The crisp, dry air that winter brings calls for high-quality moisturizers. The right ingredients can keep our hands from cracking and bleeding, our skin from itching, and can bring life back to skin that’s sensitive to the cold. Just like gloves and a hat, moisturizer is essential for winter.
Not all moisturizers are made equal, though. While many look and smell pretty, not all of them can restore or protect our skin. Some ingredients are even harmful, especially if we’re allergic to them. When it comes to maintaining your skin, look at the ingredients, not the nice packaging!
When shopping for the perfect winter moisturizer, look for these ingredients. You can find many products with these essentials on department store shelves, but you may need to go to a more specialized store for others. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit more on high-quality moisturizers – your skin deserves it!
The Best Moisturizer Ingredients For Dry Skin
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These naturally-occurring lipids have been synthesized into skincare products! According to Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, ceramides help to protect the skin again harsh winter conditions by restoring its protective barrier. Hot water, certain soaps, and environmental factors can break down the ceramides in our skin, so replenishing them is vital!
Ceramides are a common ingredient in winter moisturizers due to how important they are. After all, they make up 50% of the skin’s natural barrier. All of CeraVe’s moisturizers contain ceramides, but the Aveeno Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream and First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Daily Face Cream are also good options. If you have eczema, use a Cetaphil product with ceramides in it.
Urea is a deep exfoliator. It hydrates the skin by absorbing moisture from the environment, and it also softens your skin. Products with urea in it can be used on rough, calloused areas like feet, knees and elbows. You can even use creams containing urea for psoriasis, dermatitis, and rare skin conditions like ichthyosis!
- Hyaluronic Acid
Looking for a moisturizer that holds moisture without going overboard? Hyaluronic acid is the ingredient you need in your moisturizer! Its ability to plump the skin will help you look younger, and it can be used on ultra-dry skin.
Moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid are typically expensive, but they’re worth it to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Peter Thomas Roth makes a lightweight moisturizer with this ingredient, but those on a budget can get the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.
Have you ever taken an oatmeal bath? This ingredient reduces skin sensitivity, irritation, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Oatmeal is also great for oily skin, since it absorbs excess oils and reduces acne. If you have sensitive, itchy skin, oatmeal is a great ingredient to look for.
Look for Aveeno products with oatmeal in them, like the Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Moisture Repair Cream. Kiehl’s also makes a moisturizer with oatmeal in it.
- Jojoba Oil
Jojoba oil mimics sebum, a lipid in the skin’s dermis. As a humectant ingredient, it keeps your skin from losing moisture while its noncomedogenic properties keep the oil from building up on your skin. Some plant oils can give people allergic reactions, but jojoba oil isn’t likely to do this. People who stay away from oily lotions should consider making an exception for this ingredient!
- Shea Butter
Shea butter is great for winter skin, and it smells good, too! This natural ingredient penetrates the skin to hydrate and relieve redness. You’ll also find some useful vitamins in shea butter – the Vitamin A, E, and F reduce fine lines and protect sun-damaged skin. Moisturizers commonly use this ingredient, so you’ll have no problem finding the perfect product!
The Bliss Naked Body Butter is vegan, fragrance-free, and paraben free for sensitive skin. If you’re shopping at a Walmart or Target, try Jergen’s Shea Butter Deep Conditioning Moisturizer.
Glycerin imitates the skin’s natural moisturizing abilities and holds onto moisture. While it doesn’t have the most appealing name, it’s a safe and important ingredient in many skincare products. It can be made synthetically, but glycerin can also be derived from vegetables and animals. Since it helps other ingredients to penetrate the skin easier, find a moisturizer that includes glycerin and another ingredient on this list!
While glycerin is a controversial ingredient, it’s in many moisturizers for sensitive and medically complex skin. Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Moisture Daily Hydrating Facial Moisturizer contains glycerin, and the Missha Super Aqua Ultra Water-Full Clear Cream can even keep your skin moisturized for 24 hours!
This natural ingredient is a surfactant, allowing the skin to breathe while protecting it from irritation. Beeswax also contains Vitamin A, which can soften and rehydrate your skin while reconstructing your skin cells. Many naturally-made moisturizers include beeswax, so you can typically avoid synthetic ingredients when choosing a beeswax moisturizer.
If strong itch-relieving moisturizers aren’t calming your skin, you may need a medicated lotion. Skincare products with hydrocortisone can reduce swelling, itching, and other symptoms associated with most skin conditions. You can find products containing hydrocortisone over the counter, but don’t use them long-term. After around a week, you’ll want to switch to another healing ingredient.
- Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly is a tried and true moisturizing ingredient. Products with petroleum jelly, like Vaseline sit on top of your skin to keep moisture in. If you’ve ever used Vaseline, though, you know that this isn’t a product to wear while out and about. Instead, use petroleum jelly-based products at night to prevent waking up with cracked skin in the morning.
When you use a winter moisturizer with ingredients that work, you can focus less on your irritated skin and more on the activities you love. If you have sensitive skin, stick to products without synthetic ingredients and fragrances, as these may make your skincare routine counterproductive. This winter, keep your skin healthy no matter how damaged it is!
And just as an inside, the one thing that has made a big difference in my skin during the dry winter months is investing in a humidifier. Not only does it keep your skin hydrated, it is good for your home. If you have hardwood floors or cracks in your ceiling or woodwork, you need a humidifier! You can either get a whole home humidifier or a portable humidifier for your bedroom or apartment.