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The Best Winter Moisturizers, According To Derms

If the lack of humidity in the air, hot showers, and dry homes are doing a number on your skin, it’s no surprise you’re seeking out the best winter moisturizers to keep your face hydrated and soft. Meghan Feely, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey and New York City who serves as a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology, advises using products in the winter that contain ceramides and humectants. She explains in an interview with Bustle, “Ceramides are a component of our skin's lipid bilayer that makes the skin ‘waterproof,’ retaining moisture. Humectants, such as glycerin, attract moisture to our skin.”

Rebecca Baxt, M.D., M.B.A, F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New Jersey, outlines her simple strategy for choosing the best moisturizer for dry winter skin. Moisturizers generally come in four varieties: Lotions, typically found in a pump-top bottle, contain the most water in their formulas. They’re good choices for summer but often not moisturizing enough for winter. Creams, which often come in a tube or tub, are thicker than lotions due to their higher concentration of oil. Creams are often the best for winter skin, Dr. Baxt says to Bustle, but if a cream isn’t cutting it, move up to an ointment. They’re even thicker — sometimes they're petrolatum-based — and work extremely well as moisturizers, though not all of her patients enjoy the greasy feeling they leave behind. Finally, there are oils. “A lot of people use a plain oil like coconut, olive, or jojoba on their skin, but it can be messy,” Dr. Baxt adds.

Keeping in mind their expert advice, I rounded up the seven best moisturizers for winter, ahead.

This oil-free, fragrance-free cream contains key ingredients our experts say we need for dry, winter skin: petrolatum, glycerin (a humectant), and ceramides. A well-regarded drugstore buy, CeraVe is a safe bet for most skin types, even those prone to allergic reactions. And, for the “vast majority of people with eczema who find their skin condition worsens in the winter with the dry heat and cold weather,” according to Dr. Baxt, you’ll find this cream’s approval seal from the National Eczema Association reassuring.

According to one Amazon reviewer: “Amazing for dry winter skin. I have tried numerous products from high end and this beats them all. I love this for my face. I have really sensitive skin and this is the best product ever...”

You’ve probably heard about all the celebs who are fans of Weleda Skin Food, a rich, buttery, all-natural cream made with sunflower and almond oils, beeswax, chamomile, rosemary leaf, and calendula. In addition to providing plenty of moisture for faces and bodies, Skin Food can be used as a lip mask, an overnight skin treatment, and as a highlighter — dab it on your cheekbones for a dewy, natural-looking glow.

According to one Amazon reviewer: “I love this product and buy it repeatedly. It's great all year long but it's the BEST product in the wintertime for chapped and cracked hands and cuticles. It's not greasy like a lotion but it doesn't absorb all the way, and unlike a thin lotion, so it protects your hands (and other winter dry areas) like nothing else. I have one in my purse, one by the faucet where I usually wash my hands, and others laying around. Recommend most highly.”

This beauty lover's favorite is a true multipurpose product. Aquaphor Healing Ointment provides long-lasting moisture anywhere on your body, and it can be dabbed on dry, flaky lips or slathered on your hands and feet (and paired with cotton gloves and socks) to soothe itchiness, irritation, cracked skin, and redness. The fragrance-, dye-, and paraben-free formula is gentle enough for the whole family, so you can use it to help with minor cuts and burns and soothe diaper burn and drool rash, too.

According to one Amazon reviewer: “I have used about every cream on the market for winter dry skin and this is the best of all. Absorbs quickly, hydrates a long time until next shower, and not greasy. Odor free too. With the big tub, you put what you want on your hands, with bottles and pumps you sometimes get too much out and then it goes to waste. The big tub is a great value.”

Even though La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer is oil-free, glycerin and ceramides provide all the moisture dry, winter skin needs. The brand's own thermal spring water offers soothing benefits, while niacinamide — a does-it-all ingredient — rounds out the impressive formula. This fragrance-free moisturizer is a solid choice for just about any skin type, from oily to sensitive.

According to one Amazon reviewer: “I have very sensitive skin and I’m hella allergic to so many ingredients. The last 5 moisturizers I’ve tried have made my face sting and left me dry especially in the winter. This is a wonderful consistency, completely odorless, does not irritate, and gives you plenty of hydration. My face is also super soft. Totally recommend for sensitive bèbès like me.”

This under-$20 moisturizer from K-beauty brand COSRX is rich in skin-strengthening ceramides to help stave off winter-induced dryness, while glycerin, a humectant, and centella asiatica, a favorite in Korean skin care, offer even more moisturizing and hydrating benefits. This gentle moisturizer is safe for even very sensitive skin, and it can help soothe the symptoms associated with dry skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.

According to one Amazon reviewer: “I've been searching for a great winter moisturizer, and I've been keeping an eye on this one for a while. My only regret is not buying sooner. As soon as the weather changes, my entire skin regimen has to also. My acne prone skin switches straight to dry. This cream is phenomenal for quenching dry skin, and it helps strengthen the skin barrier, so I use a heavier coating at night. I barely even use my sleeping mask anymore. It has does wonders getting my skin soft and very smooth, highly recommend. Pleasant smell and no irritation.”

“Don't forget to wear sunscreen year-round!” advises Dr. Feely, who says you either need a moisturizer that contains it, such as Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Lift & Firm Face Cream, or, you have to add a layer of sunscreen to your morning routine (best applied as your final step). “Even though the sun is not as strong in the winter, it’s still releasing its UVB and UVA rays, and those can burn and cause wrinkles,” says Dr. Baxt.

It’s hard to find a moisturizer that contains sunscreen and the ingredients your skin needs in the winter (such as ceramides), which is what makes this one such a rare breed. Formulated with SPF 30, this luxury face cream deeply nourishes dry skin and fortifies your skin’s natural protective barrier using the brand’s Triple Ceramide Complex, while peptides and hibiscus flower extract provide even more benefits. It’s a splurge to be sure, but if your budget allows, it’s an amazing two-in-one moisturizer/sunscreen that covers all your winter a.m. bases.

According to one Amazon reviewer: “This product makes my skin look healthy and glowing. An added bonus is that it has an SPF 30 in it so you don't need to use a sunscreen!”

Kukui nut (from Hawaii’s state tree), along with the oils of sweet almond, coconut, flaxseed, and sunflower, provide the hydration in Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Body Oil. Apply immediately after showering or bathing while skin is still damp for maximum impact and fast absorption. You can also add a bit to your tub for a delightful-smelling, skin-softening soak. Like all Alba Botanica products, this body oil is Leaping Bunny-certified and 100% vegetarian.

According to one Amazon reviewer: “This oil saves my skin in the winter. It smells amazing, and manages to be lightweight and super moisturizing at the same time. One bottle lasts FOREVER.”

Experts:

Meghan Feely, M.D., F.A.A.D., board certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology.

Rebecca Baxt, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.D., board certified dermatologist based in New Jersey.