PSA: Your skincare routine doesn’t need 10 steps to be effective. If it’s the minimalist route you prefer, then a skincare routine should include a cleanser, a moisturizer, and an SPF. Skinimalism at its finest. But ideally, your skincare routine should be suited to your specific skin concerns and cater to its cycle of needs. During a breakout, after sun damage, and when the seasons change. And as the colder weather sweeps in, finding the right moisturizers for dry skin is *definitely* top of mind.

Now that we’ve hit September, and the start of fall is quickly on its way, we’re ringing in the season of dry skin woes. Set your alarms, start your clocks—it’s time to step up your moisturizing game.

By choosing the right moisturizers for dry skin, you can keep your skin soft and smooth all through the colder months. Plus, the best picks will help lock in hydration to decrease signs of aging and repair your thirsty skin from the inside out.

Featured image by Riley Blanks Reed.

Finding the right moisturizer is the first step. Save the thick, concrete-textured formulas for the dead of winter. Fall skincare is about balance. While in the summer, you might embrace simple solutions like face oils, fall calls for versatile products that are lightweight but effective. A good fall moisturizer should do the job without clogging your pores or feeling heavy on your skin. Maybe a more indulgent face cream might be suited for nighttime, but what about moisturizers you can wear during the day?

To unravel the mystery, I spoke to Dallas-based esthetician Savanna Boda to learn more about how to pick the right moisturizers for dry skin this fall. Here’s what to look for to fix flaky fall skin before it starts.

Savanna Boda
  • Esthetician
  • Instagram

Ethical and Results-based Dallas Esthetician

Image by Winnie Au

What should you look for in a moisturizer for maximum hydration?

According to Savanna: humectants. “When looking for a moisturizer with deeply hydrating benefits, you want to look at the ingredients and make sure it contains humectants. Humectants are substances that attract water, which is especially important in skincare as it helps retain moisture and prevent TEWL (transepidermal water loss).”

To be sure your product includes humectants, here’s what to look for on the ingredients list of your bottle:

  • Glycerin
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Urea
  • Glycol
  • Acids like Salicylic Acid or AHAs
Image by Michelle Nash

What are the benefits of an oil-based moisturizer?

“An oil-based moisturizer will leave your skin looking dewy and glowy while deeply nourishing the skin by filling in the gaps,” says Savanna. One example is emollients. “Emollients are oils used in skincare products to soften and smooth the skin.”

Emollients cover your skin in a moisturizing film to trap moisture and deeply penetrate your skin, and they’re often used to treat eczema. Some emollients include:

  • Lanolin
  • Beeswax
  • Mineral oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Shea butter
  • Safflower oil

What ingredients should an effective moisturizer have?

According to Savanna, when selecting moisturizers for dry skin, you want to keep an eye out for three key ingredients: humectants, emollients, and natural moisturizing factors. Be sure that your product doesn’t include any stripping or drying ingredients like alcohol, sulfates, or parabens.

The 10 Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin

SkinBetter Trio Rebalancing Moisture Treatment

Savanna Boda loves this daytime moisturizer because it is “heavy hydration without the weight!” It contains all three of Savanna’s go-to ingredients: humectants, emollients, and natural moisturizing factors.


The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

This affordable but effective moisturizer also contains Savanna’s big three. Natural moisturizing factors pair with hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, urea, and other ultra-nourishing ingredients for a lightweight, everyday formula.


Acure Ultra Hydrating Plant Ceramide Daily Facial Lotion

This clean beauty essential is a gel-like moisturizer with a smooth, non-sticky texture. It uses plant ceramides to lock in moisture while antioxidants refresh and brighten.


Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

This versatile mask can be used as a nighttime mask or a daytime moisturizer. Slather it generously across your skin to recharge dry skin. My favorite part? Its water-like cream prevents clogged pores.


COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask

Another versatile, leave-on mask is this cult-favorite K-Beauty essential. Whether you use it day or night, skin-softening rice extract pumps hydration into the skin while fading dark spots and preventing breakouts.


Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin™ Skin Barrier Moisturizer

With five different ceramides plus hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and shea butter, this is a must-add to your fall lineup to repair your skin barrier and prevent moisture loss in the colder months.


Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream Plumping & Hydrating Moisturizer

That dewy, glazed look isn’t only reserved for summer. You might have heard how good rice is for your hair, but it’s just as nourishing for your skin. Go from dry to dewy with this antioxidant-packed, rice-based cream.


Evolve Organic Beauty Multi Peptide 360 Moisture Cream

A comprehensive blend of superfoods and peptides makes this anti-aging cream your go-to for increasing firmness and reducing fine lines. Get instantly softer skin while ensuring long-term skin health.


Eve Lom TLC Cream

Your skin probably needs some TLC—don’t we all? Reverse skin damage and address dehydration with this anti-aging miracle cream.


Augustinus Bader The Light Cream

Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream may be a favorite for winter, but the Light Cream is your skin’s best bet for fall. It’s filled with the same nutrients and restorative ingredients, with a lighter consistency perfect for transitional skin care.


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