The 12 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin of 2023

Our top pick is the Clinique Moisture Surge Hydrator for its lightweight yet hydrating consistency and impressive ingredient list.

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If you’re constantly battling dry skin, it’s time to upgrade your routine with a super effective moisturizer. The right product will help lock in moisture to prevent flaky, ashy, or dry-looking skin.

We spent hours researching moisturizers for dry skin, looking for products that contain effective ingredients and evaluating their formulation and size. We also spoke to Thomas Griffin Jr., MD, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic dermatology, about what works best to tackle dry skin. He and Vanessa Thomas, a cosmetic chemist and founder of Freelance Formulations, weighed in on what ingredients to look for in a moisturizer—and what to avoid. 

“Ingredients that are most helpful when you need to moisturize are called humectants,” says Dr. Griffin. Common humectants include hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, and urea, which “work to pull water into the skin and hold it in the skin.” He adds that glycerin and ceramides are other ingredients that lock in moisture. When selecting a moisturizer for dry skin, look for something with one of these proven humectants. 

Moisturizers also contain emollients, which Dr. Griffin says “repair the skin barrier and soften the skin.” Common emollient ingredients include lipids, oils, colloidal oatmeal, and shea butter. “Emollients are good for most skin types,” he says, noting that some people with particularly oily or acne-prone skin can experience clogged pores from heavier emollients. 

Keep reading for the best moisturizers for dry skin, and how to shop for them like an expert.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Moisturizer for Dry Skin

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Who it’s for: People looking for a lightweight cream with plenty of moisturizing ingredients. 

Who it isn’t for: People who need a moisturizer that will also tackle specific problems like redness or oily skin. 

This gel cream from Clinique is lightweight and oil-free to prevent clogged pores. The formula features humectants like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, hydroxyethyl urea, trehalose, sucrose, and saccharide isomerate, which work to add much needed hydration to extra dry skin. Clinique’s Aloe Bioferment + HA Complex harnesses the power of aloe vera to keep your skin moisturized. 

It’s also worth noting what this moisturizer doesn’t contain. It’s fragrance-free, which matters because synthetic fragrances in beauty products can irritate your skin. This moisturizer is also free from alcohol, a common skincare ingredient that can dry out your skin even more. This moisturizer is available in a range of sizes, although it is a bit pricier than other options. Still, it’s a powerhouse product with seriously impressive hydration benefits.

Price at time of publish: From $44

Type: Gel cream | Key Ingredients: Aloe bio-ferment, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, hydroxyethyl urea | Size: .5, 1, 1.7, 2.5, and 4.2 ounces

Best Drugstore Moisturizer for Dry Skin

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Who it’s for: People who want an affordable gel moisturizer. 

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a thick cream moisturizer. 

Using products daily for face and neck care can get expensive over time. That’s why affordable drugstore moisturizer options like this Neutrogena formula are so popular. It has a lightweight gel consistency, but provides intense moisture like a cream. 

The formula is non-comedogenic and oil-free, making it a good choice for people with acne-prone skin who are worried about clogged pores. Humectants include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and dimethiconol—a type of silicone that provides a super silky feel. 

Price at time of publish: $19

Type: Water gel | Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin | Size: 1.7 ounces

Best Splurge Moisturizer for Dry Skin

Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream

Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream


Who it’s for: People looking to splurge on a rich cream with a light botanical scent. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a lightweight cream.

This rich, hydrating cream has moisturizing agents like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and Tatcha’s signature anti-aging complex made with green tea, purple rice, and Okinawa algae. It also contains oils and extracts from wild thyme, ginseng, and marjoram, which is designed to help the skin “retain and release moisture as needed,” per the brand. 

Because the cream is so rich, a little goes a long way—the brand recommends just a pearl-size amount for daily use, which helps make up for the higher cost. The cream even comes with a golden spoon for application, but clean hands will do the trick, too. 

Price at time of publish: From $69

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, Japanese purple rice, Okinawa algae | Size: .34, 1.7 and 2.5 ounces

Best Natural Moisturizer for Dry Skin

SeSpring So Rich Moisturizing Cream



Who it’s for: People looking for an EWG-verified moisturizer made with natural ingredients.

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer to avoid plant extracts in their skincare regimen. 

SeSpring’s So Rich Moisturizing Cream contains moisturizing shea butter, cocoa butter, macadamia oil, and hyaluronic acid. Niacinamide helps keep your skin’s barrier healthy, and extracts of lavender and tea tree oil are natural remedies for soothing acne or irritation. This moisturizer is EWG-verified, vegan, and free from fragrance, dye, and over 1,300 ingredients the brand has identified as “potentially harsh or harmful.” 

Price at time of publish: $25

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, macadamia oil, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, spring camellia, lotus | Size: 2 ounces

Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin & Acne

Cetaphil Gentle Clear Mattifying Acne Moisturizer



Who it’s for: People who need a moisturizer with acne-fighting ingredients. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer a dewy finish. 

Battling acne and dry skin is tough since heavy moisturizing ingredients can clog pores and contribute to breakouts. The Cetaphil Gentle Clear Mattifying Acne Moisturizer is a lightweight cream that contains 0.5 percent salicylic acid solution to fight blackheads and whiteheads, and is ideal for people with acne-prone skin. 

The cream also contains prebiotic ingredients to protect your skin’s barrier, along with kojic acid and licorice root extract (which can potentially help reduce acne-related marks and scarring). This hypoallergenic moisturizer is fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic. 

Price at time of publish: $11

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, glycerin | Size: 3 ounces

Best Moisturizer for Dry & Sensitive Skin

Weleda Sensitive Care Facial Cream



Who it’s for: People with sensitive skin who need a soothing, nourishing moisturizer. 

Who it isn’t for: People looking for a lightweight moisturizer.

If you have sensitive skin, steer away from products that contain fragrances, chemical exfoliants, and common allergens. A soothing moisturizing cream with a short ingredient list, like the Weleda Sensitive Care Facial Cream, is the way to go. 

Sweet almond oil is the star ingredient in this moisturizer, which also contains lactic acid to provide gentle exfoliation and promote skin cell turnover. Glycerin and hydrolyzed beeswax help moisturize and protect sensitive skin. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Sweet almond oil, glycerin, lactic acid, hydrolyzed beeswax | Size: 1 ounce

Best Moisturizer for Dry Mature Skin

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Firming Moisturizer

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

Drunk Elephant

Who it’s for: People looking for a brightening and firming moisturizer.

Who it isn’t for: People seeking a more affordable moisturizer for all skin types. 

This protein-packed moisturizer hydrates skin while reducing the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, and fine lines. Drunk Elephant’s Signal Peptide Complex contains nine growth factors (made from amino acids) that help “bind moisture to skin,” per the brand. Another key ingredient is soybean folic acid ferment extract, which may contribute to skin elasticity. 

The formulation is fragrance-free and doesn’t contain essential oils or silicones. While a quality formula, this moisturizer does come out on the pricier side, so people who are not worried about skin elasticity or the effects of sun damage might prefer a different product. 

Price at time of publish: $68

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Signal peptide complex, pygmy water lily stem cell extract, soybean folic acid ferment extract, glycerin | Size: .5, 1.69, 2.69 and 3.33 ounces

Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin With SPF

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV With SPF 30

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer UV With SPF 30


Who it’s for: People who want a daytime moisturizer that offers sun protection. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a moisturizer they can use day and night. 

It’s commonly said but worth repeating: The best thing you can do for your skin is protect it from the sun every day. Using a moisturizer that contains SPF makes that super easy. La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer is an SPF 30 cream with humectant ingredients like glycerin and niacinamide along with a host of emollients like dimethicone, stearic acid, and palmitic acid. 

The lightweight cream is fragrance-free, paraben-free, oil-free, and non-comedogenic, so it’s good for all skin types (including sensitive!). Since it contains SPF though, it’s a daytime-only moisturizer. Users should look for another night cream to provide hydration while sleeping, like La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Ultra Night Cream.

Price at time of publish: $13

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin, silica, dimethicone | Size: 2.5 ounces

Best Night Moisturizer for Dry Skin

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Omega-Rich Botanical Night Cream



Who it’s for: People who want a deeply moisturizing night cream that targets fine lines and dullness. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want a lightweight cream. 

Night creams are usually heavier than moisturizers designed for daytime use, containing rich ingredients to hydrate your skin while you sleep. This popular option from Kiehl’s contains shea butter and a blend of botanical oils for serious moisturizing power. 

Also present: omega 3 oil, omega 6 oil, and fatty acids. Skincare acids can get confusing, but the rundown is that fatty acids play an important role in keeping your skin barrier healthy so it can lock in moisture. This cream not only targets dryness, but also fine lines and general skin dullness, resulting in younger looking skin.

Price at time of publish: $53

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Omega fatty acids, squalane, shea butter, botanical oils | Size: 1.7 ounces

Best Brightening Moisturizer for Dry Skin

Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Moisturizer



Who it’s for: People looking to brighten dull skin. 

Who it isn’t for: People who want to avoid scented skincare products. 

This affordable citrus-scented moisturizer is packed with humectants and emollients, from jojoba oil and argan oil to aloe vera extract and shea butter. The star ingredient is vitamin C, which is a powerhouse ingredient for brightening the skin and diminishing the look of dark spots.

This lightweight cream also contains green tea extract, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that can also help protect against free radicals. Plus, the formula is non-comedogenic, vegan, and cruelty-free. Just remember to keep it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight—not doing so will diminish the efficacy of vitamin C.

Price at time of publish: $25

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Vitamin C, tri-peptide, green tea extract | Size: 1.7 ounces

Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin & Redness

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration


Who it’s for: People with very dry skin who also have a lot of skin redness, including those with eczema. 

Who it isn’t for: People who prefer gel creams. 

People who struggle with skin redness and irritation need a daily moisturizer with soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients. First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration contains colloidal oatmeal, which studies show can help improve skin dryness, roughness, scaling, and itchiness. 

This moisturizer also contains shea butter and allantoin, another soothing chemical compound. It’s fragrance-free, alcohol-free, and allergy-tested, so it’s a good pick for people with sensitive skin and redness, including eczema. You can even use it on the rest of your body, making it one of the most versatile options out there.

Price at time of publish: From $16

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Shea butter, colloidal oatmeal, allantoin | Size: 2, 6, 8, and 14 ounces

Best Multitasking Moisturizer for Dry Skin

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream


Who it’s for: People who want a versatile moisturizer for different skin concerns. 

Who it isn’t for: People with combination skin. 

Sometimes you need a product that can multitask. Enter CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream, which contains three essential ceramides (Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, and Ceramide EOP) to restore your skin’s hydration, as well as hyaluronic acid. 

You can use it on your face, body, and hands—anywhere that needs a strong dose of hydration. It’s hypoallergenic and allergy-tested, so people with sensitive skin can use it. It is also non-comedogenic, making it ideal for people with acne-prone skin, and has a seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association. Overall, it’s one of the most effective, budget-friendly moisturizers out there, although people with combination or oily skin will likely find it to be too heavy and should choose among the best moisturizers for oily skin.

Price at time of publish: $18

Type: Cream | Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin, ceramides | Size: 12, 16, and 19 ounces

Final Verdict

Our overall pick for the best moisturizer for dry skin is the Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator Moisturizer. This lightweight, fragrance-free, and alcohol-free formula contains a potent mix of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe bioferment + HA complex for plenty of hydration. 

How to Shop for Moisturizers Like a Pro


According to Dr. Griffin, a moisturizer’s formula is directly correlated to how well it works. He says that lotions, while thin and easy to spread, “are really not helpful for moisturizing dry skin.” Petroleum jelly ointments like Vaseline and Aquaphor provide excellent moisture and protection—but, he notes, they’re “greasy and goopy” and can be difficult to spread over large areas of your body. “I most commonly recommend cream-based moisturizers for patients with dry skin,” Dr. Griffin says. “Creams have a thicker consistency and are generally the most well-tolerated and effective at moisturizing.”


What to look for (and what to avoid) depends on your skin type and the specific concerns you have. Thomas recommends moisturizers that contain one or more of the following:

  • Glycerin, a humectant that “works to attract moisture from the air into your skin.” She notes that glycerin has a small molecular weight, allowing it to penetrate the skin to hydrate the outermost layer, speed up wound healing, and seal in moisture.  
  • Hyaluronic acid, which Thomas describes as “an extremely adept moisturizer because it attracts and binds to water molecules.” Generally speaking, hyaluronic acid doesn’t cause skin irritation, so it’s suitable for all skin types. 
  • Ceramides, which “help create a barrier to prevent permeability.” According to Thomas, “this locks moisture into your skin, which helps prevent dryness and irritation.”

There are also some skincare ingredients that people with very dry skin will typically want to avoid. These include:

  • Alcohols. Thomas explains that high amounts of alcohol in a skincare product “can strip your skin of moisture, which causes dry skin.” Most products don’t list how much alcohol is in their formula, but Thomas has a tip: Take a look at the order of ingredients on the label. “The higher up on the ingredients list an ingredient is, the higher the concentration,” she says. It’s also important to note that not all alcohols are drying—fatty alcohols like cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl, and propylene glycol have emollient and occlusive properties that make them suitable for moisturizing the skin.
  • Fragrance. “Moisturizers that are fragranced should be generally avoided, especially for those with sensitive skin,” says Dr. Griffin. That’s because synthetic fragrances can cause irritation or contact dermatitis. 
  • Certain acids. “Other ingredients that can irritate the skin include AHA, BHA, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid,” Dr. Griffin says. Some moisturizers contain these ingredients to help address certain issues, like acne, but they can cause dryness or irritation on dry and sensitive skin. 

Skincare Concerns

When shopping for a moisturizer, look for a product designed for your skin type or skin issues. 

  • People with acne-prone dry skin will want a non-comedogenic formula to avoid clogging their pores. They may also want a moisturizer with salicylic acid, which treats acne.
  • If you have dark spots or hyperpigmentation, you might want a moisturizer that contains brightening ingredients like vitamin C. 
  • People with redness or eczema should use a moisturizer with anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide, tea tree extract, green tea extract, or aloe vera.

Questions You Might Ask 

Is moisturizer necessary for people with dry skin?

“Pretty much everyone needs or can benefit from moisturizers,” says Dr. Griffin—particularly those with dry skin. Lifestyle changes can help prevent some skin dryness (more on that in a moment) but using moisturizer is a simple, effective way to add skin moisture.  

How often should people with dry skin apply moisturizer?

If you have dry skin, Dr. Griffin says you should moisturize “at least once a day.” You might consider using one moisturizer for the daytime and a richer formula at night. A body cream can help address dry skin on your limbs and torso—and don’t forget about hand cream, especially in the winter. 

What are some other ways to combat dry skin in addition to using moisturizer?

“If your skin is dry, it's important to focus on what you do in and immediately after your shower,” Dr. Griffin says. “Moisturization is best done after a bath or a shower when the skin is hydrated, as it will help lock in the moisture.”

Some tips he recommends: Avoid super hot showers or baths that can dry out your skin, use a soft washcloth or your hands to apply soap or body wash, and try not to use soap on your body more than once a day.

“If that's not enough, home water softeners can help in areas with very hard water,” he says. “So can using a humidifier in the winter season.”

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Nina Bahadur, a writer with over a decade of beauty, health, and lifestyle experience. She researched dozens of moisturizers, evaluating them on formulation, ingredients, and intended usage, and consulted board-certified dermatologist Thomas Griffin Jr., MD, and cosmetic chemist Vanessa Thomas for expert input. 

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