Say goodbye to dry, irritated skin for good.
When you find yourself breaking out the winter wardrobe essentials like massive scarves and gloves, it’s a pretty good indication that it’s also time to do a quick review of your skincare. Every winter skincare routine should have two primary goals, according to Yunyoung Claire Chang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology: to clear up any damage done during the summer months and to increase skin hydration.
But finding the best beauty products for winter can feel like an overwhelming task. With words like humectant and ceramides on the back of nearly every bottle, it can feel like you’re actually reading a foreign language. Luckily, we’ve got the perfect translators: dermatologists.
Health took the search to dermatologists and asked them to share their favorite cold-weather skincare essentials. Their answers ranged from hydrating body washes to moisturizing creams to the best tissues (no, really). Here, we break down why derms can’t get enough of these dry skin saviors, plus why they deserve a spot in your own skincare routine all winter long.
CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
This hydrating body wash is “great for very dry winter skin”, according to New York-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, because it contains three different ceramides. These help protect the skin’s natural barrier so it can lock in moisture.” Dr. Jaliman also points out that the addition of hyaluronic acid makes the wash even more hydrating because it prevents water loss from the skin, meaning you’ll feel squeaky clean without being stripped of natural oils.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Dr. Jaliman also counts this healing ointment among her top winter essentials because it adds a protective layer to the skin to prevent water loss. The paraben-free formula includes two key ingredients that make it a standout: panthenol, which Dr. Jaliman says retains moisture, and glycerin, a “humectant that moisturizes the skin by drawing water from the air into the skin’s outer layer.” While a 14-ounce jar may feel large, the multi-purpose product can be used on cracked elbows, dry feet, minor burns, and chapped lips à la Ashley Graham.
Avène Tolérance Extrême Emulsion
Julia Tzu, MD, owner of Wall Street Dermatology, likes this super gentle moisturizer for its streamlined ingredients list that ditches unnecessary chemical preservatives. By imitating the composition of healthy skin, the lightweight moisturizer helps your skin maintain a natural balance through a quick-absorbing formula that wears well under makeup.
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer
Just because the temperature drops doesn’t mean you should shelve your sunscreen. Dr. Tzu recommends finding a tinted moisturizer or BB cream with built-in SPF to ensure you’re staying protected year-round (yes, you can get sunburn in the winter!). She personally uses this Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer, an oil-free tinted sunscreen that gives light coverage, during the colder months. However, she only recommends wearing the moisturizer solo if you’re located in the northeast where UV rays are lower in the winter, otherwise, be sure to layer with additional SPF.
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore
Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology, keeps this anti-aging facial treatment in her winter skincare regimen. “This formula restores skin lipids with ceramides, natural cholesterol, and fatty acids, all while maintaining a lightweight and fast-absorbing texture,” she tells Health. “Beyond hydrating the skin, [it also] helps support the skin's external barrier to lock moisture in, improving the visible appearance of fine lines, pores, and skin laxity.”
Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion
Prepare your skin for harsh winter weather with 48 hours of continuous hydration, courtesy of this dermatologist-approved body lotion. Dr. Robinson suggests trying this heavy-duty moisturizer if you’re prone to dry skin or deal with dermatitis because “the formula leverages amino acids naturally found in the skin to boost moisture” while “ceramides support the skin’s barrier.” Best of all, the lightweight formula is free of any parabens or fragrances—so it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin—and absorbs quickly, so you’re never left feeling greasy or oily.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Dr. Chang recommends this thick, nourishing cream for dry winter skin. Similar to CeraVe’s body wash, it contains ceramides, which Dr. Chang describes as “natural lipids in the outer layer of skin that are lost with dry weather and age.” A daily application of this cream during the chillier months can help your skin replace these natural lipids, while a patented controlled-release technology regulates the ceramides to ensure you get 24 hours of constant hydration. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores despite a heavier consistency.
SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF
If your skin appears lackluster once December hits, you’re not alone. Dr. Chang says the repercussions of excess sun and environmental pollution during the summer can lead to uneven skin complexion in the wintertime, often resulting in dullness. By including this antioxidant-rich serum—boosted by texture-improving vitamin C and plant-based ferulic acid—in your routine, it’s possible to “protect the skin throughout the day from free radical damage,” according to Dr. Chang. What’s more, it can prevent collagen breakdown and increase pigmentation for even more anti-aging benefits.
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen
You might recognize this celebrity-adored sunscreen as Amazon’s best-selling pick. Considering its oil-free formula is safe for acne-prone and sensitive skin—including anyone with rosacea or discoloration—we’re not too surprised that this mineral-based sunscreen also made Dr. Chang’s list. She loves that it “contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin, and antioxidants, like niacinamide and vitamin E, to brighten skin.” Plus, it offers protection against UVB rays (that are responsible for burning) and UVA rays, which are linked to premature signs of aging.
Olay Ultra Moisture Shea Butter Body Wash
Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, Manhattan-based dermatologist and Olay ambassador, keeps Olay’s Ultra Moisture body wash on hand in the winter when her skin becomes super dry and flakey. “Rather than cleansing and stripping the skin of its lipids, it contains proglycerin, a specially formulated molecule that works with petrolatum to pull moisture into the skin (10 layers deep!) [and] locks it in,” she explains. “It has also been proven to help the body increase its own natural moisturizing factors, which are essential for winter skincare.” Unlike many other body washes, it uses large molecules that can’t penetrate the skin to transport dirt off the body. That means your skin will feel extra clean, but you won’t deal with excess dryness after use.
Avène Eau Thermale Skin Recovery Cream
If you’re looking for an overnight fix for parched skin, follow the lead of Connecticut-based dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, and apply a generous dose of this skin recovery cream. The water-based product uses a combination of hydrating ingredients like squalane oil and glycerin to restore the skin’s natural barrier as you sleep. Developed as a safe product for sensitive skin, it’s made with only 11 ingredients and skips preservatives in favor of sterilized packaging.
Kleenex Soothing Lotion Facial Tissues
While your skincare collection may only include beauty products, Dr. Gohara actually considers these lotion-infused tissues a winter skincare necessity. “These tissues have coconut oil in them and help to keep my nose from constantly peeling,” she explains. Not only can you rely on the 3-ply paper to feel ultra-soft against your nose, but standout ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E ensure each wipe soothes inflamed skin, too.