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If you have dry skin, using a moisturizer on your face, neck, and chest daily is basically non-negotiable. The good news? There are plenty of high-quality finds out there that don't cost a fortune and they're hiding out in the aisles of your local drugstore.
When choosing a moisturizer, look for one that addresses your specific skin type and needs. Whichever you choose, the best will contain three types of ingredients: humectants, emollients, and occlusives. To help you find the right one for your needs, we researched the top options for pampering parched, cracked, and eczema-prone skin.
Read on for the best drugstore moisturizers for dry skin.
Best Overall: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel
Hydrates with hyaluronic acid
Not for ultra-dry skin
If you want a seriously hydrating face moisturizer that doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy, your best bet is Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Water Gel. It's both dermatologist-recommended and a Byrdie fave. Formulated with ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid, this gel absorbs quickly and provides all-day hydration. Since it's non-comedogenic, it won't clog pores, either. Wins all around.
Active Ingredients: Sodium hyaluronate | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
"Despite colder weather and declining humidity, Hydro Boost has kept my skin from becoming too dry, and I think that’s part of the magic of the formula—despite its lightness, it seems to soak into the skin and hydrate it from the inside out." — Joline Buscemi, Product Tester
Best Budget: St. Ives Renewing Collagen & Elastin Moisturizer
Rich, creamy feel
Provides intense hydration
Contains mineral oil
If you're on a budget, St. Ives Renewing Collagen & Elastin Moisturizer is an excellent choice. Infused with elastin and collagen, the hydrating cream may smooth dry skin, while safflower oil helps give your complexion a refreshed, healthy glow. This drugstore moisturizer is also non-comedogenic, paraben-free, and certified cruelty-free by PETA. It can be used day or night, either on its own or underneath makeup. Lastly, with a rich, easily spreadable formulation, the 10-ounce container should last for months.
Active Ingredients: Safflower seed oil, collagen, elastin | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 10 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Value: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Available in two sizes
Rich, creamy texture
Helps relieve dry, cracked skin
Can be used on face and body
A little greasy
When it comes to overall value, the best drugstore moisturizer for dry skin is CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream (the price tag for its 19-ounce tub is pretty much unbeatable). With three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it smooths and restores skin while helping to keep it hydrated for up to 24 hours. It's also hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free, so it's fantastic for sensitive skin, too.
Active Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: All | Size: 12/16 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Daily Advance Lotion
Can be used on face and body
Packaging could be improved
Dry skin that's also sensitive can be tricky to deal with. Thankfully, Cetaphil Daily Advance Lotion provides gentle, soothing relief. With shea butter, glycerin, macadamia oil, and vitamins E and B5, it hydrates and replenishes skin instantly. Also, this rich facial lotion is non-comedogenic, so you shouldn't have to worry about clogged pores—you'll simply be left with soft, moisturized, and smooth skin for up to 24 hours. What's not to love?
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive | Size: 16 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best With SPF: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30
Doesn't leave a white cast
Instead of layering sunscreen over your daily moisturizer, why not kill two birds with one stone? For a facial lotion with SPF, we recommend CeraVe's Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30. Similar to the brand's Moisturizing Cream, it contains three ceramides for all-day hydration but also has broad-spectrum SPF 30 sun protection. Plus, the brand's InVisibleZinc technology allows the extra-fine zinc formula to absorb easily without a white cast.
Active Ingredients: 12 percent homosalate, 7.5 percent octinoxate, 2 percent octocrylene, 3.5 percent zinc oxide, niacinamide, ceramides | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: 30 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Nighttime: Alaffia Coconut Reishi Night Cream
Nourishing, oil-rich formula
Not ideal for acne-prone skin
Many moisturizers can be used during the day and at night. However, if you like applying an extra-thick cream before bed, we suggest Alaffia's Coconut Reishi Night Cream. This nourishing facial lotion is formulated to protect and rejuvenate dry skin, thanks to nourishing ingredients like baobab fruit, green tea extract, sweet almond oil, shea butter, argan oil, aloe vera, and melon seed oil. Though it's ideal for dehydrated skin, those with normal, combination, and sensitive skin can also benefit from the moisturizing formula.
Active Ingredients: Baobab fruit extract and oil, green tea extract, shea butter | Skin Type: All | Size: 3 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Eczema-Prone Skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin
Helps relieve dry, cracked skin
Moisturizes flaky patches
If you have eczema-prone skin, you know how hard it can be to find non-irritating products that keep skin hydrated. Vanicream's Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin isn't just affordable—it may also help restore normal moisture levels while soothing cracked, itchy, and irritated skin. The sensitive-skin formula is gentle enough for both adults and kids as it's free of fragrance, dyes, lanolin, and parabens.
It can be used day or night on your face, hands, knees, elbows, and anywhere else that could use some protective hydration. And—if that wasn't enough—this dermatologist-tested cream has a Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association.
Active Ingredients: Petrolatum | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 16 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Unscented: e.l.f. Cosmetics Holy Hydration! Face Cream
Visually plumps skin
Feels light on the skin
Works on all skin types
Not for ultra-dry skin
Unscented face lotions tend to be less irritating than their scented counterparts—especially for those with dry skin. E.l.f. Cosmetics' Holy Hydration! Face Cream is not only fragrance-free but is also free of phthalates, parabens, and sulfates. So, what does it contain? This face cream has moisture-locking and plumping hyaluronic acid, squalane for balance and elasticity, and niacinamide for a bright, even complexion. It's also formulated with peptides, which may give dry skin a refreshed, healthy-looking glow that's never greasy.
Active Ingredients: Squalane, peptides, niacinamide | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.8 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Gel Formula: Avène Hydrance Aqua-Gel
Can be used around the eyes
If you're partial to gel formulas, reach for Avène's Hydrance Aqua Gel. A favorite of Byrdie senior editor Hallie Gould, this moisturizer is enriched with Avène's thermal spring water, as well as hyaluronic acid to hydrate dry skin and seal in moisture. Plus, it's super versatile, as it can be used as a daily moisturizer, a night lotion, and an eye cream, or even applied in a thick layer as a hydrating, plumping mask.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, thermal spring water | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.6 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Non-Comedogenic: Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream
Texture is a little pasty
It can be hard to find a moisturizer that addresses dryness without clogging pores, but this non-comedogenic formula from Eucerin does all that and more. The lotion contains antioxidants like vitamin E, beta-carotene, and Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10) to improve the look of fine lines and protect against free radicals. It also contains more skin-loving ingredients like glycerin, shea butter, and biotin. Just use daily for a soft, healthy glow.
Active Ingredients: CoQ10, shea butter, biotin | Skin Type: All | Size: 1.7 fl. oz | SPF: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
What to Look For in a Moisturizer
Skin Type-Specific Ingredients
The first step in choosing a moisturizer is to find one that addresses your specific skin type. If you are acne-prone, moisturizers that are oil-free and non-comedogenic may be best, and some moisturizers help keep your skin matte, reducing oiliness and sheen. Those with sensitive skin may require only simple ingredients in their moisturizers.
People with fine lines and wrinkles may want additional anti-aging benefits, and those with dry skin should seek moisturizers that are richer and deeply hydrating.
Humectants—which attract water to the skin's surface—are one type of ingredient that moisturizers should have. They include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and other ingredients in your moisturizer that work in tandem with humectants to keep that moisture locked into the skin.
The second component that moisturizers should contain is emollients. Examples of emollients include oils, fatty acids, and ceramides. These saturated and unsaturated substances improve skin barrier function, membrane fluidity, and cell signaling, helping boost skin smoothness, texture, and appearance.
Finally, occlusives are the third essential ingredient type you'll find in quality moisturizers. Occlusives form an inert layer on the skin to prevent moisture loss by creating a seal to trap in hydration. Examples include waxes and oils such as petrolatum, beeswax, mineral oil, and lanolin.
What does moisturizer do for your face?
Moisturizers add to and protect the moisture in your skin, helping to hydrate dry skin or rehydrate after cleansing. Some moisturizers help soothe sensitive skin, improve skin texture, and boost appearance.
Should I use moisturizer every day?
Using a moisturizer every day is wise. Since daily face washing is recommended to remove dirt and impurities, moisturizing can help to replace any moisture or oils lost from cleansing. Additionally, proper moisturizers will help form a barrier to keep moisture locked into your skin.
Should I moisturize at night or in the morning?
Moisturizing at night and in the morning is best, especially after washing your face. For daytime use, a light moisturizer is ideal for layering with sun protection and makeup. At night, it's best to use a moisturizer with ingredients suitable for your skin's specific needs.
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