisturizer
- Best SERIOUS natural face moisturizer
- Best budget natural face moisturizers
- More face moisturizing favorites!
If you know anything about me, you know I love my face oils. I will talk until I’m blue in the face about Laurel’s Sun Serum, Maya Chia’s The Straight A and True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil but no matter what the oil, there is something all oils have lacking in common: HYDRATION.
Face oils v. moisturizers
Here’s the thing: oil and water do not mix. I learned this lesson the first time I tried to make salad dressing. And, it’s the same with skincare.
To make an oil + water formula, it has to be what’s called “emulsified” (forcing the oil and water to mix). This in turn creates a lotion or a cream. And because of this, creams and lotions can be extremely hydrating for our skin in ways that oils can’t.
The Mayo Clinic recommends using moisturizers because “dry skin shrivels plump skin cells, which can lead to premature fine lines and wrinkles. And although moisturizers can’t prevent wrinkles, they may temporarily mask tiny lines and creases.”
But not all face moisturizers are created equal. I grabbed this list of what a moisturizer should do from this NIH paper and I also added a few of my own requirements too.
RELATED: The best nontoxic tinted SPF and the best nontoxic un-tinted face SPF.
An ideal moisturizer should…
- Reduce and prevent water loss, often referred to as TEWL or transepidermal water loss.
- Restore lipid barrier and enhance the skin’s moisturizing retention mechanisms.
- Be ethically produced.
- Be nontoxic/natural.
- Absorb immediately providing beneficial hydration.
- Accommodate your budget.
Above all, I really want my face cream to deliver and retain MOISTURE. So, after years of testing, I’m detailing out my current faves that do just that. I’ve broken down these recs into 4 different categories (best lightweight, best medium weight, best serious and best drugstore find) listing just ONE top pick in each. This was so hard but I’m here for it.
I also wanted to include both luxury picks for those of us who enjoy investing in skincare and more budget friendly picks for all of us who want the shoes, the bag, the makeup and the skincare too.
Best natural face moisturizers
Let’s start with a bit of a caveat: there is no one cream that the TNK team uses on its own. Each of us always adds a a serum underneath or maybe a nourishing oil under or over a cream for maximum results. We love playing around to find that perfect combo. That said, here are my top picks (with consensus from the team!) on the best natural face moisturizers to add to your routine.
Best lightweight natural face moisturizer
Osmia Purely Simple Face Cream | $62
Osmia Founder Dr. Sarah Villafranco formulates with skin sensitivities in mind, and this cream moisturizer (which was recently reformulated to be even MORE hydrating) is awesome for reactive skin.
I love that it’s light and absorbs incredibly fast, but also provides ample hydration. It’s formulated in an aloe vera base, which in and of itself is anti-inflammatory and soothing. Then Sarah adds in organic jojoba and apricot kernel oils to soften the skin as well as sweet almond oil and vitamin E to help replenish and strengthen the skin barrier.
There are a couple of essential oils in this formula (rose, chamomile and neroli), but they’re at such a low concentration (3/100ths of one percent total) that they shouldn’t irritate any skin type. In fact, you can even use this cream over dermatitis-prone skin (though use it sparingly).
A great pick for sensitive, reactive, normal skin and perioral dermatitis.
Best medium weight natural face moisturizer
Alpyn Beauty Triple C Brightening Bounce Cream | $49
Where wildcrafted meets clinical, this pink, moisture-boosting, aloe-rich cream is formulated with three clinically proven forms of skin-brightening vitamin C and line-smoothing wild chokecherry.
I tried this cream on a whim and was distracted all day by how hydrated my face felt. I had actually tried a few new products at the same time so then I spent the following week dismantling this rogue routine, isolating each product in an attempt to figure out which one was responsible for my tacky, plump, bouncy, mega-moisturized skin (that stayed that way all day)—and turns out, it was THIS!
I also love how lightweight this cream is. It’s like I get to enjoy all the hydration without any of the grease or weight. Plus, let’s not ignore all that added vitamin c to help brighten.
Hand-harvested in Jackson Hole, I love the fresh citrus scent and the way my skin feels after using Alpyn Beauty’s Triple C Brightening Bounce Cream. Also, I suspect this is a fantastic choice for people who live in higher altitudes too. I’m 100% obsessed.
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Best SERIOUS natural face moisturizer
Prima The Afterglow Vegan Collagen Cream 500mg CBD | $68
The face cream to end all face creams! This cream is so great at hydrating and retaining hydration, me and Nicolle have been sending it to everyone we know, lol. (We really have though).
What’s the deal? Well, one of Prima’s co-founders is one of the former owners of The Honest Company and he comes super connected. They hooked up with this lab that cracked the code when it comes to making creams, because I’m obsessed with every cream they’ve formulated including Skin Therapy and R+R. The texture and hydration are super nourishing without being greasy.
Texture aside, Prima’s Afterglow Vegan Collagen Cream contains pure, whole plant hemp extract to work synergistically with a blend of hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen and Ayurvedic adaptogens for hydrated, restored skin. Love this as an extra hydration layer during the day or before I go to bed.
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Best budget natural face moisturizers
Because, let’s be honest, sometimes you need something right here, right now—and sometimes you need to grab something at your local Target. Both these picks are more accessible and easy to find.
Cocokind Texture Smoothing Cream | $22.99
The texture on this Cocokind cream is amazing—it soaks in quickly, leaves skin feeling hydrated and smooth and it works to plump and soften skin over time. I also love the light cucumber scent. It’s like cucumber water for your skin!
Acure Seriously Soothing Day Cream | $17.99
Acure was originally known for its single-ingredient face oils, like the much-touted Argan, but the line’s creams are top-notch too. This one, made for sensitive, irritated or grumpy skin, is chock-full of soothing ingredients like seabuckthorn, rosehip and chamomile.
More face moisturizing favorites!
P.S. Don’t miss The Best Foundation and 5 Organic Masks That Deliver Instant Results!
Prima’s Afterglow Vegan Collagen Cream is wicked hydrating. It contains pure, whole plant hemp extract to work synergistically with a blend of hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen and Ayurvedic adaptogens for hydrated, restored skin.
Osmia’s Purely Simple Face Cream is great pick for sensitive, reactive, normal skin and perioral dermatitis. One look at the hundreds of reviews and you will be sold!
TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.
GlendaJanuary 22, 2019
Curious… would you recommend the OO Cream over Leahlani Bless Balm??? Mid-40’s, dry, sensitive skin… Thanks for ALL the info!
LisaJanuary 22, 2019
Hi Glenda! You could totally do that! Sounds divine! xo
LisaJanuary 23, 2019
Gosh Glenda! They are honestly both so good. I say start with Jane and if you like it, you’ve found a winner without spending $200! xo
Manojnatha ShekharOctober 9, 2020
The list of various natural face creams that you have shared through this article will be helpful for us to get one for ourselves through the information that you have provided. Thank you for listing it together and sharing it with us.
LisaOctober 12, 2020
Oh bummer. I wonder if you would like The Fix? That does not have aloe in it 😉 Lisa
MarisOctober 30, 2020
Hi! What creams do you recommend for a very dry skin that is safe to use during pregnancy and do not contain any e-oils or castor oil? If they are available in Europe, without oversea shipping from US ect, is a plus!
LisaNovember 16, 2020
Hi Maris! Have you checked out Votary? You will LOVE their Super Seed Cream! xo, Lisa
Kelly LiddellMarch 19, 2021
Hi Lisa! Just found your blog and I am hooked. Would you recommend the Jane scrivener 5 a day program for a 22 year old? I am looking for clean products for my daughter. Thanks for any help you can give me.
LisaMarch 22, 2021
Hi Kelly! Totally! I think she would love it! Let me know what she thinks! xo, Lisa
AmyJanuary 4, 2022
Out of all the listed moisturizers, which would be best for combination skin? Thanks for the great list!
Lisa FennessyJanuary 6, 2022
Hi Amy! I would give the Triple C Bounce Cream a try! Let me know what you think! xo, Lisa
DebbieFebruary 4, 2022
Which, if any of these creams would you recommend for aging skin, I’m 67, with lines/wrinkles? My skin was oily when I was younger, but now seems dry and dull.
Lisa FennessyFebruary 4, 2022
Hi Debbie! I would recommend either Triple Bounce Cream OR Maya Chia’s new ARC. The ARC came out just after I revised this post and it’s really beautiful. Specifically designed for maturing skin with a focus on repairing it! So good. xo, Lisa
SallyMarch 29, 2022
Hi! Quick question: I love the sound of the Triple C bounce cream for my morning moisturizer (I’m using the True Botanicals overnight mask in the evening); however, I already use a vitamin serum before I moisturize in the morning. Would it be a waste to use the bounce cream in combination with that serum / should I pick something else from above?
Lisa FennessyApril 10, 2022
Hi Sally! Great question. In my opinion it’s not too much to layer vitamin c’s. It will probably make them more effective. Also, interestingly enough there are several different types of vitamin C. Some are better at brightening while others are better at treating hyperpigmentation. So since you are layering different brands, the chance of this happening is higher. In general, vitamin c is great for the day time while vitamin a is better for night so that’s the only change I would recommend. xo, L
MaryApril 10, 2022
Hi, I’d like to know how you feel about Mad Hippie and The Ordinary products. I tried both of their cleansing oils which seem nice! Thanks!
Lisa FennessyApril 10, 2022
Hi Mary! As far as ingredients go, the Mad Hippie line looks great and The Ordinary is touch and go. Some of their products I would use and some I wouldn’t. As far as efficacy, I haven’t tried either long term to be able to comment. Hope this helps! xo
LaurieJune 8, 2022
I’m 56 and have under eye wrinkles and laugh line wrinkles. I’ve previously found that natural products didn’t do much for me but I would prefer to use natural. What would you recommend. Need a good eye cream too.
Lisa FennessyJuly 5, 2022
Hi Laurie! Check out this post that we just freshly published! I think you are going to love it! xo, Lisa
LindaAugust 16, 2022
What oil do I need to go with a moisturizer at age 73
Lisa FennessyAugust 29, 2022
Hi Linda! Thanks for reading! I would recommend checking out this post which guides you on how to create a skincare routine for your specific skincare needs (including recs!) Hope this helps! xo, Lisa
CarolyneSeptember 23, 2022
I am 52 just starting to concentrate on skin care. My skin lately is dryish listless with no glow. I cleanse and tone with Nivea and moisturize with clarins. No big change, what should I use? I am a Kenyan and black.
Lisa FennessyNovember 11, 2022
Hi Carolyne! You have to try the Alpyn Beauty Triple Bounce Cream listed here. DEW CENTRAL!!!! And be sure to lmk what you think when it changes your life. xo, Lisa
JonitaSeptember 30, 2022
True! Hydrating the skin is a challenge too. I use hyaluronic acid from refresh skin science.
Lisa FennessyOctober 20, 2022
Glad you found something that works for you Jonita! xo, Lisa
LisaOctober 11, 2022
Can you recommend products for post skin cancer surgery on face? Healing and non irritating.
Lisa FennessyOctober 20, 2022
Hi Lisa! I hope you are recovering okay. Check out this line. It’s specifically made for that. xo, Lisa
Lisa LoomerOctober 20, 2022
Well, Lisa, I see this after buying every Elta Md and Alastin product known to man. I have never used anything vaguely “commercial”. I use Tru Botanicals and Suntegrity etc. But have been so freaked out by this surgery repair–on the tip of my nose no less–that I have been listening to, of all people, dermatologists, surgeons, and plastic surgeons…all of whom prescribe what they are introduced to via the drug industry…which is generally the last thing in the world I trust.
So, if CV was developed for post skin cancer, I’ll definitely buy everything, thank you. And since so many people do have skin cancer…this is information you might share on the site?
Lisa FennessyNovember 11, 2022
Thanks for the feedback Lisa! We love getting it. And PLEASE PLEASE let us know how CV works for you. xo, Lisa
BrookeDecember 1, 2022
Hi! I’m 52. I love the texture of Prima The Afterglow. Could you speak about the dimethicone ingredient? I thought we didn’t want that ingredient in a product. Concerned about it in general but also bc of acne prone skin. I want to use this product bc of the consistency and amazing ingredients. But wanted your thoughts.
MissyMay 2, 2023
Hi, I just found your page; wish I had years ago! I’m natural but have opened up to Retin-A and love the results. Your post about “Cerave Cleanser” swaps was so welcome because derms always push that and it does feel nice! My skin does well with Eminence Organics moisturizers but I wondered if you had thoughts about a gentle moisturizer for skin cycling recovery for 40ish / hormonal acne/combination skin. Thank you!
Lisa FennessyMay 3, 2023
Hi Missy! I would love to recommend Le Prunier’s Plum Beauty Oil. It’s only one ingredient so it’s perfect for skin cycling. It’s also amazing at fighting free radicals and it has natural UV protection too – great for day and night. If you want more of a traditional cream, this one is beautiful too.