Skincare Products » Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin in 2023

Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin in 2023

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

When your skin is persistently dry, tight, and flakey, it can be tough to find a lotion that actually sinks in and alleviates that parched feeling. Makeup brands advertise all sorts of fancy ingredients and exotic oils that supposedly work miracles, but effective moisturizers don’t actually need to be that complicated. 

In this post, we’ll profile the best moisturizers for dry skin, focusing on real and genuine ingredients rather than fluff. We included everything from thick, reparative options to lightweight, hydrating formulas to suit every preference and dryness level. 

Best face moisturizers for dry skin overview:

How we chose the best face moisturizers for dry skin

To compile this list, we spoke to a few doctors and dermatologists and researched manufacturer specifications, including ingredients, claims, and costs, to create a short list of the top face moisturizers for dry skin. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best lotions for each category.

Our picks for the best face moisturizers for dry skin

Best overall
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

What we love

  • Short-term moisture infusion with petrolatum and glycerin
  • Long-term barrier repair with ceramides and cholesterol
  • Affordable

What we don’t love

  • A little thick
  • Not luxurious in the least

This CeraVe cream may not seem fancy, but it’s a sure bet for curing dry skin. This formula moisturizes well in the short term while helping to boost the skin’s own barrier functions for the future. 

It’s a little thick since it’s formulated with petrolatum. Famous as the vital ingredient in Vaseline, petrolatum may be greasy but it also creates a water-sealing layer over the skin, preventing dehydration. The cream also includes water-attracting humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, and the overall formula is rich but not overly greasy. 

Finally, this cream includes ceramides and cholesterol that have barrier-repairing effects that fortify the skin over time.

Size: 12 oz | Main ingredients: Glycerin, petrolatum, ceramides | SPF: No

Best budget
Vanicream Moisturizing Cream

What we love

  • Fragrance-free
  • Rich and moisturizing
  • Mild option for sensitive skin

What we don’t love

  • Thick
  • A little plain

Finding the right moisturizer is often a process of trial and error. This lotion from Vanicream is a rich and highly affordable moisturizer that’s different enough from our top pick while still fulfilling the same function. If CeraVe doesn’t work for you, logically, this is the next product to try. 

This minimalist, fragrance-free formula is designed for sensitive skin. It contains petrolatum to seal in moisture, sorbitol to act as a humectant, and very little else. It’s quite thick, so we suggest you apply it to damp skin if you want it to spread easily. Sometimes, boring is better — especially when your skin is having a rough time.

Size: 16 oz | Main ingredients: Petrolatum, sorbitol | SPF: No

Best splurge
Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream

What we love

  • Moisturizing formula with purple rice
  • Silky, rich texture
  • Luxurious to use

What we don’t love

  • Very expensive
  • Fragrances can be an issue for sensitive skin

We’ve heard a couple of self-proclaimed skincare experts wax lyrical about how much they love this moisturizer. Something about the blend of fermented — and therefore probiotic — purple rice adds something special to the same humectants and occlusives you’ll find in more affordable moisturizers. 

Reviewers reported that it plumped up their skin immediately and that the moisturizing effects lasted a long time. It’s rich and thick, but thanks to silky silicone, it’s not greasy. 

It’s also infused with a bit of mica, giving the skin an immediate glow. The gorgeous fragrance and delicate purple jar contribute to the overall pleasure of using this luxury product. However, the added fragrances can be an issue if you have sensitive skin.

Size: 1.7 oz | Main ingredients: Japanese purple rice, glycerin, dimethicone, squalane | SPF: No

Best for sensitive skin
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Night Cream

What we love

  • Richly moisturizing
  • Skin-smoothing ingredients
  • Great for aging skin

What we don’t love

  • Pricey

This high-end moisturizer is a fantastic option for sensitive skin, especially if you’re also starting to see signs of premature aging. It’s a rich, creamy moisturizer that feels luxurious on the skin. It features glycerin and sodium hyaluronate to attract moisture and shea butter and dimethicone to seal it in.

Its main benefit for those with sensitive skin is that it’s fragrance-free and made with a blend of skin-soothing colloidal oats, Centella asiatica extract, and licorice root extract. On the anti-aging front, it features peptides and niacinamide to give the skin a smoother appearance. 

Size: 1.7 fl oz | Main ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, dimethicone, colloidal oats, Centella asiatica, niacinamide, peptides | SPF: No

Best with SPF
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer SPF 50

What we love

  • Pleasant to use
  • Hydrating
  • Strong sun protection

What we don’t love

  • Contains alcohol

This light gel moisturizer is a pleasure to use. It moisturizes while protecting your skin from the sun, thanks to its robust 50 SPF broad-spectrum protection. The formula is lightweight and hydrating, with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to pull in water.

It spreads easily and features a touch of dimethicone to smooth the skin. It’s more hydrating than moisture-sealing, so we suggest using something much heavier at night.  

It contains a bit of alcohol, which can dehydrate, although it was likely necessary for this formula to keep things light and spreadable. However, it does contain enough hydrating elements to mitigate its drying effects.

Size: 1.7 fl oz | Main ingredients: SPF filters, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, dimethicone | SPF: 50

Best creamy SPF
Coola Classic Face Organic Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

What we love

  • Moisturizing and creamy
  • Strong sun protection
  • Appropriate for sensitive skin

What we don’t love

  • A little pricey

These days, the trend with sunscreens is to keep the formula light or matte. But that’s the opposite of what you need when you have dry skin. This Coola lotion is our top pick for those who want a creamy, moisturizing sunscreen they can wear alone without moisturizer underneath. 

This 2-in-1 cream sunscreen offers comprehensive protection from the sun with SPF 50. It’s made with a collection of plant oils that give an emollient touch, some antioxidant protection, and a healthy, dewy glow. The formula is also fragrance-free, ideal for those with sensitive skin.

Size: 1.7 fl oz | Main ingredients: SPF filters, aloe vera, plant oil blend | SPF: 50

Best gel
Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer, Sensitive Skin

What we love

  • Light and non-greasy
  • Thorough hydration
  • Skin-soothing ingredients

What we don’t love

  • Not rich enough for very dry skin

If your skin often gets dehydrated or flakey but can also be oily or acne-prone, this is the exact kind of formula you want to try. Aveeno has been having a renaissance in the last few years, formulating its products in a way that’s strictly in line with modern tastes in skincare. 

This gel moisturizer is a prime example, offering comprehensive hydration without greasiness. It moisturizes via glycerin, protects against further moisture loss via dimethicone, and offers some skin-soothing action via oat flour.

Size: 1.7 oz | Main ingredients: Glycerin, oats, dimethicone | SPF: No

Best anti-aging
La Roche-Posay Redermic R Retinol Cream

What we love

  • Features anti-aging retinol
  • Gentle enough for dry skin
  • Creamy and moisturizing

What we don’t love

  • Pricey
  • Minor chance of flakiness

La Roche-Posay’s lineup offers many products that could’ve made it to this list. Ultimately, the Redermic R Retinol Cream won for its phenomenal anti-aging formula. This cream is made with retinol, an anti-aging ingredient with well-accepted results when it comes to fine lines and wrinkles. 

Those with dry skin normally need to be cautious with this active ingredient since it can cause skin peeling. Thankfully, this formula strikes a good balance between being genuinely effective at reducing fine lines yet still gentle. Plus, it’s very creamy and moisturizing, which helps to prevent some of the retinol’s drying effects.

Size: 1 oz | Main ingredients: Retinol, glycerin, sodium hyaluronate, lipo-hydroxy acid | SPF: No

Best for extreme dryness
Aquaphor Healing Ointment

What we love

  • Ultra-occlusive, moisture-sealing formula
  • Hydrating glycerin and panthenol
  • Helps with extreme skin dryness

What we don’t love

  • Greasy

When your skin’s dryness situation is dire, you want to break out a rich, protecting ointment like Aquaphor’s. It’s a little greasy, but its healing ability is worth it. Aquaphor works by creating a seal over the skin with petrolatum, lanolin, and mineral oil. It prevents water from escaping but also includes some humectants like glycerin and panthenol.  

That said, it doesn’t include any water to hydrate directly. For best results, layer it over lighter lotions or apply it when your skin is saturated with water immediately after a shower.

Size: 7 oz | Main ingredients: Petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, glycerin, panthenol | SPF: No

Best for barrier repair
Stratia Liquid Gold

What we love

  • Lipids to restore skin barrier
  • Lightweight texture
  • Contains antioxidant niacinamide and sea buckthorn

What we don’t love

  • Can temporarily stain skin

If you have dry skin, chances are you don’t have enough of the basic lipids that make up the hydration barrier that keep moisture in the skin. This cream-serum hybrid is made with a blend of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids that mimic those lipids. 

The combination prevents dehydration through barrier repair, and users raved that, over time, they noticed increased hydration and decreased sensitivity. The most significant benefit of using a product like this is the texture. If heavier creams don’t work for you, you’ll love the light cream-serum texture of Liquid Gold. 

The formula also contains beta-carotene-rich ingredients like sea buckthorn oil and niacinamide, which provide a multitude of skin benefits. Both act as antioxidants, but the former can also be an issue since it can temporarily stain the skin a little yellow.

Size: 2 oz | Main ingredients: Ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids, sea buckthorn oil, niacinamide | SPF: No

Load up on moisture

An effective moisturizer for dry skin doesn’t need to be expensive — it just needs to include proven moisturizing ingredients. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is our top pick because it’s a safe bet: It’s mild, dermatologist-recommended, and contains exceptional nourishing ingredients. 

If you want a moisturizer that’s even milder or a little more luxurious, there are plenty of other options. Just keep in mind that the rest of your skincare routine for dry skin matters, too.  

How to pick the right face moisturizer for you

When choosing a moisturizer, there are ingredients to look for and ingredients to avoid. Additionally, consider your preferred consistency and whether you want a product just for your face or for your face and body. 


  • Humectants. These ingredients hydrate the skin by pulling in water from the atmosphere or from the deeper layers of the dermis. They include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, and honey. They’re especially important if your skin is more dehydrated (lacking in water) than it is dry (lacking in oil).
  • Occlusives. These water-repelling ingredients create a protective layer over the skin. They seal moisture inside while keeping out pathogens. They’re useful if your skin doesn’t produce much oil. 
  • Emollients. These ingredients make the skin surface smooth and may also help fortify the skin barrier. They include most fatty acids, plant oils, and barrier-restoring ceramides. 
  • Active ingredients. These target a specific skin concern, like brightening, soothing, or protecting the skin from premature aging. They include niacinamide, peptides, vitamin C, oats, and various plant extracts. 

Ingredients to avoid

  • Denatured alcohols. Usually listed as ethanol or alcohol denat., these can be somewhat dehydrating to the skin, especially in large percentages. They’re acceptable in specific circumstances, though, like when you need sunscreen to spread easily. Their drying effects can be mitigated by humectants. 
  • Fragrances. Fragrances, including ones from natural essential oils, have a reputation for being irritating. Dryness and sensitivity often come hand in hand, so you’ll want to pay attention to signs of irritation when using products with a detectable scent. 
  • Exfoliants. Avoid high percentages of exfoliants, such as glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid in your daily moisturizer, or you’ll risk over-exfoliating your skin. When your skin is in good shape, exfoliating once in a while can be beneficial.


  • Lotion. Lotions are usually semi-opaque, with a light but creamy texture and a good amount of water. They sink into the skin fairly quickly, and they’re not too thick. 
  • Cream. For dry skin, creams are our favorite option. They contain more occlusives and less water than lotions, so they’re thicker and richer. While they can feel greasier, they often do a better job of nourishing dry skin. 
  • Gel. These transparent, lightweight formulas are excellent for dehydrated skin. They’re usually rich in humectants, so they nourish well without feeling heavy or greasy. They still contain occlusives, but silicone-based ones that are lighter in texture.  
  • Ointment. The thickest of the bunch, these usually contain nothing but occlusives. They’re great for creating a protective layer over compromised skin or layering over water-based products as a final moisture sealant. 

Area of the body

The area of your body doesn’t matter much when choosing moisturizers. We actually recommend our top two face moisturizers for use on both the face and body. 

The face benefits from gentle products that are free from fragrances, while the body can handle formulas that are a little more intense. That said, we think it’s best to use gentle products all over, especially when you have dry skin.  

Additionally, keep in mind the specific condition of your skin in different areas. Use a richer moisturizer where your skin shows significant signs of dryness, and use something lighter where your skin seems to be in good shape. 

You can even use a few different moisturizers on your face. For example, it’s common to have an oily T-zone and dry cheeks. You can use a light, gel-based moisturizer on the oily areas and a thicker cream on the dry areas. 


What do dermatologists recommend for extremely dry skin? 

All of the dermatologists we spoke to recommended moisturizers as an effective remedy for dry skin. Some also gave us tips on how to use them. “It’s best to apply lotion immediately after a bath when the skin is still moist and supple,” Dr. Crystal Dinopol said. 

Dr. Anju Methil made a similar suggestion and added, “Use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser and avoid hot showers.”    

What’s the most effective moisturizer?

To find an effective moisturizer, make sure it includes both humectants and occlusives to moisturize your skin comprehensively. There are a lot of effective options out there, so the key is to find one that you’ll enjoy using. Our top pick from CeraVe is a safe option that works for many.  

What causes dry skin?

According to Dr. Anna Chacon, “The main cause of dry skin is genetics — if your parents had dry skin, you probably will too.” Other factors that can also play a role include age, weather, and harsh cleansers.