My Skin Doesn’t Like Thick Moisturisers, But I Swear By These Alternatives

If there's one thing skin experts want you to know (besides the fact that you should be wearing SPF every single day), it's that hydration is essential for every single skin type. Whether your complexion is dry, sensitive, oily or acne-prone, without adequate hydration, you're going to experience some major skin upset.

When I was a young beauty assistant, upon learning this valuable information, I started adding moisture-rich creams to my routine. My skin had been fine without them, but I was absolutely adamant that if I wanted my skin to be healthy in the long term, I had to follow the expert advice and make sure I was moisturising morning and night. But as time went on, I learned a very hard lesson. It turns out hydration comes in many forms, and rich, creamy moisturisers don't always equal more hydration.


(Image credit: @SHANNONLAWLOR)

After a few months of using the most moisture-rich creams I could find, I started breaking out—something I'd never had to deal with before. My skin looked greasy, congested and frankly, the most unhealthy it had ever been.

After explaining the thought process behind my moisturiser switch-up to every skin expert who would listen, I was informed that things aren't quite that simple (a tidbit of wisdom that, I have come to learn, rings true in just about every faction of skincare). While skin hydration is paramount, that's not to say every skin type needs thick moisturiser every single day. Hydration, it turns out, can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes, serums and essences. While all skin types need hydration, as a general rule, those with oilier skin (like mine) are far less likely to get on with rich moisturisers, which risk clogging our pores and exacerbating our oiliness. Instead, we should opt for lightweight moisturisers, whether that's a serum, gel cream or lotion. In fact, unless your skin is particularly dry, come summer, we all might benefit from opting for a lighter texture in our moisturisers.

Over the past six or so years, I have dedicated a huge amount of time to hunting for the best lightweight moisturisers—the kind that deliver the essential hydration your skin needs to function without being thick and greasy. I'm talking clever formulas with super-light textures that leave skin feeling refreshed rather than suffocated. So whether you're looking to swap out your usual moisturiser for a lighter version for summer or your skin has always disliked traditional moisturisers, keep scrolling for the 15 best lightweight moisturisers out there. Trust me—your skin will thank you.

1. Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Omega-Rich Cloud Cream

2. Tatcha The Silk Cream

3. Augustinus Bader The Ultimate Soothing Cream

4. Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturising Cream

5. Révive Moisturizing Renewal Hydrogel

6. Caudalie Vinosource Grape Water Gel Moisturiser

7. Rose Inc Hydration Replenish Microencapsulated Moisturiser

8. Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

9. Summer Fridays Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream Moisturizer

10. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluid

11. Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

12. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream 

13. Then I Met You Calming Tide Gel Cream

14. Sunday Riley C.E.O. Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Cream 

15. Elemis Pro-Collagen Morning Matrix

Next up, finally, 14 under-eye concealers that don't crease or settle into lines.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is a renowned beauty journalist and has contributed to Who What Wear’s beauty content since 2020. As a leading beauty editor, expert and brand consultant, she has over eight years of experience working for some of the industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear (of course), Glamour UK, Stylist, Refinery29 and Fabulous. Having also worked behind the scenes with some of the industry’s biggest brands and retailers, Shannon has a unique insight into what people really want from their beauty routines. Understanding that beauty lovers seek honest, open and responsible advice, she has it made her mission to demystify the intimidating world of beauty, taking a no-frills approach to the most relatable topics. While Shannon is the first to admit she doesn’t hold the answer to every beauty question out there, she is dedicated to sharing her expert insights in a bid to help. As a self-proclaimed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for easy-to-use, foolproof beauty products and has made it her mission to scope out the best of the best. When she’s not working, Shannon is likely soaking in the bath or giving no-holds-barred beauty reviews on Instagram from her bathroom floor.