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How to Hydrate Your Skin With a Water-Based Moisturizer

And why it can provide so much more than hydration alone.
  • Cat Matta
April 24, 2024

By now, we're sure you're aware that moisturizer is a key component of an effective skincare routine. What you may not know is how to pick the right moisturizer for your skin. There are plenty of different types—from ultra-light water-based moisturizers to rich, oil-based creams—and choosing the right type for your skin can make all the difference in how your skin looks and feels.

While all moisturizers can help hydrate the skin, water-based face moisturizers tend to be lightweight and fast-absorbing, making them a great pick for those with oily and combination skin. Here, we’ll be diving into the benefits of water-based moisturizers and introduce you to our favorite formula for hydrated, plump, healthy-looking skin.

What Is a Water-Based Moisturizer?

A water-based moisturizer is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a type of moisturizing lotion or cream in which water (rather than oil) is the primary ingredient. While water itself can provide brief hydration, the best water-based face moisturizers also include water-attracting and water-retaining ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, to help maximize hydration. Some water creams also contain ingredients that help trap moisture in the skin for long-lasting hydration.

Since water-based moisturizers are typically lightweight and non-comedogenic—meaning they won’t clog your pores—they generally work well with all skin types. However, their non-greasy feel makes these formulas especially beneficial for those with oily and acne-prone skin (as well as those seeking a lighter moisturizer to use during the daytime).

If you’re wondering whether your favorite moisturizer is water-based, take a look at the ingredients label. If it’s water-based, water (or aqua) will typically be listed as the first ingredient.

Meet Our Best Water-Based Face Cream

If you’re looking to add a truly unique water-based moisturizer to your skincare routine, try L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. This lightweight water cream with micro hyaluronic acid and ceramides absorbs quickly, instantly locking in moisture to give your skin a smoother, plumper appearance. Over time, the non-greasy formula also helps visibly improve the appearance of fine lines, including under-eye lines, crow’s feet, frown lines, and laugh lines, for more youthful, healthy-looking skin. It’s suitable for all skin types and tones and can easily be incorporated into your morning and nighttime skincare routines.

BMAG InArticleImagery Hyaluronic Acid Ceramides Water Cream

What are ceramides?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, ceramides are naturally-occuring lipids and a key component of the skin barrier. They help keep your skin barrier intact and are responsible for trapping moisture in the skin to keep it hydrated, smooth, and firm.

Ceramides also help protect the skin from harmful free radicals, UV rays, and other external stressors.

As we age, the skin’s production of ceramides slows, which results in dryness, dehydration, and a loss of elasticity. Using skincare products with ceramides can help support your skin barrier, in turn promoting healthier, more resilient skin.

What does hyaluronic acid do for the skin?

We speak about the hydrating benefits of hyaluronic acid quite often—because the anti-aging powerhouse is just that good. This naturally-occuring molecule has a unique ability to attract and bind to water, per the National Institutes of Health. This is what makes it such an important ingredient in moisturizers and serums, as it helps draw hydration to the skin.

Unfortunately, our natural production of hyaluronic acid also slows down as we get older, compounding age-related skin concerns like dehydration and fine lines. Products with hyaluronic acid—like our aforementioned water cream—can help hydrate the skin, promote water retention, and help to give the skin a smoother, plumper appearance.

Benefits of a Water-Based Moisturizer

No matter your skin type, one thing stands true: All skin—even oily skin—needs moisture.

What type of moisturizer you use should be dictated by your skin type and concerns, but water-based face moisturizers offer a few unique advantages, particularly for those with oilier skin types. These include:

  • Lightweight: Water-based moisturizers tend to be lighter than their oil-based counterparts.
  • Fast absorbing: Generally, water-based moisturizers absorb into the skin quickly without leaving behind a heavy or sticky residue.
  • Non-greasy: Because they’re made with water, rather than oil, water-based moisturizers tend to be non-greasy and ideal for those with oily or acne-prone skin. These gentle, breathable formulas are also ideal for hydrating sensitive skin.

How To Use Water Cream In Your Skincare Routine

Step 1: Wash your face

As always, any effective skincare routine begins with a thorough cleanse. A water-based cleanser is an excellent way to complement your dive into the land of water-based face moisturizers. We like the visibly skin-smoothing and brightening L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleanser. The non-drying formula with glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and aloe extract washes away makeup, dirt, and other impurities while gently exfoliating your skin to help prep it for the rest of your routine.

Step 2: Apply serum

After you’ve washed your face, you may opt to also apply a serum, such as L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum. Containing some of dermatologists’ favorite ingredients, such as vitamins C and E, as well as salicylic acid, this brightening, mineral oil-free serum helps improve the appearance of three tell-tale signs of aging: uneven skin tone, enlarged pores, and fine lines.

Another option we love is the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum, which hydrates, plumps, and firms the skin to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Apply your serum to your clean face and neck while it’s still damp, patting it in to help the product penetrate your skin.

Step 3: Apply your water-based moisturizer

Now’s the time to seal in moisture with your water-based face moisturizer. Make sure your serum, if you choose to use one, is fully absorbed. Then smooth L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream onto your face and neck. You’ll get an instant burst of lightweight hydration, plus visible anti-aging benefits with continued use.

Step 4: Apply sunscreen

To help keep your skin protected from sun damage—and maintain the anti-aging progress you’re now well on your way to making—always finish up your daytime routine with sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. For an effective way to top off your lightweight skincare routine, give L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion a try. The non-greasy formula is infused with antioxidants (specifically, vitamins C and E) and blends evenly on all skin tones, without leaving a white cast. Plus, it works well as a makeup primer, making it the perfect addition to your everyday skincare routine.

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