The 13 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin of 2022

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion contains hyaluronic acid to attract moisture and ceramides to seal it in

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Dry skin isn’t usually a major health concern, but it can still feel uncomfortable and leave you wanting relief. Dryness is a sign that your skin’s needs aren’t being met. Usually, this happens when moisture is escaping for one reason or another, causing skin to feel rough, itchy, and irritated. It can even be accompanied by redness, scales, and sensitivity.

So, what’s a person with dry skin to do? For starters, moisturize all over with a lotion or cream. “Skin’s moisture barrier is supposed to keep bacteria and toxins out of the body, but keep water in. When that barrier is compromised, dry and itchy skin sets in,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dustin Portela, FAAD. “Lotions can help prevent water loss caused by a damaged moisture barrier by delivering hydration to the top layer of skin.”

Reviewed & Approved

Both CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion and Vanicream Moisturizing Cream come recommended by multiple dermatologists. CeraVe is our top pick overall because it relieves dryness with simple ingredients without leaving a greasy residue. For sensitive skin, Vanicream can’t be beaten because it’s free of ingredients commonly associated with worsening irritation.

While dry skin can be caused by genetics or preexisting skin conditions, there are ways to find relief. This usually starts with topical moisturizers that are formulated to soften the outermost layer of skin. But choosing the right moisturizer can be daunting with so many options on the market. The good news is you don’t have to embark on this journey alone.

After speaking with dermatologists, we gathered the criteria we needed to make selections based on what dry skin actually needs. Since dry skin is due to a lack of moisture, we chose lotions that bind moisture and form a seal around the skin to prevent dehydration. Our research led us to several suitable options between $10-14.

Here are the best lotions for dry skin.

Our Recommendations

Best Overall: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

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Why We Like It: Hyaluronic acid adds hydration and ceramides help seal them in to soften and protect dry skin.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s not paraben-free, so those who are sensitive to these preservatives may want to perform a patch test first.

Named the best overall by multiple dermatologists we spoke to, this CeraVe lotion does what it’s supposed to do—moisturize the skin without leaving a greasy residue. “It locks in moisture and acts as a barrier protecting skin cream, so it’s ideal for dry skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Macrene Alexiades, MD, FAAD.

Hyaluronic acid is the main hydrator in this formula, which is nothing new, but it’s coupled with uber-moisturizing ceramides to really seal in moisture. “Ceramides are important building blocks of skin’s moisture barrier,” notes Dr. Portela, adding that the fragrance-free formula is suitable for severely dry and sensitive skin.

Price at time of publication: $12

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Ceramides, Hyaluronic Acid
  • Size: 12 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Lightweight lotion

Best for Eczema: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream

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Why We Like It: It contains three forms of oats, which are notoriously soothing for inflamed eczema-prone skin, and ceramides.

It’s Worth Noting: It can leave a sticky or greasy residue that lingers until you wash it off.

This cream is like an oat bath for exczema (dry, itchy, and irritated skin).  An estimated 31.6 million people in the United States have some form of eczema, and it’s especially common in young children.

Skin affected by eczema can be super sensitive, making it even more difficult to find a lotion that not only works but doesn’t add to the irritation. Dr. Alexiades has some advice for those struggling with their search: “Go for a lotion that contains oatmeal or shea butter, such as this one by Aveeno, which contains colloidal oatmeal and ceramides to help seal the skin barrier.”

Price at time of publication: $20

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Colloidal Oatmeal, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract
  • Size: 12 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Cream

Best for Psoriasis: Gold Bond Ultimate Multi-Symptom Psoriasis Relief Cream

Gold Bond Ultimate Multi-Symptom Psoriasis Relief Cream

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Why We Like It: Psoriasis is sometimes treated with steroids, which require a lot of care, but this is a steroid-free alternative that many people swear by.

It’s Worth Noting: The directions say it can be applied up to four times daily, so the small tube won’t last long.

There are a lot of skin conditions that have dry skin in common, not just eczema. Psoriasis is another that causes severely dry skin, though it’s more of an immune disease than a skin condition. It affects an estimated 7.5 million people in the United States, mainly adults.

Salicylic acid, the key active ingredient in this psoriasis cream, may not sound like the most moisturizing ingredient, but hear us out. It’s often referred to as an exfoliant, which it is in some cases. But it’s actually a keratolytic, meaning it helps the outermost layer of skin to shed itself. In the case of psoriasis, which is characterized by scaly patches, it helps soften and lift flakes and scales. 

Price at time of publication: $10

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Salicylic Acid
  • Size: 4 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Cream

Best for Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream

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Why We Like It: The National Eczema Association approves of it.

It’s Worth Noting: Petrolatum-based creams can leave a greasy residue on the skin.

Another winner recommended by multiple dermatologists, this cream by Vanicream can be applied all over the face and body for relief from dry skin. It’s powered by a very simple list of ingredients, but what’s not in it is just as important as what is. Free from dyes, fragrance, lanolin, parabens, and formaldehyde releasers, it’s sensitive skin’s dream come true.

“Hands down, I always recommend Vanicream for dryness and sensitive skin,” says board-certified dermatologist Todd Minars, MD. “It was designed with sensitive skin in mind, so it doesn’t have the usual culprits like dyes and fragrance.” Dr. Portela adds that it’s also safe for those with skin allergies since it’s hypoallergenic.

Price at time of publication: $14

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Petrolatum
  • Size: 1 lb
  • Formulation: Cream

Best for Extremely Dry Skin: EltaMD Moisture-Rich Body Crème

EltaMD Moisture-Rich Body Crème

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Why We Like It: The non-greasy and non comedogenic formula is suitable for acne-prone skin.

It’s Worth Noting: Niacinamide is an effective antioxidant, but some are sensitive to it.

This lotion contains a cocktail of active ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, squalane, and vitamin E, to name a few. These carefully selected ingredients don’t just moisturize skin but also empower skin healing to help prevent severe dryness in the future. It’s free of added fragrances but gets its pleasant scent from mango seed butter, which has the dual purpose of soothing inflamed, irritated skin. 

This many active ingredients may be too much to handle for some people, however. Niacinamide, in particular, is beneficial for acne-prone skin and acne scarring but has been known to cause irritation and pilling.

Price at time of publication: $32

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Niacinamide, Mango Seed Butter, Ceramides
  • Size: 8 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Cream

Best for Keratosis Pilaris: First Aid Beauty KP Smoothing Body Lotion

First Aid Beauty KP Smoothing Body Lotion

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Why We Like It: Lotions with lactic acid have multitasking benefits like improved texture and reduced dryness.

It’s Worth Noting: It has an ammonia-like smell.

Keratosis pilaris (also known as “KP” or “chicken skin”) isn’t just dry skin, it’s also bumpy. It develops when skin produces too much keratin, causing bumps to form over clogged hair follicles. Caring for KP is like caring for dry, acne-prone skin. You want to avoid drying out the skin further through long hot showers, tight clothes, and harsh ingredients, but you also want a bit of exfoliation to smooth out the bumpy texture.

Enter the aptly-named KP Smoothing Body Lotion from First Aid Beauty. It contains a 10% concentration of lactic acid, a gentle exfoliant that resurfaces skin to improve skin texture. Lactic acid also has some hydrating properties, so it targets dryness at the same time. And urea assists in the smoothing process while oatmeal and ceramides soothe and strengthen skin. It's worth noting that the smell may have a slight hint of ammonia, and may not be for everyone.

Price at time of publication: $26

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Urea, Colloidal Oatmeal, Ceramides
  • Size: 6 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Lotion

Best for Perioral Dermatitis: Vanicream Moisturizing Ointment

Vanicream Moisturizing Ointment

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Why We Like It: An ointment can be more effective than a lotion, cream, or moisturizer at sealing moisture in the skin.

It’s Worth Noting: Heavy moisturizers can worsen perioral dermatitis, so a topical ointment may not be the answer for this particular skin condition.

“Perioral'' usually refers to skin around the mouth, and dermatitis is a type of eczema. So, perioral dermatitis involves skin inflammation and dryness around the mouth, but it can affect any part of the face or body.

Dr. Minars is a strong believer in the moisturizing power of Vanicream products for their simple but effective ingredients. This one is packed with emollients, so it does have a greasy texture. But emollient-rich ointments like this one prevent moisture from escaping and protect vulnerable skin from the environment around it. “Emollients protect and lubricate the skin by using a replacement for or supplement to sebum,” Dr. Alexiades explains.

Those dealing with a case of perioral dermatitis should note that topical moisturizers can make matters worse like adding gas to a flame, so this mystery may be best solved by your dermatologist.

Price at time of publication: $16

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Emollients
  • Size: 13 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Ointment

Best for Ichthyosis: AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion Paraben Free-Keratosis-Pilaris-Products
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Why We Like It: Thanks to a potent dose of lactic acid, this lotion softens dry skin by smoothing out scaly patches and relieves itchiness.

It’s Worth Noting: While effective, lactic acid can have a strong unpleasant smell.

Like the name suggests, ichthyosis is itchy, dry, and sometimes scaly. And as we all know, scratching itchy skin only makes it spread, redden, and become all-around inflamed. For this, Dr. Minars recommends a lotion with lactic acid, such as this one by AmLactin. “Prescription Lachydrin is the usual route for ichthyosis, but lactic acid-based moisturizers like AmLactin are a similar OTC option that yield most of the same benefits,” he says.

Like keratosis pilaris, ichthyosis involves a keratin mutation. Topical exfoliants like lactic acid have been shown to improve the symptoms of ichthyosis, so relief may be just a lotion away. 

Price at time of publication: $14

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Lactic Acid, Mineral Oil, Glycerin
  • Size: 7.9 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Lotion

Best for Inflamed Skin: Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream

Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream

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Why We Like It: It has three types of oats to calm extra dry and irritated skin.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s formulated with alcohol and parabens, which can be irritating to some skin types.

This lotion has all the ingredients needed to soothe skin inflammation: shea butter, ceramides, and three types of oats. The trio of oat flour, oil, and extract soothes skin and helps restore a compromised moisture barrier, which could be the culprit of severe skin dryness and inflammation. Shea butter softens dry, rough skin while ceramides seal in moisture and support skin barrier function. “Oats and ceramides help seal the skin barrier,” according to Dr. Alexiades.

Unlike many lotions for dry skin, this one doesn’t have a greasy residue. It contains powerful moisturizers that hydrate and soften the skin without leaving behind a sticky film.

Price at time of publication: $12

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Oat, Shea Butter, Ceramides
  • Size: 11 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Cream

Best with SPF: Eucerin Daily Hydration Body Cream - SPF 30

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Why We Like It: SPF 30 protects against excessive sun exposure, which could lead to free radical damage.

It’s Worth Noting: The lightweight consistency may not be rich enough to moisturize very dry skin, so an additional cream may be needed.

Moisturizing for dry skin seems obvious, but what about sun protection? Dermatologists recommend daily SPF application to curb the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. “All morning skin care routines should also incorporate an SPF to protect against harmful UV rays,” according to Dr. Minars. “UV rays cause most of the skin damage and premature aging you'll experience in life, so it's best to avoid it early and protect against it.”

This cream by SPF moisturizes and protects in one. It’s on the lighter side, so it doesn’t feel heavy on skin like some sunscreens. It also meets the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation for a minimum of SPF 30 and broad-spectrum coverage. However, for those with seriously dry skin, an additional moisturizer may be needed to feel fully hydrated.

Price at time of publication: $8

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Sunscreen Filters, Glycerin
  • Size: 8 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Cream

Best for Acne: Paula's Choice Weightless Body Lotion With 2% BHA

Paula's Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% AHA

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Why We Like It: Antioxidants help fend off free radicals, which could leave skin vulnerable to damage.

It’s Worth Noting: It’s pricey and contains a low concentration of BHAs compared to other lotions.

Acne is mainly associated with oily skin, but dry skin can get it, too. This lotion by Paula’s Choice contains the nemesis of acne—salicylic acid. The concentration is low, so it’s a good place to start for beginners since chemical exfoliants can be harsh in excess. It works to unclog pores, smooth out texture, and increase skin cell turnover, all of which help to shed layers of dry skin and reveal new layers.

This lotion isn’t just for unclogging pores, though. It contains skin-soothing ingredients for dry skin, such as allantoin and green tea. It also contains hydrators, texture enhancers, and antioxidants.

Price at time of publication: $28

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, Vitamin E, Green Tea
  • Size: 7 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Lotion

Best Face Moisturizer: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Gel Cream with Hyaluronic Acid

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Why We Like It: It’s a go-to face moisturizer for dry skin that has been vetted by thousands of users.

It’s Worth Noting: The gel-cream consistency may not be rich enough to effectively moisturize very dry skin.

Some lotions are formulated for the face and body, but people tend to prefer a separate routine for their face. This moisturizer by Neutrogena is well-known in the space for its ability to quench thirsty skin. “The lightweight texture and cooling effect feels great on the skin and does a great job at moisturizing dry skin,” says Dr. Porela, who notes that it also plays well with layers of makeup and sunscreen.

This moisturizer gets its moisturizing benefits from hyaluronic acid, a humectant that most people with dry skin are no stranger to. It binds water while dimethicone, a type of silicone, creates a protective layer to seal it in. Together, the duo provide the dose of hydration that dry skin is looking for.

Price at time of publication: $20

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Dimethicone
  • Size: 1.7 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Gel-Cream

Best for Itchy Skin: Eucerin Skin Calming Cream

Eucerin Skin Calming Cream

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Why We Like It: Colloidal oatmeal provides relief from dryness and itchiness.

It’s Worth Noting: The thick consistency is needed to do its job, but it can be difficult to rub into skin.

Itchiness is often a sidekick to dry skin. When skin lacks moisture, it feels stretched across your body and becomes tight and itchy. Skin conditions like eczema and ichthyosis can also cause persistent itchiness, but scratching your skin isn’t the only way to get relief. Keeping skin moisturized is one way to combat the tight and dry feeling that leads to itchy skin. 

This cream by Eucerin is formulated to soothe dry, itchy skin with colloidal oatmeal. It contains emollients to comfort skin and create a protective seal so skin has an opportunity to soak in moisture. It’s free of ingredients like parabens, dyes, and fragrance that could potentially worsen discomfort.

Price at time of publication: $9

Product Details: 

  • Key Ingredients: Colloidal Oatmeal, Dimethicone, Mineral Oil
  • Size: 14 fl oz.
  • Formulation: Cream

How We Selected

To find the best lotions for dry skin, we spoke with three board-certified dermatologists to better understand what dry skin actually needs. In addition to recommending their personal favorites based on their clinical experience, they shared their insights on ingredients to look for and which to avoid. They emphasized the importance of avoiding added fragrances and prioritizing formulas with humectants to draw water into the skin and emollients to form a protective barrier around it.

We also conducted in-depth research to find suitable lotions that meet the criteria provided by dermatologists. Our research led us to lotions that effectively moisturize and soothe dry skin at a variety of price points and retailers.

What to Know About Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Key Ingredients to Look for in a Moisturizer for Dry Skin

When it comes to hydrating dry skin, hyaluronic acid is considered the gold standard. You’ll find it in many lotions for dry skin. Many lotions can feel heavy on the skin because they work to trap existing moisture instead of adding moisture to existing levels. But hyaluronic acid works differently because it’s a humectant.

In addition to specific active ingredients, there are three types of ingredients that go into formulating lotions and creams: humectants, emollients, and occlusives. For dry skin, the dermatologists we spoke to emphasized the importance of humectants and emollients.

“Specifically for dry skin, you'll want to look for products that have humectants, which draw water into the skin,” explains Dr. Minars, who recommends hyaluronic acid and lactic acid. He says to seal in humectants with emollients, such as petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil, dimethicone, and shea butter.

Other noteworthy ingredients to look for include ceramides and oats. Ceramides are naturally found in the skin and play a very important role in the moisture barrier. They act like a glue to keep skin cells together, keeping the skin barrier intact so moisture can’t escape. Oats are a key ingredient for soothing some of the discomforts that dry skin can bring about, such as irritation, tightness, and itchiness. It’s especially beneficial for skin conditions like eczema.

In terms of what to avoid, Dr. Portela urges for fragrance-free formulations. “When dealing with dry skin, I typically recommend avoiding highly fragranced options—fragrance can increase the risk of contact allergy and provides no benefit in the treatment of dry skin,” he says.

How Much Should Someone Expect to Pay for a Moisturizer for Dry Skin

When it comes to moisturizers for dry skin, you can find budget-friendly picks, high-end splurges, and everything in between. Body lotions tend to have a better value than face moisturizers since they come in a larger capacity at a lower price point. We found that most body lotions range between $10-14, but you can find one as little as $8 and below or as high as $32 and above.

Your Questions, Answered

What is the main cause of dry skin?

Well, it depends on the person. There isn’t one single cause of dry skin, according to the dermatologists we spoke to. 

Dr. Minars says genetics is a huge contributor, which is completely out of our control, but environmental and even behavioral factors can also deplete skin’s moisture levels. For some, simply living in a dry climate can lead to dry skin. For others, it may come down to lifestyle factors like taking certain medications and bathing habits. For many, it’s in your genes. Some people are predisposed to dry skin, which can be exacerbated by the environment around you.

Inflamed skin is also a contributor to dryness. “Anything that causes inflammation in the skin will lead to damage of the moisture barrier, water loss through the skin, and therefore dryness,” explains Dr. Portela. “Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris, and even acne lead to inflammation in the skin and can secondarily cause dryness.”

How do you get rid of dry skin?

Topical lotions and creams can go a long way in terms of relieving uncomfortably dry skin, but it requires consistency. Some behavioral changes can also calm dry, irritated skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding long hot baths and showers, adding moisture to the air with a humidifier, switching to gentle cosmetics, and choosing non-irritating fabrics and detergents.

Is Vaseline a moisturizer?

Vaseline is a vehicle for petroleum jelly, and the dermatologists we spoke to are big fans. “It’s the ultimate occlusive for preventing water loss through a compromised skin barrier,” according to Dr. Portela. However, the texture can be an obstacle. Occlusives like those in Vaseline are often thick and greasy. It may also be too heavy for those who are prone to acne, notes Dr. Alexiades.

Who We Are

Lacey Muinos is a health and skin care writer. She is an avid skin health researcher and has developed a complex understanding of skin care from interviewing medical experts like board-certified dermatologists.

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