Freezing elements and dry indoor air disrupt skin's balance during the winter, robbing it of lipids and stripping its epidermis of liquids. If your skin feels tighter, itchy, red, or flaky, or seems more likely to look dull, break out, and show lines, your winter moisturizer isn't doing its job. You need a winter moisturizer with the right balance of humectants, emollients, and occlusives to infuse moisture into your skin and protect it from the elements. Here are tips to help you choose the best winter moisturizer for you:

  • Try your night moisturizer. The simplest way to getting that moisture boost, applying your night moisturizer during the day will give you the heavier protection you need during winter. However, night moisturizers don't contain SPF so you should be sure to layer on sun protection as well.
  • For oily skin, choose a lotion style moisturizer. These contain added humectants which attract water molecules to the skin and help move moisture from your dermis to your epidermis. Common humectants include glycerin and hylauronic acid.
  • If your skin is normal or slightly dry, choose a cream moisturizer. Most cream moisturizers contain added emollients which will help seal in water by forming a protective layer around your skin. Common emollients include jojoba and coconut oils, petroleum, and shea butter.
  • For extremely dry skin, use an ointment-style moisturizer. Moisturizers that contain at least 80 percent oil are considered ointments and can be great for giving skin extra moisture. Look for a moisturizer containing occlusives like lanolin and mineral oil.
  • Eczema-sufferers should moisturize more often. Your already dry and sensitive skin is at heightened risk since common medications dry skin out and you can't reach for any old moisturizer. Instead, step up the frequency of application and be sure your moisturizer is fragrance- and additive-free and described as non-comedogenic and non-irritating.
  • If you have acne, stay away from oil-rich moisturizers. Your best bet is to try to infuse your skin with extra moisture in other ways, like humidifying your home and covering it up outdoors. You can also moisturize more often.
  • Winter sports enthusiasts should try a wax-based moisturizer. These sport-style moisturizers are "freeze-proof," water- and sweat-resistant, plus rich in occlusives like paraffin and beeswax that build your skin's barrier to protect it from harsh winds and dry air. Skiers should be especially sure to choose a product with SPF. According to the American Skin Association, the thinner mountain air makes it even easier for damaging UV rays to harm your skin.
  • Avoid products with retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids, or any peeling agents. While they may brighten your complexion during the summer, your already dry and sensitive skin could have a heightened reaction to these harsh agents.
  • Deep-treat your hands, feet, and body. Choose the most intensive body moisturizer your skin can handle and hand- and feet-specific ointments to offset all the exposure and added hand-washing. If you're experiencing peeling, you may want one with some exfoliating properties, but be sure they're very gentle.
  • Moisturize from the inside out. Doctors note that no matter how good a moisturizer you choose, you could just be covering up a problem. Be sure you're eating a balanced diet that's rich in Vitamins A, B, C, and E. 



American Academy of Dermatology

Your Skin and Sun (credited to the AAD)

American Skin Association

Northwestern Health Sciences University

Eczema Guide