Snow isn’t the only thing that flakes during the winter — and if you haven’t been moisturizing your skin properly, you know what we mean.
Even those of us with the most lavish skin care routines for our faces tend to ignore our bodies, haphazardly slapping on some moisturizer below the neck. But when colder temperatures and dry air arrive, that lazy routine often isn’t enough to keep your skin healthy.
This winter is bleak enough without worrying about whether your skin is happy, so we spoke to several experts about their favorite products to keep skin hydrated. There are plenty of affordable drugstore picks — and a few splurges — to moisturize your body all winter long.
For a hydrated body must-have, Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist who practices in New York City, praises the affordable CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. “It is packed with ceramides and has Multivesicular Emulsion technology, which allows ‘time-released’ microdoses of moisturization to keep your skin comfortable all day long,” Henry said.
The moisturizer contains three types of ceramides to repair the natural barrier that protects skin from irritation and sensitivity. It also has hyaluronic acid to maintain the skin’s ability to hold onto hydration. And for days when you don’t want to apply another product, the cream can even be used on your face.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $15.92
You put serum on your face, so why not the rest of your body? “Body serums can alleviate dry winter skin better than using moisturizer alone,” said celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar. “They contain small- to medium-sized molecules that can penetrate the skin layers deeper, whereas moisturizer typically just coats the skin.” She suggests looking for one that contains hyaluronic acid, ceramides, antioxidants, peptides and some oils.
One of Aguilar’s favorites is No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Moisturising Body Serum. “This body serum combines argan oil, moisture-locking hyaluronic acid, and No7’s patented antioxidant complex to help provide long-lasting hydration,” Aguilar said. It also uses Matrixyl 3000 Plus, a powerful anti-aging peptide that stimulates collagen production, to target aging-related concerns.
If your skin has surpassed just being dry and turned itchy and irritated, a medicated lotion can help ease symptoms and heal skin. “I love the Sarna Original Anti-Itch Body Lotion as it contains menthol and camphor that quickly help to soothe itching, irritated skin,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar likes lighter, non-greasy lotions like Sarna’s over body creams for itchy skin. “They absorb quickly and are also great for people who suffer with body acne or ingrown hairs, or for those who don’t like feeling sticky,” she said.
One way to keep skin hydrated is to start in the shower with an oil. “Using oils before or during a bath, or shower, can help to prevent moisture loss from our bodies and lead to clean, hydrated, supple and healthy skin,” Aguilar said.
Pacifica Coconut Cream Body, Bath & Shower Oil is one good option. “[It] smells amazing and delivers immense benefits to our dry skin with its hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and antioxidant components,” noted Aguilar. Plus, the combination of coconut scent and warm shower is a good opportunity to imagine more tropical locales.
David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist and CEO and founder of custom skin care brand Curology, suggests a lightweight body lotion from La Roche-Posay. “The La Roche-Posay Lipikar Body Lotion is fragrance-free and works well for dry, itchy skin,” he said. “Shea butter is a key hydrating ingredient in this lotion.”
The formula also packs glycerin, niacinamide, and La Roche-Posay’s prebiotic thermal water, all of which contribute to healthy, more hydrated skin. It can be applied to the face, too, and is safe to use on eczema-prone skin.
If you want a dose of summery scent, Beautycounter Body Butter adds essential oils like orange peel and lemon to a rich moisturizer that can heal skin in need. “This body butter works well for extremely dry skin with soothing ingredients like aloe and chamomile. It also has a light citrus scent with no added synthetic fragrances,” Lortscher said. Despite its thickness, it melts into skin much like butter does, minus the greasiness.
The moisturizer is also cruelty-free and EWG-verified, which means it has been certified as meeting the nonprofit Environmental Working Group’s safety standards.
Instagram favorite Nécessaire looks good on your nightstand and happens to be a favorite of Lortscher. The minimal design and scent-free formula may be free of frills, but the lotion is packed with good-for-skin ingredients.
“This lotion is a fragrance-free product with jojoba oil, meadowfoam oil and sugar cane extract,” said Lortscher, adding, “It also has a vitamin-rich formula that helps fight free radicals.” Those ingredients include vitamins C, E and B3 (also called niacinamide, which is good for skin hydration and brightening). Everything from the texture to the pH of the formula has been carefully scrutinized, making it a favorite of experts (and of this writer, too!).
Rita Linkner, board-certified dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology in New York City, likes this Rodan + Fields body moisturizer for dry hands and cuticles. “The oil-based formulation highlights two anti-inflammatory oils, jojoba and sunflower oil, which work well on skin that is dry and irritated from constant hand washing,” she said.
While it can also be used as a body moisturizer, the oils and the dimethicone that seals them in are especially good at keeping hands hydrated ― an important consideration because cracked or damaged skin on your hands leaves you susceptible to germs and infection. The brand’s RF-Dcell technology comes from the Narcissus tazetta bulb, which protects skin from climate-induced stressors like cold air and low humidity.
Frequent hand washing and sanitizing sucks moisture from hands, but this non-drying hand sanitizer can help prevent that. “Vaseline’s Clinical Care Hand Sanitizer Lotion is a great pandemic pick for your hands,” said Linkner. “This product has benzalkonium chloride, which provides some antiseptic relief but still moisturizes properly.”
The alcohol-free formula kills germs and viruses with benzalkonium chloride, which recent studies show is effective against the coronavirus, and moisturizes with glycerin and vitamin E. “I keep this one in my car and love how clean it makes my hands feel,” Linkner said.
While you can use face products on your neck to prevent aging and dryness, sometimes the pleasure of splurging on a special formula is the motivation you need to care for that often neglected area. “Revision’s Nectifirm is my favorite neck product and my patients can tell you that it works,” Linkner said. “Used twice a day, this botanical-based cream starts to strengthen crepey neck skin within a few weeks of use.”
It’s an especially good product to work against “tech neck,” those horizontal lines that form on your neck when you spend a lot of time looking down at your phone or laptop. The formula provides five peptides to firm and moisturize, along with plant extracts and antioxidants to improve skin overall.
While the lighter version of this brand’s body lotion was recommended above by another dermatologist, Hope Mitchell, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mitchell Dermatology, likes this heavier cream. “Although I use Lipikar Balm AP all year round, it is perfect for rough, itchy, winter dry to extra dry skin,” said Mitchell, applauding the way the balm absorbs into the skin without feeling greasy or sticky.
“Uniquely formulated with prebiotic thermal water, this body moisturizer promotes healthy skin by balancing the population of microorganisms found on the skin surface,” she said. “Shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide are great additions for hydration and strengthening of the skin barrier.”
The right body wash can help skin beat the drying effects of warm showers, which is why Mitchell likes this gentle cleanser from La Roche-Posay. “This newer moisturizing wash is great for face and body cleansing in all skin types, especially those with extra dry, sensitive skin. I love that this product provides 24-hour hydration starting in the shower,” Mitchell said.
The foaming wash is gentle and light, and formulated with shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide. Like other La Roche-Posay products, it’s safe for sensitive and eczema-prone skin.
“Just like my hands, I never forget my feet during the dry winter season,” Mitchell said. Take her advice and start applying this foot cream from Soap & Glory to avoid the panic that comes when your heels start to crack. “The soothing, emollient-rich formulation of glycerin, macadamia oil, menthol, bilberry and orange in this foot cream helps to treat and prevent dry, rough and cracked feet,” she said.
It can be used as a foot mask or a daily moisturizer, and can even be applied to cuticles for healthy nails. For best results, Mitchell suggests leaving it on overnight.