Water-Based Vs. Oil-Based Moisturizers: Which Is Right For You?

Finding the perfect moisturizer can be a daunting task. Your tried-and-true moisturizer may actually be the wrong product for your skin. However, it is worth it to find the best match for your skin, as keeping your face hydrated is important.

Dr. Ellen Marmur, a board-certified dermatologist, told Healthline, "Moisturizing your face helps to protect the skin's barrier from irritation. It also helps to reduce the development of dryness, or helps you to revive your skin from dryness."

Regardless of your skin type, you should be applying a moisturizer to your face every day after cleansing. While some doctors, like Zein Obagi, have made shocking comments about moisturizing being bad for your skin, that couldn't be further from the truth (via Byrdie). Keeping your skin moisturized can help protect it from environmental damage.

When it comes to picking the perfect moisturizer, you'll likely come across water-based and oil-based products. Here's how to tell which one is the best type for your skin.

Water-based works best for oil-prone skin

The ingredients in moisturizers vary. When browsing the aisles of Sephora and Ulta, you'll likely notice products ranging from water-based to oil-based. How do you know which is best for you? It all comes down to skin type.

Water-based moisturizers are just that, having water as a leading ingredient (via The Derm Review). While many water-based products also have oil in them to keep the water from evaporating, the oil will not be at the base of your product. Water-based moisturizers are thinner and lightweight.

Celebrity dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, explained how water-based moisturizers worked to Who What Wear. "It gives what's called internal hydration, so it doesn't sit on your skin like oils do. It gets inside the skin and brings water into the skin. Not only do you get hydration, but you get some plumping and this beautiful, dewy radiance without the possible side effects of excess oils," he shared.

What skin types benefit best from water-based moisturizers? Oil-prone skin. These light moisturizers will give you the perfect balance of lightweight moisture without clogging oily pores.

Oil-based products will be a savior for dry skin

It's no surprise that water-based moisturizers are best for our friends with oil-prone skin. Therefore, it's also not a shock that oil-based moisturizers will help those with dry skin shine (via Healthline). Mature skin will also benefit from a product with an oil base.

Of course, there will be water in an oil-based moisturizer, just like there is oil in water-based products. However, the major difference is the base. An oil base does need water to make a total and perfect moisturizer. Oil-based moisturizers will be thicker than water-based ones and the perfect answer for dry and flakey skin (via The Derm Review).

Oil-based moisturizers can look like many things: ointments, body butter, and thick creams. While water-based and oil-based products are both great choices, it comes down to what your skin needs most. Dry and mature skin will drink in the thick oils in an oil-based product, while a water-based moisturizer will likely be too thin for those experiencing dryness.