Dry-skin types often need more attention in the moisturizing department to avoid flaking and painfully tight, sandpapery skin. But not every moisturizer will work for severely dehydrated skin, especially in the colder months. Noelani Gonzalez, the director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West, says people with dry skin, especially eczema sufferers, have to be very mindful of the moisturizers they use. Generally speaking, “goopy and greasy creams and ointments are your best friend if you have dry skin, because they are oil based, have a thicker consistency, and provide more hydration than lotions,” she says. This can also depend on the seasons, though, which is why experts — like dermatologists Rita Linkner, of Spring Street Dermatology, and Marnie Nussbaum, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University — mention that you can transition to a lighter lotion, gel-based moisturizer, or serum in summer.
Almost all the experts we spoke to also said that your moisturizer should ideally contain a mixture of emollients (like ceramides), which repair your skin barrier, and humectants (like glycerin and hyaluronic acid), which draw and seal moisture into the skin. Here, four derms on the hydrating moisturizers that would be on their short list for dry skin, plus some Strategist favorites. (Note that we’re primarily referring to the skin on your face — if you have dry skin on your body, consult our guide to body lotions.)
Best splurgy moisturizer for dry skin
Nussbaum likes this “rebalancing” moisturizer for dry skin because it contains emollients and ceramides that support the skin barrier and help with skin’s plumpness. Binder agrees that this is a great facial moisturizer because “it targets dry skin from many angles with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, cholesterol, and linoleic acid” to help restore and hydrate damaged, flaky skin. At $135, it may seem steep for a bottle that’s not even two ounces, but a little goes a long way and this moisturizer is beloved by beauty editors and celebrities alike. Beyond the brand’s website, this stuff is sold exclusively at dermatologists’ offices, which is a good sign that there’s some clinical science behind it.