When choosing face and body moisturizers, “Boring is best; the more bland, the better,” Dr. Craiglow said. She recommended avoiding fragrance and preservatives like parabens or methylisothiazolinone, which can further irritate dry skin. Brands such as Aquaphor, Cetaphil, CeraVe and Vanicream are good options.
The gold standard for moisturizing is a thick, occlusive product like petroleum jelly, which creates a physical barrier to lock in hydration. But it’s OK to use a cream or lotion if you don’t love heavier, greasier formulas, Dr. Weinberg said, adding, “A cream you use is better than an ointment you don’t use.”
Whatever you choose, use it regularly — after you bathe and anytime you feel dry.
And don’t forget your hands: Wear gloves when you’re outside and be sure to moisturize after you wash. “If you’re washing your hands many times a day and using hand sanitizer, you’re going to irritate your hands and they’ll get red, dry, flaky,” Dr. Weinberg said. Ironically, frequent hand washing can damage the lipid barrier and make it easier for pathogens to enter the body.
Other factors to consider
A humidifier can help reduce the moisture loss that skin experiences in indoor environments, especially for people who live in apartment buildings with very dry heat, Dr. Weinberg said. “Just make sure you clean it out and change the water every day — humidifiers can be a great place for bacteria to grow,” he said.
While there’s no strong evidence that supplements or specific eating plans measurably hydrate your skin, “making sure you’re drinking adequate water and getting good fats in your diet, like avocado, walnuts and olive oil, can support a healthy lipid barrier,” Dr. Strachan said.