Water-Gel Moisturizers Are Finally Available at a Wide Range of Prices — Just in Time for Summer

If you haven't tried one yet, you now have options ranging from $20 to over $100.

It's no secret that I'm obsessed with oils and thick, gloppy face moisturizers. Following an exfoliation and cleanse, I'll often load up on hydrating toners, slippery serums, eye creams, face creams and neck creams all before I even consider throwing a primer on my face and starting my makeup routine. Part of it is that I enjoy the process, part of it is combination skin, and part of it is because I live in a really dry climate.


The desert has a muggy, humid, monsoon season, and sometimes the heat is just so unbearable (OMG @ 120 in the forecast this weekend) that I crave something really light, but still moisturizing. That's where gel creams come in.

Over the last three months, I've been sampling a lot of water-gel creams, and today I'm sharing my top picks in every price category.

Neutrogena Hydroboost Water Gel: $18.99

Neutrogena's straightforward, worth-your-money water gel cream comes in at under $20 (and is easy to find a couple dollars on sale, as well). I first discovered it when Morgan wrote about it last year, and was eager to try it. The texture feels light and airy and wet and soaks into your skin immediately. The one drawback is that it can create a little bit of a "tight" feeling, but it's not terribly noticeable.

Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb: $22

There's a reason Belif's Aqua Bomb has a near five-star rating with over 800 reviews on Sephora. It's priced very reasonably, but it feels like a very high-end cream. And it works, folks. This is the moisturizer I reach for when I want something light but hydrating on my face, and when I want to create a more "matte" finish on my skin. It sits beautifully under makeup and has a clean sort of scent.

P.S. If you try this and like it, they have a jar available that's twice the size for $38.

Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Water-Sure Gel: $38

Dr. Jart+ has an excellent water-gel option for all sorts of skin types. Again, it's very lightweight and silky, and it makes my skin feel moisturized without leaving any weird residue or heaviness behind. In fact, it almost feels like I'm wearing nothing on my skin at all, except that it feels softer, fresher and plumper. I love the clean scent.

The Estee Edit Pink Peony Overnight Water Pack: $50

This water-gel moisturizer by The Estee Edit is intended for overnight wear, so it's a little different from the other products in this roundup. The texture is very light and silky, and it dries down quickly to create a thin barrier over the skin to lock moisture in while you sleep. You can also wear it as a mask for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing off. It has a very faint hint of floral and berry scent.

Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream: $65

I've written about this product before, and I stand by my original review. My tub is almost gone — *tear* — which is a testament to the fact that I use it with consistency.

Sunday Riley's water cream is a little different from the others because of its unique finish. Though my skin does soak the product up, there is a very noticeable hydrating effect that continues throughout the day. This is because of the unique product formulation that pulls moisture from the air and onto your face (kinda like you're a walking succulent). My skin looks dewy from the second I put it on and stays that way until late into the day.

Also, it smells like shimmering, illuminated pool water that only mermaids are allowed to swim in.

Guerlain Super Aqua-Cream Day Gel: $135

This Guerlain Day Gel is ever-so-slightly heavier than some of the others on this list, but it's still technically a gel moisturizer. It smells sweetly of silk-dusted rose petals and — I hate to say it because of the price tag — is a very, very nice treat for your skin. It's one of my favorites in the bunch because it makes my skin feel impossibly soft and smooth, and creates a noticeable plumping effect that fills in fine lines. If you try this in the stores, be careful because you will probably end up buying it.

Some final things to note about water gels: many of them come in tub form, so to keep things hygienic, you really need to use a cosmetic spatula when applying. Also, because they're water-based, they don't keep as long as oil-based or alcohol-based products. I recommend using your product within the first six to eight months of opening.

  • Have you tried any of these?
  • Have you tried any water-gel moisturizers I didn't cover here?