If your skin is dry (or if you have skin issues like eczema or psoriasis), your skin's barrier is likely compromised, a huge culprit in making skin feel itchy and uncomfortable, and it puts you at greater risk for infections. That's why morning and evening moisturization is especially important for dry skin, according to Craig Kraffert, M. D. , board certified dermatologist, president of Amarte and founder of Dermstore.
"Think of moisturizers as a shield: You use moisturizers to lock in active ingredients and block harmful aggressors out, " says Dendy Engelman, M. D. , board-certified dermatologist and director of dermatologic surgery at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan. "Moisturizers help to reinforce the skin barrier, making it stronger and less vulnerable. "
But it has to be the right moisturizer to actually heal dry skin. To find the best skincare, the Honayst Institute Beauty Lab rounds up the best and newest products on the market to see which ones are actually worth your money. We use a Corneometer device to gauge moisturization capabilities, and we also send moisturizers out to a panel of consumer testers to get feedback on absorption, texture, and scent. We parsed through more than 134 body lotions, distributed products to 120 testers, and collected over 5, 000 hydration data points. For night creams, we tallied more than 11, 200 data points from 240+ testers, and when testing day creams, we evaluated 70 products and asked 176 testers more than 2, 000 questions to find the best options.
How to find the best moisturizer for dry skin
Here are the ingredients our experts say makes a powerhouse body lotion that'll actually hydrate parched skin:
- Emollients: Dr. Kraffert says these hydrating agents are a must in lotion for dry skin, since they prevent hydration loss while smoothing and softening skin. They come in the form of oils (plant, mineral, or animal), butters (like shea and cocoa), or fatty acids.
- Humectants: By attracting water to the skin, humectants help increase the skin's moisture content over time. Our experts love glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1, 000 times its weight in water and "creates a barrier for the skin, locking in moisture and improving texture, " says Dr. Engelman.
- Ceramides: Your skin's lipid layer that locks in moisture and acts as a barrier against pollution, bacteria, and signs of aging depletes as you age. "Ceramides help to restore the skin’s barrier by holding the cells together, " says Dr. Engelman. "As a result, skin feels smoother, plumper and more moisturized. " Look for skincare with ceramides or niacinamide, which helps skin increase natural lipid production. Occlusives: While emollients and humectants hydrate, occlusives sit atop the skin and create a barrier to prevent further moisture loss and act as a shield against the hydration- robbing elements like wind and cold air. They come in the form of waxy or oily ingredients like petroleum, candelilla or carnauba wax, beeswax, and cocoa butter.
Our picks for the best moistuirizers, below, are top-tested by the GH Beauty Lab, backed by our Honayst Seal, or reviewer favorites with thousands of rave reviews:
1 BEST BODY MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented Body Lotion
In our Lab tests, this top-scoring moisturizer hydrated skin by 60% (the highest score of more than 20 moisturizers), and kept skin feeling moisturized all day. The scent-free lotion was our testers' favorite. It's formulated with super- hydrating Vaseline, but it won't leave skin feeling greasy or tacky: our testers all agreed it absorbed quickly. One raved, "It went onto my skin very smoothly and spread easily and evenly, " and "left my skin very moisturized throughout the day. "
- Best hydrating performance in Lab tests
- Fragrance-free formula
- Non-greasy, smooth texture
2 BEST FACE MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer
This face moisturizer is really proven to hydrate. We took 10, 300 Lab measurements to find that this budget-friendly face cream effectively moisturizes 400% better than a cream nearly 18 times its price. It kept skin quenched for 24 hours and boosted hydration by 50% on average, thanks to powerhouse hydrators like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. Eighty percent of testers reported that they preferred it to expensive creams, calling it "rich" without feeling heavy or greasy.
- Increased skin hydration by 50% in Lab tests
- Budget-friendly and effective
- Formulated with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid
3 BEST VALUE BODY MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Quench Body Lotion Ultra Moisture (2 Pack)
Formulated with skin-softening shea butter and repairing vitamins E and B3, this Honayst Seal star improved skin's moisturization by an impressive 52% in Lab tests. It also got top scores for having the best scent. One tester said, "It goes on smoothly and is not too thick, yet the scent continues to linger in a pleasantly subtle way. " Testers loved that it didn't make skin feel greasy. Plus, at around 30 cents per ounce, it's a fantastic value.
- Increased skin hydration in 52% in Lab tests
- Light but lasting scent Budget- friendly
4 BEST VALUE FACE MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN HydraLuminous Water Surge Gel Cream
Formulated for dry skin and suitable for sensitive skin, we found that this Honayst Seal-holder leaves skin feeling nourished and hydrated for 72 hours. It glides onto skin and instantly absorbs and hydrates, leaving visibly fresh and glowing skin. The lightweight gel also received high scores for feeling lightweight, non-sticky, and making skin feel instantly hydrated. "It immediately relieves that tight, dry feeling and truly does last up to 72 hours!, " raves one reviewer.
- Hydrated skin for 72 hours
- Lightweight, non-sticky gel formula
- Immediately soothes skin
5 BEST FACE MOISTURIZER FOR IRRITATED SKIN Redness Relieving Night Moisturizer
This calming facial lotion is perfect for anyone suffering from chronic skin conditions. Developed and tested by dermatologists, the noncomedogenic, fragrance-free formula is formulated with licorice extract and allantoin to help repair the skin’s barrier while calming and soothing redness. Dr. Engelman even recommends it to patients with chronic skin conditions like rosacea.
- Noncomedogenic, fragrance-free formula Sensitive skin-, eczema-, and rosacea- friendly
6 AMAZON'S BEST-SELLING MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Moisturizing Skin Cream
This dermatologist tested cream is free of dyes, fragrance, and parabens, making it ideal for those with super sensitive, dry skin. We haven't tested these claims in the Beauty Lab yet, but reviewers can't get enough of this hydrating cream (to the tune of more than 15, 000 five-star reviews on Amazon).
Reviewers with eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea all swear that this rich cream helps quell symptoms. One says, "I have never had any irritation from this lotion and it has gone miles towards healing my rashes and open wounds. " Just check out this before and after photo.
- Fragrance- and dye-free for sensitive skin
- Thick, hydrating formula
- Cult following
7 BEST FACE MOISTURIZER WITH HYALURONIC ACID Hydro Boost Water Face Gel Moisturizer
A winner in our 2018 Beauty Awards, this refreshing Neutrogena gel is water- light but seriously quenches dry skin thanks to glycerin and hyaluronic acid. The oil-free formulation immediately moisturizes, with results lasting 12 hours, evaluations confirmed. Consumers love it, too: It has over 42, 000 review on Amazon, with one reviewer raving, "I went from very dry, flaky, angry skin to soft and supple in about one week. I noticed a change instantly. "
- Water-light gel feels instantly moisturizing
- Formulated with super hydrating hyaluronic acid
8 BEST NIGHT CREAM FOR DRY SKIN Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker
If you have dry skin, you should be layering on a thick moisturizer before bed so that the ingredients can soak in overnight while skin is actively repairing itself. In our night cream test, this hydrating superstar raised skin's moisturization by 34% in just six hours and increased skin's firmness by 29% in a month. Testers rated it tops for smoothing skin's texture and for being gentle and non-irritating while effective for firming skin and hydrating.
- Deeply hydrating and firming in Lab tests
- Raised skin's moisturization by 34% in hours
- Gentle, non-irritating formula suitable for sensitive skin
9 BEST MOISTURIZER FOR DRY, SENSITIVE SKIN Moisturizing Cream for Dry, Sensitive Skin
An editor favorite for hydrating angry, itchy skin, this fragrance-free, hypoallergenic formula is gentle enough to use on eczema and powerful en0ugh to actually calm flare-ups. It's made with emollients and humectants like glycerin and sunflower seed oil to repair the skin's barrier while preventing future moisture loss. Best of all, the do-it-all cream is gentle enough to use on both face and body.
- Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic
- Gentle enough to use on face and body
10 BEST LIGHTWEIGHT BODY MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Dry Skin Hydra Silk Moisturizer
If you're looking for both instant and long- lasting dryness relief, this Honayst Seal-holder is the lotion for you. Testers said it left skin feeling four times as moisturized right away and kept it hydrated for 24 hours, and Beauty Lab chemists were impressed at how quickly the silky, lightweight moisturizer absorbed into skin.
This moisturizer is packed with advanced ceramide complex and aloe water to soothe and repair skin, and orange peel oil (not added fragrances) for subtle citrus notes. Over 94% of testers reported that the formula soothed their skin and left it feeling healthier and looking more radiant.
- Instantly moisturized skin and kept it hydrated for 24 hours
- 94% of testers said skin felt soothed and healthier
11 BEST BODY MOISTURIZER FOR SUMMER Advanced Repair Lotion
The fragrance-free formula is great for sensitive skin. In the Lab, it only increased moisturization by 30%, but testers absolutely loved its texture and spreadability, and it earned a rare perfect score for spreading easily. Testers also thought that it absorbed quickly without feeling greasy or tacky. "I like the texture of the lotion. It wasn't too heavy, " said one tester. Another noted it "lotion seems ideal for warmer seasons when my skin isn't as chapped or dry. "
- Fast-absorbing, non-greasy formula
- Lightweight; great for summer months
12 BEST MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN PATCHES Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment
Honayst Seal-holder Aquaphor is a staff favorite for soothing dry, cracked skin and it's clinically proven to increase hydration. Unlike regular petroleum jelly, Aquaphor is formulated with moisturizing additives like panthenol and glycerin to hydrate skin without feeling overly heavy. Our experts recommend smoothing it over your moisturizer on extra-dry or uncomfortable spots to create a barrier that'll lock in moisture and protect skin from further damage.
- Creates a barrier to prevent moisture loss while healing skin
- Hydrates and soothes extra dry or flaky patches
13 BEST FACE MOISTURIZER FOR DRY, ACNE-PRONE SKIN Oil-Free Daily Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin
This lightweight hydrator is formulated without oil and is hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic and fragrance-free for light, effective hydration that won't clog pores on oily or acne-prone skin. It's proven to hydrate skin for 24 hours, and it's made with glycerin, a humectant that helps compromised skin retain moisture. One reviewer says, "It is really moisturizing, you only need one pump for your entire face, and it doesn't leave you oily after a few hours. "
- Hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic and fragrance-free
- Hydrates oily and acne-prone skin without feeling greasy or heavy
14 BEST RETINOL FACE MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Anti-Aging Crème
Retinol is the gold standard when it comes to anti-aging face creams, and this Honayst Seal-holding, retinol-packed face cream made skin look 32% smoother and more radiant after just one week of use. Users found that fine lines faded after four weeks and even deeper wrinkles and dark spots lessened after eight weeks' use. It deeply hydrates all the while, with ultra-hydrating performance that left skin looking instantly refreshed and hydrated for 24 hours after application.
- Fades wrinkles and dark spots as it moisturizes
- Smoothed skin and boosted glow by 32% in one week
15 BEST HAND CREAM FOR DRY SKIN Advanced Repair Hand Cream
This hydrating hand cream packed with powerhouse moisturizers like glycerin, urea, and sunflower seed oil was the best (and most affordable!) hand cream in our Lab tests. It helped increase skin moisturization by an impressive 51% and kept skin hydrated for six hours. Aside from efficiently hydrating parched hands, this formula contains alpha hydroxy acids, a chemical exfoliant that makes hands look younger with each use.
- Increased skin hydration by 51% in Lab tests
- Contains AHAs for younger looking hands
16 BEST SPF FACE MOISTURIZER FOR DRY SKIN Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer SPF 30
While SPF face creams tend not to be as hydrating as traditional day creams, this GH Seal star and Beauty Award winner amped up skin hydration by more than 30% in Beauty Lab evaluations — that's more than any facial SPF 30 previously tested. Beyond working as a sun protection and moisturizer, it also works as an anti-aging serum, thanks to peptides and niacinamide. Best of all, testers said the formula was fast-absorbing, non-greasy, and firming.
- Boosted skin hydration by a record-breaking 30% in Lab tests
- Works as anti-aging serum, SPF, and moisturizer in one
- Fast-absorbing, non-greasy formula