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Quality moisturizers can help soothe and repair dry, itchy, and irritated skin. Moisturizer is an essential piece of any skin care routine. It helps maintain your skin’s moisture barrier and protects your skin from environmental damage.

If you’re experiencing dry or dull skin, you can really benefit from a daily lightweight moisturizer that’s jam-packed with hydrating ingredients, like niacinamide or hyaluronic acid.

If you have severely dry skin, flaking, eczema, or if you live in a cold climate, you might want to opt for a thicker formula designed for your specific skin concerns.

But with so many moisturizers on the market, how do you find one that works for you? It usually comes down to a matter of preference. You may choose to have a few on hand to suit your various needs.

Keep reading for nine of the best moisturizers for dry skin and to learn how to pick a healthy moisturizer for you.

When you have dry skin, finding a moisturizer that has the right texture, won’t clog pores, and adds moisture to your skin is crucial. We selected the most highly recommended moisturizers for dry skin.

For each product, we considered:

  • price point
  • customer reviews
  • any possibly harmful ingredients

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$25
  • $$$ = over $25

Best budget-friendly face moisturizer

Andalou Naturals Purple Carrot + C Luminous Night Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: vitamin C, sunflower oil, aloe vera
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: non-GMO, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free

This night cream from Andalou Naturals focuses on renewing surface skin cells. It is designed to absorb easily into your skin and work overnight to revitalize your complexion. The company says the formula helps defend against UV damage, hyperpigmentation, and premature aging.

Reviewers say they saw an almost immediate difference in their hyperpigmentation and scarring. Some reviewers also say it has a slight candy-like smell, which might not be everyone’s preference.

Best gentle moisturizer for dry skin

NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Creme

  • Price: $$ (pack of 3)
  • Key ingredients: jojoba oil, vitamin E, glycerin
  • Size: 6.8 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: none

This NIVEA cream contains both vitamin E and jojoba oil. It is designed to absorb quickly into your skin and hydrate without being overly oily. It can be used on the face, hands, and body.

Reviewers say it works great for rosacea and that the product has a light and pleasant smell. Some reviewers complain that their order arrived broken or incomplete.

Best moisturizer for sensitive skin

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: squalane, glycerin, glacial glycoprotein
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: paraben-free, fragrance-free

This cream is formulated to withstand cold, dry climates. Its thick consistency is designed to be nourishing for severely dry skin. The company says the cream absorbs into skin easily with a lightweight texture.

Reviewers say the hydration lasts a good 24 hours, and it helps with the texture of their skin. Some say it can leave marks on their pillow because it’s on the thicker side.

Best moisturizer for rough, cracked, and scaly skin

Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: ceramides, glycerin, urea
  • Size: 16 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: none

This cream from Eucerin contains 5 percent urea, which helps restore and hydrate problem skin. An older 1996 study found that moisturizers containing urea helped reduce participants’ skin water loss.

Some reviewers say this isn’t the formula that the company used to sell before, but they primarily think it’s still great for winter skin.

Best luxury cream

Avène Hydrance Rich Hydrating Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: shea butter, glycerin, thermal spring water
  • Size: 1.3 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: none

This thick, creamy moisturizer is a popular French pharmacy beauty pick. Its soothing properties help restore and rebalance dry skin.

Some reviewers say the cream helped clear up their flaky skin and helped keep their skin soft year-round. Other reviewers find it too heavy and don’t love the product’s scent.

Best moisturizer for acne-prone skin

St. Ives Renewing Collagen Elastin Moisturizer

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: safflower seed oil
  • Size: 10 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: cruelty-free, paraben-free, noncomedogenic

Full of collagen, elastin proteins, and safflower seed oil, this St. Ives moisturizer says it softens and repairs dry skin. Its medium consistency is good for both day and night use.

The company recently changed the formula, and many reviewers are disappointed in this new one. However, an overwhelming number of reviewers still agree it’s great for dehydrated, acne-prone skin thanks to the light formula.

Best natural moisturizer

Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: pansy, beeswax, sunflower seed oil, chamomile flower extract, calendula flower extract
  • Size: 2.5 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: cruelty-free, paraben-fee, fragrance-free

You can use Weleda Skin Food anywhere on your body that needs some extra attention. It’s formulated using plant extracts to heal and improve the appearance of dry, rough skin.

Reviewers love how incredibly thick the formula is, but some reviewers say the product’s smell is too strong.

Best oil-free moisturizer

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides
  • Size: 19 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: National Eczema Association (NEA) Seal of Acceptance, fragrance-free, paraben-free, allergy-tested, and noncomedogenic

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is a go-to moisturizer to replenish dry skin. Created by dermatologists, the cream contains ceramides that help skin retain moisture and protect from environmental influences.

This moisturizer is often recommended for people who have psoriasis and eczema.

The product has overwhelmingly positive reviews. The small percentage of negative reviews ding the product’s packaging or say that they didn’t see a big difference.

Best hypoallergenic moisturizer

Dermasil Labs Platinum Dry Skin Treatment

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: biotin, amino acids, fatty acids
  • Size: 18 ounces
  • SPF: no
  • Certifications: paraben-free, hypoallergenic

This fragrance-free lotion is made to treat severely dry skin. It can be used to relieve itching and irritation from psoriasis and eczema.

Most reviewers say the cream worked great, but the scent may be too strong for some.

Most moisturizers for dry skin have a thicker consistency and are cream-based. It’s up to you if you want to avoid fragrances or use only natural ingredients.

Alcohols, fragrances, dyes, and other ingredients can be harmful to dry skin and cause further dryness.

A 2016 study found that using a moisturizer on a regular basis was more important than the moisturizer’s specific ingredients.

Look for products that have hydrating ingredients like the ones listed below. The most important thing is that the product is well formulated using quality ingredients and works well for your specific skin concerns.

It may take a bit of trial and error to find the products that work well for you.

But research supports the use of ceramides and aquaporins in moisturizers. Another standout ingredient is hyaluronic acid as it can reduce wrinkles, redness, and dermatitis.

Choose a moisturizer that contains at least some of the following ingredients:

  • hyaluronic acid
  • ceramides
  • glycerin
  • urea
  • antioxidants
  • aquaporins
  • plant butters and oils

A good combination of hydrating and moisturizing ingredients depends on your skin type and what skin concerns you’re trying to address.

Achieving healthy skin depends on more than just what moisturizer you choose. How you apply the moisturizer is also important. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your moisturizer:

  • Apply moisturizer when your skin is still a little damp after you shower or wash your face.
  • If you have sensitive skin, use moisturizers with soothing ingredients that are free of acids, fragrances, and dyes.
  • Do a patch test before using a new product.
  • Buy from a reputable brand you trust.
  • Avoid very hot water for showering and washing your face.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
  • Consider using a humidifier at night, or keep a small one on your desk during the day.
  • Moisturize at least twice every day (and more often when your skin is especially dry).
  • Add a protective facial serum under your moisturizer for added benefits.
  • Mix an oil, like jojoba or rosehip oil, into your moisturizer if your skin is extremely parched. These may be too heavy to use all the time.

What habits or products can be good for dry skin outside of moisturizer?

Lifestyle choices can also help relieve dry skin, such as:

How long does it take for moisturizer to help dry skin?

A good moisturizer should improve your skin within 2 or 3 weeks. If you don’t start to see results within 1 month, consult a healthcare professional, like a dermatologist. They may suggest you try a prescription cream or ointment.

With so many moisturizers on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We recommend narrowing it down by deciding:

  • what ingredients you’re looking for
  • how much you’re willing to spend
  • what your skin needs are

Remember that it’s all about consistency. Depending on your skin type, you’ll want to apply moisturizer two times per day.

As always, if you’re still lost when it comes to your skin care routine, you may benefit from an appointment with a board certified dermatologist.