The 13 Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

The Vanicream Daily Face Moisturizer is our best overall

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Moisturizers for dry skin hero

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

No matter the place on your body, dry skin can be a struggle—especially when those dry patches, flakes, and itchy spots are on your face. A good moisturizer, however, can rehydrate parched skin, soothe inflammation, and improve rough texture. Not sure how to find the right one for you? Start by seeking formulas that are rich, on the thicker side, and contain hydrating ingredients like butters and oils (rather than water).

Byrdie Tested & Approved

Ultimately, our favorite dry skin-friendly moisturizer is Vanicream’s Daily Face Moisturizer. It scored high ratings across the board and delivered intense hydration while easily absorbing into the skin. If you’re on a budget, the Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion is also effective, offering a heaping dose of moisture to dry, irritated skin.

According to board-certified dermatologist Marie Hayag, M.D., you should also make sure that the moisturizer you pick contains all three types of moisturizing ingredients: humectants (which attract water and trap it into the skin), emollients (which smooth and soften), and occlusives (which create a seal on top of the skin to retain moisture). Of those three, occlusives are especially important for those with dry skin, much more so than for those with other types of skin, she points out.

To help you narrow down the one that’ll benefit you the most, we researched the best moisturizers for dry skin and then put them to the test. We tried out 35 moisturizers at our lab in NYC on the basis of consistency, absorption, dryness, appearance, and value — and we’re sharing our findings with you.

Keep reading to discover the best moisturizers for dry skin.

Best Overall

Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer

5
Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Can be used all over face and body

  • Budget-friendly

  • Pump bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Might not be thick enough for some

Those searching for a simple, straightforward option: the Vanicream Daily Face Moisturizer is the way to go. Not only does it work well for dry skin on your face, it can also be applied anywhere else on your body. Despite being one of the most lightweight options on this list, it imparts plenty of moisture, all thanks to a formula loaded with hyaluronic acid and five ceramides.

According to our tester, it goes on sheer and absorbs into the skin right away, making it suitable to wear under makeup during the day. It even boasts the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Approval, so you can rest assured knowing that no matter how you use it, any dry, itchy patches will be taken care of gently and efficiently. Though it’s great on its own, the tester noted that because it’s not super thick, those with ultra-dry skin might benefit more if they layered a richer cream on top of it.

Price at time of publish: $13

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Ceramides | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 8 oz. or 16 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

“This product offers great value. It’s really affordable and performs well. I’d purchase this again and again.” —Sunita Mahtani, Product Tester

Best Budget

Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid

4.6
Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid

Amazon

What We Like
  • Leak-proof pump dispenser

  • Lightweight consistency

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • Feels watery

Cetaphil’s Daily Hydrating Lotion is a drugstore must-have for two main reasons: It’s recommended by most dermatologists and can be tolerated by even the most sensitive skin types. An affordable formula that’s lightweight, oil-free, non-comedogenic, and tough on dry spots is hard to come by, which is why our tester was so impressed. (As was another round of testers—this exact formula won Best Overall in our drugstore moisturizer test.) Thanks to nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and humectants, it helps plump the skin and provide it with a ton of moisture. Best of all, it’s super hygienic. Its air-tight pump ensures that you won’t contaminate it with grubby fingers (or risk getting anything in it).

Price at time of publish: $13

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Glycerin | Skin Type: Dry, Combination, Sensitive | Size: 3 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

“It’s such an easy product to incorporate into your daily routine. I love that it caters to skin sensitivity, too.” Kareema Bee, Product Tester

Best Drugstore

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

4.8
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Non-comedogenic

  • Intense hydration

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Want to hydrate your skin without shelling out the big bucks? There’s no better option than this wallet-friendly standout (which, to be honest, is so good that it can beat out many of its pricier counterparts). The stars of this formula are moisture-locking hyaluronic acid and three types of ceramides that work together to ward off dryness on both the face and body. And, because it comes in a huge tub, you don’t have to use it sparingly. Just scoop out however much you need and rub it into your dry skin. Though we love the fact that the tub houses a ton of creamy goodness, we’re not huge fans of how unhygienic it can become. To keep it as clean as possible, be sure to wash your hands before using to avoid contaminating the cream with unclean fingers.

Price at time of publish: $17

Ingredients: Ceramides, Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 16 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

“I love the feeling of this moisturizer—it reminds me of a nice lotion that you dream of in the winter. For once, my skin actually feels hydrated and I want to put it all over my body.” —Taylor Nohs, Product Tester

Best for Mature Skin

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream

4.8
Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream

Glow Recipe

What We Like
  • Plumping

  • Brightening

  • Dewy finish

What We Don't Like
  • May feel sticky at first

Best for those with mature skin in need of a little boost, this hydrating cream is packed with plumping and brightening ingredients like polyglutamic acid, hyaluronic acid, and plum. It’s lightweight yet whipped so it blends into the skin easily, but by no means disappears. In fact, the cream imparts a dewy-looking glow that remains all day. According to our tester, her skin looked less dry and more glass-like after application.

Those with dry or combination skin will love this one most, but oilier friends can use it too since it contains ice willowherb, an ingredient that helps reduce oil and support the skin microbiome. For best results, apply a dime-size amount onto clean skin morning and night. Once you’ve inevitably finished the jar (which is made with 20% post-consumer recycled materials), you can purchase recyclable refills so you don’t contribute to as much waste.

Price at time of publish: $39

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Polyglutamic acid, Ice willowherb | Skin Type: Dry, Combination | Size: 1.7 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream

Byrdien / Tamara Staples

Best for Acne-Prone

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

4.6
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Contains barrier-repairing ingredients

  • Absorbs quickly

What We Don't Like
  • It’s thin

We’re big fans of La Roche-Posay, especially because most products are formulated with sensitive skin in mind. This soothing, fast-absorbing formula contains dermatologist-recommended ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin, and the iconic La Roche-Posay prebiotic thermal water to help repair skin’s protective barrier. It absorbs fast, feels lightweight on the face, and doesn’t leave behind a greasy sheen, making it a fantastic option to wear before makeup. There aren’t many cons about this product, but something we wish we could change is how lightweight it is; those with really dry skin might need extra moisture than this can provide.

Price at time of publish: $20

Ingredients: Niacinamide, Glycerin, Ceramides, Prebiotic thermal water | Skin Type: Dry, Combination | Size: 3.2 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

What Our Testers Say

“This is a fantastic daily moisturizer with a great price to match.” —Mads Jensen, Product Tester

Best for Sensitive Skin

Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Lightweight Face Moisturizer

4.6
Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer

Sephora

What We Like
  • Cloud-like consistency

  • Super hydrating ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Might clog pores

For those looking to spend a little more, this moisturizer from Paula’s Choice is a great option. Rich in superfood omega fatty acids, replenishing ceramides, and antioxidants, the Omega+ Complex Moisturizer nourishes delicate skin and calms down any signs of stress and irritation. Best of all, it helps strengthen the skin’s barrier to prevent further agitation from happening in the future.

If you’ve got any dry, flaky patches, like our tester, you can count on this creamy elixir to restore your skin and give it that sought-after supple feeling. She shared that her skin drank up the moisturizer and after a few minutes, there was a “significant improvement” in the texture of her skin.

Because it contains potentially pore-clogging ingredients like hydrogenated olive oil, those especially prone to breakouts might want to steer clear of this one or perform a patch test to see how their skin reacts.

Price at time of publish: $35

Ingredients: Omega oils, Shea butter, Passion fruit extract, Guava extract  | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Lightweight Face Moisturizer

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

Best with SPF

Fenty Beauty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

5
Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Amazon

What We Like
  • Spreads like butter

  • Lightweight

  • Contains SPF 30

What We Don't Like
  • With reapplication, might not last a long time

Most people know that SPF is key to a happy complexion, but not everyone applies it every single day. If you struggle remembering sunscreen, opt for a moisturizer that already contains sun protection, like Fenty Skin’s Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer SPF 30. This refillable two-in-one sunscreen moisturizer is easy on skin (it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic), but tough on dark spots. Our tester found it to be super dewy and hydrating, making it a fantastic option to wear either on its own or underneath makeup. In fact, she even mentioned how it ticked all of her boxes (she was pleased with the value and efficacy) and she couldn’t find any actual flaws in the product. It’s worth mentioning that if you intend on applying it for sun protection—using half a teaspoon for your face and neck every two hours—you may run out sooner rather than later. To make it last longer, we recommend applying a separate sunscreen (of at least SPF 30) every few hours to ensure you’re completely protected.

Price at time of publish: $38

Ingredients: Kalahari melon, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic acid, Aloe  | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Fenty Beauty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

Best for Texture

EltaMD AM Therapy Face Moisturizer

4.8
Elta AM Therapy Face Moisturizer

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Calming and refreshing

  • Dermatologist-approved

What We Don't Like
  • Finicky pump

If you’re dealing with skin texture—whether it be from acne, dry skin, or an eczema flare up—look for a moisturizer that will go on smooth, feel lightweight, and calm the skin. The EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer does just that: It moisturizes skin easily, leaves very little residue visible to the naked eye, and offers a cooling effect upon application. The sheer, non-comedogenic formula helps stimulate cells to increase absorption and retention, while willow bark non-irritatingly stimulates skin cell turnover. Plus, the hero ingredient niacinamide helps even out skin tone and texture for a more radiant appearance. Our tester, who hates the look of a white cast, was especially pleased with the fact that it was invisible and absorbed almost right away. She also appreciated its unexpected “glowy” and “hydrated” finish that feels like therapy for the skin.

Price at time of publish: $39

Ingredients: Niacinamide, Willow bark extract, Glycerin, Caffeine | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Redness

Embryolisse Lait Crème

4.8
Lait Creme Concentre

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Rich texture

  • Softening

  • Plumping

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Dryness and sensitivity go hand-in-hand—a compromised skin barrier is often the root cause of both issues. Happily, this makeup artist loved moisturizer addresses exactly that with the help of shea butter. At the same time, it also has soothing ingredients (like aloe vera) for instant relief and help fighting redness. After application, our tester saw a noticeable change in her skin’s hydration levels. She noted that it felt “softer” and “plumper” to the touch. It also calmed the redness due to rosacea on her cheeks and helped even out the look of texture—a major win for those with sensitive skin. The product does contain some perfume, so be aware of that if your skin reacts badly to fragrance.

Price at time of publish: $29

Ingredients: Shea butter, Aloe vera | Skin Type: Dry skin | Size: 2.54 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Embryolisse Lait Crème

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

Best Multitasking

Alleyoop Dream Team 3-in-1 Moisturizer Eye Cream & Mask

4.8
Alleyoop Dream Team 3-in-1 Moisturizer, Eye Cream & Mask

Alleyoop

What We Like
  • Smoothing

  • Can be used as eye cream

  • Can be used as a face mask

What We Don't Like
  • Contains a nut oil

For those with a more minimalist approach to skincare, allow us to introduce you to a three-in-one moisturizer that should be on your radar. A first-of-its-kind formula, the moisturizer moonlights as an eye cream and a face mask, so you can cut down on the amount of products you use in your routine. It has a cloud-like texture that our tester loved—she said three pumps was the perfect amount. Not only does it feel super luxurious, but it absorbs into skin right away, with no stickiness or oiliness after. Keep in mind that the formula does contain macadamia nut oil, so if you’re allergic to (or just sensitive to) nuts, you may want to perform a spot test to make sure you won’t have a reaction or avoid it altogether.

Price at time of publish: $35

Ingredients: Squalane, Macadamia nut oil, Hyaluronic acid, Coconut oil | Skin Type: All skin types | Size: 1.68 fl. oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Alleyoop Dream Team 3-in-1 Moisturizer, Eye Cream & Mask

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

Best Whipped

Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

4.4
Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Plant-based ingredients

  • Lightweight yet moisturizing

What We Don't Like
  • May not be hydrating enough for super dry skin

A moisturizer that benefits all skin types is hard to find, which is why we love the Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer. The formula is packed with kale, spinach, and green tea to deliver phytonutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants into the skin, kind of like a green smoothie for your face. It smells amazing and has a really nice air-whipped texture, which the tester claimed was “like luxury in a jar” and that using it felt like she was treating herself.

Price at time of publish: $48

Ingredients: Kale, Hyaluronic acid, Green tea  | Skin Type: Oily, Combo, Normal, Dry | Size: 2 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural

Then I Met You Renewing Rich Beauty Cream

4.5
Then I Met You Renewing Rich Beauty Cream

Then I Met You

What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Natural ingredients

What We Don't Like
  • Smells slightly smokey

If you can get past the formula’s slight smokey smell (thank you, ginseng), this moisturizer is a fantastic choice for those in search of something more natural. Loaded with a blend of ginseng, squalane, baobab, and hyaluronic acid, it offers a soothing finish without being overly heavy. Our tester, who was a huge fan, especially loved how the consistency was a cross between a gel and a cream that her skin “drank right up.” She also lauded at the fact that it offers a cooling sensation that left her skin feeling refreshed and smooth.

Price at time of publish: $58

Ingredients: Black ginseng, Panax ginseng root water, Panax ginseng seed oil, Red ginseng  | Skin Type: Oily, combination | Size: 1.69 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Then I Met You Renewing Rich Beauty Cream

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

What Our Editors Say

“The level of hydration on my forehead and chin skyrocketed. I’d incorporate this into my routine in a heartbeat.” —Mary Honkus, Commerce Editor

Best Lightweight

COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Cream

4.3
COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Supple skin finish

  • Great for fine lines

  • Unscented

What We Don't Like
  • Large but unhygienic tub

Plump the look of fine lines and wrinkles with the help of this moisturizer from COSRX. The hyaluronic acid-infused formula comes in a huge tub, which ensures it’ll last a long time, but we recommend using a spatula or applicator to scoop out the product to avoid contamination. According to our tester, a little bit goes a long way in plumping skin and creating a dewy, fresh finish. Though it didn’t calm the redness on her cheeks, it did make a difference in the overall feel of her skin.

Price at time of publish: $15

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, Hippophae rhamnoides water  | Skin Type: Dry skin | Size: 3.52 oz. | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Cream

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

Final Verdict

Our best overall pick is Vanicream Daily Face Moisturizer, a formula approved by the National Eczema Association which contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides to drench dry skin in hydration while being easy to absorb. It’s also really affordable and can be found at plenty of local drugstores.

How We Tested

Byrdie editors did extensive research on popular moisturizers for dry skin, taking expert recommendations and consumer reviews into account before choosing 35 to test out first-hand. Our testers took skin moisture ratings, using a digital skin moisture analyzing tool, before and after applying their product to determine effectiveness. They also assessed each one based on consistency, absorption, dryness, performance, and value, before deciding on a rating from one to five. Those with the highest scores made the list. All tests were performed in The Lab, our Manhattan product testing facility.

What to Look for in a Moisturizer for Dry Skin

Occlusives

According to Dr. Hayag, occlusives (like the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream) are the most important category of ingredients to look for (common ones include dimethicone and petrolatum). By forming a protective layer on the surface of the skin, they help to seal and lock in moisture. Some common occlusives to look for are petrolatum, waxes, or silicones.

Emollients

Another type of hydrating ingredient, emollients (like the Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentrate, for example) work to smooth the skin, filling in cracks in the skin barrier. They’re also ideal for almost instantly making the skin feel softer and more hydrated. Ceramides, shea butter, cocoa butter, and plant oils are some to look out for.

Face moisturizer for dry skin test

Byrdie / Tamara Staples

Humectants

Lighter than the other two types of ingredients, humectants are still important to seek out, as they help attract water to and hold it in the skin—our best bet for scoring instantaneous hydrating effects. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and urea are common humectants used in skincare, so you can bet that the CosRx Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream is a great option.

FAQ
  • When should you apply a moisturizer for dry skin?

    You should always apply a moisturizer when your skin is a bit damp. This will help seal the moisture on your skin and keep it hydrated. Use it after cleansing and serum application, as well as after washing your hands.

  • How often should you use a moisturizer for dry skin?

    This depends on the area you’re moisturizing. Generally, it’s recommended to moisturize your face twice a day to maintain hydration. For your body, it’s as much as you need it. If you have dry hands, you can apply moisturizer after you wash them to keep them soft and hydrated.

  • Should a moisturizer for dry skin include SPF?

    Not necessarily. If you have an allocated sunscreen for your daily sun protection needs, there’s no reason to buy a moisturizer containing SPF (unless you’d like to simplify your morning routine, in which case you should consider the Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturizer SPF 30). Moisturizers for nighttime use do not need to have SPF in them.

What Is Byrdie Verified?

Did you notice the Byrdie Verified seal of approval at the top of this story? This seal means that our team has researched and tested every product on this list using a unique methodology that’s designed to focus on what our readers really want to know—and to deliver insights that you can’t find anywhere else. Occasionally, beauty brands and PR agencies will send us samples for coverage consideration, but our thoughts and opinions are fully our own. If you visit links within our content, we may receive commissions from your purchases, but we never receive any compensation or consideration for the content of our recommendations. In short, the Byrdie Verified seal stands for product recommendations you can trust.

Why Trust Byrdie

Caitlyn Martyn is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has tested dozens of moisturizers — including several on this list from brands like CeraVe, La Roche-Posay, and Youth to the People. Caitlyn has been a writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.

Updated by Jill Di Donato

Related Stories