The Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin

A person using a small container of moisturizer.

Buying Guide for Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Woman rubbing hands together with moisturizer.

Why buy a moisturizer for dry skin?

If you have extremely dry skin, you know that it can bring a lot of discomfort and pain, such as cracks, fissures, and peeling. Although moisturizer can be used on any skin type to maintain a healthy moisture barrier, it can be incredibly beneficial for those with dry skin. It helps to restore scaly, flaky skin by bringing in necessary water and oils that will help you to retain that balanced hydration.

What should you look for in a moisturizer for dry skin?

  • Category: A moisturizer can be identified under these three categories: humectant, emollient, and occlusive. Humectants are known to bring in water to the skin, whereas occlusives create a barrier with oil to prevent water loss and retain hydration. Emollients are typically a combination of the two.
  • Form: A moisturizer can come in several different formulas—a serum, lightweight gel, lotion, cream, or ointment. It comes down to your preference and if you like the way it feels on your skin. For something lightweight, you may opt for a gel or serum. Lotions, creams, or ointments are typically made with extra oils that may feel a bit heavier on the skin.
  • Ingredients: Perhaps the most important things to look for in a moisturizer are its ingredients. Do they provide the level of hydration you need? Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin are all key in a moisturizer, as they are packed with nutrients and moisture for a well-balanced skin barrier.
  • Area of Body: The pores on your face are different than the ones on your body, so you’ll want to have a separate moisturizer for both. The main difference is that face moisturizers are made with non-comedogenic ingredients that won’t clog your pores and create acne. So while you could use a face moisturizer on the rest of your body, you wouldn’t want to use a body moisturizer for your face without checking the ingredients.

How often should you apply a moisturizer?

Depending on the severity of dry skin you have, once and twice a day should suffice—once in the morning and once at night. After showering, you should apply moisturizer immediately since this is when your pores are opened and ready to take in nourishment. The trick is to pat, not rub, your skin dry and apply the moisturizer wherever needed.

Our Picks for the Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Pros: Even with the number of moisturizers on the market, this heavy-duty cream from CeraVe remains a reliable top product, and for good reason. It is made with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and Multivesicular Emulsion Technology (MVE) to lock in 24-hour hydration while also providing a velvety texture to easily apply to your skin without the grease. There are zero parabens and fragrances, and the formula has been allergy-tested by dermatologists. Although made for dry skin, it can easily be used on all types of skin and those particularly sensitive to harsh ingredients. You can apply it to the face or body without any worry of breakouts since it’s made with a non-comedogenic formula.

Cons: This product may be better suited for the body than the face as it may have a heavier feel and does not absorb as quickly.

Bottom Line: For those with severely dry, flaky skin, consider purchasing this moisturizer that provides your skin with the hydration and nutrients it needs. Its thick formula will give you all-day supple results and restore the broken barrier.


Pros: For such a lightweight formula, this water-based gel from Neutrogena still delivers ultimate hydration for up to 48 hours. It comes in a 1.7-fluid-ounce container and is packed with an oil-free dermatologist-recommended formula that has hyaluronic acid as its key ingredient. Because of its thin and smooth consistency, you can easily wear it under makeup or layer it with other skin products if needed.

Cons: This product does have a fragrance, which could be off-putting for those with sensitivity to smell.

Bottom Line: When you need to keep things simple in your skincare routine, this basic no-frills moisturizing gel will get the job done without irritation or heaviness. This can be useful for days you need to wear minimal or dramatic makeup by creating a nice base for application.


Pros: When you think about how much your skin goes through—sun, aging, bacteria in the air—it’s no surprise that it needs some TLC. This lightweight face moisturizer from Olay is an excellent contender to provide your skin with the hydration it needs while also visibly brightening any dark spots with vitamins C and B3 and lactic acid. It’s created with natural ingredients and no parabens, synthetic oils, or dyes. It does have a light citrus scent that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed to take on the day or night.

Cons: Long-time wearers of the Olay brand may find this product not as smooth as their previous formula.

Bottom Line: Bring your dull, aged skin back to life with this brightening, silky-to-the-touch formula. An all-in-one moisturizer that brings in radiance and hydration like this one is well worth the investment.


Pros: This full-body moisturizing cream from Cetaphil is a go-to solution for those with severely dry and overly sensitive skin. For up to 48 hours, you can count on this hydrating, soothing formula that can restore your skin’s cracked barrier in just one week. The latest blend has glycerin and vitamins B5 and B3 yet lacks fragrance, parabens, and sulfates to provide clean, unproblematic hydration for those with sensitive skin.

Cons: For some, this product may not absorb quickly into the skin and may feel sticky.

Bottom Line: When it comes to sensitive, delicate skin that lacks healthy, balanced moisture, simple is best. This carefully crafted cream will leave every part of your body moisturized without irritation or harmful additives.


Pros: Although wrinkly skin is part of the aging process, this doesn’t mean you can’t take preventative measures against it. This Advanced Clinicals moisturizer with hyaluronic acid is the perfect solution that is specifically made to increase water retention and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It comes in a whopping 16-ounce bottle with a convenient pump to make it easy to use on your entire body. Since it’s packed with nourishing ingredients such as borage oil, squalene, vitamin E, and aloe vera, your skin’s barrier will be quickly restored to a plump, healthy balance.

Cons: This cream has a slight ammonia smell, so this may not be best for those with a sensitive nose.

Bottom Line: If you’re noticing signs of sagging and creasing in your skin, you’ll be happy to know that this cream exists. Its safe, simple formula will transform your lackluster skin with volume and elasticity.

Final Thoughts

Dry skin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—especially with a moisturizer that can replenish your skin back to its optimal health. Say goodbye to embarrassing, painful, itchy, or wrinkly skin, and take back your confidence by adding the perfect balanced moisturizer to your regimen.

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