The 16 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin of 2022

Our best overall pick is First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

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The 13 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin, Tested by Experts

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Whether it’s on your head, hands, face, or feet, there’s no denying that dealing with dry skin can be challenging. A good moisturizer, however, can effectively re-hydrate parched skin, soothe inflammation, and improve its texture. Seek out formulas that are thicker and contain more hydrating ingredients (like butters and oils) than water, suggests board-certified dermatologist Marie Hayag, MD.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, which contains ceramides and colloidal oats to repair the skin barrier and calm irritation as well as occlusives to lock all the healing properties in. For a more affordable pick, consider Vanicream Moisturizing Cream, a lightweight formula that absorbs easily and has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Approval.

Hayag recommends to make sure the cream you pick contains all three of the major types of moisturizing ingredients: humectants, which attract water and trap it in the skin, emollients, which smooth and soften, and occlusives, which create a seal on top of the skin to help retain moisture. Of those three, occlusives are especially important for those with dry skin, much more so than for those with normal skin, she points out. 

We conducted hours of research on the best moisturizers for dry skin. We tried some of the top-rated formulas out there, our testers taking note of active ingredients, texture, skin-feel, and targeted concerns. Our team then combined these results with our own research of fan-favorites plus dermatologist-recommended picks to create this list.

Ahead, find the best moisturizers for dry skin from head to toe.

Best Overall: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

4.9
ultra-repair-cream

Sephora

What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Soothing

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Could be slightly thicker

Who else recommends it? NBC News, InStyle, and Prevention all chose the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream.

What do buyers say? 300+ Dermstore reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

One of First Aid Beauty's most beloved products, this is also a favorite of Hayag’s. “This cream contains a host of good ingredients including ceramides, glycerin, and dimethicone," she says. "Additionally, it has squalane, which acts as an occlusive agent, prevents trans-epidermal water loss, and leaves the skin feeling soft." It’s also ideal for those with sensitivity or dryness-related issues, such as eczema, thanks to the addition of soothing colloidal oats, and works equally well anywhere on the body or face. In short, it’s an absolute must-have for anyone with dry skin, hands down.

Active Ingredients: Collodial oatmeal, shea butter, allantoin, FAB antioxidant booster | Skin Type: Dry, balanced | Size: 2 oz., 6 oz., 8 oz., or 14 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"My biggest skin concerns— irritation and dryness—are a non-issue with this moisturizer because it’s literally made for the most sensitive skin." — Tembe Denton-Hurst, Product Tester

Best Budget: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

4.9
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Amazon 

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Can use on face and body

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

For those who want to hydrate their skin but don’t want to shell out the big bucks to do so, there’s no better option than this wallet-friendly standout (which, to be honest, is so good that it’s even better than many of its much pricier counterparts). The stars of the show are hyaluronic acid and three types of ceramides to help both impart and lock in moisture, all in a time-released formula to continuously ward off dryness. It’s another great pick for both face and body, too since it’s non-comedogenic and won’t clog pores.

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Balanced, dry | Size: 12 oz. or 16 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Drugstore: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

4.9
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Strengthens skin barrier

  • Affordable

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • Can pill

This pick takes a two-fold approach to knock out dryness. One, it imparts hydration (with glycerin and niacinamide), and two, it locks in said moisture by bolstering the strength of the skin barrier. It does the latter, thanks to the addition of ceramides. Hayag, who’s a fan, notes that the niacinamide also helps promote ceramide synthesis to further bolster the skin barrier.

Active Ingredients: Ceramide-3, glycerin, niacinamide, La Roche-Posay Prebiotic Thermal Water | Skin Type: Sensitive, balanced, combination, dry | Size: 2.5 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Face: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

4.9
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Absorbs quickly

  • Noticeable results

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Arguably the thickest, most luxurious, delightfully rich face moisturizer we’ve ever used, even the most stubborn dry spots don’t stand a chance against this guy. The ratio refers to the carefully selected proportions of ceramide to cholesterol to fatty acids—all of which are imperative for maintaining a strong and healthy skin barrier. And yet somehow, despite the fact that it’s very creamy, it’s never the least bit greasy. Go figure.

Active Ingredients: Ceramide 1, ceramide 3, natural cholesterol, fatty acids, essential oil blend | Skin Type: Dry, balanced, oily, combination, sensitive | Size: 1.6 fl. oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

skinceuticals triple lipid restore

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca

What Our Testers Say

“I noticed right away that each time I apply the cream my pores look smaller and my skin looks smoother. It’s almost like I am applying a blurring primer or soft-focus filter to my face.” — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best for Body: Mutha Body Butter

Mutha Body Butter

Courtesy of Mutha

What We Like
  • Helps with stretch marks

  • Natural ingredients

  • Softens skin

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Byrdie editors are big fans of this brand, which offers a small selection of face and body products—all of which offer outstanding results. To combat dryness anywhere on the skin below your chin, this luscious butter can’t be beaten. Originally created by the founder as a way to help combat pregnancy-induced stretch marks (and yes, it can help with that), it’s also a top pick for dry skin. There’s a base of three different whipped butters—shea, cocoa, and mango—all combined with tons of fatty acids and oils. Not to mention that the ingredients are all 100% natural, too.

Active Ingredients: Shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive | Size: 5.5 fl. oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What Our Editors Say

"Mutha Body Butter is an intensely rich whipped treatment that sinks into skin without leaving a greasy residue. Since I started using it, I've noticed a vast improvement to scaliness and dry patches on my arms and legs, even if I skip a couple days." — Jill Di Donato, Senior Commerce Editor

Best for All Over: Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion

Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion

LovelySkin

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Pump bottle

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Some may prefer something thicker/more moisturizing

For those looking for a simple and straightforward option that will work just as well for dry skin on the face as it does for dry skin on the feet, this is the way to go. Yes, generally speaking, it’s best to opt for lotions over more lightweight creams if you have super dry skin, but consider this the exception to the rule. It still imparts plenty of moisture, can be used on the face, hands, body, or feet, and is so gentle that it even boasts the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Approval.

Skin Type: Dry | Size: 8 oz. or 16 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Splurge: Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Rich

Dr. Barbara Sturm Rich Face Cream

Courtesy of Nordstrom 

What We Like
  • Gluten-free

  • Absorbs quickly

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

A team Byrdie staple, this pick is pricey but worth it. Along with a line-up of tried-and-true moisturizing ingredients (think: glycerin and shea butter), it also touts protective antioxidants and skullcap, an anti-aging ingredient that boosts collagen production (i.e. helps smooth out wrinkles). There’s a high concentration of urea in the formula, too, an ingredient Hayag says is worth seeking out both because of its hydrating properties and because it can help improve the skin barrier.

Active Ingredients: Purslane extract, skullcap, urea, vitamin E, panthenol, avocado oil, shea butter, grape seed oil, corn oil, olive oil, glycerine | Skin Type: Sensitive, dry, dull | Size: 0.67 oz. or 1.69 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Sensitive Skin: Avène Trixera Nutrition Nutri-Fluid Balm

Avene Trixera Nutrition Nutri-Fluid Balm
What We Like
  • Rich texture

  • Pump bottle

  • Non-sticky

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 addresses exactly that with a trio of ceramides, cholesterol, and sterols—all key components of said barrier. At the same time, it also has soothing ingredients (like the brand's patented thermal spring water) for some instant relief and is fragrance-free with no ingredients that could cause any further irritation.

Active Ingredients: Selectiose, lipid-trio, Avene Thermal Spring Water | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 6.7 fl. oz. or 13.5 fl. oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Natural for Body: SheaMoisture Head To Toe Nourishing Hydration 100% Virgin Coconut Oil

Head To Toe Nourishing Hydration 100% Virgin Coconut Oil

Courtesy of SheaMoisture

What We Like
  • Can use all over

  • A little goes a long way

  • Absorbs easily

What We Don't Like
  • Can liquify with a raise in temperature

Rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E, this coconut oil from SheaMoisture is made from 100% extra-virgin coconut oil, which means it has not been bleached or deodorized. We love to apply it directly after a shower the thick formula can quickly sink into skin without leaving a greasy skin-feel. A dab or two is sufficient to offer intense hydration to dry patches and irritated skin. You can use this all over your body, as well as in your hair.

Active Ingredients:
Coconut oil | Skin Type: All | Size: 15 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Natural for Face: Epara Moisturizing Face Cream

Epara
What We Like
  • Natural formula

  • Recyclable packaging

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This one is a little splurgy, but if you’re seeking natural relief for a parched complexion, you can’t go wrong with this luxe moisturizer from Epara. Comforting shea butter pairs with a blend of soothing oils and plant extracts to deeply nourish the skin. Plus, thanks to niacinamide and licorice root extract, you can count on it to help even out skin tone.

Active Ingredients: Shea butter, marula oil, licorice root extract | Skin Type: Dry, combination | Size: 0.5 oz. or 1.69 oz. | SPF: 15 | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Anti-Aging: Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream

Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream
What We Like
  • Dermatologist-developed

  • Lightweight

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic container

Look, keeping your complexion well-hydrated can go a long way towards making it appear more youthful in and of itself. But if you’re wanting a little bit of an extra anti-aging boost, Hayag recommends this cream. As far as hydration goes, she gives it big points for containing both ceramides (to help with skin barrier repair) and dimethicone, which creates a protective layer and makes it feel nice and soft. There’s bakuchiol in the mix, a retinol alternative with similar wrinkle-fighting effects but without the drying side effects that you'd sometimes get with retinol, says Hayag.

Active Ingredients: Bakuchiol, malachite, hyaluronic acid, ceramides | Skin Type: Balanced, dry, combination, oily | Size: 1.76 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Radiance-Boosting: EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex

EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex
What We Like
  • Pump bottle

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Strong smell

Dry skin and dull skin also go hand-in-hand; there’s no way that your skin is going to look glowing or radiant if it’s dehydrated. Enter this solution. First and foremost, it’s great for moisturization purposes, touting ceramides, glycerin, dimethicone, and more. Also noteworthy, though, is the addition of fruit enzymes. So it's also formulated to gently help dissolve dead skin while gradually boosting radiance. (The keyword here is "gently," since getting too overzealous with any type of exfoliation is a major no-no if you have dry skin, warns Hayag.)

Active Ingredients: Squalane, biotin, ceramide NP, ceramide NS, ceramide EOS, ceramide EOP, ceramide AP, tocopherol, caprooyl phytosphingosine, caprooyl sphingosine, ficin, actinidin, bromelain | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 1.7 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multi-Tasking: Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Body Cream

Weleda Skin Food

Amazon

What We Like
  • Dermatologist-tested

  • Affordable

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • May cause irritation

This veritable classic, a favorite among A-list celebs and beauty editors alike, has been around for decades. Its next-level hydrating power comes from its natural formula that combines sunflower and sweet almond oils with all kinds of plant-based extracts. It’s a saver for stubborn dry patches on areas like elbows or knees, but can also be used on the face, hands, and cuticles. Makeup artists even like using it as a primer or highlighter—it’s that versatile.

Active Ingredients: Pansy, calendula, chamomile, beeswax, sunflower oil | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2.5 fl. oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

weleda skin food ultra-rich body cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

What Our Testers Say

“After waking up and doing a quick splash of cold water on my face, I dabbed it dry with a towel and rubbed in a dime-sized amount of Skin Food all over. It gave me an instantly dewy complexion in one quick swoop, highlighting my cheekbones, brows, and the cupid’s bow of my upper lip.” — Ashley Rubell, Product Tester

Best Balm: Hello Bello Everywhere Balm

Hello Bello Everywhere Balm

Walmart

What We Like
  • Vegan

  • Fragrance-free

  • pH balanced

What We Don't Like
  • Feels greasy

There’s dry skin, and then there’s skin that’s so dry that it becomes raw, red, and cracked—so much so that it can even become painful. When that happens, reach for this protective balm. The plant-based balm veers on ointment territory but doesn’t contain any petrolatum; instead, it contains organic coconut, tamanu, and chamomile oils for the base, plus shea butter and more. It can be dabbed on all over to alleviate pretty much any type of dry skin-related issue and is safe to use on the entire fam, newborns included.

Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, chamomile oil, tamanu oil | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive | Size: 4 oz. or 8 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best After Sun: LATHER After Sun Body Serum

LATHER Body Serum

LATHER

What We Like
  • Clean, natural formula

  • Hydrating ingredients

  • Lightweight, non-sticky feel

What We Don't Like
  • Has fragrance

Sun exposure can exacerbate parched, dry skin, making it feel tight and uncomfortable. We love that this body treatment uses ingredients typically reserved for facial care like hyaluronic acid in its formula, which is designed to be applied after any type of sun exposure. A blend of aloe and botanical extracts add to the skin softening properties, making this serum a summer staple. Do note that there is a natural lavender scent. It does fade pretty quickly, however, after application.

Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, aloe, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: All | Size: 10 oz. | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Re-Texturizing: ROSEN Skincare Tropics Moisturizer

Rosen Skincare Tropics Moisturizer

Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Calms and smoothes the complexion

  • Brightens

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly sticky texture


If dry skin is presenting issues with texture, consider this fruity, hydrating moisturizer with hyaluronic acid that can lock in moisture. Reviewers report skin that looks noticeably smoother thanks to the addition of kojic acid to the formula to gently exfoliate.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

Our best overall pick is First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, which contains ceramides and colloidal oats to repair the skin barrier and calm irritation as well as occlusives to lock all the healing properties in. For a more affordable pick, consider Vanicream Moisturizing Cream, a lightweight formula that absorbs easily and has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Approval.

Meet the Expert

Marie Hayag, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics in New York City. She specializes in both cosmetic and medical dermatology and is also an Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai Hospital.

What to Look for in a Moisturizer for Dry Skin

Occlusives

According to Hayag, occlusives 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, these work to smooth the skin, filling in cracks in the skin barrier. They’re also ideal for almost instantly making skin feel softer and more hydrated. Ceramides, shea butter, cocoa butter, and plant oils are some to look out for.

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.

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

    You should always apply 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, and after taking a shower.

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

    This depends on the area you are 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 already have an allocated sunscreen for your daily sun protection needs, then there's no reason to buy a moisturizer with SPF (unless you'd like to simplify your morning routine). Moisturizers for nighttime use do not need to have SPF in them.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has more than a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Her skin is the driest of dry, so she’s spent the majority of her career focused on finding the best moisturizers out there. 

Updated by Jill Di Donato
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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