The 26 Best Face and Body Hydrators for Winter, According to Experts

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Now that cold weather is on the horizon, we’re starting to see early signs of skin distress (hi, dry patches). To help rescue our fall- and winter-induced dry skin, nine top doctors share their recommendations for both the face and body.

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“The best hydrators that aren’t physical products are the following: Drinking a lot of water every day, avoiding sun exposure and quitting smoking,” says New York plastic surgeon Mokhtar Asaadi, MD. “In terms of products, aloe vera gel is very hydrating along with SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream ($129), SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 ($130), Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream ($18) and La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream ($350). Hydrated facial skin is less oily since dry skin produces more oil to keep the skin hydrated.”

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“Hydration is an absolutely must for me,” says Campbell, CA plastic surgeon Kamakshi R. Zeidler, MD. My secret to staying hydrated begins with exfoliation to remove dead cells from the outer layer of skin, which allows my products to better absorb into the skin. For the face, décolletage and back of hands, this begins with weekly light microdermabrasion—my fave is DiamondGlow with the SkinMedica Hydrating Complex ($88). I follow this immediately with a Mediheal Intensive Hydrating Mask ($10), which I love because the allantoin and trehalose provides a tightening and lifting effect.

As for the body, it’s definitely hard to do as much with so much surface area! I usually get a weekly exfoliation head to toe with the Clarisonic Mia ($155) with the body brush attachment. This device has a timer to be sure each area is treated long enough. For touchy spots like knees and feet, I use Isdin Ureadin Lotion 10 ($15). This contains urea, which helps prevent transepidermal water loss. To maintain long-lasting moisture, this cream is non-greasy and is quickly absorbed. For feet in particular, Isdin Uradin Podos Gel Oil ($33) contains the same thing in higher concentrations of urea for intense hydration to prevent callouses and cracks.”

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Pittsburgh plastic surgeon Leo R. McCafferty, MD relies on his expert aestheticians Jennifer Derry and Eva Rodgers for hydrating recommendations: “We like the hyaluronic acid products. With the change of the season, they keep the skin extra hydrated because they help to bind moisture to the skin. Our office favorites are SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel ($83) and the Hydrating B5 Mask ($55). The gel can be used daily and the mask can be used once a week. For the body, we suggest La Roche Posays Lipikar Balm ($20). It helps restore the skin’s essential lipids and can be used on all skin types and sensitive patients.” 

“I agree with Jennifer and Eva and patients love the products,” says Dr. McCafferty. “We also emphasize that staying well hydrated is so important for the health of our skin. Drink plenty of water. We take for granted the ubiquitous accessibility of water today. This was not always so. Water did not become readily available for consumption until the mid- to late-19 century with the development of the first water purification plant in Scotland in the mid 1800s. So please hydrate!”

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SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic ($166) is one of our go-to moisturizers, especially for recovering from the summer sun in Florida,” says Vero Beach, FL plastic surgeon Alan Durkin, MD. “It has a sheer, pleasant texture with an outstanding ability to moisturize and repair.”

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Epionce Medical Barrier Cream ($25) is my favorite body hydrator,” says Washington, D.C. dermatologist Tina S. Alster, MD. “You only need to apply a small amount, it’s loaded with moisture-packed liposomes, doesn’t feel greasy on the skin, and lasts all day.”

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Prospect, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD has two favorites so effective, she couldn’t choose between the two. “For the body, my favorite moisturizer is hands down Avene Xera Calm Balm ($34). For the face, I like Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 ($55). I love the little extra tint it gives my skin as I have quit wearing make up with the masks. It keeps people guessing that I have turned 48.”

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“For the face, my go-to is SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($102),” says Rochester, NY dermatologist Lesley Loss, MD. “It is very hydrating immediately after applying! My general moisturizer favorites for the body are Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream ($17) and Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($11). They are best applied after bathing with a gentle cleanser while your skin is still damp, as they help to lock the moisture into the skin. For areas of the body that get rough like the elbows, knees or feet, I also like CeraVe SA Lotion ($15). It has salicylic acid in it which softens these rough areas of skin.”

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“There are two that I like in particular, and that is not only because my patients almost unanimously love them and get good results from them, but I also use them myself with excellent results,” says San Diego plastic surgeon Joseph Grzeskiewicz, MD. “While there are many other products that can also be used to promote overall healthy, and thus more succulent, hydrated skin, ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Serum ($148), and ZO Skin Health Daily Power Defense ($150) are basic and good for everyday use. Both of them support not only the maintenance of normal moisture content in the skin, but they also improve cellular function and blood flow to the skin. In turn, this will provide hydration and abetter overall appearance from the inside.”

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According to Dover, OH facial plastic surgeon David Hartman, MD, “Optimal skin hydration should start with twice daily application of a medical-grade topical vitamin A cream such as Environ AVST Moisturiser 1. A good topical Retinol (skin active form of vitamin A) should also be part of your twice-daily skin-care regimen to help keep skin looking young. Another absolute favorite to treat winter skin dryness and to give silky smooth skin is the Environ Hydrating Oil Capsules. We recommend these oil capsules be applied in the evening only if you are a person who wears makeup—the oil in the capsules make subsequent attempts to apply makeup rather difficult.  Another excellent nighttime moisturizing  treatment is the Environ Alpha Hydroxy Night Cream.”

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