Tata Harper

11 Gel Moisturizers For Summer That Keep Skin Glowy — & Not Oily

“Everybody gets a little oily in the summer, including me,” Tata Harper, founder of her namesake line of natural skincare, tells The Zoe Report. Truer words have never been spoken. As the temperature increases, inevitably, so does your glow... and while glow is usually a good thing, summer’s version is often a mix of sweat and sebum that feels more greasy than glamorous. That’s where gel moisturizers for summer come in. These products hydrate without feeling heavy; and ahead of the summer season, beauty brands are bringing you options.

“Gel moisturizers are water-based lotions that are lightweight in texture and easily absorbed into skin,” Dr. Ronald Moy, a board-certified dermatologist with DNA Renewal, tells The Zoe Report. “They contain fewer emollients and oils than moisturizers that are cream-based.” Basically, that means that instead of heavy-duty hydrators — think waxes and butters — gel-textured products rely on featherweight champs like aloe vera gel, hyaluronic acid, and floral waters. Dr. Moy says although they may feel lighter on the skin, they’re not any less powerful.

In the case of Erno Lazlo’s new Hydra-Therapy Gel Cream, the gel-like texture comes from a mix of moisture-boosting Roman chamomile floral water, anti-inflammatory flaxseed oil, and antioxidant-rich cottonseed oil extract. “This cream can be used day and night to give your skin a silky, matte finish,” Kristy Watson, the Chief Marketing Officer of Erno Laszlo, tells TZR.


Tata Harper’s take on gel moisturizer starts with what she calls Gel Water Technology. “This new technology uses chia seed water, marsh samphire, and tremella mushroom to create a three part water hydration system that creates hydration, holds moisture, and stores moisture,” she says. “The result is an ultra-lightweight moisturizer that still delivers intense hydration but feels weightless on the skin.” Notice a theme?

“Gel moisturizers are an especially great option during the summertime, when the skin may be already oily,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner of Zeichner Dermatology tells The Zoe Report — but summer is far from the only reason to reach for a gel formula. Experts say that those with acne-prone skin may prefer this texture year-round, since “the emollients in conventional moisturizers can block pores, causing acne,” per Dr. Moy.


That being said, there’s no skin type that won’t do well with a gel. As Watson notes, “Gel creams are also buildable, so you can give yourself as much hydration as you need without leaving your skin feeling weighed down.”

Ahead, 11 gel moisturizers good enough to last beyond summer fling status.

Shop Gel Moisturizers

Hydro-Therapy Gel Cream


Erno Lazlo

"Hydrating ingredients coupled with mattifying agents make this all-inclusive product perfect for every skin type," Watson tells TZR. "It wears comfortably in all climates, so you can stay hydrated all season long (or all year long)."

Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer


Tata Harper

"I have dry skin and in the warmer weather I reach for a lightweight moisturizer like our new Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer," Harper says. "It gives me the hydration my skin still needs, but without feeling weighed down or greasy during hot summer days."

Youthquake Hydra-full Retexturizing Gel Crème


Marc Jacobs Beauty

The just-released Marc Jacobs Beauty Gel Creme was created to wear well under makeup. Besides a non-greasy finish, it features "retexturizing" pineapple enzymes to help create a smooth canvas.

The Water Gel



If you have oily skin, you'll want Tatcha's latest moisturizer in your skincare arsenal. It's made with wild rose water (to moisturize sans oil) alongside Japanese dokudam (an anti-inflammatory agent that calms breakouts).

Sheer Brew Botanical Moisturizing Gel



A blend of fermented black tea and botanical glycerin means this gel delivers all the moisture you need — with none of the greasiness.

Oceanene Youth-Boost Gel



Brown algae helps your skin create more of its own collagen and hyaluronic acid, while vitamin C gives you the *good* kind of glow.

AQUABOOST Oil Free Moisturizer



This oil-free moisturizer from Hydropeptide is ideal for acne-prone skin, thanks to a water-based formula packed with hydrating-but-not-heavy fruit extracts.

Z Matrix Energy & Moisture Infusion



The cream-meets-gel texture of Z Matrix is perfect for those with dry skin who crave something a little more lightweight.

PREBIOTIX Gel Moisturizer


Juice Beauty

Based in aloe water, Juice Beauty's Prebiotix Gel Moisturizer provides featherweight hydration *and* good bacteria. What more could your skin want?

C-Rush™ Vitamin C Gel Moisturizer



Olehenriken's double-duty moisturizer may have a light-as-air gel feel — but it packs a powerful punch of vitamin C.

Clinique Moisture Surge Eye 96-Hour Hydro Filler Concentrate



Plump and hydrate the delicate skin around your eye with this deeply moisturizing gel serum.