A Derm's Guide To Choosing The Best Moisturizer For Dry, Winter Skin


If the lack of humidity in the air, hot showers, and dry homes are doing a number on your skin, it’s no surprise you’re seeking out the best winter moisturizers to keep your face hydrated and soft. Meghan Feely, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey and New York City who serves as a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology, advises using products in the winter that contain ceramides and humectants. She explains in an interview with Bustle, “Ceramides are a component of our skin's lipid bilayer that makes the skin ‘waterproof,’ retaining moisture. Humectants, such as glycerin, attract moisture to our skin.”

Rebecca Baxt, M.D., M.B.A, F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New Jersey, outlines her simple strategy for choosing the best moisturizer for dry winter skin. Moisturizers generally come in four varieties: Lotions, typically found in a pump-top bottle, contain the most water in their formulas. They’re good choices for summer but often not moisturizing enough for winter. Creams, which often come in a tube or tub, are thicker than lotions due to their higher concentration of oil. Creams are often the best for winter skin, Dr. Baxt says to Bustle, but if a cream isn’t cutting it, move up to an ointment. They’re even thicker — sometimes they're petrolatum-based — and work extremely well as moisturizers, though not all of her patients enjoy the greasy feeling they leave behind. Finally, there are oils. “A lot of people use a plain oil like coconut, olive, or jojoba on their skin, but it can be messy,” Dr. Baxt adds.

Keeping in mind their expert advice, I rounded up the seven best moisturizers for winter, ahead.


The Best Overall Winter Moisturizer For Your Face & Body

This oil-free, fragrance-free cream contains key ingredients our experts say we need for dry, winter skin: petrolatum, glycerin (a humectant), and ceramides. A well-regarded drugstore buy, CeraVe is a safe bet for most skin types, even those prone to allergic reactions. And, for the “vast majority of people with eczema who find their skin condition worsens in the winter with the dry heat and cold weather,” according to Dr. Baxt, you’ll find this cream’s approval seal from the National Eczema Association reassuring.


The Best Heavy-Duty Moisturizer For Your Face & Body

You’ve probably heard about all the celebs who are fans of Weleda's Skin Food, a rich, buttery, all-natural cream made with sunflower and almond oils, beeswax, chamomile, rosemary leaf, and calendula. In addition to providing plenty of moisture for faces and bodies, Skin Food can be used as a lip mask, an overnight skin treatment, and as a highlighter — dab it on your cheekbones for a dewy, natural-looking glow.


The Best Petrolatum-Based Ointment You Can Use Anywhere

This beauty lover's favorite is a true multipurpose product. Aquaphor Healing Ointment provides long-lasting moisture anywhere on your body, and it can be dabbed on dry, flaky lips or slathered on your hands and feet (and paired with cotton gloves and socks) to soothe itchiness, irritation, cracked skin, and redness. The fragrance-, dye-, and paraben-free formula is gentle enough for the whole family, so you can use it to help with minor cuts and burns and soothe diaper burn and drool rash, too.


The Best Winter Moisturizer For Oily Skin

Even though La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer is oil-free, glycerin and ceramides provide all the moisture winter skin needs. The brand's own thermal spring water offers soothing benefits, while niacinamide — a does-it-all ingredient — rounds out the impressive formula. It’s paraben- and fragrance-free, so it’s a nice facial moisturizer not only for oily skin, but for people with combination, sensitive, and acne-prone skin as well.


The Best Winter Moisturizer With Sunscreen

“Don't forget to wear sunscreen year-round!” advises Dr. Feely, who says you either need a moisturizer that contains it, such as Eucerin Daily Protection Face Lotion SPF 30, or you have to add a layer of sunscreen to your morning routine. “Even though the sun is not as strong in the winter, it’s still releasing its UVB and UVA rays, and those can burn and cause wrinkles,” says Dr. Baxt.

Eucerin’s popular fragrance-free facial lotion uses mineral ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide UVA and UVB sun protection. It's noncomedogenic, gentle, and non-greasy, making it a safe choice for most skin types, including those that are sensitive and acne-prone. Note that like the majority of white sunscreen lotions, it requires a bit of rubbing to absorb fully and disappear into skin.


The Best Luxury Winter Moisturizer For Severely Dry, Damaged Skin

If you have dry skin that's become damaged or irritated from things like eczema, psoriasis, diabetes, or radiation therapy — or even if you just have severely dry, cracked skin — Skin Clinical Extreme Healing Repair Concentrate is a great choice. It was created by a cosmetic surgeon, and it’s free of fragrances, parabens, dyes, and steroids, so it’s safe for use all over your face and body. One user wrote, "I have eczema and it heals the skin rapidly and helps decrease the extreme itch. Will buy this forever.”


The Best Body Oil For Winter

Kukui nut (from Hawaii’s state tree), along with the oils of sweet almond, coconut, flaxseed, and sunflower, provide the hydration in Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Body Oil. Apply immediately after showering or bathing while skin is still damp for maximum impact and fast absorption. You can also add a bit to your tub for a delightful-smelling, skin-softening soak. Like all Alba Botanica products, this body oil is Leaping Bunny-certified and 100% vegetarian.

Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently of Bustle's editorial and sales departments.


Meghan Feely, M.D., F.A.A.D., board certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology.

Rebecca Baxt, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.D., board certified dermatologist based in New Jersey.