Sweet summertime: A season full of pool parties, backyard barbecues, sundresses, and (less appealing) hot, muggy weather.
When the sun’s unrelenting and the humidity feels suffocating, slathering on your usual thick, creamy moisturizer might be a bit much for your pores. But don’t ditch your skincare routine altogether, because there’s an alternative way to hydrate without that won’t make your face feel like an oil slick: gel-based moisturizers.
Gel moisturizers have lightweight formulas that promise to leave your skin refreshed, hydrated, and glowing—no sticky residue or film involved. You can even use some of them over or under makeup for a dewy, illuminated look. So whether rich, heavy moisturizers aren’t your thing or you’re in the market for a lighter formula due to the summer heat, you’re sure to find something your skin will love amongst the top-rated options we’ve rounded up for you below.
How We Found The Internet’s Best Gel-Based Moisturizers
Trust us—and not just because we’ve all been there when it comes to iffy purchase decisions. Trust us because we use data, not hearsay, to determine which products should be featured in our Top 10 lists. Our proprietary ranking algorithm factors in user reviews, social buzz, best-selling lists, and other information in order to identify which products are worth the hype (and money). For that reason, we’re confident in the ten moisturizers below, whether it’s from luxurious skincare brands like La Mer or available on the shelves at your local drugstore.
Next up, check out the 10 Best Face Moisturizers With SPF.
Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.
Versed Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-Cream
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: During the hottest months of the year, you need a lightweight moisturizer that feels instantly refreshing (not suffocating). That’s what makes Versed’s Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-cream perfect—it’s an antioxidant-packed product that locks in hydration and leaves you with a grease-free finish.
WHO IT’S FOR: While this gel moisturizer works for all skin types, it’s best for oily skin due to its unique formula that combines sodium hyaluronate, aloe leaf juice, and green tea.
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: You know that satisfying feeling that a big gulp of water brings when you’re really thirsty? Belif’s The True Cream Aqua Bomb is designed to replicate that, but for your skin. This gel-based moisturizer is formulated to ‘burst’ when applied, releasing explosive hydration and leaving you with a smooth complexion and a healthy glow.
REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: While Belif calls their Aqua Bomb moisturizer a “cult favorite,” the truth is this product has gone mainstream, and there’s over 5,000 five-star reviews to prove our point.
Dermalogica Calm Water Gel
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Dermalogica’s Calm Water Gel moisturizer is ideal for those with dry skin. This product provides skin-quenching hydration and protection from the elements through a combination of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and apple and cactus pear extract.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW: Sensitive skin? No worries here, because this moisturizer is designed to soothe irritation through uber-gentle hydration. And you’ll be happy to know that hyaluronic acid is one of the rare skincare ingredients that’s not known to cause sun sensitivity. Even still, don’t skip the SPF.
Ole Henriksen C-Rush Vitamin C Gel Moisturizer
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: If you, like most of us, don’t wake up in the morning fresh-faced first thing, there’s a product we want you to meet: Olehenriksen’s C-Rush Brightening Gel Crème. As you might have guessed, vitamin C (a skin-brightening supplement) is the powerhouse behind this gel-based moisturizer, but there’s also antioxidant-rich rose of winter extract.
REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: Any product that has multiple thousands of reviews and manages to maintain above four-and-a-half stars has our respect. But if you want to hear it from a real user, here’s one of our favorite reviews: “This is the best my skin has ever felt! Brightening and smoothing, diminishing fine lines, and definitely brightens my face. I’m using this 2x a day now, and I’m about to order more.”
Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator Moisturizer
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: 100 hours of hydration? That’s a claim that feels like it needs to be tested. But guess what? Clinique did test it, and after one week of use, 99% of women said their skin felt deeply hydrated. Considering the formula is packed with hyaluronic acid and aloe vera, we’re only slightly surprised at those results.
WHO IT’S FOR: Due to the oil-free formula, this is one of the best gel moisturizers for oily skin. And here’s an application tip from Ulta: You can use this product under or over makeup, and also works as a five-minute mask.
La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Made with ingredients from the sea, La Mer’s Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream promises to return your skin to its healthiest form. Its formula features the brand’s Miracle Broth, a healing ingredient present in all of La Mer products that infuses skin with sea-sourced renewing energies.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW: We’ll be the first to say that while this is one of the best gel moisturizers for combination skin, it’s not as easy on your wallet. However, a little goes a long way with this product, so you won’t have to re-up as often as you might with a less-effective product.
Tarte Cosmetics Drink of H2O Hydrating Boost Moisturizer
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Cute packaging aside, Tarte’s Drink of H2O Hydrating Boost Moisturizer is a dermatologist-tested water gel moisturizer that’s powered by electrolytes, marine plants, and hyaluronic acid. Made to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, its lightweight formula softens the skin and results in a fresh, plump finish.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW: Planning to apply this product under makeup? Perfect, because it guarantees a smooth finish. Bonus tip: Try storing this moisturizer in the fridge for an extra refreshing routine.
Fenty Skin By Rihanna Instant Reset Brightening Overnight Recovery Gel-Cream
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Who doesn’t love an overnight transformation? The Instant Reset Brightening Overnight Recovery Gel-Cream from Fenty Beauty is meant to brighten and even out your skin tone while you sleep. And thanks to its non-comedogenic formula, it’s one of the best gel moisturizers for oily and acne-prone skin.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW: This gel moisturizer has accolades; specifically, it’s a 2021 Glamour Beauty Award Winner.
It Cosmetics Confidence In A Gel Lotion
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Efficiency is key with a skincare routine, which is why IT’s Confidence in a Gel Lotion has landed itself in the second-highest spot on our list. This gel-based moisturizer promises three days of hydration in just one step, and it’s allergy- and clinically-tested, which is great news for those with sensitive skin.
REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS: Looking for a heat-proof daily moisturizer? This might be the one for you, but we’ll let you decide after reading this review from a real user: “I really love this moisturizer! It has a lightness that is wonderful in the summer heat. I really feel that my skin is quenched after using it. Also, a little bit goes a very long way!”
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Water Gel Daily Face Moisturizer
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Who would have guessed that the best gel moisturizer would be one that’s available at your local drugstore? We’re thrilled about it, especially because Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel has an impressive 57,000+ five-star reviews on Amazon. So what makes this product so beloved? Probably the long-lasting hydration it provides, as well as the fact that its formula is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and oil-free.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW: This isn’t the first time this product has landed itself in one of our Top 10 skincare product lists. It also made the cut in our list of the best face moisturizers,