It starts every December. The itchy, tight feeling. The sandpapery texture. The flakes pilling from my face like a sweater that’s seen too many seasons. Despite my best efforts (humidifiers, masks, more water, less wine), maintaining a supple complexion during subzero temperatures has always been a stretch. Or at least, it was. A dermatologist’s advice was surprisingly simple: Shorten showers, switch off heaters, and apply a thick, occlusive moisturizer often. After much trial and error, I’ve found 11 soothing options that work.
If You Like the Dewy Look:
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Cream
This velvety cream feels great and absorbs quickly to replenish very dry skin. It contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants, which purportedly boost collagen, smooth fine lines, and add radiance when your skin is looking less than great. Celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury says she’s been using this cream for years at fashion shows and photoshoots on her loyal clients like Amal Clooney and Kate Moss (who is a godmother to her children).
If You’re a Natural-Beauty Obsessive:
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream
It looks like shaving cream, but this thick, fluffy moisturizer is a powerhouse of moisturizing ingredients. First off, it’s fragrance-free (meaning, it won’t irritate sensitive skin) and contains good-for-you plant oils and vegetable-derived fatty acids to drench dry faces — without silicones and waxes. Rated one of the top facial moisturizers by cosmetic cop Paula Begoun, it rubs into skin with ease and restored moisture to my flaky face.
If You’re Devoted to Cult Products:
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream
If you love Clinique’s lighter lotion but need something richer, consider this souped-up version of the cult classic. The silky cream glides over rough patches. Loaded with antioxidants and emollients like glycerin and petrolatum, my skin felt comfortable and stayed soft throughout the day.
If You Want Something Light:
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream
This weighty cream houses high-tech ingredients, including a 30 percent hyaluronic acid concentration. From the moment it was applied, I felt a cooling sensation, leaving behind a dewy finish. Three different-sized molecules of hyaluronic acid (which holds 1,000 times its weight in water) work to maintain hydration in skin.
If Your Face Still Gets Oily in the Winter:
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream
The gel-cream consistency spreads evenly but felt more like a liquid once applied. Ideal for oily complexions, it absorbs almost instantly so that your skin feels softer, nourished, and not at all greasy. It is also one of the cheapest moisturizers on the list.
If You Want to Splurge:
La Mer Crème De La Mer
The price tag is steep, but celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman swear by this moisturizer. Their proprietary ‘Miracle Broth’ made out of seaweed allegedly works to smooth fine lines, shrink pores, and restore radiance. The dense cream melts when applied and is most effective on very, very dry skin. Celebrity makeup artists like Hung Vanngo use this on their clients like Chrissy Teigen and Selena Gomez.
If You Have Sensitive Skin:
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche Daily Soothing Nourishing Face Cream
This lotion feels lightweight, and it’s gentle enough to use on skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and dermatitis. The limited ingredient list features antioxidant-rich thermal spring water (known for its healing properties) and rich shea butter.
If You Like the Matte Look:
Dr Jart+ Water Drop Hydrating Moisturizer
Initially, this milky gel doesn’t look like much. But when you start rubbing it into skin, tiny droplets form that look as though you’ve splashed your face with water. In addition to the high novelty factor, these droplets house hyaluronic acid as well as antioxidants that ‘burst’ on contact with skin, without leaving a sticky residue or sheen. Plus, it’s fun. Applying moisturizer doesn’t seem so ‘meh.’
If You Want to Keep It Simple:
Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream Moisturizer
It’s not the flashiest of moisturizers but this moisturizer has long had a good reputation in the beauty world — it works really well. One pump of the signature-pink formula delivers an amino-peptide complex that deeply moisturizes for super soft skin.
If You Love Korean Beauty Products:
Belif The True Cream — Aqua Bomb
Hailing from the global hub of beauty innovation, this Korean cream feels like a gel but has the nourishment of a cream. It contains a blend of apothecary herbs, including lady’s mantle (known for improving elasticity), that work to heal and hydrate for springy skin. Tip: Slather a thick layer over your moisturizer for a hydration surge overnight.
If You Want an Anti-Ager: Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Day Cream Broad Spectrum 18
A dollop of this rich cream works to soften dry skin. Mukurossi (a fruit extract) acts as a wrinkle enzyme inhibitor to prevent future lines from forming, while broad-spectrum sunscreen protects from free radical and UV damage.
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