The Best Drugstore Cures For Dry Skin, According To A Dermatologist

Actual expert advice

When we say, "winter is coming," we might as well be saying, "dry skin is coming." It's the not-so-pretty but totally normal side effect of the cooler temperatures and drier air. Some of us have it more often than others, but regardless of our skin type, a defense arsenal is a must for all.

The big question, then, is: How do we prevent it? Wallets only run so deep, and chances are most of your money is spent on protective apparel rather than skin-care products. But that's okay. Most fancy-pants products have terrific drugstore dupes. Well, some fancy products are pretty inimitable, but that's still no reason to shell out the big bucks when you can save and still get your winter defenses in order.

Drugstore beauty aisles, though, can be intimidating. (I blame it on the surplus of white light. It can be truly disorienting.) It's hard to know what products actually work and what sorta, kinda don't—especially when you can't try them out beforehand. I reached out to Dr. Marisa Garshick, a medical and cosmetic dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City to see which drugstore products she recommends. You're going to see a lot of products touting a "#1 Dermatologist Recommended" sticker as you wander down the aisle, so you'll want to know which ones are actually recommended.

Just remember: "The most important thing is to find a moisturizer you like," Dr. Garshick says, "because for those with dry skin, particularly on the body, the more you use it, the better your skin will feel."

Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Foaming Daily Cleanser

Dr. Garshick says, "This cleanser will get the job done." It removes excess oil, dirt, and makeup. "If the skin is dry and sensitive," Dr. Garshick says, "it is important to avoid stripping the natural oils from the skin surface by overwashing or using harsh ingredients." This is one product that won't leave your skin irritated.

Neutrogena, Ultra Gentle Foaming Daily Cleanser, $9.99, available at Walgreens.

Cetaphil's Daily Face Moisturizer Sunscreen

"When selecting a facial moisturizer, it is important to make sure it is not too greasy and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t cause acne," Dr. Garshick explains. This one happens to come with SPF, which is vital for the winter months. "Even though it may be cold," Dr. Garshick says, "the UV rays are still out and can damage your skin just as they do in the summer." What's more, this won't irritate your skin—no matter how sensitive—since it is fragrance-free.

Cetaphil, Daily Face Moisturizer Sunscreen SPF 50, $16.49, available at Walgreens.

CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream

To help seal in moisture, thicker creams and ointments are necessary. Dr. Garshick explains that CeraVe products are made with ceramides, which is a naturally occurring ingredient in healthy skin that helps moisturize and strengthen it against irritation. Dry skin, she says, lacks ceramides. This product will help reintroduce the ingredient to your skin. Pro tip: Apply it after showering because the shower strips your skin of essential oils. 

CeraVe, CeraVe® Moisturizing Cream, $12.53, available at Target.

Eucerin's Professional Repair Concentrated Lotion

This product is great for those who do not take kindly to thick creams and prefer a more liquid option. Dr. Garshick assures that it will hydrate the skin just the same.

Eucerin, Professional Repair Concentrated Lotion, $12.79, available at Walgreens.

Aquaphor's Lip Repair

"The best for chapped lips," Dr. Garshick raves. "Nothing works quite like it. You can feel the difference right away, and it creates a barrier to protect your lips from the cold winter breeze." She adds that there are versions of this product with SPF, which is an added bonus.

Aquaphor, Lip Repair, $3.57, available at Target.

AmLactin's Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy Moisturizing Cream

AmLactin products are made with alpha-hydroxy acid and lactic acid, which, as Dr. Garshick explains, "help to smooth rough patches and bumps on the skin." She says it gently exfoliates the skin without drying it out. Rather, it removes the top layer of skin cells and hydrates the skin. This "will allow your moisturizers to work more effectively."

AmLactin, AmLactin Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy Moisturizing Body Lotion, $25.99, available at CVS.

Vanicream's Moisturizing Cream

Dr. Garshick says, "These products are designed for those with extremely sensitive skin, as all of their products are free of fragrance, lanolin, formaldehyde, and parabens."

Vanicream, Vanicream® Moisturizing Skin Cream, $13.99, available at Target.

Dove's Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash

Bar soaps, Dr. Garshick says, tend to dry out the skin. "That is why dermatologists often recommend switching to a moisturizing body wash in the winter months or if the skin is feeling dry."

Dove, Deep Moisture Body Wash, $4.69, available at Target.

La Roche Posay's Physiological Micellar Solution

"Micellar water is made up of a collection of small molecules, called micelles, suspended in soft water, which grab hold of dirt and makeup and dissolve them," Dr. Garshick says. This means it's a fabulous cleanser and makeup remover. This one is gentle and hydrating. It also, as Dr. Garshick tells me, won't strip your skin of natural oils or "disrupt your skin's pH balance the way a harsh cleanser might." Use this if you're in a time crunch or on the go.

La Roche-Posay, Physiological Micellar Solution, $21.00, available at Walgreens.

RoC's Retinol Correxion® Sensitive Night Cream

Retinol is a key anti-aging ingredient. It can also be irritating for those with dry skin. "That said," Dr. Garshick says, "given we know how important it is in helping with skin tone and fine lines, it is important to not give up using it completely even when the skin is dry." RoC's product has the benefits of retinol's anti-aging qualities while also touting other hydrating ingredients.

RoC, RoC® Retinol Correxion® Sensitive Night Cream, $19.99, available at Target.