Best moisturizers for dry skin, according to these dermatologists

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Oct. 26, 2018 / 1:12 PM GMT

By Christina Heiser

Whether you have dry skin year-round or it’s something you only experience in winter, it can be a challenge to find skin care products that actually keep dryness at bay. If you do happen to stumble upon a moisturizer that works, you know that it has the power to transform dry skin into dewy, glowy skin that somehow just looks healthier and younger.

“Dry skin is caused by an impaired skin barrier and dysfunction or deficiency in the necessary healthy fats in the top layer of the skin — cholesterol, fatty acids and ceramides — which are essential to normal skin function,” explains Shari Marchbein, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine. When your skin barrier is compromised, bacteria and irritants can work their way in, leaving you with redness, flakiness and itchiness, says Marchbein.

If you are very dry, you will do best with a richer cream rather than a lotion.

The best moisturizers for dry skin are ones that have a combination of humectant and occlusive ingredients, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics. Humectants, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, are ingredients that act like sponges to pull water into your stratum corneum (the outermost layer of your skin) from both the environment and the deeper skin below, says Waldorf. “Occlusives seal it in and include petrolatum, oils and silicones,” adds Waldorf. For a moisturizer with a silkier feel, look for emollients like dimethicone and cyclomethicone (both are silicones), suggests Waldorf.

Also pay attention to the base of the product. “If you are very dry, you will do best with a richer cream rather than a lotion,” says Waldorf. And don’t think you can get away with just applying serum if you have dry skin. “A serum may feel moisturizing, but even if it has potent humectants, without occlusive ingredients the results won’t be long-lasting,” says Waldorf. “So always apply a moisturizing cream or lotion over any serum.”

Below, top dermatologists share their favorite moisturizers for dry skin.

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CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $12.68, Amazon

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe Moisturizing CreamCeraVe

A good daytime moisturizer for dry skin can be found right at the drugstore. Ross S. Levy, MD, dermatologist at CareMount Medical in Mount Kisco, New York, points to this moisturizer as offering good quality at a good price point. Formulated with ceramides (fats that are naturally found in the skin) and hyaluronic acid, it helps restore your skin’s barrier to keep irritants out. Plus it’s fragrance-free —meaning it won’t irritate sensitive skin.