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The Beauty Industry’s Most Beloved Moisturizers

Beauty leaders voted on the best moisturizers of all time.

Call them the creams of the crop.

Moisturizers are the building blocks of skin care, a hero product for brands and consumers alike. To discover the true medicine cabinet mainstays, Beauty Inc asked nearly 400 executives, founders, editors, financiers, retailers, chemists and influencers to share their top products.

Promised confidentiality, some of the industry’s most influential voices cast their votes. (The full list of those willing to be identified as electors appears in this story, though the content of their ballots remains confidential.)

The results span price points and channels, and run the gamut from a nearly 60-year-old cream to one launched just last year. On the ingredient front, several boast proprietary components; others include some of the category’s hottest humectants and occlusives. One winner reports 10 years of research into niacinamide (hint: that one comes in an instantly recognizable red jar). Here, in alphabetical order, the 20 most iconic moisturizers in beauty, as voted on by beauty industry insiders.

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Ausgustinus Bader
Ausgustinus Bader Courtesy Image

Augustinus Bader The Cream, The Rich Cream

Launched: 2018

Augustinus Bader took the beauty industry by storm when it launched in 2018, but its hero ingredient, TFC8, was decades in the making. The compound, used to treat burn victims in Bader’s clinic in Germany, has garnered fans spanning Hollywood elite and the beauty industry’s power brokers.

Results oriented: In 2022, sales of The Cream and The Rich Cream exceeded 1,000 units a day.

Belif Courtesy Image

Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb

Launched: 2010

When K-beauty was still nascent, Belif unveiled the best of Korean skin care innovation (think ceramides and glycerin) with tried-and-true apothecary ingredients like Lady’s Mantle.

Results oriented: Belif has sold more than 10 million units of Aqua Bomb and sister stock keeping unit Moisturizing Bomb since the products’ launches.

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CeraVe Daily Facial Moisturizing Lotion

Launched: 2005

From dermatologists’ offices to TikTok, one of CeraVe’s first skus is still garnering street cred — and sales — with consumers. The product is devoid of oils but includes three key ceramides, making it an early player in the skin barrier conversation.

Results oriented: One of the brand’s top sellers, Daily Facial Moisturizing Lotion boasts more than 72,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.

Clark’s Botanicals
Clark’s Botanicals Courtesy Image

Clark’s Botanicals Deep Moisture Mask

Launched: 2019

This double-duty mask was founder Francesco Clark’s first launch after buying back the brand, and despite no points of sale at that time, has garnered cult status among makeup artists and red carpet heavyweights thanks to its clear dry-down and calming effect on the skin.

Results oriented: One actress called the brand’s founder Francesco Clark during a sellout asking to buy the office stock — and even paid overnight shipping — before a film premiere.

Clé De Peau
Clé De Peau Courtesy Image

Clé de Peau La Crème

Launched: 1996

Meant for overnight use, platinum golden silk is the hero ingredient of La Crème, whose claims include 24-hour moisture and firming and brightening benefits.

Results oriented: This cream’s creation requires more than 60 ingredients and 100 steps to formulate over the course of three days.

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Clinique Courtesy Image

Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

Launched: 1988

One of beauty’s first matte moisturizers is also one of its most enduring. First launched by brand cofounder Carol Phillips, the fan favorite gained a new iteration in 2020, featuring two different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid and biofermented aloe extract, lactobacillus and activated aloe water.

Results oriented: Clinique sells one unit of Moisture Surge every five seconds.

Dieux Courtesy Image

Dieux Instant Angel

Launched: 2022

At the nexus of social media street cred and science, Dieux’s clinically backed moisturizer satisfies scientists and internet denizens alike. Instant Angel couples skin-restoring lipids with an amino acid for collagen synthesis, in addition to a range of ceramides, phytosterols and free fatty acids. True to the brand’s ethos of making lipid-rich moisturizers more accessible, the $45 price tag keeps retention rates high.

Results oriented: More than 10 tubes sell on the brand’s website every hour.

Dr. Jart+
Dr. Jart+ Courtesy Image

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Skin Barrier Moisturizing Cream

Launched: 2013

Ceramides and panthenol power Dr. Jart+’s hero product, which is said to result in 100 hours of moisture following a single use. That payoff keeps consumers coming back — the product boasts high retention rates and consistent sales increases. Not bad for a product marking a decade in existence.

Results oriented: The moisturizer has hit triple-digit sales growth in the U.S. over the past few years.

Drunk Elephant
Drunk Elephant Courtesy Image

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

Launched: 2018

Long before barrier strength was buzzed about, Drunk Elephant founder Tiffany Masterson looked to her daily protein smoothie for inspiration for a nourishing, strengthening moisturizer. The result includes nine signal peptides to boost barrier function, in addition to amino acids, synthetic growth factors and pigmy water lily.

Results oriented: Drunk Elephant sells one Protini Polypeptide Cream every minute.

First Aid Beauty
First Aid Beauty Courtesy Image

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

Launched: 2009

Versatility is the name of the game for First Aid Beauty’s top seller. Ultra Repair Cream is intended for head-to-toe use and doubles as an eczema treatment, given the cocktail of calming colloidal oatmeal, ceramides and shea butter.

Results oriented: Ultra Repair Cream has been First Aid Beauty’s top seller for more than a decade, with one sold every 10 seconds.

Kiehl’s Courtesy Image

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream

Launched: 2006

Combining squalane and glacial glycoprotein, Kiehl’s mainstay moisturizer has stood the test of time. The result is a dependable and deeply moisturizing formula that’s been on top of the world since its launchn — literally. Kiehl’s supplied climbers for the first ascent of Mount Everest’s East Face without supplemental oxygen with the product to help them brave the elements.

Results oriented: Ultra Facial Cream is Kiehl’s’ top-selling moisturizer.

La Mer
La Mer Courtesy Image

La Mer Crème de La Mer The Moisturizing Cream

Launched: 1965

Fifty-eight years, three varying textures and billions in sales later, the O.G. luxury cream — and the hero behind La Mer’s billion-dollar brand status — remains as relevant as ever. La Mer calls its secret sauce “miracle broth,” a fermentation of sustainably harvested sea kelp, which takes three to four months, but consumers come back for the clinically tested softening of fine lines and wrinkles.

Results oriented: La Mer sells one jar of the product every 40 seconds.

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Neutrogena HydroBoost Water Gel

Launched: 2015

This gel was among the first to take prestige beauty’s hydration darling, hyaluronic acid, to mass market shelves. The result was an ensuing range of products with advanced delivery mechanisms for optimal penetration and a quick-absorbing texture.

Results oriented: The water gel spawned the U.S.’ top hyaluronic acid facial care line, according to the brand.

Olay Courtesy Image

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Facial Moisturizer

Launched: 2007

Olay’s Micro-Sculpting Cream holds its own against the luxury competition. According to the brand, 10 years of research proves its hydration levels beat those of more than 130 competing premium products. It catalyzes cell growth thanks to its amino-peptide complex, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. A winning combination, indeed.

Results 0riented: Fifty million jars later, Olay still sells 20 jars per minute.

Révive Courtesy Image

RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream

Launched: 1997

Biotech is all the rage in beauty now, but RéVive founder, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Gregory Bays Brown understood the potential of epidermal growth factor peptides decades ago — hence this cream’s staying power. The brand’s signature bio-renewal peptide is clinically proven to help with fine lines, while glycolic acid adds a brightening boost.

Results oriented: Moisturizing Renewal Cream is RéVive’s bestselling moisturizer.

Rose Ingleton MD
Rose Ingleton MD Courtesy Image

Rose Ingleton MD Signature Moisturizer

Launched: 2019

Dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton’s namesake moisturizer takes the same approach as a daily multivitamin, coupling its moisturizing benefits with peptides, antioxidants, ceramides and superfruit extracts.

Results oriented: Signature Moisturizer is Rose Ingleton MD’s top seller by revenue.

Skinceuticals Courtesy Image

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

Launched: 2016

This moisturizer’s name is derived from its formula, which is a cholesterol-dominant ratio of 2 percent ceramides, 4 percent cholesterol and 2 percent fatty acids. Those ceramides mimic the configurations of how they naturally occur in human skin for speedier nourishing and pore-refining results.

Results oriented: SkinCeuticals’ Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 is the brand’s top-selling corrective product.

Skinfix Courtesy Image

SkinFix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream

Launched: 2016

Derms rave about the high levels of actives — lipids, peptides and glycerin — that give this moisturizer its name. One of the very first products catering to barrier health, it’s a key engine behind Skinfix’s surging sales at Sephora and an ideal salve for in-office procedures and sensitized skin alike.

Results oriented: Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream is a top-selling moisturizer at Sephora, where it’s earned more than 1,000 five-star reviews.

Summer Fridays
Summer Fridays Courtesy Image

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

Launched: 2018

Call it the Swiss army knife of skin care. The brand’s mega-moisturizing bestseller works as an overnight mask, a daily moisturizer, a hand cream and an eye cream, thanks to hyaluronic acid, glycerin and niacinamide. Getting the word out at launch was a cinch for influencer-cofounder duo Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Ireland, who have since remained authorities in the influencer brand realm. 

Results oriented: One Jet Lag Mask is sold every two minutes.

Tatcha Courtesy Image

Tatcha The Dewy Cream

Launched: 2019

No stranger to modernizing ancient remedies, Tatcha founder Vicky Tsai looked to Japanese purple rice for The Dewy Cream’s hero ingredient, which has a centuries-old reputation for enhancing vitality. In skin care, it’s a rich source of anthocyanin, a polyphenol with antioxidant properties.

Results oriented: One jar of the lilac moisturizer sells every 60 seconds.

The voters

Voters were asked to submit ballots with their top skin care choices. While the products they voted for are confidential, participants were given the option to remain anonymous or be identified as part of the overall electorate. The majority of voters opted for confidentiality, but here, listed alphabetically by first name, are those who agreed to be identified.

Ada Polla
Alicia Sontag
Alicia Yoon
Andrea Mennella
Dr. Anthony Nakhla
April Uchitel
Bee Shapiro
Charles Rosier
Cristina Nuñez
D’Andre Michael
Emily Dougherty
Emily Parr
Francesco Clark
Gwen Flamberg
Holly Thaggard
Ian Michael Crum
Jane Lauder
Jasmina Aganovic
Jessica Richards
Jill Kargman
Dr. Joyce Park
Kelly McPhilliamy
Leslie Blodgett
Lily Garfield
Linda Wells
Marianna Hewitt
Marla Beck
Nyakio Grieco
Oliver Garfield
Penny Coy
Rich Gersten
Robin Coe Hutshing
Romain Gaillard
Ron Robinson
Sarah Brown
Sarah Lee
Stephanie Morimoto
Susan Biegacz
Suzie Wokabi
Tarang Amin
Tera Peterson
Troy Surratt
Vennette Ho