It’s one thing to have dry skin. But if it’s also sensitive or prone to breaking out, we can’t exactly slather on any ol’ moisturizer on and call it a day. Instead, we have to make sure it’s plenty hydrating without causing irritation. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there that are specifically formulated for these concerns.
In fact, it’s an issue that a lot of people deal with, so we went straight to the source to find the best face moisturizer for dry, sensitive skin. Here are 15 our very own PureWowers swear by.
Winners at a Glance
- Most Refreshing: Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Moisturizer
- Best for Very Dry Skin: The Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream
- Best for Flaking Skin: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
- Best Drugstore: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
- Best Runner Up: CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream
The Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin
1. Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Moisturizer
We get it. Not everyone wants to go to bed wearing a thick layer of lotion. But Fresh’s Lotus Youth Preserve Moisturizer delivers the kind of hydration dry, sensitive skin needs without feeling heavy. PureWow’s Commerce Editor explains, “I can’t stand the feeling of heavy moisturizers on my skin, so I love this formula from Fresh. It feels just as light as my summer moisturizer, but ensures that my skin doesn’t flake and dry out in the harsh winter months."
2. Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream Fragrance-Free
The Cult Classic
People with and without sensitive skin love this Olay moisturizer for its intense hydrating benefits. In fact, more than one billion (yes, with a ‘b’) jars have been sold, with 20 of the iconic red jars sold every minute worldwide. And at least four PureWow editors swear by it. Editorial Director, Angela says, “I don’t know why I waited so long to give the red jar a try. It goes on smooth, sinks right in and plumps my easily irritated skin with so much hydration. I keep one on backup at all times.” We appreciate that it’s fragrance-free as well, so it doesn’t compete with any other products in our routine.
3. The Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream
Best for Very Dry Skin
You don’t know dry air until you live in Colorado, like PureWow’s Senior Editor Cristina, who can personally attest to the harsh, skin-irritating winters. She loves this night cream from the BodyShop for its velvety smooth texture, saying, “The BodyShop Vitamin E Night Cream is super gentle and rich but absorbs nicely and leaves my skin soft with zero greasiness. I find that a lot of moisturizers leave my face dry again as soon as they absorb, but not this one. It also doesn’t irritate my skin at all.”
4. Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream
Another moisturizer Cristina swears by? Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream. She compares it to the BodyShop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream she mentioned above, but elaborates, “It’s honestly similar in texture and quality to the BodyShop product IMO, but it’s just a bit fancier (and pricier).” The product is chock-full of signal peptides, growth factors, supportive amino acids and pygmy water lily, which not only hydrate but also strengthen compromised skin while delivering major anti-aging benefits.
5. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant Nighttime Miracle Moisturizer
Best for Flaking Skin
When you need immediate relief, slathering Vaseline all over your visage and wrapping your face in a hot towel probably sounds amazing. But it’s bound to clog your pores and add acne problems into the mix. PureWow’s Fashion Editor suggests going for this OG moisturizer instead, saying, “Elizabeth Arden’s Nighttime Miracle Moisturizer is legit the same consistency as Vaseline, but is actually made to be slathered on your face. It’s the only thing that keeps my skin from flaking off in the winter.”
6. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream is a favorite among those with eczema and chronic skin conditions, which means it’s a perfect choice for anyone with sensitive skin. It provides 24 hours of hydration and also helps restore the protective skin barrier with ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It was even recommended to PureWow’s Executive Editor, Phil, by his dermatologist. He says, “My sensitive skin becomes super dry in the winter. I asked my derm what do, and he was like, duh, just use CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. Now I have zero problems, no matter what time of year it is.”
7. CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream
Best Runner Up
Another CeraVe fave? The brand’s Renewing Night Cream. Associate Managing Editor Rachel prefers this one for restoring her dry, sensitive skin while she sleeps. She says, “I’ve never used a night cream that’s so lightweight but still hydrating. I love that it isn’t glob-like and my skin can still breathe. It has zero frills but it works like a charm.”
8. Weleda Skin Food
Compromised skin barriers make it harder for skin to hold onto hydration, which is exactly what this moisturizer helps with. One PureWow editor swears by it for her combination skin: “My skin is super dry on the cheeks, but oily in the T-zone, so I often use different moisturizers for different parts of my face (I know, high maintenance). I discovered Weleda’s Skin Food thanks to a makeup artist on a video shoot and have been using it on my drier areas ever since. It’s super thick (it basically feels like glue until you rub it in), so it’s definitely not for everyone, but I love how it really holds onto my skin and doesn’t budge, delivering all the hydration and calming properties where I need them most.”
9. L’Occitane 25% Shea Butter Comfort Cream
Best for Combination Skin
Another pick for combination skin? L’Occitane’s 25% Shea Butter Comfort Cream. Its rich, creamy formula is a dream to apply and it surprisingly melts right in. You’ll immediately notice that any feeling of tightness (often a side-effect of dry skin) dissipates, leaving behind a supple complexion. Associate Managing Editor Rachel also loves this formula, saying, “I have combination, sensitive skin and in the colder months I get awful dry patches. I love this cream because it’s super moisturizing but doesn’t leave my skin feeling irritated or red."
10. Susanne Kaufmann Face Fluid Line F
Self-care comes in many forms, and for some people that’s a luxe face cream. This one harnesses the power of plant-based hyaluronic acid to draw in moisture, while a bunch of other herbal extracts soothe and tone skin. If you’re someone who gets shiny midday (even while still being dry), this mattifying moisturizer works wonders. PureWow’s Senior Editor Sarah switches between this and Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost depending on the day. She says, “Susanne Kaufmann’s Face Fluid Line F is a little pricier than I’d like, but when my skin is feeling particularly parched, it’s so creamy and hydrating. I typically go for water gel moisturizers (Neutrogena Hydro Boost is my fave), but when my skin needs a little more love, this one hydrates without clogging my pores or feeling too heavy.”
11. Dr. Spiller Biomimetic Skin Care Collagen Cream
Since water evaporates and oil doesn’t, it makes sense to go all in on dry skin with an oil-based moisturizer. This one comes recommended by PureWow’s VP of Growth, Emily, for its gentle yet super hydrating properties. She says, “A facialist in Sydney recommended it to me. It’s not the easiest to get hold of in the U.S. (but luckily Amazon stocks it) so I’ve deviated a few times, but always regretted it and gone back. It’s never irritated my usually easily irritable skin and I got so many compliments when I started using it. So my ego’s happy as well as my face.”
12. L’Oreal Paris Skincare Collagen Face Moisturizer
Best for Fine Lines
For extra hydration with a side of skin firming benefits, we love this collagen-infused cream from L’Oréal. Massage it over your face, neck, and decollete as part of your morning or nighttime skincare routine to smooth the appearance of fine lines and mild wrinkles. The lightweight formula absorbs quickly and is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores or cause irritation. "The little lines on my forehead are a lot less noticeable since I started using this," says one PureWow editor.
13. Tree to Tub Deep Hydration Face Cream
Best Vegan Option
Though this versatile face moisturizer works on all skin types, it’s especially hydrating for those with very dry skin (or who live in arid climates). We also appreciate that it comes in an easy-to-use jar (with a little spatula) so you’re not dipping your fingers in the jar. Bonus: The formula is vegan and non-comedogenic, so it’s kind to the environment and your pores, too.
14. The Honest Company Purely Sensitive Face + Body Lotion
Though it’s technically a baby lotion, it’s a solid choice for anyone whose skin needs extra coddling. With no potentially irritating fragrance or dyes, this all-over lotion has a thinner consistency than some others on this list but holds its own in its hydrating prowess. Key ingredients include organic shea butter, olive and jojoba oils, chamomile and calendula to smooth and soothe dry skin on contact. (Our beauty editor uses this from head-to-toe to keep her skin baby soft.)
15. Cure Water Treatment Skin Cream
Psst. We’ll let you in on a little secret. This Japanese import is a godsend in the muggy summer months. The unique all-in-one formula can be used anywhere from your forehead to your feet and is made with micro-encapsulated hydrogen water that bursts on contact when you massage it over your skin (which sounds exactly as refreshing as you’d imagine). Plus, it’s oil-free so you don’t have to worry about clogging your pores or exacerbating mid-day shine.
To Recap, Here are Some Quick Tips on How to Pick the Best Face Moisturizer for Dry Skin
As we age, the skin becomes drier and thinner, making a hydrating moisturizer crucial. That said, you want to use a formula that contains ingredients that support a healthy, well-hydrated skin barrier like:
- Fatty acids
- Hyaluronic acid
- Sodium PCA
And if you’re concerned about exacerbating breakouts or triggering flare ups in sensitive skin, look for the words "oil-free" or "non-comedogenic" on the packaging and steer clear of fragrances, as they tend to be irritating.