When you're dealing with dry skin, it makes a certain kind of sense to just opt for the thickest, gloppiest, most expensive moisturizer you can find. You counter out dryness by adding moisture, right? That much is true, but as dermatologists have told us, you don't need to splurge just to hydrate your skin.
"One of the biggest misconceptions in skin care is that the more expensive, the more effective," says board-certified dermatologist Tiffany J. Libby. "While there are certainly some ingredients, like stabilized vitamin C, which are more costly to produce, there are absolutely many effective and affordable products at the drugstore that will compare well when matched up against pricier counterparts."
Plenty of affordable dry skin products are available right at your local drugstore, made even more appealing by the fact that almost none cost more than $25 (and many cost less than $10). And as far as formulas go, ahead, you'll find that the most common compliment our dermatologists give to a skin-care ingredient list is "simple."
"First and foremost, when treating dry skin, you want to look for products that hydrate, repair, and restore the skin's moisture barrier," says Libby. "These ingredients include humectants like hyaluronic acid, emollients, and ceramides — an essential component of the protective skin barrier."
To help narrow it down, we asked dermatologists to share their go-to drugstore products for dry skin. That list contains lots of formulas from brands that you've probably been walking by in the beauty aisle for years, like CeraVe, Cetaphil, and Aveeno. These hydrators will help alleviate dry skin and the issues that can come along with it, like flakiness, itchiness, or rough skin. Best of all, they're only a trip to the drugstore away.
Eucerin Dry Skin Replenishing Face Cream
Eucerin's affordable tube of Dry Skin Replenishing Face Cream is "designed specifically to give intense moisture to dry, rough, and even chapped skin," says Sapna Palep, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. It's formulated with urea and lactate, two of the skin's natural moisturizers that already exist in your body, which Palep explains "helps restore the natural skin balance."
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer
If you want to feel fancy and French while still shopping at the corner store, La Roche-Posay is here for you. The La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer is "great for people who not only have dry skin but are also struggling with rosacea or acne since, it moisturizes without clogging pores," says Palep. "It's oil-free, non-comedogenic, and very hydrating."
Vichy LiftActiv Supreme Firming Eye Cream
When the rest of your face steals the show with symptoms like itchiness or flaking, it can be tempting to forget about the eye area entirely. Palep reminds us that undereye skin is just as important to hydrate with the Vichy LiftActiv Supreme Firming Eye Cream, a "thick cream with caffeine in it to help reduce dark circles and puffiness."
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
The delightfully textured Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream is a triple whammy: an ishonest Reader's Choice Award winner, beloved by our associate beauty director, and dermatologist-recommended. Belkin suggests using it to "help hydrate severely dry skin, either as an extra boost before another moisturizer or as a standalone product," while our director says it "feels so good on skin."
CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
If you have combination skin — with dry patches in some areas, oiliness in others — try the lightweight CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which can handle both. Belkin recommends it for those who need "less intensive hydration or don't like the feel of thick moisturizers." It's formulated without fragrance, so it's less likely to trigger any irritations.
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion
The Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion has probably been in your parents's bathroom for as long as you can remember, and yes, you can use it on your face. Husain shares a few reasons to try Aveeno besides the fact that it's Jennifer Aniston's favorite. "It contains both dimethicone and petrolatum, which provide an excellent occlusion to seal in moisture," he says. "It also contains glycerin to draw in moisture and colloidal oatmeal to attracts and holds moisture to soothe irritated or itchy skin."
Vanicream Moisturizing Cream
Husain suggests Vanicream Moisturizing Cream for his patients who have very sensitive skin in addition to dryness. "It's a bit heavier feeling than the other moisturizers, so I would recommend applying this moisturizer at night for long-lasting effects," he advises. Switch out that expensive night cream with its potentially irritating fragrance and oils for this simple, effective workhorse of a moisturizer.
La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm A+ Moisturizer for Dry Skin
Another favorite from La Roche-Posay, the Lipikar Balm A+ Moisturizer for Dry Skin has a thicker, more luxurious texture that soothes intensely dry skin. It's a bit more pricey that other drugstore options, but as New Jersey-based board-certified dermatologist Zain Husain tells us, "it can be used on both the face and body." If you have dry elbows, as well as dry cheekbones, this is the moisturizer for you.
CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream
To treat dry skin that's become rough or bumpy, opt for the salicylic acid-based CeraVe SA Smoothing Cream. According to Husain, the formula contains exfoliants to slough off the dry rough skin, plus hydrating barrier-repair ingredients ceramides and hyaluronic acid like to repair skin and "ensure that dry rough skin won't happen again."
EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
EltaMD's daily sunscreen is consistently one of ishonest readers' top purchases, but according to Palep, the EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer also deserves a spot on the charts. "It's oil-free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, and safe for sensitive skin," she says. That's because its ingredient list is stacked with dry-skin saviors. Along with ceramides, "niacinamide and antioxidants work to improve skin color and tone, while also speeding the metabolism to maximize the nightly skin repair process," says Palep.
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