It starts every winter: the itchy, tight feeling. The sandpaper-y texture. Flakes of skin pilling from your face like a sweater that’s seen too many seasons. Despite your best efforts (humidifiers, masks, more water, less wine), maintaining a supple complexion during sub-zero temperatures is always a challenge. But the solution is surprisingly simple, according to a dermatologist we interviewed: Take shorter showers, switch off your heater as much as possible, and apply a thick, heavy moisturizer often. After much trial and error, here are 14 soothing options that truly work.
The Best Value
The gel-cream consistency spreads evenly but feels more like a liquid once applied. Ideal for oily complexions, it absorbs almost instantly so that your skin feels softer, nourished, and not at all greasy. It is also one of the least-expensive moisturizers on this list.
It’s not the flashiest of moisturizers, but this one has a longstanding reputation in the beauty world — it works really well. (It has almost 4,000 four-star reviews on Amazon). One swipe of the hyaluronic acid and niacinamide-rich formula deeply moisturizes for supersoft skin.
For Sensitive Skin
This lotion feels lightweight, and it’s gentle enough to use on skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, and dermatitis. The limited ingredient list features antioxidant-rich thermal spring water (known for its healing properties) and rich shea butter.
The Most Popular Choice
This moisturizer has achieved cult status, it’s been mentioned so many times on the Cut as a favorite of Julia Roberts, Victoria Beckham, makeup artists, models, authors, and more. People laud its thickness and the dewy sheen that it leaves behind (some people even use it instead of highlighter). It’s primarily meant for the face and body, but it can be used on the hands, hair, and anyplace else.
Over the summer, this one quickly became Sephora’s best-selling moisturizer and sold out twice. It has a gel texture that instantly becomes a rich, silky moisturizer on skin contact, and it moisturizes without getting greasy. “I am shooketh!” said one Sephora review.
The One That Often Sells Out
This moisturizer is so good that it’s often sold-out. It’s chock full of ceramides, the good “fat” for your skin that helps strengthen the moisture barrier and keeps hydration from leaking out of your pores. It contains five ceramides and has nearly 900 five-star reviews.
The ‘Natural’ One
It looks like shaving cream, but this thick, fluffy moisturizer is a powerhouse of moisturizing ingredients. First off, it’s fragrance-free (meaning, it won’t irritate sensitive skin), and it contains good-for-you plant oils and vegetable-derived fatty acids to drench dry faces — without silicones and waxes. Rated one of the top facial moisturizers by cosmetic cop Paula Begoun, it rubbed into my skin with ease and restored moisture to my flaky face.
The One With SPF
It’s clever to combine sunscreen and moisturizer in one product. The bad news is that it often isn’t done well. That’s not the case with this moisturizer, which has an SPF of 40, but is supremely blendable, not greasy, and hydrating without giving any kind of white cast.
The Next-Level Classic
If you love Clinique’s lighter lotion but need something richer, consider this souped-up version of the cult classic. The silky cream glides over rough patches. Loaded with antioxidants and emollients like glycerin and petrolatum, it left my skin feeling comfortable and soft all day.
The Lighter Option
The weighty cream houses high-tech ingredients, including a 30 percent hyaluronic acid concentration. From the moment it’s applied you will feel a cooling sensation, and it leaves behind a dewy finish. Three different-sized molecules of hyaluronic acid (which holds 1,000 times its weight in water) work to maintain hydration in skin.
The Fun One
Initially, this milky gel doesn’t look like much. But when you start rubbing it into skin, tiny droplets form that look as though you’ve splashed your face with water. In addition to the high novelty factor, these droplets house hyaluronic acid as well as antioxidants that “burst” after making contact with skin, without leaving a sticky residue or sheen. Plus, it’s fun to put it on. Applying moisturizer doesn’t seem so “meh.”
The K-Beauty One
Hailing from the global hub of beauty innovation, this Korean cream feels like a gel but offers the same deep nourishment you’d find in a cream. It contains a blend of apothecary herbs including lady’s mantle (known for improving elasticity), which work to heal and hydrate for springy skin. Tip: For a surge of hydration overnight, slather a thick layer of this over your usual moisturizer.
The Luxury Item
The price tag is steep, but celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman swear by this moisturizer (J.Lo was rumored to use it as a body moisturizer). Its origin story is legendary and involves psychics, a mystery NASA scientist, fake death conspiracy theories, and more. La Mer’s proprietary “Miracle Broth,” made with seaweed, allegedly works to smooth fine lines, shrink pores, and restore radiance. Most effective on very, very dry skin, the dense cream melts when applied. Celebrity makeup artists like Hung Vanngo use this on their clients like Chrissy Teigen and Selena Gomez.
The Fancy New One
Dubbed by many as the “new La Mer,” this very fancy moisturizer is loved by celebrities (like Melanie Griffith and Diane Kruger), fashion people, and beauty editors alike. It comes with its own mythical-sounding origin story, no one is quite sure how it works — but lots of people like it and swear by it for giving them better-looking, smoother, and what they describe as “younger”-looking skin.
For Dewy Skin
This velvety cream feels great and absorbs quickly to replenish very dry skin. It contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants, which purportedly boost collagen and smooth fine lines when your skin is looking less than great. Celebrity makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury says she’s used this cream for years at fashion shows and on photo shoots with her loyal clients like Amal Clooney and Kate Moss (who is a godmother to her children).
Additional reporting by Aimee Leabon. This article was originally published January 24, 2017 and has been updated throughout. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.