Face moisturizer is the foundation of any effective skincare routine. That said, picking out the right moisturizer might feel like an impossible task, given the seemingly endless array of face moisturizer brands and products stocked by the average American retailer.
We’ve simplified the process by compiling a list of our favorite face moisturizers for dry skin. Whether your goal is to age better than Paul Rudd, add an enviable sheen to your skin, or simply to keep your skin healthy and hydrated through the dog days of summer, this article will inform your face moisturizer purchasing decisions.
- How to Choose a Daily Face Moisturizer
- Top 10 Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin 2021
- 1. Best Overall Pick Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
- 2. Best Budget Pick Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream
- 3. Most Iconic Pick Weleda Skin Food
- 4. Best Value Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Moisturizer
- 5. Best Premium Pick Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream
- 6. Best for SPF Protection La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
- 7. Best Face Moisturizer for Very Dry Skin Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion
- 8. Eco-Friendly Pick Pura D’Or Organic Moroccan Argan Oil
- 9. Best Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
- 10. Best Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer Revitalift by L’Oreal Paris
- Guide to Finding the Best Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
- Treat Yourself to the Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin
How to Choose a Daily Face Moisturizer
Before we dive into our top picks for dry skin, let’s explore the factors that matter when it comes to choosing the best face moisturizer for your needs.
Your Skin Type
Face moisturizers aren’t necessarily one size fits all: it’s important to select the appropriate moisturizer for your skin type. Not sure what your skin type is? Check out our detailed guide to skin types below. Oily, acne-prone skin benefits from lighter formulas, but if your skin is dry and sensitive – or if you’re dealing with eczema or a similar skin ailment – then you’ll get the best results from a rich cream.
Face moisturizers are sold in a variety of formats, including lotions, gels, and creams. The distinction lies largely in the moisturizer’s relative viscosity – or, its water content. The bulk of moisturizers on the market are higher viscosity lotions, but you may prefer a thicker cream or gel.
Avoid products containing potential skin irritants like dry alcohols, dyes, or sulfates. Keep an eye out for humectants – the best moisturizers boast plenty of these skin-friendly, hydrating ingredients. Examples include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera. You may want to go with fragrance-free moisturizers, as fragrance-related ingredients trigger allergic reactions in some people.
With or Without SPF
Some face moisturizers pull double-duty via the inclusion of sun protection factor (SPF) components. If reducing potential sun damage is important to you, look for a moisturizer with an SPF rating of at least 15.
Now that we’ve touched on the most crucial factors, let’s review the 10 best face moisturizers for dry skin you can find.
Top 10 Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin 2021
1. Best Overall Pick Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
- Skin Type: All Types
- SPF: None
- Formula: Cream
Regenerist is the flagship anti-aging product line from veteran drugstore cosmetics brand, Olay. Intended for daily use, the Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream is a multifaceted face moisturizer effective for all skin types, and useful across the spectrum of skincare and beauty needs.
Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream’s formula includes a multitude of humectants and antioxidants. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin lead the way by encouraging hydration and moisture retention at the skin level, while vitamin B3 accelerates skin cell regeneration and the culling of dead skin cells. Dimethicone, an emollient, helps treat and prevent itchiness and skin irritation. In sum, expect Regenerist to keep your skin moist and hydrated and limit the visibility of lines and wrinkles.
On the negative side, Olay Regenerist is notably thick and sticky, akin to cake frosting, meaning consumers might find it uncomfortable or cumbersome to layer it over or underneath makeup and/or sunscreen. (Although other Olay Regenerist products include SPF, the Micro-Sculpting Cream does not.) It’s available in both scented and fragrance-free varieties.
- Time-tested all-purpose face moisturizer
- Includes anti-aging elements
- Suitable for all skin types
- The thick, gelatinous texture will be unpleasant to some
2. Best Budget Pick Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream
- Skin Type: Sensitive, Acne-Prone, Dry
- SPF: None
- Formula: Gel Cream
Generally available for under $30, Neutrogena Hydro Boost is a premium cosmetic at budget prices. While certainly costlier on average than Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Moisturizer, it offers plenty of value in addition to the low price-point.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost is well stocked with hyaluronic acid, which as we’ve learned is an essential addition to any face moisturizer, due to its capacity to elicit and/or maintain skin hydration. Hydro Boost Cream Gel is an excellent choice for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin, as it moisturizes without causing breakouts and contains no common skin irritants. In fact, this gel is so light on the skin that you’ll barely notice it’s on – which is perfect for anyone fed up with greasy, cloying face moisturizers.
That said, Neutrogena’s odd decision to package Hydro Boost in a wide jar is a bit unfortunate: the formula’s high viscosity means that it is quite literally liquid in a jar. One poorly timed case of the butter fingers, and you’ll watch in horror as your favorite face moisturizer splashes all over the bathroom counter. Or onto the floor. Which you’ll then have to clean. (Why didn’t they put it in a tube?)
- Very light consistency and absorbs rapidly – no greasy residue
- Utilizes hyaluronic acid to obtain superior moisturizing results
- No dyes or fragrances
- The packaging is an accident waiting to happen
3. Most Iconic Pick Weleda Skin Food
- Skin Type: Acne-Free, Dry
- SPF: None
- Formula: Multi-Use Lotion
It’s a favorite of celebrities including Julia Roberts and Victoria Beckham, but you don’t need to belong to the jet-set crowd to recognize the value in Weleda Skin Food. Instead of humectants, Skin Food’s formula is built on fatty acids and herbal extracts. And it gets results – fatty acids are the building blocks of your skin’s surface and play a key part in maintaining skin hydration and elasticity. And those herbal extracts – including chamomile and viola tricolor – provide Skin Food with its famous perfume.
Most commonly utilized as a standard face moisturizer, Weleda Skin Food also moonlights as a makeup primer, highlighter, and foot cream. The advantages inherent to any multi-use cosmetic go virtually without saying: the same logic used to argue in favor of SPF added moisturizers like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer also applies to Weleda Skin Food. Any product that can save you money and cabinet space via its capacity to fulfill multiple needs is at least worth your consideration.
Unfortunately, Skin Food’s versatility also presents some problems. Its effectiveness as a stand-in for highlighter is due in part to its slow absorption time. Expect this moisturizer to retain a layer of oil on your face for quite some time after application, which is problematic if you typically wear makeup and/or sunscreen in addition to your moisturizer of choice. This prolonged absorption period necessitates that people with acne take caution when using Weleda Skin Food – it may trigger breakouts.
- A cosmetic Swiss army knife with a multitude of applications
- Has a pleasant floral aroma
- The unique formula adds a notable sheen to the user’s skin
- Very greasy, and slow to absorb
- Not a good option for people with oily, acne-prone skin
4. Best Value Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Moisturizer
- Skin Type: Sensitive, Moderately Dry
- SPF: None
- Formula: Light Lotion
Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Moisturizer earned its loyal customer base due in no small part to its unbeatable price point – 32 oz bottles go for under $10. And it’s a convenient moisturizer choice for more reasons than its impact on your bank account – intended for use as a body lotion as well as a face moisturizer, this product is another cosmetic multitasker. Jergens is a fast-absorbing moisturizer that never leaves a layer of grease.
Jergens Ultra Healing Dry Skin Moisturizer is far from flawless. Its lightness is perfect for customers with sensitive skin, but also responsible for its inconsistent moisturizing capabilities. If you have very dry skin or eczema patches, this moisturizer simply isn’t strong enough to get the job done. You’ll be better off with a sturdier product like Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. Note that Jergens also contains fragrance, and thus may be allergenic.
- Cheap and readily available
- Very light on the skin, and absorbs almost instantly
- Useful as a body lotion as well as a face moisturizer
- The light texture and lack of irritants makes it perfect for people with sensitive skin
- Contains fragrance, so consequently may pose an allergy risk
- It’s not very robust, so possibly ineffective for people with especially dry skin
- Skin Type: Mature, Dry
- SPF: None
- Formula: Extra-Thick Cream
The “crème de la crème” of moisturizers, or overhyped and overpriced? We can’t say we fault anyone unwilling to drop more than a Benjamin on less than an ounce of face cream, but as far as luxe cosmetics go, Crème de la Mer Moisturizing lives up to the billing. The famous “Miracle Broth” beloved of celebrities and influencers isn’t really miraculous, but it’s definitely great for your skin. Its rich formula leaves you with dewy skin that looks fresh and vibrant, and the thick cream feels like a total luxury while you apply it.
Crème de la Mer requires a bit more prep work than the typical face moisturizer. The cream is as thick as Greek yogurt and needs a little massaging between your fingers before application. Once it’s warmed up, Crème de la Mer loses its stickiness. Luckily, a mere pea-sized drop is sufficient per use. The thick cream is probably most helpful for aging or dry skin.
Crème de la Mer falls short in more ways than the hefty price tag. A perusal of the ingredients reveals a formula not so different for moisturizers a fraction of the price – mineral oil, lipids, humectants, plus the signature algae extract. Where’s the miracle in the Miracle Broth? Still, it’s an excellent moisturizer if you’d like to add a little luxury to your skincare routine.
- This rich face cream is especially suited for mature and/or dry skin
- Owning it is a status symbol if that sort of thing matters to you
- Helps dry skin look dewy and fresh
- The expense alone will turn off many potential customers
6. Best for SPF Protection La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
- Skin Type: Sensitive, Dry, Acne-Prone, Rosacea-Prone
- SPF: SPF 30
- Formula: Cream
A generalist face moisturizer particularly suited for folks with dry or sensitive skin, La Roche-Posay Toleriane includes an SPF of 30, removing the need to apply a further layer of sunscreen. The fragrance-free formula leaves out the bad stuff in favor of skin-friendly ingredients like shea butter and B vitamins, which act in concert to relieve and prevent rosacea flare-ups and acne breakouts.
Toleriane’s backbone is built from humectants and fatty acid compounds like glycerin and shea butter, emollients commonly utilized in moisturizers for their water-bonding properties and rapid absorption, as well as ceramides, which inhibit evaporation. La Roche-Posay Toleriane is also delightfully affordable – Comparable moisturizers can run a bit pricy, but Toleriane retails at under $30.
On the downside, La Roche-Posay Toleriane’s heaviness limits its utility as a year-round, daily moisturizer, as consumers might find it too thick to use in concert with makeup or other skincare products.
- Bonus UV protection in addition to the moisturizing benefits
- Fragrance-free, so an excellent choice for sensitive skin
- Alleviates acne and rosacea symptoms
- Thick enough that using it alongside other products and/or makeup may prove difficult
- Sometimes dries on the skin and flakes off
7. Best Face Moisturizer for Very Dry Skin Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion
- Skin Type: Very Dry
- SPF: None
- Formula: Light Lotion
Clinique Dramatically Different is our pick for the best moisturizer for very dry skin. It’s hearty enough to moisturize dry and cracked skin, but still absorbs quickly without leaving your face oily – perfect for anyone planning to follow it up with a layer of makeup. The formula includes lots and lots of fatty acids and humectants, such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and urea. Yes, urea is what you think it is (urine), but don’t fret – urea is one of the secrets to Clinique Dramatically Different’s moisturizing heroics.
While a popular product for good reason, “Dramatically Different” might be a bit of a misnomer. While the moniker implies Clinique has revolutionized the world of skin-care cosmetics with this product, it’s essentially the same moisturizer that first hit the market in the 1960s. Consistency isn’t so terrible, though: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion may not have the bells and whistles of a multipurpose moisturizer like Weleda Skin Food, but it still gets the job done. Those results don’t come cheap, however – expect to pay over $7 per ounce.
- The heavy-duty formula is perfect for people with especially dry skin
- Light enough to pair with other cosmetics
- Strictly a moisturizer – lacks SPF or any anti-aging ingredients
- More expensive than similar products
8. Eco-Friendly Pick Pura D’Or Organic Moroccan Argan Oil
- Skin Type: Acne, Eczema, or Psoriasis-Prone; Dry
- SPF: None
- Formula: Oil
Comparing and contrasting rival face moisturizers can be a thorny proposition, not least because of the long lists of difficult to pronounce ingredients you’ve probably never heard of. Not so in this case, as Pura D’Or’s face and body moisturizer has exactly one ingredient: argan oil. Called “liquid gold” due to its rarity and cosmetic value, argan oil is extracted from the argan tree in Morocco. The oil is packed with fatty acids and antioxidants, making it nature’s own moisturizer.
But smearing oil all over your face should make your skin…well, oily. Right? Surprisingly not. Argan oil is quick-absorbing and never leaves behind a greasy residue. Its abundant store of Vitamins A and E increase the skin’s water retention while also softening wrinkles and impeding the production of excess pigmentation. Pura D’Or Argan Oil also provides acne relief – argan oil’s linoleic acid content limits the build-up of breakout-causing sebum and reduces acne-related inflammation.
Pura D’Or is about as eco-conscious a cosmetics company as you’ll find. All their products – including the argan oil – are USDA Certified Organic, cruelty-free, and manufactured in a solar-powered facility.
Despite its benefits, Pura D’Or Organic Moroccan Argan Oil is certainly not for everyone. It’s cold-pressed from argan nuts, and therefore a product anyone with tree nut allergies should avoid at all costs. Argan oil also smells strongly of nuts, an aroma some people might find off-putting.
- Organic and environmentally friendly
- Works as a face and body moisturizer
- Argan oil features anti-aging properties and combats acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Strong aroma
- Not an option for those with tree nut allergies
9. Best Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
- Skin Type: Highly Sensitive Dry
- SPF: None
- Formula: Cream
Devoid of any of the common chemical irritants present in many other face moisturizers, Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream is the ideal choice for people with sensitive skin. Vanicream’s formula incorporates petrolatum and glyceryl stearate, emollients that reduce inflammation and boost hydration – the perfect remedy for cracked or itchy skin. With 16 oz tubs priced at under $20, this skin cream fits anyone’s budget.
Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream is intended primarily as a cosmetic solution for highly sensitive skin, eczema, and psoriasis, and it accomplishes that aim commendably. However, it likely doesn’t hold much appeal to the general consumer. The skin cream has no anti-aging properties and contains no humectants or antioxidants. That said, it may be worth keeping around as a backup moisturizer, especially if your skin tends to really dry out in cold weather.
- Affordable on any budget
- No fragrances or skin irritants
- Soothes skin irritation
- Limited value for people with “normal” skin
10. Best Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer Revitalift by L’Oreal Paris
- Skin Type: All Types
- SPF: None
- Formula: Cream
A staple in the cosmetics industry for a century, L’Oreal Paris has debuted numerous anti-aging creams and serums over the years. Revitalift might be the best of the bunch. The formula derives its potency from our friend hyaluronic acid and pro-xylane, a plant-based sugar-protein compound. The duo act in tandem to plump up and hydrate the skin, counteracting the inevitable loss of collagen and skin moisture with age.
Pro-Retinol is another key ingredient in Revitalift’s recipe. A Vitamin A derivative, Pro-Retinol promotes skin firmness and elasticity via inducing an enzymatic conversion into retinoic acid in the skin cells, a process that facilitates skin cell regeneration and collagen synthesis. In effect, this leads to the appearance of smoother, more youthful skin.
Note that Revitalift contains fragrances, which may irritate the skin or provoke allergic reactions in some people. In some cases, the cream may leave the skin dry and flaky, although this appears to be a relative rarity.
Don’t expect Revitalift to turn back time – sadly, that’s impossible – but conscientious use of the product will soften wrinkles, fade lines and dark spots, and preserve a youthful sheen to your skin for as long as possible.
- Plumps and moistens mature skin
- Suitable for all skin types
- Lessens the visibility of lines and wrinkles with Pro-Retinol
- Sometimes dries and flakes off
- Includes fragrance
Guide to Finding the Best Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
Do I Have Dry Skin?
Knowing your skin type is an indispensable first step to picking out the best face moisturizer for you. We’ve focused on dry skin in this article, but how do you know if your skin is dry? Dry skin generally appears dull in complexion and is more susceptible to cracking, itching, and inflammation. It may also have noticeable texture or even have raised flakes; this can be especially noticeable when you apply foundation or other makeup.
Skin type is determined by several factors, including water retention, sensitivity, and complexion. But keep in mind that skin type is malleable – it’s influenced by climate, age, and diet. Skin naturally dries out as you age – a majority of older adults have dry skin.
Different skin types require different skincare routines. If you have dry skin, avoid long baths or showers, and apply moisturizer right after you towel off. Skip gimmicky scented or perfumed soaps and switch to moisturizing cleansers if possible. Launder your clothes with fragrance-free detergent and banish wool from your wardrobe. Itchy? Resist the urge to scratch – use lotion instead.
Do the Ingredients Matter?
In a word, yes. The efficacy of a given face moisturizer rests almost entirely on its composition. Humectants feature in the formulas of most leading moisturizers for good reason – they are moisture magnets that form hydrogen bonds with water molecules, luring water into the top layer of skin cells in the process. Some humectants are man-made, while others exist in nature.
Urea and glycerin are the synthetic humectants most common in the moisturizers on our list. Urea is a heavy-duty humectant known for hydrating the top layer of the skin and speeding the removal of dead skin cells. Urea is also a sworn enemy of eczema and psoriasis, aiding in the alleviation and prevention of those conditions. This tough-on-dry-skin platform is undoubtedly why Clinique included urea in their Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion.
Glycerin is an emollient that traps moisture where we want it – in our skin. In addition to its moisturizing properties, glycerin is also an effective antidote for rough or itchy skin and combats skin irritation, itching, and flaking.
Hyaluronic acid is the signature ingredient in many top-of-the-line face moisturizers, including our Gold Medal winner Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. This naturally occurring humectant stimulates moisture retention in skin cells, and also acts in an anti-aging capacity through diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and supporting skin elasticity.
Cosmetics brands are increasingly removing fragrances from their face moisturizers or at least offering fragrance-free varieties, due to the allergenic potential of fragrance-related ingredients. Unfortunately, the lack of industry regulations means that even products labeled “fragrance-free” are sometimes just the opposite.
The best option for consumers is to search out face moisturizers that are devoid of any fragrances or additives – a tall task indeed. Luckily, our list of the top ten face moisturizers for dry skin includes at least one item we can guarantee is skin irritant-free – Pura D’Or Organic Moroccan Argan Oil.
Treat Yourself to the Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin
Just because you have dry skin doesn’t mean you can’t also have radiant, healthy, luminous skin. With the right moisturizer, the skin of your dreams can be in your reach. Hopefully, our list will help you identify the perfect face moisturizer for your skincare needs. But really, why stop at just one? Treat yourself. Even to La Mer.