The best lightweight moisturizers for summer

  • When the temperature and humidity rises in the summer, your skin produces more oil which can clog pores and lead to breakouts.
  • You need a lightweight moisturizer such as water-based gel or oil-free lotion that will hydrate without feeling heavy on your skin.
  • Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer is our top overall pick because it hydrates intensely, and also delivers tons of antioxidants to protect skin.

With rising temperatures and humidity, your complexion can be more sticky and sweaty than gorgeous and glowing in the summer.

During winter, your skin is usually dry and dehydrated due to the cold air so you'd need heavier creams, but in summer, your face tends to be oilier than normal because heat and humidity cause an increase in oil production. However, heavier creams can spell disaster - clogging pores, causing breakouts, and adding to your already-shiny T-zone.

It's time to put the heavy creams away and instead use a good lightweight moisturizer to ensure your skin stays hydrated and healthy.

I asked Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai in NYC, for tips on choosing the best moisturizer for summer. "Rather than heavy creams, stick to light lotions or gels which can easily be spread and don't feel sticky even in the summertime," he says. "When it comes to ingredients, look for light humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid that act like sponges to pull in water to the outer layer of the skin. The latest generation of facial moisturizers contains skin brightening and soothing botanicals, and deliver more than just hydrating benefits."

Help is at hand. After researching hundreds of consumer and expert reviews, and testing those favorites myself, I've come up with the best of the best.

Here are the best lightweight moisturizers to buy:

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The best lightweight moisturizer overall

The best lightweight moisturizer overall
Farmacy's Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer is a gel moisturizer formulated with honey, hyaluronic acid, and cupuaçu butter to hydrate, nourish, and protect.

Despite being very light, the Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer from clean beauty brand Farmacy is packed with powerful, naturally-derived ingredients that hydrate and protect skin.

It's formulated with antioxidant-rich honey sourced from the bees that pollinate the Echinacea plants on Farmacy's own farm in upstate New York, propolis from the beehives to strengthen the skin's barriers, and cupuaçu butter, which delivers intense hydration for up to eight hours. Cupuaçu butter comes from the cupuaçu fruit.

The Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer is my go-to moisturizer for summer for both day and night as it's really lightweight and can double as a makeup primer.

It comes with a metal spatula that sticks to the magnetic lid for easy and hygienic application — you'll also never lose it. I love the cute honeycomb-shaped jar, subtle honey scent, and texture, which is a cross between a gel and cream.

It feels very light and refreshing on my skin, and absorbs instantly, leaving a slightly dewy sheen. My skin feels soft and smooth all day whenever I wear this.

This lightweight moisturizer has a huge fan base too. It's recommended by Brides and Byrdie and also gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Influenster, with one reviewer commenting, "It smells great and isn't too heavy like some moisturizers. It leaves my skin feeling amazing after my routine and doesn't irritate or clog my pores."

Pros: Suitable for many skin types, can be used day and night, free of parabens and synthetic fragrances, cruelty-free

Cons: On the pricey side

The best lightweight SPF moisturizer

The best lightweight SPF moisturizer
CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM provides sun protection while moisturizing your skin — and it's really affordable too.

It's important to wear SPF all year round, but even more so in the summer. CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM is a great no-frills moisturizer with SPF 30 that provides long-lasting hydration and sun protection.

It's formulated with ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid to help restore and maintain your skin's protective barrier. The sunscreen is powered by zinc oxide, but it's not a mineral formula as it also includes chemicals like octinoxate.

When I put it to the test, the lotion took a while to rub in because of the zinc. However, it gave me confidence that it was protecting my skin and my face felt more hydrated because of the hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide.

I'm not the only one who recommends CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM. It gets a big thumbs up from Good Housekeeping and Reviews.com. It also gets some great reviews on Target where it holds a 3.8-star rating and more than 180 reviews, with one happy customer reporting, "I've been nervous about using a moisturizer with sunscreen but I love this one. It's lightweight, doesn't seem to irritate my skin and easily blends into my skin. It also works well under makeup."

Pros: Zinc formula, oil-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, affordable, and includes ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid

Cons: Takes a while to rub in, zinc formula is mixed with ingredients like octinoxate

The best affordable lightweight moisturizer

The best affordable lightweight moisturizer
If you're looking for a lightweight moisturizer that hydrates and refreshes your skin but won't break the bank, the award-winning Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is ideal.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel has a lightweight formula designed to instantly quench your skin and improve your skin's natural moisture barrier, leaving it smooth and supple all day long. The oil-free, water-based formula contains hyaluronic acid, which behaves like a sponge for dry skin, absorbing up to 1,000 times its weight in water and boosting its hydration level.

It's suitable for all skin types including oily and sensitive skin, and because it's oil-free, can also be used as a makeup primer without making you look greasy. The brand claims it can help soothe minor skin irritations and rashes such as eczema, but it does have added fragrance that can irritate sensitive skin.

When I put Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel to the test, it felt very lightweight and absorbed quickly without feeling at all greasy, leaving me with a visibly smoother and softer skin. I did notice the scent, which wasn't heavy or smelled bad, but it was noticeable.

I'm not alone in recommending Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. It gets rave reviews from multiple beauty sites including Byrdie and Rank and Style. It also has more than 2,100 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.3 stars out of 5.

Pros: Suitable for all skin types, oil-free, alcohol-free, non-comedogenic

Cons: Contains synthetic fragrance

The best anti-aging lightweight moisturizer

The best anti-aging lightweight moisturizer
Tatcha The Water Cream is a lightweight moisturizer that is perfect for hot, sticky summer days, and unlike other lightweight formulas, packs a punch when it comes to anti-aging. TK

The Water Cream from clean beauty brand Tatcha is an oil-free, water-based moisturizer with anti-aging properties.

It's formulated with Japanese wild rose to help tighten the appearance of large pores, leopard lily to combat excess oil, green tea and algae to provide skin-strengthening antioxidants, and even 23-karat gold, which the brand claims to boost your skin's radiance.

The Water Cream has a gel-like texture and a subtle, almost citrus-y fragrance. I only needed a very small amount (which is great, because this is on the expensive side) and it absorbed instantly, leaving me with smooth, dewy skin that didn't look or feel greasy at all.

I'm not convinced about the gold helping your skin glow, but it sure does sound fancy. The aquamarine jar is also gorgeous and luxurious, and comes with a tiny gold spatula for easy application. It looks — and feels — like a worthwhile skin-care investment.

The Water Cream has many other fans and gets a big thumbs up from Refinery29 and Byrdie, as well as 4.2 rating out of 5 stars on Sephora with one happy customer saying that it's "a miracle in a jar."

Pros: Oil-free, suited for most skin types, non-comedogenic, non-irritating, formulated without parabens, synthetic fragrances, and other potentially toxic chemicals

Cons: Expensive but you only need a small amount, not ideal if you have very dry skin

The best lightweight moisturizer for sensitive skin

The best lightweight moisturizer for sensitive skin
Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet is a lightweight moisturizer that soothes and hydrates sensitive skin.

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet is a lightweight, natural gel-cream with a multitude of benefits. It's designed to replenish your skin's moisture levels and address sensitive skin issues like irritation and redness. It melts on contact with the skin, releasing moisture for instant hydration.

The formula is packed with ingredients such as organic grape water, and antioxidants from chamomile and grape seed hydrate, soothe, and protect even the most sensitive skin. Caudalie is a clean beauty brand so there are no harsh chemicals in the formula like parabens or synthetic fragrances, which could irritate your skin.

When put to the test, the formula felt very light and disappeared quickly into my skin. I loved the subtle but refreshing floral scent from the ingredients, and how good soft and smooth my skin felt.

I'm not the only fan of Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet, it's highly-rated by Allure and gets a 4.2 out of 5 stars on Sephora with one customer commenting, "It is the perfect blend of intense moisturizing and non-greasiness. I like that it does not have sunscreen as most products that do, tend to make my skin uncomfortable."

Pros: Suitable for many skin types, ideal for sensitive skin, vegan, cruelty-free, non-comedogenic, gluten-free, formulated without synthetic chemicals, parabens, and phthalates

Cons: Pricey

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