The 7 Very Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Although every aspect of your skin-care regimen is important, dry-skin people need to pay more attention the moisturizing step in order to avoid skin flaking and painfully tightened skin. Some moisturizers won’t work well for extremely dry skin, especially during the winter months. It is essential that you use a thick cream to soothe your skin. A thin lotion-type moisturizer won’t work if you have dry, cracked skin.

Below, I will discuss what you should be looking for in a moisturizer. Thanks to the recommendations of almost a dozen dermatologists that I spoke with, I’ll go into detail. We also added some Strategist favorite moisturizers. Below are ten moisturizers that our panel of experts recommends. These should be able to help even the most dry skin. If you are looking for something specific, you can use the guide below to jump to another section. (Note: We are primarily talking about the skin on your skin; if your skin is dry on your body, please consult our guide on body lotions.

What we’re looking for

A thick and goopy texture. Noelani Gonzalez is the director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West. While you may be able use a lighter moisturizer in the summer, particularly if it contains powerful hydrating agents, those with dry skin conditions like eczema or year-round dryness should always have a regular moisturizing product.

A good moisturizer base Dry skin is usually a sign that your skin doesn’t have enough oil production to hydrate. A simple solution? A moisturizer that is oil-based will give your skin the oil it needs. You’ll see it in the ingredient list. Because petroleum jelly seals in moisture, protects skin from environmental stressors and helps relieve itching and inflammation, it’s a great option for those with eczema. You can also use water as a base to moisturize your skin. However, it’s best to be careful about the ingredients. They will make the cream more hydrating than the base.

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Additional hydrating ingredients: Your moisturizer should contain a mix of emollients like ceramides to repair the skin’s barrier and humectants like glycerin to lock in moisture. These ingredients are not necessary to create a high-functioning moisturizer, especially if you start with oil or petroleum bases. However, they can be found in many formulas.

Best overall moisturizer for dry skin

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream $17
Cream | Oil-based | Glycerin

Although this cream is technically called a body cream by Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a clinical instructor in dermatology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, Dr. Hadley King says it is a great cream for both the face and body. It’s loaded with skin-softening oils like sweet almond oil and hydrating humectants such as glycerin. It’s a recommended product by Dr. Rachel Nazarian to her patients. She says it’s lightweight and easy to use every day. Dr. Rita Linkner says that the price is a major factor in choosing Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion. For those months where your skin’s natural oils are low, she recommends switching to Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream in the summer.

Best moisturizer for extremely dry skin

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Best moisturizer for sensitive dry skin

Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream

Vanicream is a great solution for very dry skin. We have recommended it before but it’s gentle enough to use on your face. Vanicream is a “ideal” product, according to Dr. Ife Rodney (founder of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics). It’s free of parabens and lanolin that can irritate sensitive skin. She also notes that Vanicream is “loaded with Ceramides, which strengthen the skin barrier, and seal in moisture.” Lauren Ro, a strategist writer, has tried Vanicream and recommended it. Lauren was immediately impressed by the luxurious texture of Vanicream on her skin and amazed at how easy it spread.

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Best moisturizer for dry acne-prone skin

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Best gel-cream moisturizer for dry skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost
Neutrogena Hydro Boost $19
Gel-Cream | Water-based | Glycerin and hyaluronic acid
This Neutrogena gel-cream is loved by four of our dermatologists. It’s formulated for extra dry skin. It has been on the best-sellers list over ten times. Gel textures are usually targeted at people with oily or normal skin. Mitchell claims that this cream works well for those with dry skin. Give it a week. She says that the glycerin and hyaluronic acids will reduce dryness and give soft, smooth and hydrated skin. Rodney says that the gel texture means it “smoothly dissolves into skin so it can be worn under makeup or alone.” This product is gentle and hydrating, so we recommend it for sunburnt skin, mature skin, sunburned and Accutane users.
Weleda Skin Food

Weleda Skin Food $19

Cream | Oil-based | None

Weleda Skin Food is recommended by all, from makeup artists to former Strategist writers and author Stephanie Danler. It contains all-natural ingredients. After trying the product for the first time, Danler said that her skin felt flawless and luminous. Weleda markets the balm-like cream as a natural treatment for excessively dry skin. However, it also offers a lighter version for those who are more sensitive to the sun or need more help. It doesn’t contain ceramides or hyaluronic acids, but it’s packed with fatty acids and vitamin A, which moisturize and soften skin. Pansy soothes itching while calendula flower extract repairs the skin.

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Best night cream for dry skin

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM

Cream | Water-based | Glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides

This moisturizer was our top-rated drugstore moisturizer because it contains all the necessary ingredients to soothe dry and sensitive skin like ceramides or hyaluronic acids. Mitchell says that these ingredients “hold cells together and strengthen skin’s barrier, protecting them from water loss and influx irritants as it offers continuous 24-hour maximum moisture while soothing the skin.” It also contains niacinamide which acts as an anti-inflammatory and calms down redness and tenderness in dry skin areas. It is also a skin healer, “lightweight, not comedogenic,” so it won’t clog pores and oil-free,” Mitchell says. But, nighttime is when you will see the best results.

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