Best moisturizers for dry skin to keep you hydrated all day long

Our beauty expert tried and tested dozens of the best moisturizers for dry skin to bring you the very best 10 picks

three of MIL's best moisturizers for dry skin from Caudalie, Estee Lauder and Clinique—on a pink and purple ombré background
(Image credit: Future)

The best moisturizers for dry skin should be made up of hydrating formulas that quench and soothe the skin but don't aggravate any other skin concerns you might have—and unless you're looking for a thick mask to keep on overnight, they should also be just about light enough to wear all day, every day too.

It can feel like your skincare routine might be off-balance if you're already using one of the best moisturizers and your skin is still feeling dry—but just one small change can make a huge difference. There's no need to suffer from the discomfort of tight, flaky or peeling skin in silence, like the best hyaluronic acid serums, the very best moisturizers for dry skin contain formulas that specifically target all of the above issues. Look out for hydrating ingredients like beeswax and natural oils, and steer well clear of anything with petroleum in to give your skin the best chance of staying soft and moisturized throughout your day.

To help you figure out the right product for you, one of our contributing beauty experts has tried and tested the best moisturizers for dry skin that work for every particular skin concern. After extensive testing, she found all the below to be worthy of a spot in our list—but an honorable mention goes to the Origins GINZING Energy Boosting Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer, which she found to be the best oil-free pick, and the CeraVe moisturizing cream, which is good for very dry skin.

Meet the experts on moisturizers for dry skin

  • Dr Ross Perry is a cosmetic doctor and managing director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, which has five skin clinics in the UK. 
  • Caroline Hirons has 15 years of experience as a consultant in the beauty industry and is the founder of Skin Rocks. 
  • Margo Marrone is the founder of the Organic Skincare Company and a homeopathic skincare expert.

How to pick the best moisturizers for dry skin

If you have dry skin, it’s important that you know how to find the best product for your skin type to solve the specific problems you're facing. Here's how to do that:

  • Figure out your skin type with a wash test. After patting a wet face dry, assess how your skin feels, and that will tell you what skin type you have. 
  • If your skin is not dry or tight or if you have visible oil, then you have oily or combination skin; dry cheeks, forehead or jawline indicate combination skin; a dry or tight feeling reveals dehydrated skin; if you experience none of the above, you've got normal skin.
  • If you find that you have oily or combination skin and don't know how to combat that, have a look at our guide on how to choose moisturizer suited to your skin type.

The best moisturizers for dry skin as reviewed by a beauty expert

A bright green face moisturizer tube with a white cap

(Image credit: Weleda)
Best moisturizer for very dry skin, this much loves cult favorite delivers intense hydration

Specifications

Sizes available: From 8ml lip balm to 150ml body butter
RRP: $18.99/£13.50 for 150ml

Reasons to buy

+
100% natural and 80% organic formula
+
A real multitasker, this can be used all over the body
+
Great for sensitive skin as there aren't harsh chemicals
+
The brand has excellent eco-credentials

Reasons to avoid

-
Too occlusive for oily, acne-prone skin

There is a reason that Weleda Skin Food has gained cult status around the world and can be found in the kit of almost every make-up artist. This multitasking product is great for those with sensitive skin as it doesn't contain any harsh chemicals. This is also an ideal option for those looking for a sustainable offering—the brand has very impressive eco-credentials, with 80% of their ingredients being organic and sustainable packaging used.

This cream is RICH, so at first I was worried that it would leave a tacky feeling behind, but thankfully I found that it miraculously soaks into the skin. I used it backstage at several fashion shows each season and found that this delivered instant hydration to my skin and left with a fresh and dewy complexion.

See our full Weleda Skin Food review

A white pot with a white and blue label

(Image credit: CeraVe)

2. CeraVe Moisturising Cream

The best moisturizer for very dry skin

Specifications

Sizes available: 50ml-454ml
RRP: $14.99/£16 for 454ml

Reasons to buy

+
No-nonsense, reliable formula 
+
Good for sensitive skin
+
Good value for money 

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy texture 

There is a reason why people are adding CeraVe products to their skincare routines. This iconic hydrating drug store product contains three essential components for skin hydration: ceramides (natural oils found in the skin); fatty acids; and phytosphingosine (a water binding agent). It’s perfect for those with sensitive skin, with no perfumes or color added.

It’s a slightly pricer alternative to other no-nonsense options, but it’s still great value for money. While the formula can be used day and night, I found that the thicker texture lends itself better to night-time use as it's not great under makeup, so you might need a lighter formula if you want to pair it with the best foundations for sensitive skin.

A small pink pot with a pink lid and black writing.

(Image credit: Caudalie)

3. Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Firming Cashmere Creme

Best for mature skin

Specifications

Sizes available: 50ml jar only
RRP: $58/£44 for 50ml

Reasons to buy

+
New, anti-ageing formula 
+
Luxurious texture
+
Uplifting scent

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher price point
-
Thicker consistency

French brand Caudalie has achieved cult skincare status thanks to their effective formulas and luxurious textures. So I wasn't surprised to find that the brand’s firming Cashmere Creme feels as luxurious as it sounds, with a thick, velvety texture that glides onto the skin.

There's some solid science behind the cream, too. Caudalie and Harvard Medical School made the discovery that by combining popular skincare ingredients resveratrol and hyaluronic acid, you achieve a formula that’s twice as effective as retinol for the natural production of collagen.

For me, the main selling point was how luxurious it felt on the skin, with a gentle, uplifting fragrance reminiscent of being amongst wildflowers in the French countryside (one can dream!).

A white squeeze tube with a white cap.

(Image credit: La Roche Posay)

4. La Roche-Posay Effaclar H Moisturizer

The best moisturizer for dry, sensitive skin

Specifications

Sizes available: 40ml bottle only
RRP: $22.25/£18 for 40ml

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely gentle and non-aggravating
+
Fragrance-free
+
Affordable 

Reasons to avoid

-
Less luxury, more functional 

La Roche-Posay is the go-to brand for products that are simple but effective. This hydrating lotion was originally formulated to soothe skin that has become weakened by harsh acne medication and drying skincare (with dry skin causing acne too), but it’s fast become a firm favorite as a simple, fragrance-free moisturizer that does the job well.

The formula is non-greasy and fast-absorbing, which made it easy to wear every day. Hero ingredients include MP-lipids, which help build up the skin’s natural barrier, and ceramide 5, which reinforces the skin’s hydrolipidic film. In short, it’s a soothing moisturizer that you can rely on.

A small clear pot with a metallic silver lid.

(Image credit: The Organic Pharmacy)

5. The Organic Pharmacy Double Rose Ultra Face Cream

The best natural moisturizer for dry skin

Specifications

Sizes available: 50ml jar only
RRP: $88/£49 for 50ml

Reasons to buy

+
Sweet-smelling
+
Natural ingredients
+
Long-lasting hydration

Reasons to avoid

-
Strong scent
-
Heavy texture

The first thing you'll notice with this moisturizer is the scent, which gives the best perfumes a run for their money. It's quite a distinct rose scent, so if you're a fan of the floral then it's a great option to add a touch of luxury to the skincare routine.

Rose geranium, aloe, and squalene—a natural emollient that locks in moisture to help prevent fine lines and ease dry patches—work together harmoniously to soothe and soften dry skin. The result is full hydration, perfect for all skin types in the cooler months when learning how to deal with winter skin. This lasted from my early morning pre-gym skincare routine to when I came to take my makeup off at night. This is a really soothing cream and worth a try if your skin is feeling sensitive, patchy, or irritated.

A translucent pot with an orange tint, with a metallic black lid.

(Image credit: Clinique)
The best moisturizer for fast absorption

Specifications

Sizes available: 15-125ml
RRP: $79/£50 for 125ml

Reasons to buy

+
Fast-absorbing
+
Lightweight texture 
+
Creates a dewy complexion

Reasons to avoid

-
Depending on your skin, it may need to be teamed with another moisturizer
-
Not as heavy-duty as other formulas

Get ready to soak up all the hydrating qualities of this miracle cream. Clinique Moisture Surge is classed by the brand as a “hydrator”, which means it can either work on its own, or on top of your usual moisturizer. The refreshing and cooling gel is formulated with hyaluronic acid which, according to the brand, delivers a moisture hit of up to 152%.

Hero ingredients include activated aloe vera and caffeine, which double up together to activate the skin’s own ‘“internal water source”. This essentially means that the ingredients help to draw water from deeper within the skin to hydrate the top of the epidermis. 

The brand promises hydration for 72 hours after application. While I’ve not actually gone that long without washing my face and topping up on products, I can confirm that the dewy post-facial glow my skin enjoyed after application didn’t fade. If your skin is really dry, we’d recommend using this as a post-moisturizer final step for extra hydration in the winter months.

See our full Clinique Moisture Surge review to read about how this moisturizer delivers on its 72 hours of hydration promise

A gold pot with a metallic gold lid

(Image credit: Estée Lauder)

7. Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme + Global Anti-Aging Cell Power Creme

The best moisturizer for dry skin that’s also anti-aging

Specifications

Sizes available: 30ml-50ml
RRP: $89.56/£97 for 50ml

Reasons to buy

+
High-tech formula
+
Luxurious texture 
+
Fast results
+
Anti-aging properties

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

This sumptuous cream is a cumulation of Estée Lauder’s years of experience in creating moisturizers that really work. The Revitalizing Supreme + Global Anti-Aging Cell Power Creme, as well as being a bit of a mouthful, is an expensive-smelling, velvety soft formula that could awaken even the most sallow of complexions. I loved the scent, with top perfume notes of citrus and a base of vetiver, sandalwood, and powdery vanilla. 

Formulated with anti-aging in mind, the tech behind this formula is pretty expansive. The cream features the brand's exclusive IntuiGen Technology, which is derived from black bamboo extract and supports cell turnover. The cream has also been engineered with technology that helps support cells in order to carry out their restorative functions; essential for maintaining healthy skin. It means it's an expensive buy, but it's well worth the splurge.

A translucent brown/orange pot with a white lid.

(Image credit: Origins)

8. Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Gel Moisturiser

The best moisturizer for dry skin without oil

Specifications

Sizes available: 30ml-50ml
RRP: $32/£27 for 50ml

Reasons to buy

+
Uplifting scent
+
Perks up tired skin
+
Lasting hydration 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lighter formula

Lightweight and refreshing, this daily gel moisturizer is a great wake-up call for tired skin. If you already use one of the best non-comedogenic foundations, then this might be good for you as it is also non-comedogenic. We’d recommend this option for oily or combination skin types who also want to combat dry skin, especially during the winter months. I suffer from rosacea so oil-based products are a no-go, but this offered a lot of hydration (72 hours’ worth, as goes the brand’s claim) without blocking pores or aggravating my skin.

The cooling texture and citrusy scent—a blend of orange peel, grapefruit, and spearmint oil makes it great as a morning wake-up. Application is a joy, thanks to the lightweight texture that glides onto skin easily and is absorbed quickly. I'd peg this one as the ideal post-workout option. 

The formula of this bestselling moisturizer has been recently revamped, with the introduction of “Hydra-Hug” hydration technology, a term coined by Origins. Hydra-hug technology works at a cellular level, bridging (or “hugging”) cells together. The overall impression is that this hydrating gel quenches thirsty skin, creating a glow that lasts. 

See our full ORIGINS GINZING Energy Boosting Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer review 

A long thin white tube with a black lid.

(Image credit: Dermalogica)

9. Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balance

The best moisturizer for dry skin with antioxidants

Specifications

Sizes available: 15ml, 50ml, and 100ml
RRP: $74/£79 for 100ml

Reasons to buy

+
Deep hydration 
+
Balancing

Reasons to avoid

-
More clinical, less luxury 
-
Higher price point

The USP of this cream is that it promises to deliver moisture 10 layers of skin deep and is packed with antioxidants. Hero ingredients include hyaluronic acid, which is combined with echinacea, centella asiatica, and aloe vera.

The technical bit—it’s an ultra-nourishing moisturizer that restores lipid balance to dry skin for optimal barrier performance. This moisturizer feels practical and functional, which is no bad thing, but if you’re looking for a luxurious cream to slather on morning and night alongside your skincare routine complete with the best vitamin c serums, you may be better looking at one of the other options in this guide.  

A white tube with a white cap and light brown and black text.

(Image credit: Avéne)

10. Avene Hydrance Hydrating Cream

The best for intense hydration—also very affordable too

Specifications

Sizes available: 40ml tube only
RRP: $32/£18 for 40ml

Reasons to buy

+
Deep hydration 
+
French pharmacy chic

Reasons to avoid

-
 Can be too greasy for some

Formulated with shea butter, Avène Thermal Spring Water, and Cohederm™—the brand's patented active—my skin was left feeling intensely hydrated and stayed that way for a long time. It's suitable for those with sensitive skin too. 

It could be slightly too rich for those that prefer a lighter cream, but it does soak into the skin effortlessly, just like one of the best bb creams. It left me with a slightly dewy look which looked like a natural glow. We reckon this one is best used twice daily to soak up all the benefits.


Which moisturizer ingredients should I look out for if I have dry skin?

According to Margo Marrone, founder of the Organic Skincare Company, and homeopathic skincare expert, here are some super nourishing ingredients to look out for when shopping for the best moisturizer for dry skin:

  • Plant oils
  • Natural actives
  • Rosehip
  • Beeswax
  • Shea butter

What about ingredients that those with dry skin should avoid?

  • Mineral oil
  • Petroleum 

“In my extensive research, I have found that the skin becomes addicted to these ingredients and if you stop the skin goes through a withdrawal period which induces flaking and peeling. This period lasts for 28-35 days until the skin is able to recover and turn over new cells," Marrone highlights.

Does the formula of moisturizer for dry skin always need to be heavier? 

If you're stuck choosing between the consistency of CeraVe vs Clinique, it might be helpful to know that a light moisturizer can be just as mighty as a thicker one—but it all depends on the right ingredients. “Choose a good-quality, light moisturizer that soaks in readily, rather than just sitting on the surface of the skin,” advises Dr Ross Perry, cosmetic doctor and managing director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics (opens in new tab).

Skincare guru and author of the best-selling Skin Care, Caroline Hirons, agrees. “Think of the top layers of skin as a sponge that is emerging halfway out of a bowl of water. The top part of the skin is drying and exposed. A common mistake when treating dry, dehydrated, or parched skin is to apply a thick layer of moisturizer. This is akin to applying a thick layer of cold butter to cold toast. It won’t penetrate.” Instead, Caroline advises applying a small amount of moisturizer, then wait a while before applying any more, repeating the process until the skin feels fully hydrated. 

Fundamentally, the general skincare rule of thumb still stands; heavier creams are reserved for our nighttime routines, while lighter moisturizers should be applied in the morning.

How much moisturizer should I use? 

When it comes to skincare applications, namely how to apply moisturizer, the experts favor a fruit analogy. And in the case of moisturizer, we’re talking almonds. Aim for two almond-sized blobs, or three if you have a bigger face, and dot across the skin, distributing the moisturizer evenly. If the skin still feels dry and tight, apply another layer after a short wait. 

Are the best moisturizers for dry skin more expensive? 

In a word, no. There’s nothing wrong with splashing out on a luxurious, divine-smelling face cream that prompts feelings of euphoric every time it’s applied. In fact, that sounds like an extremely valid way to spend a self-care day! But on the flip side, drug store brands with reasonably priced offerings will also provide your skin with all the nourishment it needs. Dr Ross Perry agrees, telling us: “Expensive options may not be that different when it comes to ingredients - they just have more marketing behind them and play to people’s perceptions of ‘hope in a jar’.”

Instead, look for quality ingredients from brands you can trust. 

Lauren is deputy editor at woman&home.com and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. 


As well as keeping up with the latest news and most-talked-about TV shows, Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences and adventures to life online. A big fan of adventure herself, she also loves sharing tips on where to find the best places to eat, drink, and be merry off the beaten track. Lauren has written a series of travel guides for London hotels and loves sharing her insights into a destination's cultural and culinary offerings. At the weekend, you'll usually find her hanging out with her pet cat (or anyone else's pet she can get her hands on), escaping to the countryside, or devouring a good book. You can mainly find pictures of her cat (and a few humans for good measure) on Instagram at @laurenkatehughes. 

With contributions from