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If making your dry skin feel supple and hydrated feels like a struggle even despite drowning your complexion in hyaluronic acid and body moisturizers, that’s when a great face moisturizer for dry skin can move the needle. When dry patches, flakes and itchy spots on your face persist, it can mean your skin barrier’s compromised (read: crying for help). To quench parched skin, smooth texture and fight nearing frigid temps, you’ll want a moisture-locking cream to help weather it all.
After years of testing products at the Good Housekeeping Institute, our Beauty Lab experts believe that a well-formulated moisturizer is made with three types of conditioning ingredients: emollients, occlusives and humectants. To help narrow down the search, our chemists have researched hundreds of moisturizers over the years and found the 10 best face moisturizers for dry skin, ahead. In our most recent test, we tested 12 moisturizers with 22 consumer testers per product, collecting data from 240 surveys with questions on qualifications including ease of use, performance and satisfaction. We also measured moisturization in the Lab (a total of 1,920 data points) to see which moisturizers actually hydrate skin over a set period of time.
Our top picks:
Read on for more info about the most favorable ingredients in face moisturizers for dry skin as well as our complete testing methodology. For all your dry skin concerns, check our best hand creams guide and best lip balms roundup.
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Best Overall Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
Ultra Facial Cream
|Skin types||All, including sensitive|
|Key ingredients||Squalane, glycerin|
Best Value Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
Daily Moisturizing Lotion
|Key ingredients||Hyaluronic acid, ceramides|
|Skin types||Dry, normal|
|Size||12 fl oz|
Quickest Absorbing Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
Daily Moisturizing Face Cream
|Key ingredients||Glycerin, oat flour|
Best Smelling Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
Purity Made Simple Moisturizer
|Key ingredients||Glycerin, shea butter|
|Skin types||Normal, dry, combination, oily|
Best Face Moisturizer for Dry, Sensitive Skin
Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
|Key ingredients||Glycerin, niacinamide, ceramides|
|Skin types||All, including sensitive skin|
Best Face Moisturizer for Dry, Aging Skin
Collagen Peptide 24 Moisturizer
|Key ingredients||Glycerin, niacinamide, peptide, vitamin B3|
|Skin types||Mature, dry|
Best Firming Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
GENIUS Sleeping Collagen
|Skin type||Dry, normal, combination|
Best Face Moisturizer for Glowing Skin
Retinol Correxion Max Hydration Cream
|Key ingredients||Retinol, hyaluronic acid, glycerin|
|Skin type||Dry, mature|
Best Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
TimeWise® Age Minimize 3D® Night Cream
|Key ingredients||Vitamin B3|
|Skin type||All, including sensitive skin|
Best Face Moisturizer For Dry Skin in Winter
|Key ingredients||Petrolatum, panthenol, glycerin|
|Skin type||All, including sensitive|
How we tested best face moisturizers for dry skin
Our Beauty Lab’s team of scientists and chemists evaluated 12 facial moisturizers using both consumer and laboratory testing. We know skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all, so we recruited a panel of 264 women with different skin types, concerns and goals to test. We label-masked each moisturizer, so our consumers tested blindly, using the moisturizer daily for two weeks. Testers completed questionnaires rating ease of use, performance and satisfaction. The best six overall scoring products, based on 240 collected surveys and 2,160 data points, were then evaluated in the Lab for moisturization using the Corneometer, a device that measures skin moisture levels. We recommended those top-performing picks above. Others on our list include Seal holders, of which we rigorously evaluated the product’s claims and data.
What ingredients you should look for in the best face moisturizers for dry skin
✔️ Occlusives: These ingredients form a physical barrier on skin that prevents water loss. Sealing in moisture, occlusive skincare ingredients — that includes petrolatum, dimethicone and mineral oil — simultaneously stop irritants from entering skin, which benefits sensitive skin conditions like eczema.
✔️ Humectants: Commonly used in face and body lotions, these water-loving ingredients “help attract water to the skin, keeping your complexion plump and hydrated,” according to Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and president of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. You may recognize skincare humectants in ingredient lists as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, squalane, urea or sorbitol.
✔️ Emollients: Another category of moisturizer, emollients lightly coat skin, smoothing out dry texture and include ingredients like plant oils and fatty acids.
What ingredients should dry skin types avoid in face moisturizers?
Though we did our due diligence in finding the best moisturizers out there most compatible with dry skin, keep in mind that ingredients like alcohols, fragrances, glycolic acid and salicylic acid can potentially irritate severely dry or sensitive skin. “Even retinol, which has long been famous for its ability to treat acne, wrinkles and other skin conditions, can be too harsh on dry skin,” according to Dr. Gohara. So, if you prefer a moisturizer with the vitamin A derivative, make sure you find one that pairs it with equally hydrating ingredients like the RoC cream (recommended above) does with hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
How often should dry skin types apply moisturizer?
The general rule is to apply moisturizer twice daily: once in the morning and once at night, says Dr. Gohara. “When applying skincare, it’s important to layer your products from lightest to heaviest,” she says. “For most people, especially those with dry skin, that means applying your moisturizer last.” Those with dry skin may be tempted to apply more often, but doing so may result in over-moisturizing the skin, which can result in clogged pores, blackheads and excess oil production, she adds. For best results, the Beauty Lab experts always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
GH Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek lends over 10 years of formulation, product development, claim evaluation and efficacy testing experience to the Institute. She led the moisturizer studies that the data, above, is sourced. Danusia also contributed her scientific expertise on how moisturizers function and broke down what ingredients work best.
Associate Product & Reviews Editor Jacqueline Saguin distilled the Beauty Lab’s findings into this best-of face moisturizers for dry skin guide. She regularly collaborates with our beauty experts in writing product roundups. As someone who struggles with severely dry, eczema-prone skin, she contributed her personal knowledge to this roundup, while consulting a board-certified dermatologist for their professional insight.
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