The Best Moisturizers For Dehydrated Skin

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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 — and the best moisturizers for dry skin might not be the best ones for dehydrated skin.

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.

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.

Relevant review: “Amazing moisturizer! My skin is glowing [...] Very moisturizing and such a unique formula. The feel is slightly thicker to the touch but it goes on very easy, sheer and light. It doesn’t clog pores and I’m obsessed with it”

Editor’s Pick

I recently picked up this moisturizer on a trip to Paris, and suffice to say I’m obsessed. I have skin that’s both dehydrated and dry, and it’s practically removed every last trace of flakiness from my face (which I’m prone to naturally, but also because I used Retin-A). I’m going to go out on a whim and say it’s even better than Embryolisse’s cult-classic Lait-Crème Concentré, the product that made the brand a household name within the skin care world. It feels richer and more nourishing, but it’s not at all greasy or sticky. In the formula, you’ll find hyaluronic acid and aloe vera for hydration, as well as acexamic acid, which helps encourage your skin to regenerate. It doesn’t have a scent, either.

Relevant review: “This brand is amazing - I have tried three different products and they are all wonderful. This is a great cream, it's light but rich. I mean that it's luxuriously light and creamy - some moisturizers are thick and creamy, but this is a bit lighter. It goes on well, is quickly absorbed and helps my skin become smooth quickly. I have dry, sensitive skin and frequently have outbreaks of eczema. This keeps my skin hydrated and soft and eczema at bay.”

Best Moisturizer For Very Sensitive, Dehydrated Skin

If you have very sensitive skin, Vanicream should be your go-to brand. Made with hydrating hyaluronic acid and five different types of strengthening ceramides, their daily facial moisturizer will keep your dehydrated skin moisturized without running the risk of causing irritation. Like all Vanicream products, it’s made without common irritants like essential oils, fragrance, parabens, dyes, and more.

Relevant review: “Light weight, comfortable basic moisturizer that is fragrance free. Soothes dry, dehydrated skin without being too greasy. Handy carry along size for reapplication. Will definitely keep this in rotation as a basic moisturizer day and night.”

Best Gel Cream For Dehydrated Skin

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.

Relevant review: “I have dehydrated dry skin and rather sensitive. I love this gel moisturizer because it soothes my dry skin and has helped me eradicate the flakiness in my skin. It’s SO hydrating! My skin feels so light, soft, and smooth right after using it. So, I’ve been using this on top of a new skin routine for a few months now and it’s been doing wonders for my skin.”

Best Night Cream For Dehydrated Skin

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.

Relevant review: “I gave this a 5 because I really love it! It adds extra moisture my skin needs without the greasy feel or added shine. While it's meant for night time use I use it as a daytime moisturizer as well. My skin looks healthy and hydrated all day”

Best Korean Moisturizer For Dehydrated Skin

If you prefer to stick with Korean skin care products, here’s a K-beauty offering for dehydrated skin. Purito Deep Sea Pure Water Cream is made with 60% sea water, while ingredients like glycerin, allantoin, panthenol, and niacinamide offer further nourishing and soothing benefits. Like the Vanicream moisturizer, this is another great choice for sensitive skin as it’s free of essential oils, fragrance, and other potential irritants.

Relevant review: “This is my third tube of this moisturizer, and I hope that they never discontinue it! This is the only moisturizer I've had that actually feels like it is hydrating my skin instead of sitting on top of it! I have very fair, dry, and sensitive skin. My skin breaks out in zits when it is not sufficiently moisturized, and has low tolerance for irritants, which causes closed comedones. This is first moisturizer that I have had that makes my skin feel soft and plump without leaving me greasy. I also experience no irritation and no breakouts when I moisturize with this”

Best Splurge

If your budget allows, Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance is an excellent moisturizer for dehydrated or irritated skin. It contains hyaluronic acid, which Dr. Lanzer recommends for treating dehydrated skin, with a series of lipids to help support your skin barrier. Even better, it has a prebiotic Chlorella Algae complex for balance, plus aloe vera, echinacea, and centella asiatica to sooth and ensure your skin holds on to moisture. Note that this moisturizer does have some synthetic fragrance, but less than 1%.

Relevant review: “After a very emotional year my face was a disaster and my skin so dry it would crack. My dermatologist suggested this brand and within a few days I saw improvement. The moisturizer is gentle and soothing without giving you the sting that most other moisturizers do when first applied. My skin doesn't feel greasy after use, just hydrated. A very gentle product, my skin did not break out at all when I switched to this product and after a few months of use it continues to be gentle and beneficial.”

Best Body Lotion For Dehydrated Skin

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.

Relevant review: “Works well on dry sensitive skin. Best I have ever found for my skin. Very little scent to irritate allergies. Absorbs and does not leave a sticky residue. I highly recommend it.”

Best Face & Body Moisturizer For Dehydrated Skin

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.

Relevant review: “I used this Cerave moisturizer for my hands and face because my skin is so dry and it has helped SO MUCH! I love how it’s unscented and it’s pretty thick, so a little goes a long way.”

Bonus: Best Moisturizing Mask For Dehydrated Skin

When you have dehydrated skin, using a super-hydrating mask once or twice a week — or more often, in lieu of night cream — can really help. Drunk Elephant’s F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial is a particularly nice treatment for dehydrated skin, as it’s rich in vitamin F (which basically refers to two different omega fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, which Dr. Lanzer recommends), though there are plenty of other hydration heroes in the formula, like plant squalane and sodium PCA. Meanwhile, ceramides support a strong skin barrier, and niacinamide offers soothing benefits. What more could you want in a product for dehydrated skin?

Relevant review: “Nothing to say but this a fantastic night hydration moisturizer mask. Your face will love you in the morning, looking well hydrated and plumper.”


Dr. Daniel Lanzer, a cosmetic dermatologist surgeon based in Australia

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