I’m 39 years old and have avoided face moisturizers for most of my life. I thought they were unnecessary, expensive, oily, and one more thing I had to worry about each morning. But then a few things changed. First my six-year-old daughter looked up at me one day and said, “Wow, dad, your wrinkles make you look old.” And she was right. I’ve spent a lot of time on skis and bikes and already have my fair share of lines. Then, I had a couple precancerous pieces of skin removed and my dermatologist gave me a stern talking to about wearing a moisturizer with sunscreen while I’m outside. So, in the interest of keeping my skin healthy and not dying, I started using moisturizers every morning and some evenings (when I remembered). I searched far and wide to find the best ones; these are my four favorites.
Brickell Daily Essential Face Moisturizer ($35)
Brickell was my gateway moisturizer because it immediately made my skin feel softer and healthier. It isn’t greasy, it doesn’t cost a ton, and it’s made with clean ingredients. The non-greasy part is particularly important to me because like many men, I hate the feeling of oil anywhere on my body. Brickell doesn’t cause breakouts and doesn’t leave my hands feeling slimy and gross. It’s made from 100 percent natural ingredients—83 percent of which are organic—and it’s nice knowing that I’m not rubbing a bunch of chemicals on my face. One four-ounce bottle lasts about two months, so it’s not a giant investment, either. This version doesn’t have sunscreen, so I wear it on days when I’m heading to work. The brand also makes a moisturizer with SPF 15.
Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion SPF 18 ($54)
If you spend time outside each day, this should be your go-to moisturizer because it includes sunscreen. I wear it on days I bike commute to work or might take a ride for lunch, or when I’m heading out for a morning hike. (I use stronger sunscreen if I’m going to be out all day.) Like the Brickell option, you get a non-oily, easy-to-wear moisturizer that doesn’t include any nasty chemicals or silly scent. The sunscreen is mineral (zinc oxide) and skips unnecessary, not-good-for-you ingredients. I was initially turned off by the price, because $54 seems like a lot for 1.7 ounces of lotion. But dermatologists recommend using only a teaspoon’s worth of sunscreen for the face and neck, which means the bottle lasts me more than a month.
Ghost Democracy Clean Lightweight Daily Face Moisturizer ($28)
One other reason I avoided moisturizers for so long is that many of them have made me break out. I had acne all through high school and college and still get occasional flare-ups. Thankfully, my skin plays well with Ghost Democracy’s version. That’s likely because the brand’s mix includes probiotics that help my skin maintain a healthy microbe balance. The price is more affordable—even though it’s chock full of high-quality ingredients—because Ghost Democracy is a direct-to-consumer brand. Bonus: my partner loves this brand, too, so it’s easy to share the moisturizer when we’re traveling.
Davines Authentic Nourishing Oil ($44)
It’s a pain to rub facial moisturizer into a beard, so I use this instead. It’s designed as a gentle all-purpose hair and skin oil that not only keeps my beard healthy and under control but also gets into my skin to keep it from getting dry and irritated. Unsurprisingly, it’s oily to the touch, but once rubbed in it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s made from 98 percent natural ingredients, and I’ve found that it doesn’t make me break out like other beard oils. I love traveling with a bottle because it also works as a leave-in conditioner for my hair, meaning I can pack one less thing in my dopp kit.