These editor-tested gel moisturizers are a perfect match for oily skin


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Photo: Getty Images/Nyimas Laula

If you’ve got oily skin, picking out a moisturizer can feel like Hilary Duff waiting for Chad Michael Murray at the end of A Cinderella Story: Useless and disappointing. And things get more complicated in the summer, when sweat and high temps exacerbate the situation even further. If you’ve spent the better part of the last decade in search of a product that will leave your face hydrated without looking like it’s been slicked in a coat of grease, you’re in luck, because gel moisturizers have got you covered.

“The biggest benefit of using a gel moisturizer is that you get lightweight hydration,” says clean beauty guru Tata Harper, who is launching a gel moisturizer of her own early next month. “I think of our Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer as a weightless hydrator because of the Gel Water Technology. It’s unique because it basically creates a moisture barrier that helps trap water so your skin feels hyper-hydrated, but not heavy at all. Gel moisturizers are also great for people who like to layer a lot of products, like me, but don’t want to feel heavy or weighed down.”

Harper notes that her product, in particular, is meant for people with oily or combination skin, who may be hesitant to slather their faces in the type of heavy creams that dry-skinned women tend to rely on. “So many people with oily skin think they don’t need a moisturizer, but that’s not true!” she says. “Oily skin needs moisture just as much as any other skin type, the difference is that it shouldn’t be a heavy texture or leave you looking more oily.”

Tara Rao, MD of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City confirms this sentiment, noting that, “generally a gel will be composed of water more than the creams and lotion, so gels may be good for someone with an oilier skin type or as an additive treatment to another moisturizer.”

With more humidity in the air as we transition into summer, products with a gel base tend to be more aesthetically pleasing. Generally, oil production increases in the summer, so trade rich hydrating creams in for lighter gel and water-based products.”

And even if you fall into camp “dry” or “sensitive” skin, you can still reap some of the benefits associated with piling jelly-textured goo on your face. These products tend to be made with hyaluronic acid, which is a hydration powerhouse, and has a cooling element that feels particularly dreamy when slathered on top of a sunburn (personally, I recommend putting gel moisturizer in the fridge for an experience that’s borderline orgasmic.  “A gel moisturizer can be good for any skin type, especially in the summer,” says Harper. “For example, even though I have dry skin, I get oily in the summer and the Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer is going to be my go to for all of those hot summer days.” Dermatologist David Lortscher, board-certified derm and co-founder / CEO of Curology, is also a big believer that gel formulations are your best bet for those hot days ahead. “With more humidity in the air as we transition into summer, products with a gel base tend to be more aesthetically pleasing,” he says. “Generally, oil production increases in the summer, so trade rich hydrating creams in for lighter gel and water-based products.”

Here, 12 gel moisturizers worth testing for yourself now that the temperatures—and with that, the grease levels of all of our faces—start to rise.

While we’re on the subject of summer-friendly moisturizers, here are some of our favorites with SPF in them. And this could be the reason why your skin is so oily


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