My skin takes on a life of its own during the wintertime—transforming my usually hydrated, bright-looking complexion into one far duller and drier. It’s sad, really. But instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I decided to take action. In this case, that action translated into trying just about every rich moisturizer that came across my desk, including those that came up during a frantic Google search of “best winter moisturizers for dry skin” at 3 in the morning. That, and I collected a lot of recommendations from my fellow editors here at Byrdie.
The result: 15 perfect-for-winter moisturizers that treat dry skin with a bursting dose of moisture (as well as anti-aging and other protective properties). They brighten, nourish, soothe, plump, and hydrate better than any of the other options on the market, and I have the dewy skin to prove it. Below, find my favorites and explanations for why they work.
1. Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
Beauty and wellness editor Amy Lawrenson first turned us on to this brand, noting, “This is a new skincare brand from Bader, a professor who specializes in stem cells (he’s been nicknamed The Stem Cell Whisperer) and has created this line to fund his research into healing, especially burns. Since using the cream daily, I’ve had compliments like, ‘It looks so glowy,’ to ‘Bloody hell, your skin looks amazing.'” The Rich Cream is just that: rich-feeling. It glides on so smoothly, imparting this incredible shine that I can’t get enough of.
It’s so nourishing too, offering up a hydrating, protective blend of squalane, Helianthus annuus seed, avocado, and evening primrose oils, as well as shea butter and lactic acid.
Evening primrose oil, or EPO, is an oil derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant, oenothera biennis, that moisturizes and softens the skin and has anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer
Biossance, a nontoxic, sustainably sourced, and clinically proven brand, is one of the best when it comes to hydrating dry skin. Each of its products comes with squalane (our bodies produce its own version, known as squalene, but the amount retained in your skin decreases over time1), which comes from 100% plant-based, renewable sugarcane. It’s ultra-hydrating and, when mixed with probiotics, improves your skin’s moisture barrier and leaves it brighter and more balanced.2 This moisturizer also packs red seaweed and ginger extract to calm your skin when it’s irritated and red.
3. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream
Tilbury’s Magic Cream is incredible for so many different things. First of all, hydration and anti-aging. The formula houses hyaluronic acid, rose-hip, and camellia oils, vitamin E, and peptides meant to support your skin’s own natural collagen production, add suppleness, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. On top of that, it’s an incredible primer for makeup, serving up dewy, plump, properly moisturized skin before you even begin applying the product.
4. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
Our associate general manager Lindsey Metrus raves about this stuff—it’s the one moisturizer every dermatologist continually tells her to use. So, I wasn’t surprised when it felt really lovely and made my skin look even better. It’s super light and airy, kind of like a mix between a gel and a cloud cream, and it’s infused with hyaluronic acid.
5. Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream
Dr. Jart’s deeply moisturizing cream works to improve an irritated skin barrier, something that can be caused by environmental aggressors like cold weather, wind, and pollution.3 Faith, our former editorial director, explains why it has become one of her favorites: “It sinks in instantly and is the perfect base for makeup, and my skin doesn’t feel dry and tight anymore because of it. Plus, the ingredients are soothing enough for people with sensitive skin.”
6. Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
According to the brand, this moisturizer does for your skin what adding a shot of protein in your morning smoothie does for your body. It helps to support, maintain, and possibly prevent the breakdown of existing collagen. It’s jam-packed with proteins and nutrients, like plant-based stem cells and folic acid. It just works. It makes your skin look better after just one application, and it feels really good to apply morning after morning.
7. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
This whipped, sensitive skin–safe cream is like a life jacket for dry, flaky skin. It’s formulated with colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and ceramides to provide immediate relief and visible improvement for parched skin. Oh, and FYI, according to the brand, it is clinically proven to increase hydration immediately upon application. Not bad, eh?
8. H20+ Hydration Oasis Nourishing Gel Cream
For a luxurious water-gel cream moisturizer, H20+ has you covered. The formula provides rich hydration for dry skin courtesy of lily water and seagrass extracts, as well as aloe leaf juice. The immediate surge of moisture creates an instant plumping effect, illuminating your skin and absorbing quickly for an otherworldly glow.
9. IS Clinical Youth Intensive Crème
Specially formulated to provide your face 24-hour hydration through a rich, protective cream, IS Clinical Youth Intensive Creme ($235) is more than just a moisturizer. It incorporates botanically-derived moisturizers, antioxidants, resurfacing acids, and growth factors to provide smoother, firmer, deeply hydrated skin. Ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin are just what your skin needs during this time of year, and our associate general manager, Lindsey, agrees: “Heavier moisturizers are a must for me in the winter months. With the heater blasting in my apartment and frigid air outside, I need all the help I can get. My latest skin-quenching favorite is IS Clinical Youth Creme. It’s a rich moisturizer that melts on contact and leaves my skin feeling dewy and bouncy all the way through the morning. It also doesn’t break me out, which rarely ever happens with a thick(er) product.”
10. May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon
Blue Cocoon has become a staple in my routine, both morning and night, as it melts into my skin like the decadent, anti-inflammatory butter I’ve always wanted. Once warmed between your fingertips, the blue balm turns into an oil, letting organic, feel-good ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, marula, and baobab oils absorb into your skin. Instantly, you feel warm, soothed, and it even has properties to ease anxiety and stress—and I know we can all benefit from that. Skincare-wise, it plumps, smooths, hydrates, and calms irritated skin (which is why it’s so good for wintertime). It’s like magic and my very favorite part of my morning and nighttime routines. It’s practically meditative.
11. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
Olay’s best-selling formula is infused with hyaluronic acid, amino-peptides, and niacinamide meant to actually bind moisture to your skin as it lifts surface cells. It feels luxe (and only costs $10), softens the look of wrinkles, and keeps your skin properly moisturized throughout the dry winter. It’s good, people.
12. Pai Skincare Avocado & Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream
When your skin is dry, it looses that coveted luster, and in its place is a sallow, flat-looking complexion. This will fix that. It’s free from drying alcohol and irritating ingredients, and it’s incredibly light and buttery without feeling greasy or heavy on your skin. The formula is enriched with organic avocado and jojoba oils to condition and omega-3 and -6 to leave your skin feeling calm, supple, and soft.
13. Ren Skincare Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm
This nighttime rescue balm uses activated oils (including olive, almond, borage, and linseed) meant to feed and moisturize your skin, strengthen its barrier, and flawlessly relieve irritation. It promises to nourish, stimulate lipid production, and takes special care to deeply feed and repair sensitive skin overnight.
14. Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream Rich
Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Face Cream Rich is my most treasured moisturizer. I use it morning and night to finish off my multistep routine. Sturm herself calls it “your cell spa while you sleep,” as it is so intensely regenerating. The cream incorporates purslane (a succulent herb packed with omega-3 fatty acids) meant to reduce redness and skullcap extract meant to stimulate natural collagen production.4 No lie: Using this moisturizer results in more youthful-looking, hydrated skin come morning.
15. Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream
After weeks of wind-chapped, dry winter skin, I was blessed with Youth to the People’s adaptogen cream, brimming with pentapeptide to “calm the stress reaction in sensitive and irritated skin.” Let me tell you, my skin was irritated, sensitive, and about 50 shades of red. It was a winter massacre. After applying a thick layer of this super-creamy, beige-colored formula, my skin immediately felt soothed. I even applied some to my chest and shoulders to double the results. After a few hours, the redness had calmed, and my skin felt like skin again. I kid you not. This is the real deal for those with sensitive skin (or those with gnarly dry skin). FYI: It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, noncomedogenic, and formulated without dimethicone.