Dry skin can be rough — literally. A lack of moisture can set the stage for chapped, cracked, flaky and red skin, all of which can leave you uncomfortable.
There are a couple health issues that can come with it, too: Dry skin can trigger eczema if you're prone to the condition, and dry skin that cracks can leave you vulnerable to infections, per the Mayo Clinic.
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Luckily, treating dry skin is usually pretty simple. In addition to using gentle soap, limiting your water exposure (and keeping showers warm instead of hot), staying well hydrated and running a humidifier in the cold, dry winter months, regularly applying a moisturizing lotion can help ease the chapping and flaking.
"Lotion can help protect the skin from drying out further by creating a hydrating barrier that prevents water loss through the skin," explains Dendy Engelman, MD, cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City. "Additionally, lotion can deliver important ingredients that repair and strengthen the skin barrier to keep it healthy and help protect it from dryness."
Considering the skin is your body's largest organ, it's important to make sure it's in healthy condition—and applying lotion regularly can help you achieve that goal.
How We Chose
We chatted with dermatologists, who broke down the most important features to look for in a lotion specifically for dry skin. Our top picks are based on their criteria, including:
Find more information on how we choose and cover products here.
The Best Lotions for Dry Skin
- Best Overall: Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($11.34, Amazon)
- Best on a Budget: Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Unscented Body Lotion ($6.22, Walmart)
- Best for Aging Skin: Necessaire The Body Lotion ($28, Amazon)
- Best for Face: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($27.45, Amazon)
- Best for Itchy Skin: Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion ($10.67, Walmart)
- Best for Extremely Dry Skin: Lano 101 Dry Skin Super Cream ($16.95, Lano)
- Best for Eczema: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream ($19.97, Amazon)
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream ($12.76, Amazon)
- Best Lightweight: Dove Body Love Sensitive Care ($6.48, Walmart)
- Best for Irritated Skin: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Body Lotion ($19.99, Amazon)
1. CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
2. Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Moisture Body Lotion Unscented
3. Necessaire The Body Lotion
4. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream
Make sure to wash your hands before dipping them into any tub of lotion to avoid introducing bacteria into the container that could cause infection or other skin issues down the line. Alternatively, you could use a small spatula (like this one from I Dew Care) to scoop out the lotion, so long as you rise it off before and after each use.
5. Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturizing Body Lotion
6. Lano 101 Dry Skin Super Cream
7. Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream
8. Vanicream Moisturizing Cream
9. Dove Body Love Sensitive Care Body Lotion
10. La Roche-Posay Triple Repair Moisturizing Cream
What to Look for in a Lotion for Dry Skin
Here are some features dermatologists recommend looking for when shopping for a lotion for dry skin.
1. Moisturizing Ingredients
Dr. Garshick recommends looking for key ingredients that help to support the skin barrier, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and colloidal oatmeal.
Depending on your specific skin concern, she recommends also seeking out lotions that contain exfoliating ingredients like glycolic or lactic acid to help slough off dead skin cells.
Ingredients you want to avoid include synthetic fragrances, harsh chemicals and preservatives, according to Dr. Engelman, as these ingredients not only risk irritating the skin, they can also potentially cause more serious problems if used over a long period of time.
"Avoiding these ingredients is especially important for those with dry skin, as a vulnerable skin barrier will be especially reactive to them," she says. "Familiarize yourself with common names of these ingredients, which can include formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, fragrance, parfum, etc., and make sure you read the ingredient labels of products carefully and check online or with your dermatologist if you are unsure if a product is safe."
Dr. Garshick recommends opting for a heavier lotion, thicker cream or ointment if you have dry skin.
"For dry skin, oftentimes a thicker cream, ointment or heavier lotion can provide a greater occlusive effect, helping to trap moisture in and boost overall hydration of the skin," she says.
Price is an important factor when it comes to a lotion.
"If this is something that you plan to use daily, or even twice daily, you may use the product relatively quickly and need to replace it regularly," notes Brendan Camp, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. "A more expensive product may make you want to conserve it, which could potentiate the issue of dry skin."
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.