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Gels, Creams, Bi-Phase, Bounce: What Texture is Best for You?

In addition to creating smooth, healthy skin, skincare can be all sorts of fun — after all, skintertainment™ was coined for a reason. And a big part of that is the sensorial experience of applying skincare, which can be indulgent and calming all at one. (Bonus points if you throw in a mini face massage.) If you’re not sure which texture is your favorite, know that you’ve got options. From gels and oils to bouncy and bi-phase formulas, there’s a variety of textures to suit both your preferences and your skincare needs. Here’s how to discern between them.

The Texture: Gel

Best for: Combination and oily skin

How it works: Gel formulas have a few things working in their favor: They’re lightweight, so they’re quick to absorb and leave no residue on the skin. They can also improve hydration within skin, as one study in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology discovered. They strike the perfect balance between hydrating and not too heavy, which is why they’re well-suited for normal to oily skin types.

Find it in: Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask and Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer

The Texture: Cream

Best for: Normal and dry skin

How it works: Creams usually get their texture from a combination of emollients or occlusive ingredients, both of which create a seal over the skin barrier to help it retain moisture. Translation: Not only do they moisturize skin, but they help it stay moisturized, too. And the new iterations of creams aren’t like the heavy, takes-forever-to-sink-in versions of years past. Now, they include innovative ingredients such as coconut alkanes, which deliver smoothing and softening benefits without feeling sticky. (They’re what gives our Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream its whipped, soufflé-like texture.)

Find it in: Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream

The Texture: Oil

Best for: All skin types

How it works: Yes, you read that right: Oil works for all skin types, because not all oils are created equal. Some, like jojoba, are similar to the sebum that naturally occurs on skin to moisturize it, and are therefore totally fine to pair with oily skin. In fact, by properly hydrating your skin, they can stop the counter-productive cycle of drying out skin and forcing it to overcompensate by increasing oil production. Thanks, but no thanks.

Find it in: Sweet Chef Superfood + Vitamins Beauty Oil

The Texture: Hydrogel

Best for: Combination and oily skin

How it works: While hydrogels may be newcomers to your #shelfie, they’re a staple in wound healing, as they attract moisture to dry areas of skin and minimize inflammation. They’re still really light, so they won’t feel like they’re suffocating your skin at all—key for anyone who’s ever dealt with breakouts. Unlike gels, they have water as their primary component, so they’re even lighter in texture.

Find it in: Avocado Melt Retinol Sleeping Mask and Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask

The Texture: Bi-Phase

Best for: All skin types

How it works: Think of this as a one-two punch of powerful ingredients. Bi-phase formulas, which have two separate liquids (think oil and vinegar in salad dressing), deliver two highly concentrated formulas without having to dilute them with fillers. You’ll usually find a pairing of nourishing oil and potent active ingredients, giving you double the benefit in a single application — truly the best of both worlds.

Find it in: Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist

The Texture: Water

Best for: All skin types

How it works: Often formulated as an essence or toner, waters are liquid-thin, super-lightweight formulas that absorb on the spot to moisten skin. They’re great at delivering an instant boost of hydration and prepping skin to better absorb everything you layer on afterwards — but need to be paired with a gel, cream, or other formula if you’re after lasting moisture.

Find it in: Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist

The Texture: Bounce

Best for: All skin types

How it works: Bounce textures are often seen paired with gels—they’re a little more substantial and may feel more nourishing than your average gel. (Think of an added cushion on top of it.) You’ll find it in serums to give them some oomph and a more luxurious texture while still being very lightweight.

Find it in: Pineapple-C Bright Serum

The Texture: Foam

Best for: All skin types

How it works: Foam formulas used to get their signature lather from surfactants, which give them their cleansing power. So, while they were ideal for removing stubborn grease and makeup, they could veer a little too harsh for dry or sensitive skin types. These days, we use micro-foaming bubbles. These offer the same signature suds and cleansing power as surfactants, but are gentle enough for all skin types and won’t make skin feel squeaky-clean.

Find it in: Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser

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