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These are the expert-approved formulas (including affordable drugstore brands!) that will nix dryness for softer, super-hydrated skin.

By Kathleen Felton
October 23, 2018
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At a certain point every winter, my skin simply stops responding to my regular moisturizers. No matter how much product I slather on, it remains parched and with stubborn, flaky patches that make wearing makeup impossible.

The type of moisturizer I was using might have been to blame. It turns out that not all lotions and creams are created equal when it comes to transforming skin from cracked to silky smooth. To combat dryness, Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, tells Health it's important to look for moisturizing formulas that contain a balance of emollient, humectant, and occlusive ingredients. (This sounds complicated, but stay with us here.)

"Emollients, such as natural oils, smooth out rough cells on the surface of skin, while humectants (such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid) are like sponges that bind to water to hydrate and plump the outer skin layer," he explains. "Occlusives like petroleum or collodial oatmeal form a protective seal over the surface of skin to prevent loss of hydration."

In other words, formulas that contain these good-for-skin ingredients not only quench dry skin, but they'll also help protect skin's natural barrier so it's less prone to future flakes.

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As for what shouldn't be in your skincare products? Dr. Zeichner says those with super dry skin should skip formulas that contain exfoliating ingredients, whether that's physical scrubs or chemical acids. "If you have dry skin and flakes, your first reaction may be to exfoliate, but this can make dry skin worse," he says. "The skin is flaking because it is dry, and exfoliating can cause more trauma and inflammation to the skin, making it more dry."

Also on the skip list: retinol and retinyl palmitate, ingredients which can both be very drying, and fragrances. "Fragrances can cause irritation and make certain conditions worse," says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City dermatologist.

Whether you battle dryness year round or your combination skin is aggravated by cooler temps, these are the best dermatologist-approved moisturizers for skin—including dry skin moisturizers for your face and body, as well as wallet-friendly drugstore finds.

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