"These products don't need to cost a fortune...a good body cream is affordable and worth the money," says Susan Van Dyke, MD, an Arizona-based board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Van Dyke Aesthetics. She suggests looking for richer creams—which are generally formulated with skin-smoothing emollients and great for sealing in moisture, and staying away from "very cheap lotions," because they "incorporate too much water and can be detrimental to your dry skin."
During the colder months of the year, you'll want to look for ingredients that will help hydrate your skin and support your skin barrier so that it can protect itself from the elements. "Indoor heating really dries you out, and adding in hot showers aggravates the situation by leaching natural oils out of your skin,' says Dr. Van Dyke. To combat this, she suggests adding skin-nourishing ingredients like olive, fruit, grape, and coconut oils, plus cocoa butter and squalane (aka the "big gulp" of moisturizers). "Botanical oils and butters are all-around winners. This time of year we are indoors a lot," she adds.
There are a few different ways to add these hydrating elements to your routine, and the delivery system you choose—whether that's a lotion, a cream, or an oil—is entirely up to you. Below, three options under $20 that will keep your skin luxuriously soft and smooth all winter long.
Lotion: La Roche Posay Lipikar Balm, $20
Lotions have a reputation for being less hydrating than creams and oils, but this $20 option proves that theory wrong. "It's a rich lotion that helps even eczema-prone skin," says Dr. Van Dyke. "Lipid replenishment gives up to 48 hours of hydration and reduces dry, rough skin." It's lightweight but effective, and your skin will slurp it right up during your post-shower routine.
Shop now: La Roche Posay Lipikar Balm, $20
Cream: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $16
According to derms, this all-over moisturizer "hydrates like the best of them." It's made with hyaluronic acid, three types of ceramides, and glycerin—aka the hydrating trifecta—and will strengthen your skin barrier while also delivering all the moisture you need to get through the day. Plus, since it's gentle and non-comedogenic, you can use it on your body and face without having to worry about irritating your skin or causing breakouts.
Shop now: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $16
Body oils are a great option for hydrating ultra-dry skin, since (in addition to its complexion-smoothing effects) it adds a protective layer to your skin that helps seal in moisture. Try using a body oil by dropping some into a bath or apply it to damp skin to soften the complexion. A multipurpose product for only $10? Sold.
Shop now: Neutrogena Lightweight Body Oil for Dry Skin, $10
For more derm-approved info on how to hydrate dry skin, check out the video below.
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