Every year, winter’s triple threat—dry heat inside, low humidity outside, and the irresistible appeal of long, hot showers—can leave your skin as parched as a Santa Fe sidewalk. Luckily, there are plenty of good products to moisturize all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone. And some of the best are both surprisingly affordable and widely available. “Drugstores sell many skin-care gems,” says Susan C. Taylor, a dermatologist in Philadelphia. “It’s just a matter of knowing what to purchase.” Selected with the guidance of skin specialists from around the country, here are 14 inexpensive creams and lotions that effectively take the sting out of winter.
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Moisturizers for Extra-Dry and Mature Skin
If your skin feels especially tight, go with a cream rather than a lotion―the greasier the better, says Sylvia Brice, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado in Denver. To minimize fine lines and improve skin texture, look for alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs (including glycolic and lactic acids), and retinol (but those with sensitive skin should use it with caution). Sunscreen―at least SPF 15 for your face―will protect skin from further damage.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Greasy formulas aren’t easy to wear―especially if you’re trying to shimmy into jeans. The hyaluronic acid and glycerin (both humectants, which attract water) help keep skin supple without feeling slippery.
If you have easily irritated skin, focus on what not to apply. “Bland is better,” says Sandy Tsao, a dermatologist in Boston. Stay away from lanolin and exfoliants, such as AHAs, and make sure the label says “fragrance-free.” To soothe the prickly patches that often result from dry skin, look for itch relievers such as lidocaine and oatmeal, says Jeffrey Dover, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine.
Curél Continuous Comfort Fragrance Free Lotion
The list of ingredients sticks to the basics―petrolatum, glycerin, and shea butter―leaving little chance for irritation. It’s thick but soaks in quickly.
A combination of dry skin and acne can be annoying: How do you treat one without worsening the other? Go with a lotion, not a cream, says Tsao. And make sure it is noncomedogenic (doesn’t clog pores). Protect hands with products that contain thick emollients, which trap water within the skin, and apply them throughout the day. For dry feet, a heavy cream containing a chemical exfoliant, such as urea or lactic acid, will help soften calluses.
Olay Body Quench Rapid Repair Hand Lotion
The main emollient, jojoba oil, helps to heal the skin’s moisture barrier and hydrate chapped, dry hands. Leaves skin feeling smooth, not tacky.
To buy:Unfortunately, this item is no longer available. For an alternate Olay product, go toamazon.com.
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Dove Nourishing Moisture Beauty Hand Cream
This effective salve has sweet almond oil and shea butter to moisturize and a clean scent. It is also quickly absorbed, so hands aren’t left slippery. Bonus: It helps with dry cuticles.
Profoot Heel Rescue Superior Moisturizing Foot Cream
You want your feet hydrated, but you certainly don’t want to slip around in your socks. The nongreasy formula lets you put on hose right after application, while the urea and mineral oil help smooth out rough heels and soften skin.