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Moisturizer may not be officially acknowledged in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but if we were permitted to add it as a write-in, we’d probably put it somewhere between safety and love/belonging. It is that important.
Like most beauty-obsessed women who are constantly chasing the dragon of perfect skin, we’re rather promiscuous with our lotions and creams, and we won’t stop experimenting with what’s out there until we find the one. (And, OK, maybe there will even be a few short-lived affairs after that.)
And, if all goes as planned, the one won’t be too expensive. In fact, these eight moisturizers, all under $20, have won our hearts time and time again. Don’t worry—we’re more than happy to share.
“Theraplex Hydrolotion ($16.50) is an absolute godsend! I’ve been using it religiously for close to eight years and can’t even begin to imagine what my skin would be like without it. Its benefits are simple: incredible hydration and also versatility in that I can wear it under makeup, at night, or also layer it on with other products. This stuff is seriously the best.” –Jessica Teves, editor in chief
“Nothing—and I mean nothing—provides an intense dose of hydration like Weleda Cold Cream ($16.50). It’s a rich balm specifically targeted to dry skin like mine, and it sinks in like a dream. It’s made with great stuff, including sweet almond oil (which is packed with fatty acids) and beeswax. Unlike other mega-moisturizing treatments, there’s no petroleum, which means my skin never gets blocked from breathing. Winter is coming, people, so I strongly suggest you check this stuff out. Plus, it can be found at any local Whole Foods if you don’t feel like ordering online.” –Perrie Samotin, site director
“You have not used night cream until you’ve tried CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream ($16.99). It’s incredibly thick, emollient, and unsexy; however, you will wake up the next morning with skin so plump and dewy, you can’t help but notice the difference this one product makes. If you’re into instant gratification, you need this cream in your life.” –Cristina Velocci, managing editor
“I was an early fan of coconut oil in food—I put a dollop in my coffee every morning—but felt weird about scooping some out of the same jar to slather it on my face. Thankfully, I found RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream ($18), which comes in a gorgeously minimal glass jar. I use it at night to take off makeup and then put on more to seal in moisture for the night. It’s also really great as a full-body moisturizer for the seemingly never-ending winter months. In short, coconut oil = cliché best thing ever. Because it is.” –Beth Stebner, lifestyle editor
“I swear by Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 ($11.79), which I’ve been using since I was in high school. I’ve always been fastidious about applying sunscreen, and this formula provides light SPF coverage that doesn’t look chalky or smell like tons of chemicals, which is the route that many moisturizers with SPF go. Another bonus? The subtle hint of shimmer that the lightweight moisturizer provides—it instantly makes my skin look healthy and glowing, not unlike a Victoria’s Secret model’s.” –Cady Lang, social media editor
“I’m going to be straight with you: I’m a skin care snob, and I had to think long and hard about the last time I even tried a moisturizer that didn’t cost significantly more than $20. And then I remembered! A few years ago, my skin was a total, down-and-out mess of hormonal acne, redness, flaking, and pretty much every other skin nightmare you could ever think of (further proof that more expensive products don’t necessarily mean better). I think I may have been crying in a CVS when I purchased Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 ($13.99) on a whim. I started using it ritualistically, every day and every night, and my skin had simmered down by day five. I’m back to using a $185 serum now, because that’s who I am as a person, but I know that the next time the shit hits the fan, I’ll reach for this incredibly gentle—and affordable!—moisturizer without a second thought.” –Rachel Krause, associate beauty editor
“I fell in love with Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($17.99) because it’s so incredibly lightweight, and I hate feeling like my skin is suffocating with a ton of product during the day. It’s fragrance-free (no headaches for me) and has SPF 30, which isn’t too shabby. I love recommending it because it’s relatively affordable and can be found pretty much anywhere.” –Victoria Moorhouse, associate beauty editor
“My all-time-favorite moisturizer is CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($10.99). It’s so hydrating but not greasy, and it is one of the only products that keeps my retinol-induced dryness under control without also breaking me out. I hoard this stuff so I’ll never run out, because I love it so much. I have, like, six bottles of it in my apartment at any given time.” –Alle Connell, beauty editor