No matter what season it is, when your skin feels tight and dry, it seems like a no-brainer to slather on moisturizer. And you’re not wrong – especially if it’s the right formula. The best face moisturizers for dry skin will soothe stubborn dry spots and rough patches, eliminate flaking, help rebuild your skin's natural moisture barrier, and provide long-lasting hydration without the risk of irritation.
In general, dry skin is pretty finicky. Anything from fragrances to soaps to harsh weather, hot water, and certain exfoliating ingredients, can exaggerate unwanted symptoms. Luckily, since dry skin isn’t usually acne-prone, most moisturizers will work fine to relieve these unwanted side effects (namely flaking, itching, inflammation, and redness). Of course, as with most other skin types, some face lotions work better than others because they're specifically made for dry skin. Some of these dry skin-specific formulas are light and made for everyday use, while others are heavier, richer, and made for night time use or for severely dry, cracking skin. Others moisturizers have added benefits from uber-hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and aloe.
No matter what, moisturizer is essential to your skin care routine, especially if you have dry skin. To choose the best moisturizer for you, decide which dry skin symptom you'd most like to cross off your list and think about when you'll use it most (day or night). Still dizzy from all the options available? Choose one of the five facial moisturizers below — all are sure to make your skin look and feel nourished, hydrated, and smooth.
1Best For Long-Lasting Hydration: A Reparative Day And Night Cream With Hyaluronic Acid
There's arguably no better ingredient to treat and moisturize dry skin than hyaluronic acid, and COSRX's Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream is chock-full of it. It's a non-greasy cream (good for day and night) that absorbs quickly into your skin to boost hydration, seal in existing moisture, and protect your skin from future water loss. It also contains sea buckthorn oil, which is full of antioxidants and fatty acids, to help repair damaged cells and calm stubborn redness.
2Best For Acne-Prone Skin: A Hydrating Gel Moisturizer With Salicylic Acid
If you have oily or acne-prone skin that's also dehydrated, your new BFF should be Proactiv's Complexion Perfecting Hydrator. The gel formula is made with salicylic acid to gently clear away debris and unclog pores, resulting in a smooth, clear complexion. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, omegas, and botanicals all soothe and relieve dry skin without adding weight and also help keep blemishes at bay. This formula can also help reduce redness and irritation, and can even out the appearance of unevenly textured skin.
3Best For Redness: A Lightweight, Fragrance-Free Lotion With Antioxidants That Protects Skin From Irritation
If you have skin that's prone to redness or gets easily irritated, try Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Moisturizer. This lightweight formula contains emollients, peptides, and antioxidant-rich plant-derived oils that reduce inflammation, protect your skin from environmental damage, and improve its overall texture and radiance. Since it's fragrance-free and made of mostly gentle, natural ingredients, it's safe for use on normal to very dry skin types that also err on the sensitive side.
4Best All-Natural Option: A Rich Cream With A Cult-Following That Can Be Used All Over Your Body
Do your dry skin a favor and pick up a tube of Weleda Skin Food ASAP. This $10 cream from Europe has a huge cult following for being ultra-soothing and super thick and for its superior ability to moisturize all variations of dry skin. It's organic, deeply nourishing, and contains almond extract, vitamin E, and calendula to calm irritation. You can put it on anywhere, from your face and elbows to your hands and feet — wherever's in need of hydration. Plus, you can use it on top of foundation to add a healthy glow to your cheekbones or eyelids.
5Best For Cold Weather: A Thick, Nourishing Cream With 25 Percent Shea Butter
Tough-to-beat winter dry skin doesn't stand a chance against L'Occitane's ultra-rich 25 percent shea butter face cream. Why? Shea butter is a powerfully rich moisturizer with natural vitamins and fatty acids to remedy dry skin that also builds collagen for smooth skin and reduces inflammation. This dense cream, which contains 25 percent shea butter, absorbs quickly to hydrate, nourish, and protect dry and damaged skin all day long.
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