15 Moisturizing Miracles for Dry Skin
Even when it isn’t dead-of-winter-freezing or desert-level dry, we all invariably want our skin just a little softer, more supple, plumped with moisture. Creating a routine that builds in hydration is the way to sidestep the irksome cycle of persistent dry spots that you then try to treat as they arise. Instead, keep your skin fully hydrated and healthy with a daily routine, so the skin’s moisture barrier remains intact all winter long.
Maintaining that barrier involves more than moisturizer, it should be noted: Irritation can sometimes read as—or exacerbate—dry skin, so consider anything you might be doing that could be causing any sort of reaction. Laundry detergent can make an enormous difference; go clean, and know that it can sometimes take several washes to really get clothing and sheets free of the persistent chemicals present in the powerful fragrances, sulfates, and optical brighteners in conventional detergents.
Water counterintuitively dries out your skin, particularly hot water, which is why dermatologists always recommend (wildly unappealing, especially in winter) tepid showers and baths; they also advise shorter, less-frequent ones. The way to at least partially counteract the drying effects of blissfully warm showers and baths is to get oils and moisturizers onto your skin while you’re still in them.
Bath oils and bath salts make an enormous difference in the bath—as long as they’re clean. Conventional “bath oil” is typically packed with detergents/sulfates, in order to get the “oil” to foam and bubble, as well as disperse evenly in the water. Rule of thumb: If your oil foams and bubbles, it’s not only un-moisturizing, it’s probably actively drying you out. Real, clean oils do the opposite, actively moisturizing the skin. Pour a small amount into bathwater; because it isn’t full of detergent, it will stick together in spots across the surface of the water. As you’re in the bath, smooth that warm oil onto your skin, especially the spots that tend to be driest. It’ll stay on your skin, even after you emerge, sealing in water and leaving your skin incredibly soft. The best bath oil for you depends on what scents and aromatherapeutic effects you’re looking for. Jasmine is exceptionally moisturizing; French Girl blends theirs with coconut, argan, and rosehip oil, so it leaves skin hydrated, not to mention smelling incredible. The orange-blossom-infused, stunningly-bottled Kypris Inflorescence body oil is fortified with vitamin C and iris stem cells for a seriously rejuvenating, gorgeous-smelling treatment. Tammy Fender’s Bulgarian Lavender Oil is both calming and uplifting all at once—we especially love it before bed.
Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescencegoop, $95
It’s hard to get past the fabulousness of the bottle—it seriously dresses up a medicine chest or even the prettiest vanity—but this luxurious body oil is equally amazing once opened: Scented with bitter-orange blossom, it’s a mix of potent, highest-quality botanical oils that are usually reserved for face-only formulas. Skin-plumping sweet iris stem cells and vitamin C ester are combined with sustainably procured, phytonutrient-rich oils like sunflower, moringa, prickly pear, and tamanu seed to tone, enhance, and glow, plus provide an antioxidant boost to SPF. It sinks into skin instantly, leaving it soft and silky.
Tammy Fender Bulgarian Lavendar Body Oilgoop, $65
On the body or in the bath, this exquisite oil is deeply toning, nourishing, and healing. Lavender balances hormonal problems, relaxes the body, clears the mind, is both antibacterial and anti-fungal, and even encourages collagen production, soothing cuts, burns, or scarring. It also smells and feels pretty wonderful.
French Girl Organic Lumiere Body Oil – Jasmingoop, $58
Smooth a few drops over your limbs after a shower or bath and feel deeply, sexily French Girl all day: pure organic coconut, argan, rose-hip-seed, and sesame oils are infused with ayurvedic botanical absolutes, resins, and essential oils to treat the skin and create the gorgeous scent all at once. We also use it on the wrists and behind the ears as a subtle perfume, and as a supremely indulgent (and skin-revivifying) bath oil.
Salts are a less-slippery way to make a bath significantly more moisturizing. The salts from Lilfox incorporate gorgeous essential oils with ylang ylang; Ila’s mix in jasmine and sandalwood for a deep peacefulness. Naturopathica’s pale-pink Birch and Magnesium flakes work wonders on sore muscles because of the magnesium content—they have to be tried to be believed.
LILFOX Orange Blossom Ylang Bang Salt Crystal Soakgoop, $33
Three kinds of salt crystals—Dead Sea, Himalayan, gray French sea salts—are hand-blended with a soothing, detoxifying, and gorgeously sexy mix of neroli, bitter orange, and ylang ylang. The pure organic essential oils and rare salts create a beautifully luxurious, sensuous bath that leaves the mind and spirit cleansed, uplifted, and incredibly relaxed.
True Botanicals Dead Sea Bath Salts: Wellnessgoop, $48
Harvested at the southern end of the Dead Sea, these salts contain 21 essential minerals to nourish and soften the skin, plus relax the mind and body. The subtle, woodsy scent of bay laurel, white pine, and myrtle essential oils make the experience all the more indulgent. Not to mention, there are exactly zero toxins here. Bonus: The sophisticated aluminum canister fits with any tub décor.
Naturopathica Sweet Birch Magnesium Bath Flakesgoop, $36
These flakes dissolve into a bath and turn it into a deeply curative treatment for muscle aches, cramps, and stiff joints. A combination of sweet birch—prized by Native Americans for its pain-relieving qualities—and 47.3% magnesium, an essential mineral critical for muscle function (Epsom salts are high in magnesium) that’s been shown to have therapeutic use when absorbed transdermally. These particular magnesium flakes are from 250-million-year-old salt deposits in northwest Europe, a source for some of the world’s purest natural magnesium. This is an essential daily soak for yogis and athletes.
In the shower, harsh scrubs can be both seriously drying and irritating—cut back in winter. The exception: Ultra-hydrating, gentle scrubs get rid of dead skin cells without stripping and layer rich oils onto the skin while you’re still in the shower. The Sea Siren scrub from Shiva Rose is amazing in this regard—it leaves you softly exfoliated and intensely moisturized, and the oils are so rich that they really stick to your skin, not the shower.
Shiva Rose Sea Siren Body Scrubgoop, $65
For the most moisturizing, skin-silkening shower pretty much ever, this body-butter scrub is made with mineral-rich blue-green algae that’s wild harvested from the Cascade Falls in the mountains of Oregon. The algae—full of enzymes, vitamins, chlorophyll, amino acids, and fatty acids that feed your skin—is blended with rich butters and oils that hydrate and smooth skin like crazy. It smells gorgeously of lemongrass, an essential oil said to transform negativity, protect auric fields, and build courage, positivity, and psychic abilities. You’ll step out of the shower fully moisturized, faintly scented, and seriously radiant.
Once out of the bath or shower, the choice between oils, creams, or lotions is totally personal. If your skin is terribly dry, layering an oil—we love the soothing, irritation-banishing ones from De Mamiel and May Lindstrom, as well as the specifically anti-aging one from Uma—is your best bet.
May Lindstrom The Good Stuff Radiance Oilgoop, $110
This magical, super-hydrating, luminizing potion uses golden minerals to lend skin a tanned glow. Its top-of-the-line ingredients—from rose absolute and ylang-ylang to cocoa and lavender—create a subtle but utterly stunning scent, a gorgeous texture, and deeply hydrating results.
de Mamiel Revitalising Body Serumgoop, $87
A miracle blend of nutrient-dense oils from sea buckthorn and prickly pear to baobab enrich this slightly shimmery (it imparts a pretty sheen on legs, shoulders, or collarbones—especially good before going out) oil-serum. Scented with a stunning mix of citrus, floral, and woody essential oils, it moisturizes like crazy, leaving skin firm, nourished, and beautifully supple.
Uma Absolute Anti-Aging Body Oilgoop, $90
A daily skin elixir inspired by the ritual baths of Indian royalty, this soothing, hydrating, healing body oil mixes pomegranate, moringa, and grapeseed oils with sandalwood, rose, and neroli. Lightweight and packed with antioxidants, it enhances cellular turnover, promotes elasticity, and diminishes imperfections, scars, and sun damage. Better yet, the glow-inducing miracle worker soothes more than just your skin: It smells incredible, and works as a gentle-but-powerful aromatherapy treatment, invigorating body and spirit. Use right out of the shower, when your skin is most absorbent.
Creams—Rodin’s thick, jasmine-and-neroli-inflected one has to be one of the world’s most indulgent beauty products of all time, in any category—have a beautifully comforting texture. Neal’s Yard makes a pillowy jasmine and ylang ylang cream, and Weleda’s Skin Food incorporates 22 incredible-smelling essential oils into one miracle-working green tube. Lotions, on the other hand—we love the faintly pinon-scented one from Los Poblanos—sink in the quickest; depending on your skin, they can be best in the morning, when you’re in a hurry to get dressed. Balms are generally the most occlusive option, meaning they most effectively seal in moisture, incredible for persistent problem areas like shins or elbows (you can also apply some balm to your feet, put cotton socks on over, and leave on overnight for a sort of effort-free pedicure). The balm from African Botanics is the most luxurious we’ve ever tried—it leaves a glorious, healthy sheen on skin along with serious moisture.
Rodin Crema Luxury Hand and Body Creamgoop, $84
Slather on this silky cream alone or layered with olio lusso body oil. Either way, skin will feel hydrated and just a little bit scented with beautiful Neroli (it’s a member of the citrus family and packed with elasticity-improving Vitamin C).
Los Pablanos Lotiongoop, $16.50
Made with organic New Mexico lavender essential oil, this incredible everyday moisturizer hydrates, calms, and uplifts the senses all at once.It feels and smells amazing as it leaves your skin soft, rejuvenated, smooth, refreshed, and full of elasticity.
African Botanicals Marula Botanical Body Creamgoop, $85
This supercharged moisturizer transforms skin, delivering intense (and long-lasting) hydration, comfort, elasticity, and firmness as it soothes inflammation and repairs damage. Made with omega-rich African marula oil, alpine rose plant stem cells, coenzyme Q10, Kalahari melon seed and baobab oil, green tea extract, and grapefruit-rose extracts, the formula nourishes intensely, providing instant relief and long term benefits. Brilliant for dryness, even at its most extreme, plus aging, itching, sunburn, and even eczema.
Weleda Skin FoodWeleda, $19
Packed with every beyond organic (aka biodynamic) oil under the sun, this green tube is brilliant for face, hands, body—it feels amazing, smells incredible, and moisturizes like crazy.
Jasmine & Ylang Ylang Body CreamNeal’s Yard Remedies, $44
A rich, subtly-but-beautifully scented cream that hydrates with organic honey, apricot kernel oil, and jasmine and ylang ylang oils for incredibly soft skin.