13 Fragrance-Free Moisturizers That Hydrate Your Skin (Without the Irritation)

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When it comes to my beauty routine, I'm a sucker for a good, fuss-free moisturizer. I have naturally dry and acne-prone skin, so having a strong hydrating cream that can keep my skin quenched 24/7 without causing a flare-up is always top of mind in my skin-care routine. But I need a fragrance-free moisturizer, and it's weirdly hard to find a really good one—anyone with sensitive skin can likely relate to the struggle.

Experts In This Article

The reality is that brands often add fragrances to products to mask the smell of formulas that have a naturally unpleasant odor (FWIW, there's a reason why some of the best beauty products smell really bad). However, these added scents can irritate your skin. "The skin can react negatively to fragrances in a few ways," says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Allison Leer, MD. "One way is through contact dermatitis, a type of skin rash caused by exposure to certain allergens, including fragrances. Fragrances can also cause excessive dryness or oiliness, leading to breakouts in people with acne-prone skin."

With that in mind, you may want to find yourself a fragrance-free moisturizer (slash an entire fragrance-free skincare routine)—and that goes double if you've got reactive skin.

Best fragrance-free moisturizer at a glance

"Unscented" vs "fragrance-free"

When looking for a moisturizer, note that "unscented" and "fragrance-free" do not mean the same thing. "Unscented is a term used with cosmetic products to inform the consumer that the product has no discernible fragrance," says board-certified dermatologist Beth Goldstein, MD.

"Unscented" products generally include a small amount of "masking" fragrance to neutralize and hide the odor of the base chemicals in the moisturizer's formula—meaning that these types of formulas may contain ingredients and fragrances that can irritate your skin. For those with sensitive skin, "fragrance-free" is the far better choice, as these products do not contain any extra ingredients to mask a smell, and are thus less likely to cause irritation. "To be truly fragrance-free, a product must not have any added fragrance, whether natural or synthetic," says Dr. Leer.

Is fragrance-free better?

Generally speaking, it really depends on your skin's sensitivity levels. "Fragrance-free beauty products, especially moisturizers, are recommended for all skin types, especially those with sensitive skin who are most prone to allergic reactions," says regenerative medicine specialist, Rosmy Barrios, MD.

As board-certified dermatologist Anna Karp, MD, puts it, "If you have sensitive skin, I would go for a fragrance-free moisturizer every time." That said, many people are totally fine slathering fragrance-infused formulas all over their faces and bodies. "The only risk that comes along with using them is if you have a sensitivity or an allergy to the fragrance," says Dr. Karp. Pay attention to how your skin reacts to any perfumed products you're using, and if needed, adjust your routine accordingly.

Best fragrance-free moisturizers

Best fragrance free moisturizer for face: Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion — $19.00

For those who love a five-step skin-care routine or less, this moisturizing solution from Cetaphil is a skiminimalist’s dream. It works as both a body and face moisturizer and provides 24-hour hydration from the moment you put it on. The formula is also incredibly lightweight and packed with nourishing ingredients like avocado oil, vitamins E and B3, and pre-vitamin B5 to soothe your skin.

Best oil-free, fragrance-free moisturizer: CeraVe, AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30, Oil-Free — $17.00

If your skin is prone to dryness and redness year-round, this moisturizer belongs in your beauty cabinet, ASAP. “It is a light cream that has a long-lasting effect,” says Dr. Barrios.”The niacinamide (a compound with anti-inflammatory properties) it contains strengthens the skin’s protective functions, making [the skin] less sensitive and dry.” The formula also contains SPF 30 to give you some extra protection and is oil-free so you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores.

Best fragrance-free hydrating serum: Drunk Elephant, B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum — $48.00

What makes this serum such a derm favorite is how versatile the formula is. “It’s suitable for all skin types, especially dry and dehydrated skin,” says Dr. Barrios. “Wheat amino acids and lactate strengthen the activity of natural moisturizing factors and restore moisture levels in the skin. [And] as if that were not enough, this cream even brightens, reduces wrinkles, and evens out the rest of the skin.”

best fragrance-free face moisturizer for dry, sensitive skin: Vanicream, Moisturizing Skin Cream (16 oz.) — $14.00

Itchy skin? Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream to the rescue! Its super thick formula acts like a balm for dry, flakey and irritated skin—minus the greasy residue. Just rub it on the areas you need it most and let it do its magic.

Best fragrance-free moisturizer for sensitive skin: Avène, Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream — $36.00

You know the times you put on an exfoliating mask or a chemical peel and your skin feels feels super sensitive after? This is called “sensitized skin,” and it can happen when you overuse a product, or even if you subject your skin to an environment it’s not used to (or even if it’s particular dry out where you live). This cream is the perfect solution for times like these—but honestly, you can apply whenever you feel like your skin’s barrier needs some extra nourishing. The formula uses a blend of fresh thermal spring water and an anti-irritant ingredient called D-sensinose to help boost hydration and reduce any tightness and tingling sensation.

DML moisturizer
Best fragrance free moisturizer for oily skin: DML, Forte Skin Care Moisturizer — $13.50

Once cold-weather season hits and the crisp air cool temps dry out your skin, this daily DML Forte Skin Care Moisturizer will your new go-to (trust me or Dr. Goldstein). It gets its hydrating powers from panthenol, a form of vitamin B5 that acts as a balm for your hands and body.


Best fragrance-free night moisturizer: Kiehl's, Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane — $64.00

The reason this Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream continues to be one of the brand’s top sellers is due to its careful curation of ingredients. It contains a high dose of squalane and glycerin, two moisturizing agents that help build up the skin’s protective layer. Ultimately, this helps to keep your skin soft, bright, and supple all in one go—and is nice and thick to help seal in all that good-for-skin moisture while you sleep.

Best fragrance free moisturizer for aging skin: Olay, Collagen Peptide 24 Face Moisturizer — $30.00

If you want to give your skin a total reset and look awake on an early morning Zoom call, consider adding this Olay Collagen Peptide 24 Face Moisturizer to your daily regimen. Its key ingredient is collagen peptides, which help to increase your skin’s cell renewal process so that it looks smoother and brighter. As a bonus, it helps boost your skin’s natural collagen production, helping to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles over time.

Best fragrance-free moisturizer with SPF: Paula's Choice, Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 — $31.00

We love a multi-tasking product. This fragrance-free hydrating solution from Paula’s Choice also contains SPF 30, which makes it a great everyday product. It’s a creamy formula that is stacked with antioxidants, ceramides, and “anti-aging peptides” to help smooth fine lines and add dewiness to your skin.

Best fragrance-free body moisturizer: Nécessaire, The Body Lotion — $28.00

It used to be impossible to find fragrance-free products that also look chic on your shelves, but now that Nècessaire’s on the market, that’s no longer the case. The brand’s fragrance-free body products have become beauty-lover favorites (whether or not they have sensitive skin), and their everyday lotion is a real standout in the line. What it lacks in fragrance it makes up for in other powerhouse ingredients, including firming peptides and niacinamide.

Best fragrance-free hand moisturizer: EltaMD, So Silky Hand Crème — $29.00

Dermatologists are constantly singing the praises of EltaMD’s sunscreens, but don’t sleep on the brand’s fragrance-free hand cream. It’s made with ceramides and vitamin E to help heal dry, cracked hands—and won’t cause further irritation in the process.

Best fragrance-free gel moisturizer: The Ordinary, Natural Moisturizing Factors + Beta Glucan — $14.00

Leave it to The Ordinary to concoct the gel-textured moisturizer of your sensitive-skinned dreams. Made with beta glucan (which sucks water into the skin) and natural moisturizing factors (which mimic your skin’s moisture barrier to help it stay hydrated), this stuff will keep your complexion quenched and then some. It’s got a nice, lightweight texture that looks like a gel, but feels super hydrating, and is totally fragrance-free.

Best fragrance-free tinted moisturizer: Peter Thomas Roth, Water Drench® Hyaluronic Cloud Sheer Tint Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 45 — $56.00

Think of this as the only fragrance-free product you need to start your day, every day. It’s ultra hydrating thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid. It also offers SPF 45 protection and has a subtle hint of tint to even out your skin tone. It’s your moisturizer, sunscreen, and tinted moisturizer all in one.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Stettler, Hans et al. “A new topical panthenol-containing emollient: Results from two randomized controlled studies assessing its skin moisturization and barrier restoration potential, and the effect on skin microflora.” The Journal of dermatological treatment vol. 28,2 (2017): 173-180. doi:10.1080/09546634.2016.1214235

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