4 things a moisturizer for dry skin should contain

Every winter, it’s the same old story.

At first, it’s just uncomfortable. A feeling of tightness on my cheeks and undereye area that gets more intense after cleansing.

Little by little, it gets worse. My skin starts to flake. It itches. Everything irritates it. Even applying moisturizer with the gentlest touch of my finger hurts like hell.

That’s what happens when you’re cursed with dry skin. I’m kinda lucky because I get it only in the depths of winter but some of you have to deal with this hassle all year long.

So, how do you do that? How do you deal with dry skin? The quickest way is a rich moisturizer that nurses skin back to health and keeps it in top shape.

But, how to find this gem? By now you’ve tried so many moisturizers that promised that and much more and they’ve all fallen terribly short. That’s because there are certain ingredients a moisturizer for dry skin MUST absolutely contain to do the job well:

bioderma sensibio light cream

1. Humectants

What Are They?

Humectants draw water from the environment into the skin and bind it there. Hyaluronic acid (and its cousin sodium hyaluronate) are very good at this because it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water.

Why Does Your Dry Skin Need Them?

They instantly infuse skin with a burst of moisture that replenishes what it has lost during the day or night.

Are There Any Side Effects?

If there isn’t enough moisture in the air, humectants will suck it from the deepest layers of your skin. That can dry it out. So, depending on where you live, go easy on them.

How To Spot Them?

On the label, look for:

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

cerave facial moisturizing lotion

2. Occlusive emollients

What Are They?

They’re vegetable oils, waxes, some silicones and anything else that creates a protective barrier on the skin that seals moisture in.

Why Does Your Dry Skin Need Them?

Putting moisture back into your skin ain’t enough to treat dry skin. That moisture must stay there, not evaporate into thin air again.That’s when occlusive emollients come in. They create a protective barrier on the skin that prevents water loss.

Are There Any Side Effects?

If you’re worried they may cause breakouts, let me reassure you. That usually happens to oily skin. Your dry skin can tolerate these oils pretty well. But, if you’re one of the unlucky few who has to deal with both dry skin and acne, keep your occlusive emollients to a minimum and stay well clear of coconut and mineral oils. They’re some of the worst offenders.

How Do You Spot Them?

There are too many to mention them all here, but some of the most common are:

Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Acne And Dry Skin

ecooking night cream

3. Skin-identical ingredients

What Are They?

Did you know that your skin has its own natural protective barrier? It’s made up of skin cells and the “glue” that holds them together. Skin-identical ingredients are all the components of this glue. Your skin instantly recognizes them as friends, which is why they work so well.

Why Does Your Dry Skin Need Them?

Your natural protective barrier is very fragile. UV rays, harsh winds, cleansing or exfoliating too often and indoors heaters are just some of the things that can destroy it. When that happens, skin becomes dry and flaky and is easily irritated.

That’s where skin-identical ingredients come in. They fill in those holes, patching up your protective barrier quickly.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Nope. Your skin knows them, remember? It’ll greet them as old friends.

How Do You Spot Them?

Here are the main ones used in cosmetics:

  • Amino acids
  • Ceramides
  • Fatty acids
  • Lecithin
  • Phospholipids

Related: Are Ceramides The Key To Healthy Skin?

the inkey list hemp oil moisturizer review

4. Antioxidants

What Are They?

Tiny little molecules that destroy the free radicals that cause premature aging.

Why Does Your Skin Need Them?

UV rays, pollution, smoking and plenty of other things attack your skin a daily basis with an onslaught of free radicals that cause wrinkles, dark spots and dehydration. Antioxidants stop them in their tracks before they have the chance to wreak some serious damage on your skin.

A lot of antioxidants also double up as soothing agents, so they can calm down your skin when it’s irritated, too.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Sort of. If they’re packaged in a jar, they’ll go bad soon. That’s cos they can’t stand light and air. That’s why you should get your fix only from serums and creams packed in air-tight and opaque tubes and bottles.

How Do You Spot Them?

Look for:

Related: Common Antioxidants In Skincare Products

alpha h essential hydration cream

What Should You Avoid?

Now you know what your skin needs, it’s time to figure out what it needs to avoid like the plague. That’s anything drying and irritating. The worst culprits?

  • Alcohol denat
  • Citrus oils
  • Fragrance
  • Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Witch hazel

What Are The Best Moisturizers For Dry Skin?

Can’t be bothered to browse through the skincare aisle at Sephora to find a moisturizer with all these gems? No worries, I’ve done the hard work for you.

Here are my fave picks:


The Bottom Line

Dry skin needs plenty of hydration, occlusive emollients, antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients. Give it all to it and you’ll never ever to suffer from dry skin again.

What’s your favourite moisturizer for dry skin?