These Are the 16 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin, According to Thousands of Reviews
There are tons of reasons why your skin might feel extra dry lately (think: excessive exfoliation, the weather, and wearing a face mask). While some people can blame genetics for their flakey skin, the environment you're in (particularly cold weather) can dry out your skin, too. Another common cause? Age.
"Your outer skin layer is designed to maintain hydration, but in some people, this system is weaker than others," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City tells InStyle. "Skin barrier function weakens with age. Someone who did not need a moisturizer when she was young may find it is necessary as she gets older." And if your skin's barrier is defective, he says you might find super tiny cracks and increased inflammation. But the good news is that slathering on a good moisturizer can help restore dehydrated skin.
These are the 16 best moisturizers for dry skin of 2021, according to reviews:
- Best Overall: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Eau Thermale Avène Skin Recovery Cream
- Best Drugstore: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Gel-Cream
- Best for Under Makeup: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
- Best Celeb-Approved Option: Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream
- Best Anti-Aging: Olay Regenerist Fragrance-Free Micro-Sculpting Cream
- Best for Extremely Dry Skin: Aquaphor Healing Ointment
- Best With SPF: EltaMD UV Facial Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 30+
- Most Affordable: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
- Best Lightweight: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream
- Best K-Beauty: Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
- Best With Ceramides: Sunday Riley Ice Ceramide Moisturizing Cream
- Best Night Cream: Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
- Best Firming: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
- Best for Itchy Skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
- Best Cooling Option: Korres Greek Yoghurt Nourishing Probiotic Gel-Cream
What to Consider When Shopping for a Moisturizer
Since not all moisturizers are equally as hydrating, we got the lowdown on exactly what to look for from Dr. Zeichner and Dr. Sheila Farhang, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics.
First up, you want to make sure you choose the right type of product. "For a good moisturizer, choose a cream over a lotion. Lotions are more water-based, so more lightweight but not as hydrating," says Dr. Farhang. And to make sure your skin absorbs every drop, she recommends applying moisturizer within a minute of getting out of the shower every day.
What Ingredients to Look for in a Moisturizer for Dry Skin
As for ingredients, the most common types are occlusives, emollients, and humectants, and they all work in different ways. "Occlusives are ingredients that form a physical barrier over the skin to prevent loss of hydration," says Dr. Zeichner. "Common occlusives used in skincare products are petrolatum or dimethicone." And then there are emollients like natural oils and fatty alcohols, which he says "directly hydrate and soften rough cells on the outer skin layer."
Humectants, like the popular hyaluronic acid, aren't actually moisturizing on their own, which is why they need to be paired with an actual moisturizer to hydrate dry skin. Instead, these molecules "pull in water to hydrate and plump the skin," according to Dr. Farhang.
With those dermatologists' tips in mind, we scoured thousands of customer reviews to help you find the best-rated moisturizers for dry skin. And while this list is focused on face moisturizers, many of the products below can be used on your body, too.
Keep reading to learn more about the best moisturizers for dry skin from brands like CeraVe, Drunk Elephant, Olay, and Skinceuticals, including affordable drugstore options and celeb-approved options that are worth the splurge.