While there are many fun aspects of winter (snow, holidays, cozy clothing, etc.), there are also a few that make life a bit more difficult. From mass layering to 4 p.m. sunsets, winter does have it's downsides. I personally dread the frigid, dry winter air that wreaks havoc on my skin. As soon as the seasons start to change, I can feel it in my skin—seriously.
I've mentioned before that I have super-sensitive skin, so this may not happen to everyone, but keeping my skin hydrated and happy during the winter is a major struggle for me. Because of this, I've tested countless products in search of ones that will go the distance and give my parched complexion some relief—whether it be in the form of a cream, oil, serum, or mask. I've found 23 of the best hydrating skincare products that I know I can turn to when my skin is feeling extra dry and irritated, so I'm outlining them below for anyone who experiences the same issue. And since dry air doesn't only affect the skin on your face, I've included products that keep your body, hands, and lips feeling nourished as well.
As someone with rosacea and a touch of eczema, Avène's Skin Recovery Cream is a godsend. Formulated for hypersensitive skin, it has no irritating ingredients and zero fragrance, so it's what I reach for if my skin is acting up. It has a thick consistency that feels great on your skin, and I don't have to worry about it causing any redness or sensitivity.
I've used Shani Darden's Retinol Reform for years, and I'm obsessed, so I recently tried her Weightless Moisturizer, and I'm equally hooked. It's perfect for layering under makeup in the morning, and it delivers hydration without leaving you feeling greasy thanks to the lightweight formula. If you're interested in trying both, her recent Beis collaboration kit includes Retinol Reform, Weightless Moisturizer, and two other favorite products. (With clients like Jessica Alba and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, I trust her skincare advice.)
The potent botanicals in this cream work to nourish, soothe, and protect the skin against environmental stressors (aka winter weather). The formula is thick and feels rich but absorbs into the skin well enough to wear underneath makeup. It also helps reduce redness, which, for me, is essential when it's cold and dry outside.
I've used this Drunk Elephant moisturizer for years, and I'm still coming back again and again. It's moisturizing but also feels lightweight, so makeup goes on seamlessly over it. Containing African oils and a plant ceramide complex, it reinforces the skin's acid mantle, protects against everyday stressors, and feels silky smooth on your face.
Formulated with rose de Mai pure extract, rosehip, evening primrose, and rose geranium, this hydrating oil visibly brightens skin while moisturizing. Full of anti-aging botanicals, this oil feels great on the skin, and I actually see a difference in my laugh lines after applying.
This is, hands down, my new favorite oil. Packed with plant-based super oils like cacay and buriti fruit, it keeps skin hydrated by protecting the outer layer and repairs the barrier that holds moisture in. The formula is super lightweight, so I can even use it during the day under makeup without feeling greasy or oily. I like to start with the brand's All Day Beauty Water—a face mist that contains some of the same oils and makes your skin feel instantly refreshed—and then apply the Beauty Oil immediately after. I also use the spray throughout the day when my skin needs a boost of hydration.
The name may sound counterintuitive, but the cooling effect this serum has on the skin is heavenly, especially if you've been outside in the wind and your skin is feeling irritated. It contains hyaluronic acid (are you sensing a pattern?) to hydrate skin while soothing it. It can be used morning, night, or both!
This cult-favorite gel contains both hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 that work to restore moisture and smooth skin. Hyaluronic acid contains 1000 times its weight in water, making it ultrahydrating, and vitamin B5 promotes the skin's natural tissue repair process. I usually use this one underneath a night cream to lock in moisture overnight.
There's a reason this one has a cult following. This blue balm is so soothing for irritated skin. It contains blue tansy and lavender to promote a calm complexion, which is particularly helpful for sensitive skin like mine. The balm melts into your skin instantly, and although it is pricey, a little goes a long way, so it lasts forever. (I use a pea-size amount every time.)
This mask is formulated to be a surge of hydration—think of it as a treatment for when your skin is feeling parched. Apply a generous amount, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, and reveal revitalized skin. You can also apply a thin layer and sleep in it, which I do sometimes if I'm feeling too lazy, for a temporary mask routine. Used in conjunction with the Hydra-Cool Serum, it's exactly what my dry winter skin is craving.
If you hate scented lotions, then this one's for you. Clean brand Nécessaire's body lotion is ultramoisturizing with zero fragrance. The thick formula absorbs into skin surprisingly quickly, so I'm able to put sweatpants on or hop into bed after applying without feeling greasy or sticky, just hydrated and nourished.
Is this body lotion bougie? Yes. Is it worth it? Also yes. My justification for purchasing this one is that if I'm spending more time at home then splurging on self-care items that bring me joy is encouraged. This body lotion is moisturizing and contains the cult-favorite Gypsy Water scent that lingers on my skin in a light, invigorating way.
This is one of those under-the-radar products that, once you try it, you tell all of your friends about. It's ultramoisturizing thanks to cocoa butter and vitamin E, nontoxic, and shockingly affordable. At just over $3, it's a steal. Even my boyfriend is hooked—whenever I can't find it, I know where to look.
You've probably already heard about this one. It's been a fan favorite from the brand for years. This moisture-replenishing lip balm feels soothing on chapped lips and adds a subtle hint of shine. It also keeps lips feeling hydrated longer than most other lip balms, so you don't need to reapply constantly.
This is a trick I picked up from my esthetician Vanessa Hernandez last year—I sleep with a humidifier on every night, and it has helped my skin tremendously. I had an eczema flare-up for the first time ever last year (which was quite shocking to me considering I went 30 years without any eczema issues), so Vanessa recommended I start implementing a humidifier into my routine. Putting a bit of moisture back into the air calmed my skin down and keeps it feeling balanced, especially in a dry climate like Los Angeles. It sounds like something for old people, but trust me—it's life changing.