My skin is thirsty
June 26, 2012 11:09 AM   Subscribe

What drugstore moisturizers should I try, to match up to what I like in Philosophy's Hope in a Jar, hopefully with a better (or no) smell, and a better price tag?

Following up on my quest for a great drugstore facial cleanser (I ended up loving the Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Foaming Scrub), I'm looking for a new moisturizer.

Of course, as before, I fell in love (kind of) with a Philosophy product. I tried a sample of Hope in a Jar, and aside from the awful smell, I think it's fantastic. What I love about it: a little bit goes a long way, it's very light, my skin "drinks" it in and I don't feel like I have a layer of grease on my face after I've applied it. Actually, I don't feel like I have anything on my face--my face just feels refreshed and a bit dewy. Up until now, I've been using the Neutrogena SPF 15 moisturizer, and I don't care for the greasy feeling.

What drugstore moisturizers should I try, to match up to what I like in Hope in a Jar, hopefully with a better (or no) smell, and a better price tag? Or is there another non-drugstore moisturizer I should try that's similar but without the awful smell? I have easy access to Sephora, so anything I can sample from there would be great. I'm mid-20s, and have normal, issue-less skin.

(Since it's almost always recommended on AskMe, I'll mention that I've tried Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, and it's not what I'm looking for at all.)
posted by litnerd to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
My absolute favorite moisturizer is CeraVe PM. It's very light/ non-greasy, it has a great texture. I don't notice any smell at all, but I am not sensitive to smells. I also like that it has pump packaging.

The only downside is that it doesn't have SPF; I highly recommend using a SPF product during the day. There is a CeraVe AM, but it supposedly has a totally different texture (haven't tried it).
posted by insectosaurus at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2012

Burt's Bees Sensitive Skin Daily Moisturizing Cream - it smells like nothing and is really light and non-greasy.
posted by asphericalcow at 11:17 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

You also ask this on the Makeup Alley skin forum. A lot of helpful posters there.

I like CeraVe PM, too -- for night or day. Another good one is Complex 15 'cream,' which is actually quite liquidy. It comes in a tube.
posted by wryly at 11:22 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

By the way, CeraVe and Complex 15 are sold in drugstores.
posted by wryly at 11:23 AM on June 26, 2012

You're using the Neutrogena SPF 15 moisturizer; assuming it's the regular one that you don't care for, have you tried the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion (also SPF 15) instead? It's super-light, not greasy at all, and has Retinol. I suppose it technically has a super-faint scent to it but it's not a fragrance. About $11 in the US.
posted by mireille at 11:24 AM on June 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture; the Sensitive Skin version is totally unscented and I don't find it to be greasy at all.
posted by neushoorn at 11:26 AM on June 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Nothing at the drugstore has quite the same texture as Hope in a Jar, but I think Cetaphil cream comes closest.
posted by moxiedoll at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of The Body Shop's Vitamin E line. I use the Moisture Cream during the day and the Nourishing Night Cream at night (though sometimes on the hottest/most humid summer nights, I'll just use the Moisture Cream as my night cream). The serum is really nice for a little boost when my skin is irritated or drier than normal.

Really gentle, sinks in quickly on my normal-to-dry skin, and smells vaguely floral, like roses (it's a pretty mild scent to me). They'll give you a sample to take home, so just go ahead and ask to try it out. No SPF though -- they do have an SPF 15 lotion which I sometimes use, but I like the Moisture Cream better. Just get samples of all of 'em! :) I only ever buy it when it's on sale, so it ends up being around $10 for one jar. (They have sales all the time, but I wouldn't buy it at full price because I don't think it's worth it. It's very good for a $10 cream, but at $16 I think you could do better.)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2012

A friend recommended Aveeno Positively Radiant when I was asking a pretty similar question, and as much as I ever use lotion, this is what I'd use. It comes in SPF 15, SPF 30 and Tinted SPF 30 (either Fair to Light or Medium) versions.

Definitely cheap enough to test out :)
posted by Madamina at 11:43 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

My Walgreens has La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra, which isn't particularly cheap but lasts for quite a long time, and gives that dewy effect that I also got from Hope in a Jar (along with the acne I *also* got from Hope in a Jar... sigh. But my skin is wildly sensitive, and Toleraine Ultra has a tremendously high rating on MakeupAlley, so this is definitely a YMMV thing.)
posted by artemisia at 11:44 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

My favourite light, non-greasy skin moisturiser is Aubrey Organics Vegecol with Aloe. I'd previously had a drugstore favourite that was discontinued, and went through a year of bad skin and discomfort before I found it. I always buy one tube ahead, I love it that much.

The only thing that would make it more perfect is inherent SPF, but for now I put a tinted moisturiser on top. At some point, I'll get a light SPF lotion (like Origins) and mix it in.

When I want it more rich, I put a tiny dab of Annemarie Borlind ZZ Sensitive Night Creme into it and mix well. That's kind of pricier, but a) it goes really far and b) changing the amount up and down means my moisturiser is always perfect for the weather outside or how my skin is feeling.
posted by batmonkey at 11:47 AM on June 26, 2012

I know exactly what you mean about the texture of Hope in a Jar (I also love it, but hate the price tag) and the closest I've been able to find is Kiehl's Sodium PCA Oil-Free Moisturizer. It is, alas, not drug-store cheap but still a LOT cheaper than Philosophy ($18 per jar rather than $39).

I've personally never had luck with any Neutrogena product, they all tend to leave a similar sticky texture on my face. (Oil-Free Sensitive Skin as well as the Healthy Skin line.) It's not oily exactly but it is tacky, and looks quite shiny in pictures.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:49 AM on June 26, 2012

I also recommend Complex 15. Incredibly light, completely odorless, and it does--in fact--seem like your face just had a nice cool glass of water after you apply it. There's no greasiness, no slick after-feel, no shininess, and a tiny little drop goes a very long way.

I can't get it in stores here in Chicago (although Walgreens swears they stock it) but it's at
posted by crush-onastick at 11:54 AM on June 26, 2012

VMV Re-Everything Face Hand Body Lotion

I was a long(ish - considering i'm only mid 20s) user of hope in a jar, but received this in a birchbox once and fell in love. It's the best moisturizer i've ever used BY FAR. My hands and body are too dry to use it like it claims, but for an everyday face cream this is PERFECT. Zero smell, light and non-greasy but does the job.

At first glance this seems expensive, but it comes in a huge tube and you will use so little of it that it's cheaper than hope in jar and comparable to some drugstore prices but much better quality.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 11:56 AM on June 26, 2012

Eucerin's Daily Protection SPF 30 Face Lotion is something that I cannot recommend enough. It soaks into my skin immediately (especially straight out of the shower), doesn't leave a greasy film, doesn't show up under makeup, doesn't cost a lot, and it seriously makes my face feel like a cherub's buttcheek.
posted by scarykarrey at 11:59 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you were using the non-SPF version of Hope In A Jar, you will be hard-pressed to replace it with an SPF moisturizer that doesn't feel greasy. You don't want sunscreen to "soak in", it has to sit on top of the skin to provide a physical barrier to UV rays. For that reason, I use no-sunscreen moisturizer (also because I moisturize before bed and don't want to smear myself in unnecessary chemicals that I will inevitably rub into my eyes) that can soak in property, then SPF-containing foundation or tinted moisturizer over that, plus full-bore sunscreen on my chest and arms.

I am glad to know I'm not the only one who thought HIAJ stank. Loved the way it felt, but the smell was awful.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:12 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone for your suggestions so far (keep 'em coming!). To be more clear, I'm not looking specifically for an SPF moisturizer. I was only using the SPF version of Neutrogena because I figured, hey, I don't have sensitive skin, so I guess I'll get this stuff.
posted by litnerd at 12:17 PM on June 26, 2012

I'll nth Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture. I really like it.

The thing is, though, that one person's great moisturizer is another person's awful. I really think in most cases it's just a matter of trying them until you find one that works for you. I tried a bunch that had great recommendations, and none worked for me until I got to the one I'm using now.
posted by asciident at 12:26 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel the same way about the Philosophy moisturizer, and spent a long time wishing I could afford either that or the only other moisturizer that makes my skin that nice, which is Bliss's "Best of Skintentions" (apparently my skin really digs ridiculous product names), but the Bliss one was recently discontinued. This is sad, except that it means the remaining bottles are being sold for much more reasonable prices.
posted by dizziest at 2:33 PM on June 26, 2012

I'm another person who loves everything about the Philosophy Hope in a Jar except the price and smell, and what you want is almost certainly Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream. The texture is very similar, it's almost exactly the same level of moisturizing, almost scent-free and while not drug-store cheap, comes in a much bigger pot for the same price as the small Hope in a Jar. I bought the bigger size (125 ml) in February, and I've got about a month's worth less still.

I have very sensitive skin, so YMMV, but it also has that awesome very slight tingliness when you first put it on, just like Hope in a Jar that makes it feel like it's really working.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 2:56 PM on June 26, 2012

Seconding the Body Shop suggestion, although I prefer the Aloe line. I use the Soothing Day and Soothing Night creams, but I could easily get by with just the day version.

I used to use Philosophy Hope in a Jar as well (and even liked the scent) but got tired of the price tag. The Body Shop aloe moisturizers have little to no scent, and the day one is light enough to sink in quickly. My skin is fairly fussy, and it seems to like the aloe just as well as the Philosophy moisturizer.

Body Shop's prices aren't the cheapest, but if you watch for sales you can do well. I usually pounce on their skincare during the buy-3-get-3 or 50% off sales they hold pretty regularly, and I stock up.
posted by QuickedWeen at 3:16 PM on June 26, 2012

I recently discovered Olay Beta Hydroxy Cream and have found it to be an excellent substitute for Hope in a Jar. It's light, but very moisturizing and gives me a nice dewy look. The only problem is it is pretty heavily scented. You may like it better than the Philosophy scent--I do!
posted by apricot at 7:42 PM on June 26, 2012

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