4 Best Moisturizers for Black Skin (A Derm's Guide) in 2021

4 Best Moisturizers for Black Skin (A Derm’s Guide)

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best moisturizer black skin
In a hurry? Here are our top picks:

BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN, HYPOALLERGENIC

ZELEN Life Moisturizer

This article aims to address the most suitable and effective ‘skin hydrators’ on the market for darker skin types.

Why is this an important topic?

While it is essential to find skincare products and moisturizers to fit your skin type, whether it is oily, dry, normal, or combination, it is also very important to choose a skin regimen based on your skin tone, type, or color.

The American Academy of Dermatology reports that individuals with darker skin types face a unique set of needs, including greater susceptibility to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which refers to a dark spot that can be residual after a breakout, dermatitis, or other dermatologic insults on the skin.

Similarly, the skin can look particularly dehydrated, dry, flaky, or ashy if it is not appropriately hydrated and moisturized.

One of the most common concerns for individuals with darker skin types is hyperpigmentation, which can sometimes occur on its own or after an insult to the skin, such as a rash, acne, or other trauma.

Within this review, we will be covering the best moisturizer for black skin, as well as some of the indications, benefits, and topics in this realm.

Quick summary

bb2-table__imageZELEN Life Moisturizer
  • Organic, chemical-free formulation, rich in antioxidants and vitamins
  • Packed with natural Vitamin C, helps photoaging and hyperpigmentation
  • Hydrates and protects the skin without clogging the pores
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bb2-table__imageCaudalie Vinopure Natural Oil Control Moisturizer
  • Non-shiny gel that balances hydration of the skin
  • Mattifying effect
  • Assists in oil control, which can help prevent acne breakouts
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bb2-table__imageMario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C
  • Lightweight enough to be used immediately after cleansing and toning
  • Rich in vitamin C, brightens the skin and promotes a healthy appearance
  • Fast absorption for quick hydration
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bb2-table__imageOars + Alps Natural Face Moisturizer and Eye Cream
  • Contains anti-aging properties
  • Aloe and vitamin E fight bacteria that can cause breakouts
  • Multi-purpose moisturizer, can be used as an eye-cream
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Before you buy: 3 things you have to consider when purchasing a moisturizer for black skin

1. When do you plan on using the moisturizer?

One of the key considerations to keep in mind when purchasing a moisturizer for black or darker skin phototypes is the setting in which you plan on using the moisturizer.

Are you hoping to put it on first thing in the morning after washing your face or using it as a primer for makeup?

Do you have an evening cream that is your go-to, and do you use any additional or coexisting topical dermatologic medications for conditions such as acne, rosacea, or seborrheic dermatitis?

The time of day in which you plan to apply the moisturizer and the purpose it may serve are important aspects of which kind of moisturizer you end up choosing. For daytime use, many individuals prefer a moisturizer with a sun protection factor component, which helps to shield UV light and avoid some of the effects caused by unwanted sun exposure.

2. What are the goals you are hoping to achieve with the moisturizer?

Which type of moisturizer you end up choosing should ideally line up with your goals in skincare.

If you suffer from acne, it may be wise to choose something oil-free and non-comedogenic to avoid further flares or breakouts. If you plan on applying it underneath or with makeup, it may be helpful to use something lightweight to avoid clogging pores.

Suppose you happen to be on topical retinoids or underwent a peel or a dermatologic procedure recently. It may be a consideration to choose a soothing emollient that can help your skin heal faster.

3. What type of skin do you have?

The kind of moisturizer you consider choosing also plays a role depending on what skin type you may have.

Some of us have sensitive skin, which tingles and may become red with the application of many products. If this sounds familiar, I suggest patch testing the moisturizer on an area with pretty thick, tough skin, such as the foot. Avoid applying a large quantity until you know how your skin will react to it.

Others may have dry skin that is continually flaking or ashy in appearance. These may benefit from a moisturizer with hydrating properties and ingredients such as ceramides, glycerin, and other emollients.

The 4 best moisturizers for black skin

1. ZELEN Life Moisturizer

ZELEN Life moisturizer

Best features:

  • Superb addition to a daily routine as it is natural and mattifying
  • Handmade with organic oils
  • Packed with antioxidants
  • Light, non-weight, and non-greasy formula that absorbs quickly

The best moisturizer for:

Those with sensitive skin. As it is hypoallergenic and can be used in all skin types, including sensitive skin, in both men and women.

Overview:

This daily moisturizer is handmade and an excellent choice for hydrating black skin. It contains organic ingredients such as clary sage, calendula, and jojoba oil that are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant primarily used to help reduce the effects of photoaging and hyperpigmentation, which is a common skin complaint in many skin types, including black skin.(1)

Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant that is fat-soluble and is used in many cosmetic products by serving as a scavenger of free radicals to help protect against solar radiation.(2) It can also be used for the treatment of hyperpigmentation.

In addition, it is comprised of a lightweight formula that is effortlessly applied and blends in with your skin texture restoring hydration. It is also an excellent option to use for dry skin in the wintertime.

It is ideal for all skin types, including acne-prone, sensitive, combination, normal, dry, or oily skin, as it is non-comedogenic and non-occlusive. It is unisex and can be used in both men and women. It is free from fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, mineral oil, silicones, sulfates, and parabens and is also natural, eco-friendly, plant-based, hypoallergenic, and rich in antioxidants and vitamins.

The good:

  • Moisturizes the skin and does not clog pores
  • Hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin types in both men and women
  • Acts as a protective barrier for the skin against external elements
  • Contains essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins
  • Cruelty-free – it has not been tested on animals

Things to think about:

  • This moisturizer does not contain sunscreen, so for sun protection, you may want to consider adding a physical blocker such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with a sun protection factor of 30 or above

Bottom line:

This all-encompassing moisturizer is excellent to add to your daily routine and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and ethnic skin as well as dark phototypes. It is perfect for all skin types, including individuals of all ages and sensitivities, men and women, acne-prone, combination, oily and sensitive skin.

2. Caudalie Vinopure Natural Oil Control Moisturizer

Caudalie-Vinopure-Natural-Control-Moisturizer

Best features:

  • Restores a hydrating balance to the skin
  • Mattifying gel to avoid unwanted shine
  • Ideal for many skin tones, including fair, medium, dark, and very dark skin tones

The best moisturizer for:

Oily skin, mainly due to its mattifying effect and its ability to reduce excess sebum and decrease the appearance of blemishes that characterize breakouts.

Overview:

This oil control moisturizer contains organic essential oils, rosewater, and grape polyphenols to promote a clear and fresh complexion. It is also formulated as a mattifying and hydrating liquid moisturizer designed to absorb sebum, reduce imperfections and refine the skin’s texture.

The moisturizer is light and contains natural silica powder, which prime and mattify the skin. Silica nanoparticles are used in many aspects of medicine, including cosmetics, dermatology, and dentistry.(3)

Rosewater has certain anti-inflammatory activities that are beneficial for the skin, including antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.(4)

It is also scented with natural essential oils that are light and deliver a feeling of freshness when applying. 96% of its ingredients are natural in origin, while 10% are derived from organic sources. It is dermatologically tested and non-comedogenic as well as free from synthetic fragrances.

Caudalie prides itself in creating skincare products free of parabens, mineral oils, phthalates, phenoxyethanol, and animal-derived ingredients.

The good:

  • Mattifies the affected areas instantly
  • Moisturizes and hydrates the skin
  • Creates a non-shiny glow
  • Helps to reduce excess sebum and blemishes that may contribute to breakouts

Things to think about:

  • This moisturizer is mattifying, meaning if you want a shiny glow or a degree of luminescence on your face, an additional luminescent moisturizer or powder may need to be applied

Bottom line:

This magnifying and all-encompassing moisturizer is suitable for all skin tones ranging from light to dark and hydrates the skin while restoring freshness and balance.

3. Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C

Mario-Badescu-Hydro-Moisturizer-Vitamin-C

 Best features:

  • Absorbs quickly
  • Rejuvenates the skin
  • Leaves skin looking hydrated
  • Contains vitamin C antioxidants

The best moisturizer for:

Combination skin or skin types with both an oily and a dry component, as it is hydrating yet lightweight.

Overview:

The Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C has a lightweight formula that contains vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and lemongrass extract to help even out the complexion, brighten skin tones, and improve the texture of the skin to promote a healthy appearance.

It helps to restore clarity, radiance, and brightness to dull and tired skin.

Topical vitamin C as present in this moisturizer has many clinical applications, including photoprotection, anti-aging properties, and the ability to alleviate pigmentary abnormalities.(5)

The way it is used is by applying it to the face after cleansing and tonic the skin. It is important to avoid the eye area and sensitive periorbital skin upon application. However, if it does, you may rinse with water to prevent excess irritation. It also contains mineral oil and squalene to help boost its moisturizing and hydrating properties.

The good:

  • May be used on the skin after cleansing and toning
  • Contains nourishing antioxidants such as vitamin C
  • Can be combined with other products such as vitamin C serum or alpha-hydroxy acids

Things to think about:

  • Since it contains vitamin C, which has a rejuvenating effect, take care when also using other rejuvenating cosmeceuticals or topical retinoids as it may be too irritating to the skin

Bottom line:

This lightweight moisturizer is packed with antioxidants such as vitamin C that help to restore clarity and promote a healthy skin balance to dehydrated skin. It is non-greasy and suitable for normal and combination skin.

4. Oars + Alps Natural Face Moisturizer and Eye Cream

Oars-Alps-Moisturizer-Hydrating-Anti-Aging

Best features:

  • Hydrating and anti-aging moisturizer
  • Safe for use around the eye
  • Non-greasy and fast-absorbing

The best moisturizer for:

The skin around the eyes, given that part of its indication, is an eye cream.

Overview:

This ultra-hydrating moisturizer can be used daily to provide long-lasting hydration throughout the morning and night.

Its ingredients include vitamin E, jojoba oil, and shea butter of excellent quality to help fight free radicals. It also contains alpine Caribou moss and aloe leaf juice to help protect the skin against external pollutants and other stressors.

It is suitable for many skin types, including black skin, and only a small amount needs to be applied.

Shea butter is made of triglycerides and is frequently used in skin care due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity due to its unsaponifiable compounds. It significantly helps to moisturize dry and parched skin.(6)

Jojoba oil has anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial in many skin conditions, including aging, wound healing, and infection.(7)  Its presence also enhances the absorption of topical drugs in dermatology as well as sunscreens and moisturizers.(7)

The balanced formula absorbs quickly, leaving the skin moisturized without a greasy feel. It can be used on the face and the eyes as a 2-in-1 moisturizer, so you do not need to use a separate eye cream for hydration.

It can also be applied to the under-eye area and is suitable for use after shaving.

The good:

  • Aloe juice and vitamin E help as antioxidants to fight free radicals
  • Manufactured in the US
  • Alcohol-free, can be used after shaving
  • Free from parabens, sulfate, glycol, phthalates, and animal cruelty

Things to think about:

  • While the travel size is convenient sometimes, customers expect a larger size for the moisturizer, particularly if it is one they are using on a daily basis, so they do not run out quickly

Bottom line:

This moisturizer and eye cream help to hydrate your skin without the oily feeling. It also contains many organic plant-based ingredients and comes in a travel size, making it convenient to carry on the go.


How we chose these products

To compile a list of the most recommend products, they go through a thorough review process with our dermatology advisory team.

We also sift through many reviews to find the ones that are truly genuine and comment on the product’s quality. We also analyze bad or poor reviews to see areas of improvement and determine the accuracy of the review process itself.

We only choose products with the highest quality of ingredients from the most reputable brands. We also pride ourselves on staying tuned to current trends and listening to others regarding some of their preferred recommendations.

Frequently asked questions

frequently-asked-questions-3

 

1. How often should you use a moisturizer?

How often you use a moisturizer depends on your skin type and what you are planning to get out of it. It also really depends on your lifestyle.

For example, as a dermatologist, I work for most of the day. I usually will wake up, wash my face with a cleanser, apply a moisturizer with SPF before applying makeup, and then I’m out the door.

The only other chance I have to apply moisturizers on my face is after arriving home from a long day at work, after which I’ll use a different face wash to cleanse (depending on what I have in my bathroom), and afterward, I’ll apply a hydrating moisturizer right before applying my topical retinoids for bedtime.

If you work from home, you may find yourself applying more of the moisturizer. Also, in certain types of weather, such as desert climates or cold, dry weather, it may be necessary to use moisturizers more often to prevent the skin from cracking and forming fissures and to avoid impairing the skin barrier, which is so crucial for our skin health.

2. What kinds of moisturizers can be worn under makeup?

Many moisturizers can be worn underneath makeup, and nowadays, there are also many moisturizers and sunscreens that are implemented into makeup.

Personally, it depends on what I am doing that day and whether or not I will be having or attending a meeting in person, on zoom, or going out to dinner afterward.

For most days, I use everyday makeup, which involves a mattifying flesh-colored powder. However, if I have an important function or event, sometimes I will consider using a primer. Or a 2-in-1 sunscreen with makeup foundation and concealer that can provide excellent sun protection, as well as concealing any blemishes or imperfections I might be experiencing for smoother, blemish-free skin with a better texture.

Conclusion

We hope that our recommended items and ingredients can get you on your way to having healthy and moisturized skin that feels hydrated and not thirsty.

These items are nourishing in darker skin phototypes and are also applicable to many others. We hope that the products recommended will get you through your ideal skincare routine, given their high-quality ingredients.

What is your skincare routine?

Feel free to comment on your skincare routine and share any questions or comments you may have. Please share this article with friends, family, or anyone you know who may it is useful.

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References

  1. Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013 Apr;4(2):143-6. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.110593. PMID: 23741676; PMCID: PMC3673383
  2. Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2016 Jul-Aug;7(4):311-5. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.185494. PMID: 27559512; PMCID: PMC4976416.
  3. Gonçalves MC. Sol-gel Silica Nanoparticles in Medicine: A Natural Choice. Design, Synthesis and Products. Molecules. 2018;23(8):2021. Published 2018 Aug 13. doi:10.3390/molecules23082021
  4. Lee MH, Nam TG, Lee I, et al. Skin anti-inflammatory activity of rose petal extract (Rosa gallica) through reduction of MAPK signaling pathway. Food Sci Nutr. 2018;6(8):2560-2567. Published 2018 Oct 25. doi:10.1002/fsn3.870
  5. Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17.
  6. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
  7. Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Ghassemi MR, Kazerouni A, Rafeie E, Jamshydian N. Jojoba in dermatology: a succinct review. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Dec;148(6):687-91. PMID: 24442052.

About The Author

Dr. Anna Chacon MD FAAD
Dr. Anna Chacon MD FAAD

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Anna Chacon is a board-certified dermatologist from Miami, based in South Florida. She graduated from Brown University’s highly selective Program in Liberal Medical Education. She completed her dermatology residency at the University of Southern California, where she learned firsthand about skin disorders that others only read about. She loves to write, see patients, and practice all aspects of dermatology.

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