19 Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin in 2021, According to Dermatologists
Whether you're dealing with colder weather, using a particularly harsh skin care product, or have to spend way too much time in an airplane, it's very likely you've experienced the conundrum that is very dry, flaky skin.
Part of it has to do with your skin typesome people just naturally have drier skin than others, which largely depends on genetics. Skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema, chlorine in pools, and simply getting older can also make your complexion feel dry and dull. Your skin becomes thinner as you age, so it retains less moisture, says Meghan Feely, M. D. , a board- certified dermatologist in New Jersey and New York City who serves as a clinical dermatology instructor at Mount Sinai.
But even those with oily skin have probably felt the moisture being zapped from their face from time to time. If your forehead, nose, and chin tend to get a bit shiny (with the occasional breakout) you can still have dry skin on your cheeks. There are different numbers of sebaceous glands (which produce oil) in different areas of your face, says Yoram Harth, M. D. , San Francisco-based dermatologist and co-founder of MDacne, an acne-treatment app.
That's where a hydrating moisturizer comes inbut not all of them are created equal.
How to choose the best moisturizer for dry skin
Be cautious of irritants: Alcohol can dry out your skin, says Mona Gohara, M. D. , associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and member of the ishonest Medical Review Board. Sulfates, dyes, and fragrances can also be harsh and irritating, causing more trouble than they're worth. As a general rule of them, if you notice any redness, itching, or other unpleasant reactions after using your moisturizer, opt for a simpler product.
Look for hydrators: Lots of ingredients offer a dose of moisture while soothing the skin. It may take some trial and error to find the ones your skin responds to the most, but some to look for include: hyaluronic acid, ceramides, urea, plant oils, aloe vera, shea butter, glycerin, squalane, soy, colloidal oatmeal, and B vitamins.
Know your skin type: If your skin is really dry and sensitive (or you're dealing with a skin condition), a richer cream or lotion will probably give you the results you're looking for. People with oily or acne-prone skin will benefit from lighter gel formulas instead.
Now that you know the basics, you're ready to bring your extremely dry skin back to life. Here, the best moisturizers for dry skinfrom drugstore finds to splurgy picksthat will have you glowing in no time.
1 Best Overall Moisturizing Cream
Ceramides are an emollient that can help repair the skin barrier in conditions like eczema, Dr. Feely says. They're the foundation of all CeraVe products, including their cult-favorite Moisturizing Cream, which was recommended by numerous dermatologists we talked to. The gentle, non-irritating formula works with all skin types, can be used all over the body, and is rich enough to seriously hydrate the most parched complexions. Bonus: You get a whopping 19 ounces of product in this tub!
2 Best Value Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
This $8 product won best night cream in our 2020 Healthy Beauty Awards for a reason. I'm a big fan because it's so affordable, Dr. Gohara says. It does a nice job of incorporating basic ingredients like hyaluronic acid in a cosmetically elegant formulation that isn't too heavy. I put it on after my retinoid at night.
3 Rave Reviews Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
This oil- and fragrance-free moisturizer delivers rich hydrating power with hyaluronic acid, a humectant that helps your skin retain moisture. It draws water up from the dermis (the inner layer of skin) to the epidermis (the outer layer of skin) and absorbs moisture from the air, Dr. Harth says. Derms love hyaluronic acid because it holds a thousand times its weight in water and seriously plumps up skin (it's commonly used in cosmetic fillers for this reason).
4 Best for Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Skin Cream
This hydrating face cream received a recommendation from Michael Kassardjian, D. O. , a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles, in our round-up of the best moisturizers for sensitive skin. The formula is packed with ceramides to quench dry skin, but it also earns a stamp of approval from the National Eczema Association for its lack of common irritants: dyes, fragrance, lanolin, formaldehyde, and parabens.
5 Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
Use products without fragrance if you have conditions like eczema or sensitive skin, Dr. Feely says. We love this fragrance-free moisturizer by La Roche- Posay for what it does have: hydrating ceramides and soothing niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that also helps minimize annoying redness.
6 AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
Great for combo skin, this sheer, non-greasy moisturizer packs hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin C in order to moisturize, soothe, and brighten all at once. The formula is noncomedogenic, so it won't clog your pores, and reviewers wonder where has this been all my life?
7 Ultra Facial Cream
If you're looking for a lightweight moisturizer for dry skin that has all the power of a heavier formula, look no further. This classic face cream from Kiehl's contains squalane, an emollient that leaves parched skin feeling hydrated and soft without that super greasy feeling. Avocado, apricot kernel, olive fruit, and sweet almond oils join forces to rejuvenate any dullness.
8 Skin Recovery Cream
Glycerin, another humectant, is non-irritating and less comedogenic than natural oil-based moisturizers, Dr. Harth says. You'll find the gentle, yet ultra-moisturizing ingredient in this cream from Avne. It's particularly perfect for sensitive skin since it's also soap- and fragrance-free.
9 Ultra-Calming Nourishing Night Cream
A favorite from New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M. D. , Aveeno's fragrance- and oil-free night cream instantly soothes dry skin with oat and feverfew extracts, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties. If your skin is feeling red, itchy, and overall paper-y tight, slather on this nourishing cream for a more balanced, hydrated complexion come morning.
10 Ultra Repair Cream
Dr. Harth says dimethicone is one of best moisturizing ingredients for acne- prone skin. It's a man-made compound known to reduce water loss without leaving a greasy feel or clogging pores, he says. First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream features the ingredient, along with a hydrating ceramides, soothing colloidal oatmeal, and rich shea butter. Free of fragrances and alcohol, it's great for those with sensitive skineven those who suffer from eczema or extremely itchy skin can use it.
11 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day & Night Cream
This cruelty-free product merges nourishing vitamin E, anti-aging peptides, and probiotics (the good bugs that live on and in our bodies) to smooth lines, even tone, and hydrate parched spots with lots of botanical oils for reinforcements. Leaves skin feeling hydrated and fresh, one happy reviewer wrote. I like that it doesn't feel oily after application. Smells good, feels good, looks good.
12 Cactus Water Moisturizer
This lightweight moisturizer is is free of commonly irritating ingredients, like sulfates, mineral oil, and less than 1% of synthetic fragrances. It also has a secret ingredient up its sleeve. Queen of the night cactus is a rare ingredient that's known for storing water, New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Sapna Palep, M. D. recently told ishonest. com. Translation: It does wonders on even the thirstiest skin.
13 Regenerist Ultra Rich Hydrating Moisturizer
It's the classic reimagined. Enriched with shea butter, niacinamide, and anti- aging peptides, this fragrance-free skin-plumping cream offers a surge of moisture, evens out pigmentation, smooths pesky fine lines, and leaves behind a fresh, glowing finish.
14 Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream
If you have a flaky patch that just won't quit, this rich but gentle cream will take care of it ASAP, thanks to ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, aloe, and more. Bonus: It contains a unique peptide blend for extra anti-aging benefits, and features a unique push-top dispenser so you never have to dip your fingers into the product.
15 Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
People love this cult-favorite cream for its smooth, gel-like texture, soft finish, and the results it leaves behind. Peptides, botanical oils, and antioxidants visibly firm, smooth, and plump the skin without ever feeling heavy or greasy. Reviewers rave that the perfect consistency will make your face feel like silk. The overwhelming verdict? Totally worth it.
16 Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Rich Cream
This top-notch face cream from Clarins contains calming botanical extracts, shea butter, and dimethicone to help dry skin retain its moisture, says Dr. Zeichner. Testers rave about its silky-soft finish, ability to wear well beneath makeup, and comfortable feeling. Bonus: It's noncomedogenic, and free of sulfates and parabens.
17 Renew Overnight Dry
If it seems weird to use an exfoliating ingredient like lactic acid to moisturize, it's not. This alpha hydroxy acid helps exfoliate skin, but it's also moisturizing since it enhances the barrier function of the skin, Dr. Feely says. This rich moisturizer packs the ingredient alongside soothing aloe and nourishing vitamin E for a formula that pays off in the long-run.
18 Repairative Moisturizer
If you're looking for a more luxe option, Tata Harper has you covered. Its Repairative Moisturizer is designed to target the dullness that accompanies colder, dry climates. Thanks to an expert blend of hyaluronic acid, aloe leaf juice, jojoba seed oil, mango seed butter, calendula flower extract, and more, this product delivers a potent shot of vitamins and essential fatty acids straight to your dry skin for an overall healthy glow.
19 Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream
Another luxe option, Sisley's Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream boosts radiance with the power of botanical ingredients. This rich moisturizer both hydrates and brightens using black rose extract, says Dr. Zeichner, along with magnolia, camelina, geranium, and shea oils. Its silky smooth formula will leave your face feeling plump, soft, and rejuvenated.