As the last step in your routine, your moisturizer's main job is to seal in all of the skin-nourishing goodness from the products that came before it. But if you've ever slathered one on only to watch it immediately turn into little balls and flake off of your face, you know that things don't often go as planned. Not only is this situation wildly annoying (it's pretty much impossible to blend makeup on top of pilly moisturizer), but it's also a big-time waste of product. So what gives? Apparently, it all comes down to the formula you're using and the way you're applying it.
According to Debra Jaliman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, the best way to avoid pilling is to opt for a lightweight moisturizer that doesn't have any "heavy ingredients." For example, you want to steer clear of occlusives like shea butter, which is naturally thick thanks to the fact that it's packed with barrier-strengthening fatty acids. In general, lotion-textured moisturizers tend to be lighter than creams, so if pilling is a problem, opt for one of these formulas.
Pilling can also happen if you're applying too much product, adds Joshua Zeichner, MD. In most cases, less is more—you really only need a pea-sized amount of serum and a nickel-sized dollop of moisturizer to get the job done. What's more, if you aren't allowing your products enough time to dry before layering them on top of each other, they may get all mixed up and messy... which is exactly what we're trying to avoid.
Below, shop six derm-approved moisturizers that always play nicely with other products, and will make blending (and layering) a breeze.
Best moisturizers that layer seamlessly
No shocker here. This moisturizer has been a go-to for derms and beauty lovers for years thanks to its supercharged hydrating formula that contains both glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These two powerhouse ingredients are key for making your skin look supple and moisturized for hours on end. The cream is also great to use anytime of the day and has a gel-like consistency that “sinks right into the skin,” says Dr. Jaliman.
What makes the moisturizing serum so unique and worth the hefty price tag, is its use of five different “hydrators.” This includes vitamin E (a vitamin that protects against radical damage), hyaluronic acid (a powerful moisturizing agent), and a special Peptide Complex that helps to smooth fine lines. Plus, its lightweight formula provides up to eight hours of hydration and “absorbs right into the skin,” says Dr. Jaliman.
Looking for a simple cream to pair under your no-makeup makeup? This one from Mad Hippie doesn’t disappoint .”It goes on and absorbs very quickly into the skin,” says Dr. Jaliman. “It’s very light yet hydrating. It also contains glycerin which is an excellent hydrator.” Not to mention, the cream is loaded with peptides (amino acids that help stimulate collagen) and niacinamide (a vitamin that helps to brighten and lighten the skin). Together, these ingredients help to make your skin smoother with each application.
Our senior commerce editor has been testing this moisturizer for the last two months, and it’s become her all-time staple—especially for days she’s wearing makeup and SPF (or even just SPF). This ultra hydrating moisturizer features pink eclipta prostrata extracts (a plant native to Korea that’s rich in antioxidants and helps calm down any redness or irritation) and nelumbo nucifera flower water that acts as a barrier between your skin and harmful pollutants. What’s best about this cream is that it’s ultra-lightweight while infusing maximum hydration—and it doesn’t cause the rest of your skin care or makeup to pill.
Apart from its affordability, this moisturizing cream is a derm-fave thanks to its incredibly lightweight formula. The cream “dries with a weightless feel on the skin” and has a “light consistency that’s unlikely to lead to pilling,” says Dr. Zeichner. It also contains several different minerals and eucalyptus oil, which is known for its moisturizing and antioxidant properties that help with inflammation.
If you’re a fan of minimalist skin-care, this moisturizer deserves a spot in your beauty cabinet. Not only does it give your skin a major hydration boost, but it also provides protection from the sun’s rays. The cream contains both hyaluronic acid and SPF 30 to really boost your skin’s moisture barrier and provide you with all-day sun protection.
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