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A person’s skin becomes dry when it cannot retain enough water or natural oils. Various lotions can help keep skin hydrated.

Research suggests that almost everyone develops dry skin as they get older. Earlier in life, external factors such as a dry or cold climate and overwashing can also cause dry skin.

This article discusses how lotions can be helpful for dry skin and how to choose one. It also provides a list of products and answers some frequently asked questions.

A quick look at the best lotions for dry skin

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: The products are available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: The products list all their ingredients clearly.
  • Reputation: The products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.

Learn more about how we choose products here.

Below are 10 of the best lotions for dry skin a person can purchase online.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for eczema-prone skin: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream

  • Who it is best for: individuals with dry, eczema-prone skin
  • Main ingredients: colloidal oatmeal
  • How much and when to apply: as needed on mild to moderate eczema
  • Advantage: contains a large amount for an affordable price
  • Disadvantage: may test its products on animals

Aveeno writes that this product is suitable for dry, eczema-prone, and sensitive skin.

It contains colloidal oatmeal, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized as a skin protectant that helps lock in moisture. It also contains ceramides and water.

The cream aims to intensely hydrate the skin and reduce the symptoms of eczema, including redness, itching, irritation, and dryness.

The company claims this cream is free from fragrances and steroids, and that it has received approval from the National Eczema Association (NEA).

A 12-fluid-ounce (fl oz) bottle costs around $19.

Best lightweight lotion: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

  • Who it is best for: those with balanced or dry skin
  • Main ingredients: hyaluronic acid, essential ceramides, water
  • How much and when to apply: liberally and as frequently as needed
  • Advantage: does not contain fragrance
  • Disadvantage: may test its products on animals

This product is suitable for balanced to dry skin.

CeraVe writes that this product is oil-free and contains:

  • hyaluronic acid
  • three essential ceramides
  • water

The hyaluronic acid aims to lock natural moisture in the skin, and the company mentions its MVE technology uses ceramides to release the product into the skin throughout the day.

CeraVe claims this product is fragrance-free, does not clog pores, and has NEA approval.

It also describes this moisturizer as lightweight and that it will absorb quickly.

A 19 fl oz bottle costs around $18.

Best prebiotic formula: La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ Triple Repair Moisturizing Cream

  • Who it is best for: those with very dry or sensitive skin
  • Main ingredients: thermal water, shea butter, vegetable glycerin, niacinamide
  • How much and when to apply: all over the face and body morning and evening
  • Advantage: uses prebiotics to restore skin
  • Disadvantage: some users found the formula too thick

La Roche-Posay states this product is suitable for dry to extra dry skin. It contains a prebiotic formula to restore the skin microbiome.

It also contains:

The company claims that the formula provides 48 hours of hydration and has a non-greasy and non-sticky finish.

The company writes it is suitable for sensitive skin of all ages and has NEA approval.

It does not contain fragrances or parabens.

A 13.52-fl-oz container costs around $19.99.

Best for vegans: Avène TriXéra Nutrition Nutri-Fluid Balm

  • Who it is best for: vegans, those with sensitive skin
  • Main ingredients: selectiose, ceramides, fatty acids, plant sterols
  • How much and when to apply: once or twice per day over dry areas
  • Advantage: suitable for vegans and individuals with sensitive skin
  • Disadvantage: some users found the cream too thick

This product is designed to be suitable for dry and sensitive skin. It contains selectiose, which is a patented ingredient that aims to control irritation and reinforce the skin barrier.

It also includes thermal spring water to soothe, soften, and calm the skin.

In addition, it contains a lipid trio of ceramides, essential fatty acids, and plant sterols. These ingredients may prevent hydration loss and restore the skin barrier.

Avène writes it does not contain fragrances, parabens, or alcohol. It is suitable for vegans and people of all ages. The company also claims the product has NEA approval.

A 6.7-fl-oz container costs around $29.

Best for recyclable packaging: Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Body Lotion

  • Who it is best for: all skin types, including dry skin
  • Main ingredients: cocoa butter, shea butter, squalane
  • How much and when to apply: massage into dry areas as needed or after bathing or showering
  • Advantages: recyclable packaging, option to purchase a refillable pouch
  • Disadvantage: reviews mention pumps not being included with smaller bottles or not working well

The company writes that this lotion contains cocoa butter to soften the skin, shea butter to hydrate and improve appearance, and squalane to replenish the skin barrier.

It claims it is suitable for all skin types — including dry skin — and is free from fragrances and parabens.

The company describes the product as non-greasy.

This product comes in recyclable packaging made from 30% recycled bottles. It is also available in a refillable pouch to reduce plastic use. Additionally, Kiehl’s claims it uses 100% renewable energy for its manufacturing processes.

A person can buy a 16.9-fl-oz bottle for around $48.

Best affordable option: Eucerin Advanced Repair Body Lotion

  • Who it is best for: those with sensitive skin
  • Main ingredients: ceramides and amino acids
  • How much and when to apply: use daily across the whole body
  • Advantage: very affordable
  • Disadvantage: some users mention increased sensitivity to the sun after use

This formula from Eucerin is affordably priced. It contains ceramides as well as amino acids that the brand claims naturally promote moisture and reduce dry skin.

Eucerin writes this product is lightweight, fast-absorbing, and free from fragrances, parabens, and dyes.

It is suitable for individuals with sensitive skin.

A 16.9-fl-oz bottle is available for around $11.

Best for sensitive skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream

  • Who it is best for: those with sensitive skin
  • Main ingredients: purified water, petrolatum, cetearyl alcohol, propylene glycol
  • How much and when to apply: as needed across the whole body
  • Advantage: does not contain dyes, fragrances, gluten, or parabens
  • Disadvantage: some reviews mention cream is very thick

Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream is aimed at individuals with sensitive skin. The company has not included dyes, fragrances, gluten, parabens, lanolin, botanical extracts, essential oils, or formaldehyde in its formula.

Vanicream also states this formula will not clog pores and is quick-absorbing. The company has made this product kid-friendly and has a seal of acceptance from the NEA.

A 1 pound (lb) bottle is available for around $16.

Best for inflamed skin: EltaMD Moisture-Rich Body Creme

  • Who it is best for: people with inflamed, flaky, sensitive, or dry skin
  • Main ingredients: niacinamide, ceramide NP, hyaluronic acid, proteolytic fruit enzymes
  • How much and when to apply: daily
  • Advantage: contains anti-inflammatory ingredients
  • Disadvantage: some users found the cream to have an unpleasant odor

This product from EltaMD contains niacinamide, a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient. The company writes that the proteolytic fruit enzymes in this formula help to soothe and calm inflamed skin.

Its formula is reportedly free from parabens and fragrance and is suitable for vegans.

EltaMD also states this lotion does not clog pores.

An 8-oz bottle is available for around $32.

Best for sun protection: Hempz Yuzu & Starfruit Daily Herbal Lotion

  • Who it is best for: those who want an SPF lotion, people with dry skin
  • Main ingredients: hemp seed oil, shea butter, coffee cherry extract, citrus fruit complex, and vitamins A, B, C, and E
  • How much and when to apply: liberally 15 minutes before going into the sun
  • Advantage: formula includes SPF 30
  • Disadvantage: unsuitable for people who are sensitive to fragrances

This product from Hempz contains hemp seed oil, which the company claims provides nutrients for the skin.

It has an SPF of 30, meaning it can provide some protection from the sun. The company claims it is also water resistant for up to 40 minutes.

However, it is a fragranced formula so it may not be suitable for people with sensitive skin.

The company claims it uses plant-based products where possible and that this product is suitable for vegans. Its formula is also free from parabens, THC, and gluten.

A person can choose a 2.25- or 8.5-fl-oz bottle, with prices ranging from around $6–30.

Best for environmental certifications: Nécessaire The Body Lotion

  • Who it is best for: wide range of skin concerns, including dry, oily, combination, and sensitive skin
  • Main ingredients: niacinamide, vitamins A, C, and E, omega-6s, omega-9s
  • How much and when to apply: daily all over the body
  • Advantage: company claims to be climate and plastic neutral and makes its products recyclable
  • Disadvantage: expensive

This product has various environmental certifications, including Plastic Neutral, Climate Neutral, and holds a Forest Stewardship Council certification. This means it offsets all of its carbon and plastic production footprint.

The company is also transparent on its website about what goes into its packaging and where it is sourced. In addition, it claims it pays a 1% earth tax to environmental nonprofits and offers recycling solutions to customers.

The Body Lotion is described as hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and noncomedogenic on its website.

It aims to address dryness and repair the skin’s barrier with ingredients including:

  • niacinamide
  • vitamins A, C, and E
  • omega-6s
  • omega-9s

The company claims it conducted a small 14-day study including 50 participants to investigate the effects of this product. It claims the majority of participants said their skin felt hydrated, healthy, nourished, and strengthened after using The Body Lotion.

However, as the study was conducted by the company, consumers should be aware of the potential for bias in the study results.

It is hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, suitable for vegans, and does not clog pores.

A 6.8-fl-oz bottle is available for around $25.

Below is a comparison table featuring all of the products in this article, comparing them for price, ingredients, and the skin types they are suitable for.

Cost Skin typeMain ingredientsVolumeFragrance-free?
Aveenoaround $19dry

eczema-prone

sensitive
colloidal oatmeal12 fl ozyes
CeraVearound $18balanced

dry
hyaluronic acid

essential ceramides
19 fl ozyes
La Roche-Posayaround $19.99very dry

sensitive
thermal water

shea butter

vegetable glycerin

niacinamide
13.52 fl ozyes
Avènearound $29sensitive

dry
selectiose

ceramides

fatty acids

plant sterols
6.7 fl ozyes
Kiehl’saround $48all skin typescocoa butter

shea butter

squalane
2.5 fl ozyes
Eucerinaround $11sensitiveceramides

amino acids
16.9 fl ozyes
Vanicreamaround $16sensitive

dry
purified water

petrolatum

cetearyl alcohol

propylene glycol
16 fl ozyes
EltaMDaround $32inflamed

flaky

dry

sensitive
niacinamide

ceramide NP

hyaluronic acid

proteolytic fruit enzymes
8 ozyes
Hempzaround $6–30dryhemp seed oil

shea butter

coffee cherry extract

citrus fruit complex

vitamins A, B, C, and E
8.5 fl ozno
Nécessairearound $25dry

balanced

oily

combination

sensitive
niacinamide

vitamins A, C, and E

omega-6

omega-9
6.8 fl ozyes

A person should consider several factors when choosing a lotion for dry skin, including:

  • Price: Some skin care products for dry skin are expensive. A person should consider how often and how liberally they will use the product before making a purchase, as some products may be more cost-effective than others.
  • Skin type: A person should consider their skin type when choosing a lotion for dry skin. Some products are formulated for people with dry skin, while others are suitable for people with combination or mature skin. Different skin types will need different things to keep it healthy, and a person can consider speaking with a doctor to discuss which product would be suitable for their particular skin type.
  • Skin concerns: Certain products address specific skin concerns, such as eczema. A person should choose a product formulated to help with their specific skin concerns.
  • Ingredients: A person should consider any specific sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients they have before buying a lotion for dry skin. For instance, lotions for dry skin can contain moisturizers, plant extracts, and anti-inflammatory ingredients, along with fragrances.

Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient that helps moisturize the skin.

A person should avoid moisturizers with ingredients that can dry out the skin further, such as:

  • fragrances
  • preservatives
  • parabens
  • synthetic dyes
  • alcohol
  • salicylic acid
  • benzoyl peroxide

A healthcare professional can give more specific advice about which ingredients may be most helpful, or potentially harmful, to each person, depending on the cause of their dry skin and their skin type.

Lotions work by locking existing moisture into the skin to prevent it from drying.

A person may be more likely to have dry skin if they:

  • are over 40
  • have a dark or very fair skin tone
  • have jobs that involve exposure to water
  • live in a cold or dry climate
  • smoke
  • have certain skin conditions including dermatitis, psoriasis, and ichthyosis
  • have a vitamin deficiency

Learn more about the best vitamin deficiency tests.

However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, lotions are generally not as effective as creams or ointments.

A 2020 study tested how well oil-in-water moisturizers worked when applied to dry skin on the legs. The researchers found that these moisturizers helped rehydrate the skin.

People with skin conditions, such as eczema, may wish to contact a healthcare professional about prescription treatments or the best over-the-counter options.

Learn more about common skin conditions here.

Some people have allergic reactions to certain skin care products, particularly those that contain fragrances, preservatives, dyes, and color additives. Metals or latex can also be ingredients that cause these reactions.

Learn more about latex allergies.

Anyone who knows that they have an allergy or sensitivity should check ingredient labels carefully before making a purchase.

People should also consider doing a patch test before using any product widely across their body and face. This involves using a small amount on an area of the inner wrist or arm and waiting 12–48 hours to see whether any reaction, such as skin color changes or swelling, occurs.

If a reaction does occur, a person should not continue to use that product.

Individuals with skin conditions should consult a healthcare professional for advice about the best approach to skin care.

Below are answers to some of the most common questions about dry skin.

What should you not use for dry skin?

A person should avoid ingredients such as:

  • fragrances
  • preservatives
  • parabens
  • synthetic dyes
  • alcohols
  • salicylic acid
  • benzoyl peroxide

Is vitamin C good for dry skin?

Research suggests that vitamin C may help by promoting collagen production and improving the skin’s thickness.

How do I know if my skin is dry?

Try pinching the skin. If it snaps back, it is not dry, but if it wrinkles or takes time to bounce back, it may be dehydrated.

How long does dry skin take to heal?

With an effective lotion, a person might see results in a week or two. Always apply the lotion as directed.

Dry skin is a common issue, particularly as people age. It happens when the skin does not retain enough water or natural oil. Lotions can help lock in moisture to rehydrate the skin.

Make sure that water is an ingredient in any lotion and avoid products that contain fragrances, preservatives, dyes, alcohol, parabens, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide.

For further advice, speak with a healthcare professional. This is especially important for people with skin health issues or allergies to any ingredients in cosmetics.