11 Best Water-Based Skin Care Products – 2021 Update

Written by Shiboli Chakraborti , Certified Skin Care Coach
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Water-based products are known for their amazing ability to hydrate and nourish your skin. Their lightweight and quick-absorbing formulas add instant hydration to your skin and leave it feeling plump and revitalized. These products tighten open pores and offer anti-aging benefits to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Those who have tried this range swear by it! If you are planning to explore water-based skin care, you have landed on the right page. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know, along with a list of the 11 best water-based skin care products. Keep scrolling –

Before diving into the list of products, let’s take a detailed look at what water-based skin care is.

TOP 10 PRODUCTS
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Best For Lasting Hydration: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
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Best Cooling Effect: Esthete Camellia Moisture Water Drop Hand & Body Cream
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Best For Quick Absorbing Formula: L'Oreal Paris Hydra Genius
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Best For Non-Comedogenic Formula: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Water Gel
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Best For Luminous Finish: NYX Professional Makeup Hydra Touch Primer Base
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Best For Sensitive Skin: Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream
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Best Silicone-Free Formula: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water
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Best Anti-Aging Properties: Tatcha The Water Cream
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Best For Oil-Free Formula: Tula Skin Care Dew Your ThingOil-Free Gel Cream
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Best Vegan Formula: e.l.f. Prep & Hydrate Balm
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What Is Water-Based Skincare?

To put it simply, products that use water as the main ingredient are known as water-based skincare. Since water is lightweight and absorbs quickly in the skin, it is less likely to clog your pores. When mixed with water-attracting humectants, this ingredient delivers proper hydration to dry skin and leaves it looking refreshed. All the water-based products work well with every skin type, thanks to their non-greasy formula. However, they are particularly helpful for people with acne-prone or oily skin as they hydrate from within and add a dewy glow.

Various kinds of skin care ranges provide hydration and skin-plumping effects. Here’s why water-based products are special,

What Makes Water-Based Skin Care Products So Special?

Water-based skin care products are quick-absorbing, lightweight, non-comedogenic, non-sticky, or non-greasy. They are suitable for every skin type and help in replenishing and reviving your skin instantly.

It’s time to dive in to the list of the best water-based skin care products.

11 Best Water-Based Skin Care Products – 2021 Update

1. Best For Lasting Hydration: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

The CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser has a gentle yet potent formula that removes grime, dirt, and excess oil from your face without stripping moisture off your skin. The non-greasy formula deeply cleanses your pores to leave your skin feeling refreshed. This lotion-like water-based cleanser contains MVE Technology that promises to deliver a 24 hours long hydration. It is formulated with hyaluronic acid, three essential types of ceramides, and glycerin.

Hyaluronic acid and glycerin help your skin retain moisture, and nourish it deeply for a smooth finish. The three essential ceramides – 1, 3, and 6-II –help restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier to prevent any environmental damage. The non-foaming and non-irritating cleanser can be used as a part of a regular morning (AM) and night (PM) skin care routine.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Ceramides, and Glycerin

Suitable For: Normal and dry skin

Pros

  • Non-drying
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-irritating
  • Long-lasting hydration
  • Non-greasy
  • Certified by the National Eczema Association
  • Recommended by Dermatologists
  • Paraben-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Soap-free

Cons

  • Does not remove makeup completely

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2. Best Cooling Effect: Esthete Camellia Moisture Water Drop Hand & Body Cream

The Esthete Camellia Moisture Water Drop Hand & Body Cream is an advanced solution for dry skin. This water-based cream has a gel-like consistency that instantly hydrates, nourishes, and visibly improves sensitive and eczema-prone skin with its highly moisturizing ingredients. This Korean formula contains camellia japonica, olive oil, betaine, aloe vera, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, which helps in improving the skin’s overall texture.

The Camellia japonica leaves have polyphenolic compounds, which help maintain the skin’s elasticity and resilience while reducing inflammation. Olive oil is packed with anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties, along with antioxidants and polyphenols. These potent properties protect the skin from free radical damage. Betaine is naturally found in beets and plays an important role in the natural moisturizing factor (NMF). It has amino acids which provide your skin with optimum hydration by attracting water and restoring the cell water balance.

Ceramides and hyaluronic acid can lock in moisture and enhance the protective skin barrier by eliminating fine lines and wrinkles. Apart from making the skin smoother and firmer, these two ingredients also boost radiance and make your skin look smooth and supple. And lastly, aloe vera has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, along with vitamin A and vitamin C, which fight free radical damage while reducing inflammation to soothe and calm the skin.

Key Ingredients: Camellia Japonica, Olive oil, Betaine, Aloe Vera, Ceramides, and Hyaluronic acid

Best Suitable For: Dry, sensitive, and eczema-prone skin

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy
  • Absorbed quickly
  • Pleasant fragrance
  • Paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Hydration does not last long

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3. Best For Quick Absorbing Formula: L’Oreal Paris Hydra Genius

L’Oreal Paris Hydra Genius is a lightweight water-based moisturizer that instantly absorbs your skin and leaves it feeling smooth and supple. This formula has a lotion-like consistency that slides smoothly, hydrates your skin, and reduces excess shine. It is formulated with hyaluronic acid and aloe water which keeps your skin soft, supple, and hydrated for up to 72 hours.

The aloe water is packed with 75 nutritional elements – 12 minerals, 27 amino acids, and 6 vitamins, including vitamin C and vitamin A. These nourishing ingredients provide your skin with optimum hydration and relieve irritation or inflammation. Hyaluronic acid helps in retaining moisture, enhancing hydration, and improving skin resilience. This hydrating water-based moisturizer replenishes your skin and reduces wrinkles and signs of fatigue visibly.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid and Aloe Water

Best Suitable For: Normal and oily skin

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Locks in moisture for up to 72 hours
  • Absorbed quickly
  • Non-greasy
  • Pleasant fragrance

Cons

  • Not suitable for sensitive skin
  • May cause allergies or rashes

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4. Best For Non-Comedogenic Formula: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Water Gel

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Water Gel quenches dry skin instantly. This water-based face moisturizer leaves your skin thoroughly hydrated, supple, and smooth after consistent use. It has a gel-like consistency and is formulated with hyaluronic acid to replenish your skin by attracting moisture. The formula is oil-free, lightweight, non-comedogenic, and suitable for everyday use. This dermatologist-recommended formula is absorbed quickly into your skin and locks in the hydration for up to 48 hours long.

Key Ingredient: Hyaluronic acid

Best Suitable For: Dry skin, and dehydrated skin

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic formula
  • Long-lasting hydration
  • Instant results
  • Little amount goes a long way
  • Oil-free
  • Dye-free
  • Alcohol-free

Cons

  • Contains added fragrance

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5. Best For Luminous Finish: NYX Professional Makeup Hydra Touch Primer Base

Create a smooth and glowing canvas for your makeup with the NYX Professional Makeup Hydra Touch Primer Base. This is one of the very few water-based products in the makeup category which leaves your skin feeling refreshed and your complexion smooth. The formula is enriched with chamomile, ginseng, licorice root extract, tremella mushroom, and centella extract. This antioxidant-boosting and nutrient-packed primer provides your face with a hydrated and luminous finish.

Key Ingredients: Chamomile, Ginseng, Licorice Root extract, Tremella Mushroom, and Centella extract

Best Suitable For: All skin types

Pros

  • Long-lasting
  • Lightweight formula
  • Moisturizing
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • May cause irritation around eyes lids

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6. Best For Sensitive Skin: Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream

The Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream moisturizes extremely dehydrated skin. This water-based cream-gel smoothens the tightness and dryness of your skin and makes it soft and supple. It is formulated with eucalyptus oil, glycerin, and other essential minerals and plant extracts that provide maximum hydration and leave your skin radiant and revitalized. The non-greasy formula is lightweight and ensures long-lasting hydration.

Key Ingredients: Eucalyptus oil and Glycerin

Best Suitable For: Sensitive skin, dry skin, and dehydrated skin

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Non-greasy
  • Perfume-free
  • Harsh chemical-free
  • Artificial color-free

Cons

  • Contains silicone
  • May clog pores

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7. Best Silicone-Free Formula: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water

The Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water is a multipurpose product that works as a makeup primer, setting spray, or facial skin refresher. This formula instantly hydrates and nourishes your skin and provides it with a smooth and flawless base. It also moisturizes your skin, soothes it during a hectic day, and keeps your makeup intact for long hours.

This water-based product is enriched with hyaluronic acid, caffeine, glycerin, niacinamide, and electrolytes. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin help in hydrating your skin deeply, niacinamide refines the skin texture to minimize pores. Electrolytes and caffeine refresh and reawaken your skin to eliminate signs of dull skin and fatigue. The spray leaves your skin looking smooth and soft without making it look greasy or shiny.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Caffeine, Glycerin, Niacinamide, and Electrolytes

Best Suitable For: Normal skin, dry skin, and oily skin

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Tested by Dermatologists
  • Non-acnegenic formula
  • Paraben-free
  • Phthalate-free
  • Oil-free
  • No SLS and SLES
  • Fragrance-free
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Talc-free
  • Mineral oil-free

Cons

  • Expensive

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8. Best Anti-Aging Properties: Tatcha The Water Cream

Give your skin a boost of hydration with the Japanese nutrients infused Tatcha The Water Cream. This water-based product nourishes your skin and reduces pores. It is infused with potent botanicals like Japanese wild rose, leopard lily, and hadasei-3 complex to ensure optimal hydration.

The Japanese wild rose helps balance your skin and diminishes the pores to give you a flawless texture. Japanese leopard lily calms the skin, soothes it, and helps in minimizing excess oil production. The hadasei-3 complex contains a blend of green tea, rice, and algae which are considered as powerful Japanese superfoods. This trinity complex is packed with antioxidant properties which revitalize your skin, restore its healthy radiance, and impart a natural glow. The oil-free formula nourishes your skin without making it feel greasy or oily and works towards tightening open pores.

Key Ingredients: Japanese Wild Rose, Japanese Leopard Lily, and Hadasei-3 Complex

Best Suitable For: Oily skin and combination skin

Pros

  • Non-sticky and non-greasy
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Ideal for everyday use
  • Oil-free

Cons

  • Highly expensive
  • Not suitable for acne-prone or sensitive skin

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9. Best For Oil-Free Formula: Tula Skin Care Dew Your ThingOil-Free Gel Cream

Restore your skin’s natural balance with probiotic extracts and superfoods infused in the Tula Skin Care Dew Your Thing Oil-Free Gel Cream. This water-based cream leaves your parched skin quenched and dewy. Its weightless texture and oil-free formula is enriched with superfoods like fermented rice water, organic prickly pear extract, and hydra plant complex.

The fermented rice water revitalizes and revives dry skin and reduces the appearance of pores. The prickly pear extract is taken from organic cactus that hydrates your skin and calms and soothes irritation and redness to enhance the complexion. The hydra plant complex is clinically proven to lock in moisture to give your skin instant and long-lasting hydration. This highly potent water-based cream can be included in your everyday skin care regime and can be used both as a morning (AM) and night (PM) cream.

Key Ingredients: Fermented Rice water, Organic Prickly Pear extract, and Hydra Plant Complex

Best Suitable For: All skin types, including hypersensitive and oily skin

Pros

  • Weightless texture
  • Oil-free formula
  • 72 hours hydrations
  • Suitable for everyday use
  • Paraben-free
  • Phthalates-free
  • Sulfate-free
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Petrolatum-free
  • Triclosan-free
  • No mineral oils
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Has a greasy finish

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10. Best Vegan Formula: e.I.f. Prep & Hydrate Balm

The e.l.f. Prep & Hydrate Balm is an easy-to-use on-the-go primer stick that instantly hydrates your skin. This versatile, travel-friendly, and compact stick helps in improving your skin texture and preps it for makeup application. This water-based primer is infused with shea butter, cocoa, aloe vera, and grape. These skin-loving ingredients help make your face a well-prepped and hydrated canvas for long-lasting makeup while nourishing it.

Key Ingredients: Shea butter, Cocoa, Aloe Vera, and Grape

Best Suitable For: All skin types

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Vegan
  • Travel-friendly
  • Sulfate-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Phthalates-free
  • Nonylphenol-free
  • Ethoxylates-free
  • Triclosan-free
  • Triclocarban-free
  • Hydroquinone-free
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Not suitable for sensitive skin
  • May cause itching and redness

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11. L’ocitanne En Provence Aqua Reotier Ultra Thirst-Quenching Cream

Revive your dehydrated skin with a blast of hydration with the L’ocitanne En Provence Aqua Reotier Ultra Thirst-Quenching Cream. It melts into your skin to give it a refreshing glow by boosting moisture and making it soft all day long. This water-based formula is packed with skin-loving ingredients that help in retaining your skin’s natural moisture and radiance.

It is enriched with Reotier water and hyaluronic acid – ingredients known for their ability to retain hydration to the skin. This potent blend attracts water and replenishes your skin to give it a supple, smooth, and plump finish.

Key Ingredients: Reotier water and Hyaluronic acid

Best Suitable For: All skin types

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Mildly scented
  • Ideal for everyday use
  • 24 hours long hydration
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Lotion-like consistency

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These 11 products are enriched with skin-nourishing ingredients and offer a boost of hydration. Consider the following points to pick the most suitable water-based product for your skin.

How To Pick The Right Water-Based Skin Care Products

  • Skin Type

Considering your skin type is the first step to ensuring the best buy. Water-based skin care products have different formulas for different skin types, including normal, dry, and oily skin, sensitive skin, eczema, or acne-prone skin. So, always look for products that are specially formulated for your skin type. If you are confused as to which specific ingredient works the best for your skin, then let us help you shortlist that as well. For those with dry skin, it is best to pick formulas that have hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Aloe vera, olive oil, or eucalyptus oil works like a charm on oily, combination, or hypersensitive skin as they have soothing properties.

  • Ingredients

It is important to check what ingredients go well with your skin type. Most water-based skin care products are packed with hydrating and moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides, aloe vera extracts, shea butter, along with blends of various oils. These components revitalize dehydrated skin and leave it feeling soft and supple.

But these skin care products may also contain ingredients that can cause damage to your skin. For example, harsh chemicals like paraben, sulfate, silicone, SLES, phthalates, mineral oils, alcohol, formaldehyde, or talc could do a lot of damage to your skin in the longer run. So, while you are at it, read the label closely and avoid products that include any of these harsh chemicals.

  • Formula

After ingredients, the next factor to focus on is the formula of the water-based product that you choose. It does not matter which category you choose from. Be it a cleanser, moisturizer, or cream, make sure that the formula is lightweight and gentle. It should be quick-absorbing and non-sticky as you do not want your skin to feel greasy as you step out for the day. Besides these factors, make sure that your formula is non-comedogenic and gentle enough to tackle acne-prone skin or eczema.

The highly efficient water-based skin care products have exceptional benefits that will surely tempt you to try them at least once! We have mentioned a few benefits below. Check them out.

Benefits Of Using Water-Based Skin Care Products

  • All water-based skin care products are weightless or lightweight. They leave your skin feeling instantly refreshed without weighing it down. This makes it best for people with extremely oily skin, as they do not make your skin look greasy.
  • Water-based skin care products usually are quick absorbing, which makes them perfect as a base for makeup. Unlike oil-based products that take forever to settle into your skin, water-based products are easy to apply.
  • The weightless formula of water-based products is suitable even for the summer. They tackle humidity and heat seamlessly and ensure that you do not end up looking greasy or sweaty.
  • Water-based skin care products are much lighter in texture. They are, therefore, less likely to clog our pores and cause breakouts.
  • For those with dehydrated skin, these products are no less than a boon. Even the slightest amount acts as a glass of water to your dry skin. They instantly hydrate, revive, and rejuvenate your skin and boost natural radiance.
  • Apart from these amazing benefits, water-based skin care products have immense anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Wondering if water-based products are suitable for your skin? Read the next section to find out.

Who Should Use Water-Based Products?

There is a common misconception that water-based skin care products are only for dehydrated skin. For those with acne-prone or oily skin, water-based products help not only to moisturize your skin but also reduce shine.

Water-based skin care products work perfectly with every skin type. From dehydrated skin to normal and oily skin, these products deliver powerful hydration and nourishment. Some water-based products have anti-aging benefits and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Water-based moisturizers are a great choice for humid or hot climates and summer months because they are typically more lightweight than oil-based moisturizers.

So what’s not to like about water-based skin care products? Lightweight? Good! Quick-absorbing? Good! Hydrating? Gooooood! They also offer anti-aging benefits and leave your skin looking revitalized and supple! Our list of the best water-based skin care products covers all these features and more. If you have dry skin, then the Esthete Camellia Moisture Water Drop Hand & Body Cream can be your go-to. the L’occitane En Provence Aqua Reotier Ultra Thirst-Quenching Cream leaves your skin thoroughly replenished. For those looking for a non-comedogenic formula, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Water Gel will keep your pores from getting clogged and help you achieve smooth skin.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

How do I know if my skincare is water-based?

To ensure that your skin care product is water-based, go through the ingredient list. If the product contains oils like jojoba, argan, or almond, then the product is oil-based. If it contains water and humectants like hyaluronic acid, peptides, glycerin, amino acids, and urea, it is a water-based product.

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