The Best Winter Moisturizers for Every Skin Type
When that first polar vortex of the year hits, you quickly find out that your wool coat may not be quite as warm as you thought. The same goes for that lightweight moisturizer in your skincare routine. Like a parka for your face, a rich, extra-hydrating product is what's going to seal in moisture and protect your skin from the winter elements.
"For many of us, winter brings with it an environment that can draw moisture out of our skin, including drier air and whipping winds, along with blasting the heat indoors," says Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "The change in temperature and lack of humidity can be a shock to your skin and can cause skin inflammation, irritation, dryness and even lead to flaky or cracked skin. Therefore, it is essential to switch up your skincare to meet the needs of the new season."
And the switch often means going from a serum to a lotion or a lotion to a cream. "It is important to make sure a winter moisturizer has not only a good humectant which draws in moisture from the environment into the skin, but also a good occlusive which will seal in the moisture," explains Dr. Nussbaum.
However, choosing the right winter moisturizer really comes down to your skin type and its needs. That's why we had Dr. Nussbaum breakdown the best hydrating formulas for every skin type, whether you're struggling with hyperpigmention or have extra oily skin. Keep reading to find your go-to moisturizer for winter.
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For Acne-Prone Skin: Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer
"Less moisture in the air causes skin dryness," says Dr. Nussbaum. "If your skin's natural moisture barrier isn't properly hydrated, it’s not as equipped to fight off acne-causing bacteria." If you deal with constant blemishes, look for an oil-free, water-based lotion or gel that will moisture skin without clogging pores.
This Boscia gel offers a soothing formula, rich with calming tea tree extract that will minimize breakout-induced redness.
For Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer SPF 15
If your skin leans on the sensitive side, Dr. Nussbaum recommends avoiding moisturizers with "irritants such as fragrances, dyes, lanolin, parabens and formaldehyde." This drugstore staple checks off all the boxes. Aveeno's moisturizer is light, fast-absorbing, and is formulated with skin-calming botanicals. Bonus: It also serves as a second layer of SPF protection.
For Hyperpigmentation: Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++
Whether your uneven skin tone is the result of a bad breakout or caused by sun damage, a vitamin C-infused moisturizer will help brighten dark spots while simultaneously hydrating skin. But don't forget the sunscreen. "Moisturizers containing SPF will reduce the oxidative damage of the sun," explains Dr. Nussbaum. That's exactly what this Murad tube is made to do.
For Oily Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
Fun fact: Hyaluronic acid is an all-star moisturizing ingredient, because it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. That's what makes Neutrogena's gel-based, HA-packed moisturizer ideal for oily skin types. Instead of a heavy cream, this lightweight water-based product pulls in moisture without clogging already congested pores.
For Combination Skin: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
The Gemini of skin types, finding the right moisturizer for combination skin can be tough because it has to jive with both oilyness and dryness. That's where The Ordinary's Natural Moisturizing Factors comes in. The lightweight, non-greasy cream includes dermal lipids to protect the outer skin layer, hyaluronic acid to draw in moisture, and amino acids to hydrate. It'll moisturize the right areas of the face without making oily spots shinier.
For Aging Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer
Important PSA: The sun can still cause oxidative damage in the winter, which can lead to photoaging. That said, Dr. Nussbaum suggests looking for a moisturizer that's packed with antioxidants to counteract the harmful effects of UV/UVA rays. What else should an anti-aging moisturizer include? Retinol, along with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and moisture-sealing ceramides. "Certain moisturizers will contain a form of retinol that increases skin cell turnover," she says. "The shedding of the dead skin cell layers also enables increased absorption of moisturizers."
Look no futher than this Dr. Dennis Gross jar, which is formulated with both retinol and ferulic acid, a powerful antioxdant.
For Dry Skin: Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream
"Ceramides are lipids that help form the skin’s natural moisture barrier," explains Dr. Nussbaum. "In dry, cold weather, your skin’s ability to naturally produce ceramides may be compromised, leading to dry, dull skin." If your skin is extremely dry year-round, go with a ceramide-rich moisturizer for winter, like Dr. Jart+'s cult-favorite cream. The lipids will strengthen the skin barrier so less moisture gets out.
For All Skin: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer
If your skin doesn't fall into one particular category, Dr. Nussbaum is a fan of Olay's Sculpting Cream because it's a rich, nourishing cream that works well for balanced skin, but also targets dryness and aging. "It contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), a hard-working ingredient which regenerates surface cells and strengthens skin’s natural moisture barrier," she says. "It also contains amino-peptides, known to boost collagen production and improve skin’s elasticity, smoothness and firmness as well as hyaluronic acid & glycerin."