If you've ever referred to your skin as being dry and dehydrated interchangeably, you're not alone — but dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same thing, says Dr. Daniel Lanzer, a cosmetic dermatologist surgeon based in Australia. He tells Bustle, "There is a huge misconception in dehydrated skin and dry skin." In both cases, though, applying moisturizer daily is essential. The best moisturizers for dehydrated skin are ones that treat your temporary condition — dehydration — caused by "damage to the [skin's] protective barrier which allows excess moisture to evaporate from the skin," Dr. Lanzer explains. Dry skin, on the other hand, is a skin type — one in which skin produces less sebum.
The good news about dehydrated skin? It's easy to treat with a few simple lifestyle changes and the right over-the-counter products. To start, Dr. Lanzer advises readdressing your skin care routine and cutting out any harsh cleansers that leave your skin feeling stripped or tight, as well as witch hazel- or alcohol-based toners and fragranced products that can cause irritation. (It's also a wise idea to try and limit your caffeine intake, he adds.)
To soothe and rehydrate your dehydrated skin, incorporate moisturizers that contain essential fatty acids. "EFA omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids are the building blocks to a healthy cell membrane. These fats help the skin's natural oil barrier and [are] critical in dehydrated skin." Dr. Lanzer also advises seeking out topical products that contain hyaluronic acid, because it "works like a magnet for moisture."
Quench your dehydrated skin's thirst with any of the best face moisturizers and body lotions featured ahead.
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1. The Overall Best Moisturizer For Dehydrated Skin
Those essential fatty acids that Dr. Lanzer is such a fan of are the stars of Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer. Omegas 3, 6, and 9, shea butter, and ceramides, which serve to restore the skin's natural protective barrier, are blended together in this whipped, light face moisturizer. The gentle formula is also fragrance-free and housed in a handy pump top bottle that lessens the chance of bacteria and other contaminants from getting inside.
2. Best Gel Cream
Neutrogena's fan-favorite Hydro Boost Gel-Cream always seems to show up on "best of" moisturizer lists, and no wonder. It's a soothing, cooling, refreshing (and affordable) face moisturizer that's loaded with hydrating hyaluronic acid. The unique gel-cream consistency feels wonderful when applied to skin, and leaves your face feeling soft and hydrated, but not greasy, all day long. This noncomedogenic, oil-free, and fragrance-free product is gentle enough for most skin types, even people prone to breakouts or irritation.
3. Best Night Cream
EltaMD's PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer contains skin-softening peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, along with anti-inflammatory niacinamide (a vitamin B3 derivative) to replenish, rehydrate, and strengthen dehydrated skin. It's noncomedogenic, oil-free, and fragrance-free, so it's safe for sensitive and acne-prone skin types, too.
4. Best Body Lotion
This drugstore lotion from Cetaphil contains sunflower seed oil, which is rich in fatty acids, and barrier-repairing ceramides to soothe, soften, and strengthen dehydrated skin. It also contains allantoin, a popular ingredient among sensitive skin types because of its anti-inflammatory properties. While it may seem pricey for a body lotion upon first glance, keep in mind that you're getting a whopping 16 ounces of product, so you'll be set for a while.
5. Best Face & Body Moisturizer
Another beloved drugstore moisturizer, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream can be used from your head to toes. Packaged in a huge, 19-ounce tub, this rich, creamy body lotion works to strengthen and moisturize skin using ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. In fact, because it uses a time-release technology, it purportedly keeps skin hydrated for up to 24 hours. Safe for all skin types, it's noncomedogenic, fragrance-free, oil-free, and approved by the National Eczema Association, too.
Dr. Daniel Lanzer, a cosmetic dermatologist surgeon based in Australia