A Guide to Selecting a Dry Skin Moisturizer
Whether it’s winter or summer, it’s a challenge to keep your skin from drying out. You can have frigid windy winter days with low humidity, as well as scorching summer days. Both extremes can cause your skin to lose moisture. There are moisturizers for treating dry skin, that can lock in your skin’s natural moisture, keeping it from evaporating during exposure to wind or sun.
But there’s a challenge in finding the right skin moisturizer because people have so many different skin types. There will be products specifically to moisturize dry skin while including ingredients for concealing fine lines and wrinkles. Other products will be for oily skin, without causing a breakout of acne. And most products will be formulated to not clog pores, or are compatible with applying makeup on top. Many contain helpful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
We’ll go through some of the options in the Best Reviews Guide list of the best skin moisturizers for dry skin. You’ll see that skin needs to be hydrated and nourished, no different than the rest of your body!
What is the difference between moisturizing and hydrating my skin?
You’ll see skin care products that hydrate the skin, and others that moisturize. Here’s the distinction:
Hydration is when your skin absorbs moisture from the surrounding air. The advantage of keeping your skin hydrated is that then it can absorb nutrients and moisture more easily. Hydrating ingredients in skin creams will include glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
Moisturizing your skin involves trapping the skin’s existing moisture and preventing water loss. They’re called “occlusive agents”, in that they occlude (= seal off or block) the surface of the skin to keep it from losing water. A skin moisturizer will usually include an oil-based ingredient such as mineral oil or wax, or an emollient (= an agent that softens the skin) such as esters and plant oils.
How does a moisturizer work?
Dry air or sun exposure will evaporate water from our skin on an ongoing basis. Also, extreme weather and ultraviolet radiation weaken the texture of the skin. A moisturizer will contain ingredients that seal the skin from dirt or damage while keeping water inside our skin.
Types of Dry Skin Moisturizers
There are a number of different forms of skin moisturizers. You’ll see lotions, creams, and gels. The distinction is in the consistency of each product.
Gel: Gels have the highest water content of these skin care products. An example is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer. Its main ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which has special water-retaining properties, able to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water!
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer
Lotions: These are lightweight, watery formulas that can usually be administered in a pump form, or squeezed out of a tube. They’re recommended for people with all skin types, except for severely dry skin (people with severely dry skin should apply a cream instead). An example is the Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion. It also has hyaluronic acid, as well as glycerin, which is a known hydrator.
Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion
Creams: These have a thicker consistency than lotions, and are usually recommended for people with very dry skin. An example is the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Face Moisturizer. It is suitable for all skin types. It employs soy proteins for a moisturizing effect, aloe vera to soothe dry skin, beeswax to protect the skin from the elements, and Shea butter to soften the skin.
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Face Moisturizer
Lotion-cream: There are also products whose consistency overlaps lotion and cream. An example is the Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream. Although it’s called a “cream”, it’s watery enough that it can be pumped out of the container. Vanicream’s main moisturizing ingredient is petrolatum. It’s formulated for sensitive skin, so it’s free of any fragrances or dyes that may cause irritation.
Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
What reviewers say
Here are some customers’ impressions about the dry skin moisturizer that they purchased:
When to apply moisturizer: It’s recommended to apply moisturizer to your face in the morning before any sunscreen. If you apply a face serum rich in vitamins, that should be applied before moisturizer, to let the nutrients sink into your skin first. In the evening, it’s recommended to apply moisturizer last, after any other skin care products.
Non-greasy: Most customers are pleased when their moisturizer isn’t greasy. Ideally, it should get absorbed into the skin, hydrating and moisturizing it. Some customers who purchased inferior products complained that they were dabbing off the excess oil from their skin.
Treating sensitive skin/rosacea: People who suffer from skin irritations like rosacea will have a hard time finding the right type of skin moisturizer. Experts recommend products with hyaluronic acid, green tea extract or other such antioxidants, and niacinamide (Vitamin B3). Also, Vanicream Moisturizing Skin was highly recommended, since they try to eliminate any irritants from their product.
Here are some tips from the manufacturers and users, regarding choosing the right moisturizer for your skin type:
Formulations for dry or oily skin: You’ll notice that some products adapt their formula, making a version for all skin types, and other versions for dry or sensitive skin. For example, Embryolisse Laboratories makes Lait Creme Concentre for all skin types, and a special formula called Embryoderme for dry and mature skin. In addition to the ingredients in the Lait Creme Concentre, Embryoderme also has hydrating agents like almond and wheatgerm oils to nourish the skin, and elastin and collagen for improving skin tone and concealing lines and wrinkles. It may be best to consult a dermatologist to determine which is the best product for your skin type.
Active ingredients in skin moisturizers: You’ll notice that different products have different active ingredients. Let’s look at some of the more common options:
Ceramides: There are 12 different types of ceramides, which are fatty or waxy molecules that function to moisturize and protect the skin. Skin care products can contain several such ceramides, such as the Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer, which has 5 ceramides. The CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion has 3 essential ceramides (nos. 1, 3, and 6-II) in order to shore up your skin’s defenses against loss of moisture.
SPF: Many moisturizers will also provide protection against ultraviolet rays from the sun. For example, the CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion has an SPF (=Sun Protection Factor) rating of 30, and blocks both UV-A rays (which age the skin, causing wrinkling and skin damage) and 96.7% of UV-B rays (which can cause sunburn).
Glycolic acid: Its active ingredient is glycolic acid, which causes your skin to slough off dead skin cells, and stimulates your skin to produce new cells and collagen. Glycolic acid will hydrate your skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Antioxidants: Some moisturizers contain natural antioxidants, such as Vitamins C and E, pennywort, sea oak extract, and omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids. These ingredients remove free radicals created by sun exposure and thus protect the skin from aging.
We went through some of the most popular skin moisturizers, especially those for people who suffer from dry skin. There will be special formulas for people with moderately dry skin, and for those with severely dry skin. Whether you consult with your dermatologist, or if you’re familiar with what type of skin you have, you should be able to match up with the right skin moisturizer!