Last Updated on January 22, 2023
You’ll find thousands of moisturizers that promise great care and hydration for dry skin on their labels. But, how do you know which is right for you? We’ve got the breakdown of how exactly to choose the best moisturizer for dry skin – face and body.
Dry skin is a skin type that simply requires more moisture than usual. Unlike what skincare adverts will have you believe, not everybody has super-hydrated skin.
From genetics to cold weather and even regular hand washing, there are several reasons why our skin dries out. Also, dry skin isn’t only restricted to the face. It’s indeed possible to have balanced or oily facial skin but have dryness in other parts of the body.
The good news is that for dry skin, skincare begins and ends with proper and consistent moisturization. Read on to learn all about how to choose the best moisturizer to get rid of that tight, uncomfortable feeling.
Below is our quick, 4-step guide to finding the best moisturizer for your dry skin.
Step 1: Look for these must-have ingredients to combat dryness
Your moisturizer choices should certainly be based on much more than a renowned brand name or being budget-friendly. Here are four key categories of ingredients your dry-skin moisturizer should always contain.
Humectants are skincare ingredients that hydrate by all means necessary. This means they either draw up moisture from the second layer of your skin (dermis) to the topmost layer (epidermis), or they pull in moisture from your environment to hydrate your skin. Or both! Humectants also aid in shedding dead skin cells.
Some examples of effective humectants include hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, glycerin, propylene glycol, urea, and sorbitol.
Occlusives work hand-in-hand with humectants. Their special role is to prevent moisture loss so that your skin stays hydrated for longer. Occlusives are key in protecting your moisture barrier.
For occlusives, you’ll want to look out for dimethicone, lanolin, and even petrolatum. We suggest avoiding petrolatum (also called Mineral Oil or Paraffin Oil), as you need to be 100% sure it’s properly refined.
Antioxidants do magnificent good for the overall health of your skin. And, one of the special functions they perform is alleviating dry skin. This makes them excellent ingredients to have in a moisturizer for dry skin.
The best antioxidants for dry skin include vitamin E, lycopene, and niacinamide. Luckily, almost every skincare brand has a moisturizer that contain niacinamide due to its popularity in recent years. One often recommended is Cerave’s PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion for night use.
Sometimes, dry skin tends to get rough and uneven in texture. This is especially so when it’s really dry skin. In these cases, emollients come to the rescue. They work to smooth out and soften rough and dry textures. This gives you a more even and hydrated skin.
Some occlusives like dimethicone and petrolatum are also emollients. More natural examples of emollients include virgin coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil. Squalane is another great emollient that you’ll find in clinical skincare like BeautyStat’s Universal Moisture Essence. This essence – applied after your cleanser – mimics your natural oils to ensure your skin stays plump and moisturized.
5. Other Beneficial Ingredients
All four ingredient types above are must-haves for dry skin. Nonetheless, other beneficial ingredients you can have in your moisturizer for dry skin include:
- Skin replenishing ingredients such as ceramides, sodium PCA, and glycerol
- Anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C (also an antioxidant) and retinol
Our star pick: Oui The People’s Plant-Based Retinol Body Balm.
Step 2: Look out for these key moisturizer characteristics for dry skin, particularly for the face
Your face moisturizer should not contain irritating or acne-causing ingredients. This is a rule of thumb for all skin types as your face has more sensitive skin than your body.
Common irritating ingredients for facial skin include heavy fragrances, cocoa butter, and beeswax.
2. Light moisturizer
Unless you have really dry skin, stick to light moisturizers like gels or lotions for your face. For very dry skin, it’s OK to choose a heavier or oil-based moisturizer.
3. SPF (Sunscreen)
A moisturizer with sunscreen properties is a great choice (example, Fenty Skin’s Hydravizor Invisible Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30). Otherwise, pair your moisturizer with an equally great SPF for dry skin. Make sure not to skip SPF as this is arguably the most important routine for skin health.
Step 3: Look out for these key moisturizer characteristics to treat dry skin on the body
1. Cream over lotion
Creams have generally thicker consistencies than lotions. This makes them ideal choices for people with dry body skin as it makes it harder to lose moisture. Buttah Skin’s creamy Scented Whipped Body Butter, packed with vitamins A, B and E, is a great choice.
2. Avoid allergen ingredients
The most common allergens are fragrances and botanicals, such as extracts from algae, seaweed, grass, and mushrooms. So although natural skincare is generally good for skin, sensitive skin types do still need to take caution.
3. For dry hands
If you’re an extremely frequent hand washer, you’re more likely than not to have dry hands. Or, like we Black people like to call them, ashy hands. So, opt for a moisturizing hand wash to prevent this.
And, if you use a separate hand cream, always buy one that contains dimethicone. This will help to keep your hands moisturized for longer. We recommend Fenty Skin’s Hydra’Reset Intensive Recovery Hand Mask. Rihanna took us to nourished skin heaven with this drop. Read one of our writers’ review of the ultra-moisturizing hand cream.
Step 4: Incorporate these best skincare practices for dry skin into your routine
- Avoid over-showering as this can strip your skin’s protective barrier. Once or twice a day is enough.
- Avoid overly hot showers
- Always wash with a gentle soap
- Don’t dry off your skin completely after a shower. Hot tip: apply an oil-based moisturizer immediately after a shower to seal in moisture.
- Moisturize frequently, after every shower and anytime you notice your skin starting to get dry again.
- Eat foods that will help your body supplement hydration in your skin. Keep your vitamins A to E, zinc, and selenium levels up with your diet. Also, foods rich in omega-3, green tea antioxidants, and turmeric can help to manage dry skin.
Dry Skin is Beautiful Skin
Show your dry skin some gentle love always. Ensure that you give it everything it needs and never let yourself believe that there’s something wrong with it. All skin is beautiful skin! And so is yours, honey.