How Well Do These Five Dry Skin Remedies Actually Work?

Our editors spill

Colder temperatures wreck havoc on our skin. This is a fact most of us know all too well. You can spend years (and a bunch of money) trying to find the right products and methods that work for you. Like clothes, though, our skin can grow out of the routines that once kept us as far and away from dry skin as possible. That's why we're in the business of switching it up.

We tasked four NYLON staffers to swap in a different moisturizer for a week to see how well their skin held up. Some dabbled with a fancy routine of products, others kept it simple and clean with one easy ingredient. Were lives changed? Maybe. Were there surprises? Definitely. Read on to see the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone and how breaking your routine can yield fabulous results. And, if you're in the market for a new moisturizer, we asked two dermatologists what ingredients you should be on the look out for:

  • Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a board certified dermatologist in New York City suggests products with "soothing botanicals like chamomile or aloe and hyaluronic acid." She also stresses products with pH balances of five, but more on that later.
  • Dr. Craig Kraffert, a board certified dermatologist and president of Amarte, says Mushroom β-glucan, a mushroom emollient, "moisturizes, rejuvenates, and forms a unique anti-aging shield." He also suggests looking for products that tout sodium hyaluronate and caviar extract which pack many beneficial minerals, vitamins, and other hydrating properties.


Winter's colder temperatures strip our skin of water due to dry air and our building heating systems. Hot showers, though comforting, are terrible for your skin. Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a board certified dermatologist in NYC, stresses abiding by an intense moisturizing routine following each shower. "To seal in hydration," she says, "it’s important that you pat dry, and not rub, skin with a soft towel and apply a pH balanced moisturizer such as Sebamed Moisturizing Body Lotion. Sebamed Moisturizing Body Lotion is formulated at pH 5.5, the exact pH of healthy, hydrated skin. This helps bring skin back to neutral after all that moisture loss, so it can effectively lock in hydration while protecting from itchiness or sensitivity. Its glycerin component also makes it ideal for those with sensitive skin and will prevent skin dryness and evaporation."

Hayden Manders, Staff Writer

I'm not a fancy-pants type of person when it comes to my skin-care routine. I like my Olays and Neutrogenas, and I've scooted by for years using store brand body lotions. That said, winter is always, without fail, brutal. My face gets dry, my arms and elbows get dry, hands, lips, everything. It's gotten somewhat better over the years—no idea why—but still, I dread the cold's effect on my skin. Thanks to a recent onset of acid reflux, I've come to understand our body and its acid levels. Little did I know, though, your skin needs to have a solid pH balance just as much as your stomach does. Sebamed is the first brand I've come across that promotes that. 

Since my body is a battleground of seeking moisture during the winter, I opted to give Sebamed and its formula a try. My first impression was how light the body lotion was. I love a lotion that doesn't leave your skin greasy, and this one doesn't. It absorbs quickly and evenly. My first couple days using it didn't yield much of a difference, but about five days in, I started to notice a difference—particulary near my new tattoo, which is fully healed, but just barely. Sebamed made that lil' guy look like a proper member of my growing tattoo sleeve. The rest of my arms were smoother than ever before. I didn't have to reapply before bed. I tend to have bumpy, red-tinted skin on my upper arms and shoulders, which I've tried treating before but to no avail. Magically, Sebamed's lotion worked better than the prescription cream I put on. There goes one insecurity of mine!

As for my face, it's followed suit. My redness has gone down and even though I don't get super oily, I can tell my skin is now less prone to it.  

Sorry to my store brand moisturizers, but I've found a match that agrees with my skin. 

Sebamed, Anti-Dry Daily Defense Cream, $22.95, available at Sebamed; Moisturizing Body Lotion, $19.95, available at Sebamed.


"Consumers want true moisturization," Dr. Craig Kraffert, a board certified dermatologist and president of Amarte, tells us, "but they want their skin to look and feel like it is naturally moist, not just moist because they’ve slathered creams on top of it." Dr. Kraffert says this routine makes the "elusive Korean skin-care ritual easy." He goes on, "You have a targeted cleanser—which also exfoliates—a water-based hydrator and am/pm moisturizers, each designed for your skin with innovative moisturizing ingredients, anti-aging actives, and foolproof layering instructions." What's more, the product's themselves are pretty display-worthy, easy to use, and get the job done. They don't leave your skin "cloudy," as Dr. Kraffert says.

Jenna Igneri, Digital Market Assistant

When it comes to my skin-care routine, I tend to go for as natural as natural can be. I use only pure oils or oil blends for my moisturizer, tone with a hydrosol spritz, and sometimes opt for something with shea butter here and there as colder weather begins to wreak havoc on my skin. However, my skin has been particularly dry as of lately and the eczema that plagued my cheeks a few years ago is starting to show signs of coming back, with a particularly dry and flaky patch taking over my right cheekbone. So I was open to trying something new and more hydrating, so I tried out the Super Hydrating Collection from Amarte.

The four-piece collection consisted of a twice-daily three-step regimen. My morning started with using the Daily Exfolipowder, a plant seed-based powdered cleanser; followed by the Aqua Veil Hydrator, a cucumber-infused, super light serum; and ending with the HydroLift Cream, a retinol, caviar extract, and acacia collagen cream. My evening regimen also started with the Exfolipowder and Aqua Veil, ending with the Wonder Cream, a multitasking, anti-aging moisturizer.

I was hooked after the first use. Each product had a lovely, natural scent and left my skin feeling super hydrated and refreshed, and never heavy or oily. I continued using for a full week and noticed that my skin’s texture was definitely much smoother. While I don’t think it improved my skin's hydration long-term—as skipping one routine left my skin feeling dry once again—it definitely made a huge difference when used as directed.

While I’m still a sucker for my 100 percent pure products, I’ll be with this routine, at least throughout the winter.

Amarte, Super Hydrating Collection, $260, available at Amarte.

Argan Oil

Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection, raves about argan oil. "It is such a major anti-oxidant," she says. "Anti-oxidants are a big part of keeping the skin young looking, and argan oil will protect against loss of elasticity and sun damage." Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, the founder & director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center, echoes Vargas and adds, "Argan oil has good hydrating qualities and also some anti-inflammatory effects to help soothe the skin. My suggestion is to add one or two drops to a traditional moisturizer for a hydrating boost." 

Kristin Iversen, Digital Deputy Editor

I'll be honest: I am really bad at remembering to moisturize my body. After I get out of the bath or shower, the last thing I want to do is stand there, shivering, while I spread cold lotion all over my goose-bumped body. This isn't so much of a problem in the summer because my skin's not so dry and it's not so damned cold. But, come cooler temps, I get really lazy about properly moisturizing, and the only thing that can tempt me to actually do the right thing is my beloved coconut-scented Mountain Ocean Skin Trip, which allows me to at least smell like summer even if I'm freezing to death.

But I recently ran out of Skin Trip and was asked to test out Yes to Miracle Oil's Argan Oil as a sub. I was, to be completely honest, skeptical. I'm used to thinking that the best kind of moisturizers are thick as paste (with about as much ability to soak into the skin); how would this amber-tinted oil, which practically melted away on contact, actually work? As it turns out, quite well!

It took some getting used to the very different texture of oil as compared to lotions or creams, but the argan oil was actually super-effective at making my skin soft, particularly on notoriously dry places like elbows and heels. Plus, because it absorbed into my skin so quickly, I was able to throw on my clothes and not freeze to death. (Have I mentioned I get cold easily? I GET COLD EASILY.) The scent was slightly musky in a way that I love, but neutral enough that scent-averse people shouldn't mind it either. The cool thing with Argan Oil is that you can also put it all over—face, hair, cuticles, everywhere. And, so while I will be buying more Skin Trip because I love it so, I'm also going to keep this little bottle around for good—particularly in the colder months ahead.

Yes To Miracle Oil, Argan Oil, $12.99, available at Target.

Shea Butter

"Shea butter is one of the most hydrating ingredients available," Dr. Tanzi tells us. "It’s a great ingredient for almost all skin types." Vargas adds that shea butter is proven to reverse the signs of aging. "It calms and moisturizes skin."

Taylor Bryant, Digital Web Editor

My moisturizer of choice is literally anything and everything that manages to find its way to my vanity. Sometimes that’s coconut oil, sometimes it’s a mousse of some kind, but usually it’s Lubriderm. It’s recently come to my attention that some people don’t apply lotion every day, and let me just say, I’m not one of them (and am frankly a little baffled by how they do it). I apply religiously every morning and/or night and right after taking a shower. If not, my skin will instantly ash up and become super parched and scale-like—especially in the winter.

Shea Butter is by no means a new ingredient for those in the black community. I’ve used products where it’s incorporated, but, surprisingly, never as a stand-alone moisturizer. My first reaction to Nubian Heritage’s raw version was, "Holy hell this is thick.” But, the thickness—or, let’s say, richness—is what makes it so effective. Lubriderm is decent, but I sometimes find myself having to reapply midday. That’s not even a thought with this guy. The texture is tough, yes, and you definitely have to wait for it to fully sink into your skin before putting on your clothes, but it’s worth the extra two minutes for lasting hydration sans greasiness. That, combined with its natural nod and subtle fragrance, has helped earned it a permanent place on my vanity.

Nubian Heritage, Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion, $12.99, available at Nubian Heritage.

Olive Oil

According to Vargas, olive oil is a fabulous anti-inflammatory (and anti-oxidant) ingredient. "Any type of redness will disappear once this hits the skin," she says. "It softens sun damage and makes the skin overall seem smoother." Dr. Tanzi agrees but stresses that it's best for those individuals with very dry skin as it can lead to breakouts. "Another idea is to put a drop or two in a regular moisturizer."

Hayden Manders, Staff Writer

As I mentioned earlier, the winter dries my skin out like no other—especially my hands. My fingers are prone to splits, which are never comfortable. I will confess, I'm not the best at washing my hands, but I'm not the worst. Part of me just hates how dry they become after, and I don't have the patience to wait for the greasy hand lotion I apply after to dry. (I'm not gross. I promise.) Bath & Body Works new collection of hand soaps deliver the best of both worlds. They clean and moisturize. That olive oil is truly a magical lil' ingredient because, after a week of using this, my hands are softer and less prone to drying out. Plus, the scent is addictive enough to use as an excuse to wash my hands.

Bath & Body Works, Hand Soap With Olive Oil, $7.50, available at Bath & Body Works beginning November 21.