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The Most Hydrating Winter Moisturizers For Every Skin Type

Winter brings with it the annual battle against the fluctuating external factors that turn your skin into a dehydrated shadow of its former glowing self. Why exactly does the most wonderful time of the year have such a negative impact on our complexions?

“Cool air, low humidity, cold winds and moving from warm central heating into the cold and back again can significantly dehydrate our skin,” Dr. Johanna Ward, founder of ZENii Skincare, explains. “The main issue in autumn and winter is skin dehydration or lack of water. This is different to skin dryness, which refers to skin that lacks lipids or oil. Dehydration is when there is a lack of water in the stratum corneum, or outer layer of the skin. It can result in anything from sensitive skin and red cracked lips to rough, dry, and flaky skin.”

We look to the finest day creams, moisturizers, and oils to pump life into our skin, while often forgetting that not all skin is the same. A heavy cream may work for the super dry among us, but overpower the oily. Where exactly should we start when tackling our skin this season?

For one, don’t forget to exfoliate. “It’s critical to slough dead, dehydrated, dry skin,” says Jamie O’Banion, cofounder of Beauty Bioscience. Once you’ve prepped the skin? “Look for a moisturizer with moisture-binding humectants that are especially helpful to soften skin’s texture and keep skin looking plump, firm and dewy,” she says.

“Add in a powerful serum hydrator like hyaluronic acid to keep the skin moist and hydrated,” Dr. Ward explains. “Changing your daily products – just as you would change your wardrobe – is beneficial in the cooler months. No matter what your skin type, rehydrating the skin needs to be your focus.”

Now that we’ve got the basics down, click through to find the moisturizers — packed with hydrating acids, vitamins, and serums — for every skin type, ahead.

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“Oily skin can become congested in the winter,” a REN skin-care spokesperson explains. “The combination of dehydration, excess oil’s attempt to protect the surface, and flaky skin can congest and block pores, leading to breakouts and redness.”

The answer? Gels, serums, and light creams to tackle dehydration without overloading the skin.

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Kiehl’s’ oil-free formula contains vitamin E to keep skin fresh and clean, while Antarcticine provides the ultimate protection against dryness. Plus, the lightweight formula will keep shine at bay.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion, $27.50, available at Nordstrom.

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Lixir Skin’s smart moisturizer uses a unique emulsifying technique to deliver molecular water to the skin and boost its ability to retain it. The hook? Once applied, there’s zero oil throughout the day, meaning makeup stays put and shine is nowhere to be seen – all while giving you a hydration hit.

Lixir Skin Universal Emulsion, £45, available at Liberty.

(Editors’ Note: This buzzy skin-care brand is not yet available in the U.S. You can find a great alternative to it, ahead.)

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REN’s emulsion-based skin treatment boosts hydration without the heaviness of most creams. Hyaluronic acid maximizes water levels while xylitol keeps skin looking plump.

REN Flash Hydro-Boost Instant Plumping Emulsion, $42, available at Sephora.

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“Sensitive skin can become itchy, flaky, irritated, and flushed during the winter months,” O’Banion says. To tackle this, “using a viscous, emollient moisturizer helps provide a barrier to protect easily inflamed skin. It’s also important to use a serum loaded with antioxidants to help calm irritated, sensitive skin.”

This calming but fresh formula desensitises skin deep down, protecting it from within. The cream is thick but doesn’t leave any residue before makeup.

Clarins Gentle Day Cream, $64, available at Clarins.

The Daily is power-packed with the brand’s HyperVitamin Complex to boost antioxidant levels while shielding against daily free radical damage. All while keeping skin super soft, of course.

Beauty Bioscience The Daily, $75, available at Bergdorf Goodman.

Avène is an all-round hit for sensitive skin but this rich, soothing moisturizer is perfect for winter. With anti-irritating thermal spring water, the ingredients envelop skin in a thin veil – perfect for tackling the compromising weather.

Avène Tolérance Extrême Cream, $38, available at Avène.

“If you have dry skin, you are lacking oil rather than water, but in winter most skins lack both,” Dr. Ward explains. Here, it’s all about hydrating skin with deep-down moisture.

Packed with hyaluronic acid and thermal spa water, this paraben-free, hypoallergenic hit from Vichy works wonders for those with scaly skin come winter.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Hydration For Dry Sensitive Skin, $31, available at Target.

Another product filled with hyaluronic acid, this oil-free cream-gel penetrates skin, leaving your face plump, glowy, and fully hydrated.

Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief, $19, available at Clinique.

Beech tree peptides strengthen the skin’s structure, while beauty’s golden child, hyaluronic acid, keeps it hydrated.

REN Ultra Moisture Day Cream, $34.29, available at Amazon.

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Despite sometimes having the best of both worlds, during the winter “combination skin will experience side-effects of both dry and oily skin simultaneously in different skin regions,” says O’Banion. Amp up your skin-care regime with acids and serums, but also use hydrating masks and overnight creams.

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This cream is super lightweight (so no shiny nose by lunchtime) but hydrating enough to tackle dry areas. Ginseng and coffee beans boost radiance all day long.

Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer, $28.5, available at Sephora.

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The coconut fruit extract in this helps prevent water loss; the soothing mask makes for an ideal Friday night in.

STARSKIN® Red Carpet Ready™ Coconut Bio-Cellulose Second Skin Hydrating Face Mask, $10, available at Barneys New York.

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