Best Winter Skin Moisturizer

I'm looking for a skin moisturizer to use during winter months that will help my dry skin without clogging my pores. A moisturizer with an anti-aging effect would also be nice, but not my first priority. Any suggestions?

Doctor Answers 6

Look for these Ingredients

Hello Julie,

As you know there are many moisturizers available via retail or your local Cosmetic Physician's office. Some key ingredients to seek out:

1.Algae Peptides: hydrates skin and helps rebuild collagen

2.Vitamin E: hydrates and protects skin

3.Wheat Germ Oil: purest form of Vitamin E

4.Hyaluronic Acid: moisturizes skin by absorbing water

5.Glycerin: helps seal in moisture for the skin

6.Vitamins A, C, E: anitoxidants help promote healthy skin and battle aging effects

7.Glycolic or Alpha Hydroxy Acid: helps prevent effects of aging and refreshes skin

8.Sphingolipids: help retain moisture in the skin

9.Oil Free Moisturizer: moisturizes without clogging pores

Always ask for samples and try them out to see what works best for your skin type and don't forget to always wear sunscreen!

Dr. Kamran Jafri

New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Many good moisturizers

Hopefully some of my fellow dermatologists will answer this question so I too can learn something.

First, let me tell you. I do not sell moisturizers out of my office. I feel that there are many excellent moisturizers in the marketplace so why should I charge someone more money for a suitable product that they can obtain cheaper in a pharmacy.

Moisturizers should be part of any skin care regimen. A selection of a particular moisturizeer should depend on the humidity present in an area, any underlying skin conditions (eczema, icthyosis [fish scale disease], diabetes, hypothyroidism, or the use of other harsh medications [retinoids]). There are a slew of skin care products out there each shouting their beneficial ingredients. Most of us dermatologists believe in simple plain moisturizers. Maybe boring but not likely to get you into trouble. There are a number of carefully marketed "prestige products" backed by little to no scientific evidence supporting their benefit or extraordinary expense.

A good moisturizer should maintain the skin barrier function and prevent what we dermatologists refer to as transepidermal water loss (TEWL). The skin can be construed as bricks (the skin cells or keratinocytes) and mortar (the intervellular llipid matrix between the cells and holding them together. Disturbance of either of these causes TEWL and a good moisturizer should prevent that.

The moisture content of the skin cells is maintained by small compounds lumped together as natural moisturizing factor ( NMF). Many moisturizers try to duplicate these compounds.

Realize that a moisturizeer does not imply that moisture (water) is being added to the skin. Instead a good moisturizer formulation should contain occlusive, humectant, and emolliant ingredients. The occlusive component retards evaporation and water loss by sitting on the surface of the skin. The humectant attracts water from the lower layer, the dermis. The emollient should basically fill in the crevices. When you look for a moisturizer you should look for these properties.

Lately, we dermatologists have been talking about the biofilm. This does not mean movie about a famous person but rather the living layer sitting on top of the desquamated (scale) skin cells. This biofilm contains good bacteria, some bad bacteria, ceramids, sphingolipids, etc. Lately,there has been a movement in skin care products to reproduce this biofilm.

A lotion or a cream? A lotions are thinner and are more compatible for daytime facial use. They are lighter and usually contain such ingredients as mineral oil, propylene glycol and water. Night creams or so called replenishing cream are composed of heavier lipids such as petrolatum or lanolin derivatives, mineral oil and water. All moisturizer formulations are oil in water or water in oil. Adjusting these ratios make the moisturizer compatible with dry, normal or oily skin. Thus, there is not a pat answer. To recommend one to you I would have to examine your skin and ask further questions.

As far as ingredients: Good occlusive agents: squalene, paraffin, mineral oil, petrolatum and definitely dimethicone (my fav especially if you have rosacea or sensitive skin as I mentioned on our radio show). Cetyl alcohol ( a major component of Cetophil), or Stearyl alcohol. Beeswax. Steryl stearate, Candelilla, Lecithin, cholesterol, stearic acid --notice all the stears I am not steering you wrong! and for very dry skin propylene glycol.

For humectants: Glycrin ( should be in any moisturizer as it is gentle, hydrophilic and great for drawing up water) honey, Urea, ammonium lactsate ( in Am Lactin a good cheap one), Sorbitol, Hyaluronic acid, panthenol, and good old gelatin.
Emollients: Castor oil, Octyly stearate, jojoba oil, isopropyl myrisate, isopropyl steearate and isostearyl alcohol.

I suppose after this discourse on moisturizers you want specific recommendations and I will give them to you. However, in my office when I look for a moisturizer I hand out a bunch of samples (often three or four). I weigh my perception of the patient's skin whether it be very dry, dry oily or normal before I make my selections. Also, having acne or rosacea would certainly color my selection.
I like the following:

1. Night Cream: Aveeno Ultra-calming night Cream, Neutragena Ageless Essentials Continuous Hydration Night,

2. Very Dry Skin: Eucerin Repair Lotion or cream, Epilyt, Cetaphil Daily Advance Ultra Hydrating Cream

3. Dry Skin: Cetophil Moisturizing Cream

4. Normal Skin: Cerave cream and Lotion, Eucerin Every Day Protection,
Aveeno Positively Radiant anti-wrinkle cream, Eletone, Olay Definity Intense Hydrating Cream

5. Rosacea: Revale, Neo-Strata Bionic Cream, Aveeno Ultra-callming cream, Purpose Redness Relief

6. Good prescription moisturizers: Mimyx cream, Bionect cream, Epiceram

I hope I have a better understanding of moisturizers and their ingredients.

On our radio show, my hostess sometimes teasing me for droning on and on and I guess I did so here. Perhaps, you skipped to the bottom part. That is OK. I have looked over the above recommended products carefully and they have the ingredients that I like and that I think go into a good moisturizer. They are inexpensive and readily available and I personally think they do as good a job, if not better, as their more expensive cousins.

Good luck and I would be happy to answer any questions.


Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

NIA 24™ Intensive Recovery Complex

I practice in Colorado and I need for my patients an effective agent to combat and even reverse the effects of intense, high altitude sun exposure and extremely dry air (over 300 days per year). During the winter months, the cold further decreases the humidity creating an even harsher environment.

It is my opinion that the most potent and powerful winter skin moisturizer is NIA 24™ Intensive Recovery Complex. This skin product was specifically designed deliver the greatest degree of ‘moisturization’ and regenerative actions to the skin.

Comments from my patients point out this product is formulated in a rich cream that is easily absorbed and well tolerated even by those with sensitive skin. There have been a few patients that have noted some initial irritation, but this has usually has subsided within days by having them cut back on the amount used.

This product is truly awesome and has been very well received by my patients, clinical staff, and family members.

NIA 24™ products are manufactured by Mentor Corporation and is sold only through plastic surgeons' offices.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Elevase creams for winter moisturization

Our top choice for a winter moisturizer is the Elevase Moisture Booster with Opti-Ceramides. These ceramide creams can enhance skin function in the cold winter months. 


Dr. Karamanoukian 
Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

How do you moisturize dry skin - best winter skin moisturizer

There are different moisturizing ingredients and an oil free non-comedogenic Opti-Ceramide cream is ideal and great for the dry winter months. A product that we recommend to our patients is the Opti-Ceramide called Elevase Moisture Booster. 

Hratch Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Buffalo Phlebologist
4.8 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Neocutis Bio-restorative Skin Cream with PSP

The Neocutis face cream hydrates the skin, help reduce fine lines and improves skin firmness. It is the first skin cream with Human Growth Factors to rejuvenate and sooth the skin. It is good for normal to dry skin and even people with sensitive, stressed and irritated skin. It is also recommended for post-procedure care after chemical peels or laser treatments to help with skin recovery and accelerate the healing process.

Gregory Turowski, MD, PhD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.