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The best moisturizers for dry skin to stay hydrated in 2024

Drink 'em in: We've tested and reviewed dry-skin moisturizers from CosRx, Charlotte Tilbury, Cetaphil, La Roche-Posay and more.

Moisturizers from CosRx, Cetaphil and La Roche-Posay
The best moisturizers for dry skin include these picks from La Roche-Posay, Cetaphil and CosRx. (Amazon)

The skin is the human body's largest organ, so dry skin isn't something to take lightly. However, once you have the best moisturizer for dry skin, it's an easy fix. Dry-skin moisturizers can make a world of difference helping soothe a scaly dermis (especially when they're used in combination with the best hyaluronic acid serums), not to mention make your skin look healthier overall. Loads of dermatologist-recommended creams will do the job and fit into your skin-care routine — many even fight signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots.

Quick overview
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If you have dry skin (official name: xeroderma), sorry to say, but you are not unique. "Dry skin is caused by moisture loss that can result from internal or external factors such as age, climate or certain skin conditions,” explains Dr. Kiran Mian, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. This incredibly common condition can also result from your genetics or lifestyle, or certain medications and harsh products.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, by the age of 60, nearly everyone has dry skin. But just because it's common doesn't mean you want to ignore it. Dry skin can lead to more serious issues, such as dermatitis, irritation and wrinkles. I've even broken out from excessively dry skin. Not cute!

As a beauty editor in her 40s whose skin is becoming increasingly dry, I've tried almost every moisturizer for dry skin under the sun. Below, you'll learn which ones are the best, whether you're looking for a budget buy or a special splurge, have other issues like eczema or want to know which moisturizer is best under makeup.

Formulation: Cream | Size: 3.52 ounces | Skin type: Dry, dehydrated | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, sea buckthorn water

CosRx has helped popularize snail mucin as a skin-care ingredient, but you shouldn’t sleep on its other products. Case in point: the Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Cream. A favorite among the K-beauty crowd, this face cream packs and seals moisture into dry, dehydrated skin to prevent further hydration loss. I love this moisturizer for its lightweight, fast-absorbing formula and antioxidant ingredients. 

In addition to hyaluronic acid, it contains vitamin tree water (also known as sea buckthorn), which is filled with vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids that help strengthen the skin barrier and increase hydration even more. The midrange price point is the cherry on top.

  • Hydrates and plumps dry, dehydrated skin
  • Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Free of parabens
  • Some users say it feels oily
  • Might not be best for breakout-prone skin
  • Comes in a jar instead of an airtight pump
$17 at Amazon
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$25 at Ulta Beauty$25 at REVOLVE

Formulation: Cream | Size: 1.07 ounces | Skin type: Normal, dry | Key ingredients: TFC8, hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed rice protein

While the luxury price point and thick formula ensure Augustinus Bader's the Rich Cream lives up to its name, it's easy to see why it has earned multiple awards and accolades. There’s a lot of science backing up the product — the proprietary TFC8 technology (a blend of natural amino acids, peptides and high-grade vitamins) helps with wrinkles, redness, hyperpigmentation and stretch marks, making the skin look and feel firmer and stronger over time. Some users prefer something lighter during the summer or if they have oily skin, but even though it's thicker than the moisturizers I'm used to, I found that it rubbed into my skin fast and easily without leaving me feeling greasy. Using this brought my sunken, sallow skin back to life after an illness (being sick is not good for my complexion).

  • Unscented
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Protects against environmental stressors
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation
  • Helps prevent hydration loss
  • Might feel too heavy for oily or combination skin
  • Dry skin types may want a lighter formula for summer
$185 at Sephora

Formulation: Cream | Size: 1.7 ounces | Skin type: Dry, normal | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, peptide complex

When it comes to celebrities and beauty editors, one product that frequently comes up is Magic Cream. Celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury created the moisturizer to instantly prep models’ skin before runway shows, and it became an in-demand product for her celebrity clients. (It has been used to prep everyone from Demi Moore to Lizzo, and it's a favorite of Khloé Kardashian.) 

I was first introduced to Magic Cream this way: A makeup artist applied it to my skin before glamming me up, and I was impressed by how good my skin felt and how my makeup looked afterward. I became an instant believer!

The cream contains all the good stuff: hyaluronic acid, vitamins C and E, nourishing rose hip and camellia oil, frangipani flower extract, shea butter, and the BioNymph Peptide Complex (love the name). The peptides help reduce wrinkles and make skin appear smoother and more plump. It became my go-to when I began noticing that I needed a more hydrating face cream during winter. Now, I love using it year-round. Even though I'll use other primers to camouflage pores before putting on makeup, nothing has the same effect on my skin as Magic Cream.

  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Helps with firmness and elasticity
  • Hydrates outer layers of skin for up to 24 hours
  • Brightens and evens out skin tone
  • Scented, so not best for the fragrance-sensitive
  • Might not work for super oily skin types
$100 at Sephora

Formulation: Cream | Size: 1.7 ounces | Skin type: Dry, dehydrated, sensitive | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin B5, vitamin E

Dry-skin sufferers love this affordable Cetaphil cream for its hydrating, soothing powers. It's made with the brand’s HydroSensitiv Complex, a combination of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin B5, and vitamin E — a good checklist of ingredients you want in a dry-skin moisturizer. For those with sensitive skin, niacinamide does a great job of soothing, but I like how there's also blue daisy extract — this pretty, flower-bearing plant has antioxidant benefits that help with redness and discomfort.

  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Contains antioxidant ingredients
  • Lightweight and nongreasy
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Noncomedogenic
  • Comes in a jar instead of an air-tight pump
  • Scented, so not best for the fragrance-sensitive
$19 at Amazon
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$19 at Walmart$26 at Ulta Beauty

Formulation: Cream | Size: 2.5 ounces | Skin type: Dry, dehydrated, sensitive | Key ingredients: Niacinamide, ceramide-3 

While nourishing botanical oils are a common ingredient in moisturizers (and usually beneficial for dry skin), some people prefer an oil-free face cream. This one, by La Roche-Posay, is free from oils and won't clog up pores. It's a popular moisturizer for all skin types, not just dry skin, due to its formulation of ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin and La Roche-Posay's Prebiotic Thermal Water.

  • Oil free
  • Noncomedogenic
  • Contains skin-fortifying ceramides and niacinamide
  • Lightweight
  • Some users complain that the formula pills on their skin
  • Too lightweight for some users
$24 at Amazon
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$25 at Ulta Beauty$24 at Target

Formulation: Cream | Size: 2 ounces | Skin type: Dry, dehydrated, eczema | Key ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal

If you're one of the millions of eczema sufferers in the U.S., dry skin isn't the only thing you have to worry about when you're looking for a good moisturizer. First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream is made with colloidal oatmeal, which soothes skin instantly and protects and strengthens the skin barrier.

  • Good for all skin types, including those with skin conditions
  • Ultrahydrating
  • Gentle ingredients
  • Contains skin-soothing oatmeal
  • Not completely fragrance-free
  • Too lightweight for some users
$16 at Amazon
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$18 at QVC$18 at Macy's

What does it mean to have dry skin?

You probably have dry skin if your skin feels tight or flaky. I've always had combination or oily skin but have had bouts with dryness, either due to winter weather, perimenopause or skin-care products that disrupted my skin barrier. "With a lack of sebum, dry skin also lacks the lipids that it needs to retain moisture and build a protective shield against external influences," Mian says. "This may cause dry skin to appear dull and become rough, flaky, irritated or even itchy." Dry skin often feels tight or less elastic, appears dehydrated, and may show more visible fine lines than other skin types, Mian adds.

Next to face cleansers, moisturizers are one of the most basic skin-care products, and they're important for a reason. "Using a face moisturizer is essential for dry skin because it helps to replace lost moisture, restore the skin's natural barrier function, and prevent further moisture loss," says Dr. Angela Lamb, a board-certified dermatologist with Mount Sinai Dermatology in New York City. "Moisturizers also help to improve the skin's texture and appearance, making it smooth and supple." (Plus, there's that whole part about dry skin showing more fine lines and wrinkles, so if you want to tackle those, you're going to need to keep your skin hydrated!)

Leave the lighter-weight formulas to oily skinned friends. "For dry skin, a thicker, creamier moisturizer formula is typically best, as it provides more hydration and creates a protective barrier on the skin to lock in moisture," Lamb says.

Dr. Mona Gohara, a board-certified dermatologist based in Connecticut, says you should choose a moisturizer enriched with ingredients that provide both immediate relief and strengthen the skin's barrier over time. "Ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal, shea butter and allantoin are highly beneficial," she says. "Colloidal oatmeal accelerates skin renewal, shea butter deeply moisturizes and nourishes, and allantoin calms and soothes."

Mian recommends hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, dimethicone and ceramides. "These ingredients help attract and retain moisture in the skin while strengthening and protecting the skin's barrier. You can also consider moisturizers with occlusive agents like shea butter or petrolatum, as they create a barrier on the skin's surface to prevent water loss," she says.

Mian says you can use the same moisturizer in your morning and evening routines, but it can vary by person. "For some people, the same moisturizer for day and night is best because it helps streamline their routine. If you find a moisturizer you really like, I'd recommend using that morning and night because I find that my patients are more consistent with their skin care when it's a product they love!" she says.

Lamb also says you can use the same moisturizer for day and night, but points out that "some people prefer to use a thicker moisturizer at night for extra hydration while opting for a lighter formula during the day, especially if wearing makeup."

Mona Gohara, MD, board-certified dermatologist

Angela Lamb, MD, board-certified dermatologist

Kiran Mian, MD, board-certified dermatologist