Everyone experiences dry skin from time to time. It could happen on any part of the body—the hands, the legs or the face. The skin on your face needs special attention because it’s constantly exposed to the elements. And of course, it’s the first thing people notice. As such, it deserves to be lavished with proper moisturization. The question is, what’s the best moisturizer for a dry face?

Contrary to popular opinion, oil-based creams might not be the most effective solution. Heavy formulations feel rich and hydrating at first, but could end up making your skin look greasy instead of silky. Furthermore, they could block your pores and cause acne breakouts. On the other hand, water-based gel moisturizers are non-comedogenic and less irritating. Plus, they contain powerful thirst-quenching ingredients your parched skin will surely appreciate.

9 Ultra-Hydrating Gel Moisturizers for You to Try

Although gel moisturizers were initially designed for oily skin, many dry skin sufferers have fallen in love with the featherweight, refreshing texture of gels. Skincare companies responded by creating products that target skin dryness without the unwanted shine. Whether your skin is tight, flaky, itchy or just extraordinarily thirsty, there’s a gel moisturizer for you.

   Product  Skin Type  Weight  Price  
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream for Extra-Dry Skin  Dry  2.67 ounces  $15.58 Buy on Amazon
61LEwHOYyUL._SL1500_ L’Oreal Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care – Normal/Dry Skin    11.4 ounces  $15.21 Buy On Amazon
Olay Age Defying Advanced Hydrating Gel Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid  Dry  1.70 ounces  $16.00 Buy On Amazon
Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator    2.5 ounces  $52.20 Buy On Amazon
Bliss Drench & Quench Cream-to-Water Hydrator  All Skin Types  1.76 ounces  $19.99 Buy On Amazon
Origins Ginzing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer    4.6 ounces  $30.00 Buy On Amazon
Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer    10.4 ounces  $70.79 Buy On Amazon
Lancôme Hydra Zen Anti-Stress Moisturizing Cream Gel    1.8 ounces  $80.34 Buy On Amazon
Clean & Clear Watermelon Gel Moisturizer  Dry 3.04 ounces  $5.99 Buy On Amazon

1. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream for Extra-Dry Skin

The ever-popular Hydro Boost line provides instant hydration while restoring the skin’s natural barrier against moisture loss. This variant for extra-dry skin combines the rapid absorption of a gel and the moisturizing endurance of a cream. It’s recommended by dermatologists as one of the best drugstore moisturizers for dehydrated skin.

The Hydro Boost Gel-Cream is powered by Neutrogena’s Self-Hydrating Technology. It contains hyaluronic acid which acts like a sponge, absorbing 1,000 times its weight in water. Glycerin locks that moisture in, while olive extract feeds your skin the proper nutrients to hydrate itself from the inside out.

Fans of this product love its mildly cooling effect. It’s fragrance-free and dye-free, so it’s safe for sensitive skin.

2. L’Oreal Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care – Normal/Dry Skin

This moisturizer was specifically created for dull, dehydrated skin. Its water-based formula promises 72 hours of continuous hydration. The lightweight gel breaks into water upon contact, enabling it to be absorbed quickly. It then envelops your skin with intense moisture, giving it a healthy-looking glow.

Hydra Genius uses aloe water for its natural moisturizing and healing properties. In addition, it has three types of hyaluronic acid to provide essential hydration. Its fragrance could be a bit strong at first, but just a dime-sized amount for your face won’t overwhelm you with its scent.

L’Oreal suggests pairing this product with their Revitalift 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum. Apply the serum before Hydra Genius moisturizer if you need extra moisture.

Aloe Water
Hyaluronic Acid
Liquid Moisturizer

3. Olay Age Defying Advanced Gel Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid

As the name says, this gel helps to keep skin looking youthful. Although it’s targeted to a more mature audience, it’s never too early for anyone to start using anti-aging products. Age Defying Advanced Gel renews skin’s moisture and delivers sheer hydration that lasts all day. Skin becomes soft, smooth and perfectly nourished.

Besides hyaluronic acid, this product contains B3 vitamins. This ingredient assists with skin cell turnover and regeneration. It gently exfoliates to remove dull skin and reveal a plumped, refreshed complexion. The antioxidant vitamin E is added to fight against free radicals that cause environmental damage. Olay’s gel moisturizer is oil-free and won’t leave a slick residue. It’s also non-comedogenic to reduce acne breakouts.

4. Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

This pretty pink gel is Clinique’s solution for dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. The enhanced formulation guarantees twice as much hydration at the end of the day than its initial application in the morning. It provides non-stop moisture with its addictive silky texture. The result is a dewy, glowing visage.

Moisture Surge uses auto-replenishing technology with caffeine to trigger skin’s own rehydration system. It also has humectants and polymers to reduce water loss. In addition, activated aloe water helps to rejuvenate dry to very dry skin. It’s fragrance-free if you’re worried about irritation.

This is a multi-tasking product that’s worth your money. It’s a daily moisturizer that can be used under or over makeup, or as a five-minute mask.

5. Bliss Drench & Quench Cream-To-Water Hydrator

Despite its name, Drench & Quench Cream-To-Water Hydrator is less of a cream and more of a whipped marshmallow. Its light consistency transforms into liquid on the skin. It absorbs easily without feeling greasy or heavy. Within four weeks of regular use, your skin’s moisture barrier will improve. It has an aquatic scent to boot, to make you feel truly blissful.

Bliss says that each application will shower your skin with more than 10,000 marine micro-droplets. The ingredient list comprises purified micro algae that contain natural antioxidants. Hydrozome locks in moisture, while vitamin C brightens and firms. German Chamomile is included to calm agitated skin.

This moisturizer is cruelty-free and vegan. Furthermore, Bliss products don’t have potentially harmful parabens, sulfates, mineral oil or formaldehyde.

6. Origins GinZing Glow-Boosting Gel Moisturizer

Origins is a cosmetics brand founded by Estée Lauder’s son Leonard in 1990. The’re known for their natural and organic approach to skincare products. One such item is the GinZing Glow-Boosting Gel Moisturizer—a hybrid that delivers a subtle, luminous shimmer. It imparts energizing hydration that quenches and conditions skin.

This emollient is lush with coffee to invigorate tired-looking skin, and panax ginseng to increase energy flow. It’s infused with finely-crushed mineral pearls that illuminate with a natural look. The scent is uplifting, using a blend of citrus essential oils.

Origins is the brand of choice for the environmentally conscious. Since its inception, they have helped to plant more than 600,000 trees.

7. Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

If your face is dry with occasional redness, this product is a good choice. It tackles dryness with its extra-hydrating formula while simultaneously soothing irritation. It could even improve rosacea flare-ups. This rich gel can be used during dry winters when you need more moisture. And yet, it is light enough to disappear right into the skin after application.

The primary ingredient of every Biossance product is squalane oil, an alternative to the human body’s natural moisturizer squalene. It maintains hydration on the skin’s surface, making it appear more vibrant and healthier. Moreover, the antioxidants in this substance defend the skin against damage that can accelerate the aging process.

Biossance derives squalane from ethically and sustainably-sourced sugarcane—not from shark’s liver. Their commitment to renewability saves two million sharks every year.

8. Lancôme Hydra Zen Anti-Stress Moisturizing Cream Gel

This moisturizer’s high price might make some people think twice about buying it, but devotees rave about its efficacy when all other products have failed. Hydra Zen promises relief from problems brought about by lack of sleep or a stressful, hectic life. You only need a little dab to deeply soothe dry, tight skin for 12 full hours.

Lancôme’s unique NeuroCalm recipe contains mu dan pi, a traditional Chinese medicinal herb, to cool the skin and calm redness. It has moringa extract as well, for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Dehydrated skin is nourished, resulting in a more luminous tone.

Although this cream-gel has added fragrance, it is still easy on sensitive skin. Enthusiasts love its relaxing rose de France scent.

9. Clean & Clear Watermelon Gel Moisturizer

Who doesn’t enjoy the delicious freshness of watermelon? Clean & Clear created a lightweight gel moisturizer for dry, thirsty skin using the juice of this summery fruit. Gentle enough for daily use, it hydrates without leaving any residue. It’s oil-free, shine-free and lets your skin breathe. On top of all that, it’s so affordable that you can indulge in the delightful watermelon scent whenever you like.

This product is made with dimethicone and glycerin—two ingredients that work well together to address dry skin issues. Dimethicone alleviates irritation, minimizes redness and protects the skin from further damage. Glycerin pulls moisture into the skin and traps it in, for long-lasting hydration.

If you can’t get enough of watermelon, Clean & Clear also offers Watermelon Juicy Scrub for mild exfoliation, and Watermelon Cleansing Wipes for freshness on-the-go.

Complementary Products to Relieve Dry Skin

Dry skin causes a lot of discomfort for a lot of people. Dryness is usually accompanied by flakiness, itchiness or redness. Strong moisturizing ingredients are required to deal with these concerns. But at the same time, you want to avoid aggravating your skin even more with harsh chemicals. Choose brands that can quench your skin’s thirst while keeping sensitivity in mind.


A proper cleanser should completely remove dirt and makeup without disrupting your skin’s natural protective barrier. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser does that in an effective yet non-irritating way. It also has ceramides and hyaluronic acid to attract moisture to the skin’s layers.

Face Mask

Sometimes, your daily face moisturizer is not enough. At least twice a week, luxuriate with a face mask to keep dryness and flakiness at bay. We love Garnier Skin Active Moisture Bomb for its intense hydration without the use of mineral oil or petrolatum.

Body Wash

Caring for dry skin shouldn’t be limited to your face. Your body needs extra moisture, too. Try Aveeno Skin Relief Body Wash for relief of dry, itchy skin. It’s soap-free, dye-free and tested against allergies. It also contains oatmeal that’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Body Lotion

After a refreshing shower, you want to maintain that soft, silky feeling, but without greasiness. Dermatologists recommend applying Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion every day. It’s thick and rich to treat chronically dry skin, and fragrance-free to prevent any adverse reactions.

Understanding Dry Skin: Truth vs. Myth

Skin dryness is a common condition that indicates a lack of the right amount of water in the epidermis, the skin’s outer layer. It afflicts men and women equally, although age is also a significant factor. There are many misconceptions about dry skin, but by separating the truths from the myths, you will get a better handle on your skin problems. You’ll be on your way to healthy, dewy skin!

What are the Real Causes of Dry Skin?

Before you start buying all the skincare products that have “For Dry Skin” on their labels, you should first find out the underlying cause of your situation. Doing so gives you a better chance of nipping the problem in the bud, and allows you to prevent it from happening again.

1. Your Soap Makes Too Much Lather

Many soaps, shampoos and detergents contain surfactants. These chemicals draw moisture away from the skin and scalp because they are formulated to remove oil. As a matter of fact, the more bubbles and suds your soap produces, the more drying it is. Simply switching to a non-soap cleanser could dramatically improve your symptoms.

2. You’re Taking Long, Hot Showers

Yes, a steamy shower or warm bath is the perfect way to destress after a long, hard day. Nevertheless, it’s one of the worst things you can do for your skin. Prolonged exposure to hot water strips the skin’s natural oils and can aggravate eczema. To avoid this, bathe with lukewarm water and then liberally apply moisturizer afterwards.

3. Your Acne Medication is Causing Dryness

Acne sufferers often turn to salicylic acid and retinoids because they’re proven to be effective. However, they can cause localized irritation and dryness. Especially in the first few days of use, anti-acne therapies may trigger patchiness and peeling. Ask your dermatologist to prescribe a lower concentration, and use a gentle cleaner that won’t compound the issue.

4. You Spend Too Much Time in Air-Conditioned Rooms

Air-conditioning lowers humidity levels. If your skin feels chapped after eight hours in the office or if you sleep with the AC on, think about purchasing a portable humidifier. It produces a fine mist that will prevent dry skin, frizzy hair, and cracked lips. Additionally, cool-mist humidifiers may ease dry sinuses and other symptoms of respiratory conditions.

5. You Inherited Your Dry Skin

It’s just one more thing that you can blame on genetics. Ten percent of all people have a mutation that predisposes them to atopic eczema. These mutated genes control the production of filaggrin, a protein that affects the natural hydration of the skin barrier. If dry skin runs in your family, diligent daily moisturization is vital.

6. Your Skin Just isn’t as Elastic as Before

As we get older, our skin produces less oil and gets drier. A Mayo Clinic study revealed that adults aged 40 and older have a higher risk of experiencing dry skin. Women are even more susceptible because of hormonal changes during menopause. Skincare products that include humectants will help replenish lost moisture and repair the skin.

What are the Myths about Dry Skin?

Now that you know the science-backed reasons behind dry, flaky skin, it’s time to debunk some myths that may cause more harm than good. Let’s take a look at four mistakes that could have a negative impact on dry skin concerns.

1. Dry Skin Only Happens in Colder Temperatures

Although dryness usually occurs in wintertime, it isn’t the temperature that’s responsible—it’s the low humidity. Arid air literally sucks the moisture out of your skin and hair. Depending on where you live, even in the summer you could experience dry heat outdoors. Warm weather could also make you turn on the AC more often, lowering the humidity in your surroundings.

2. Just Drink More Water

Drinking plenty of water is good for you, but it only has a minimal impact on skin dryness. Your skin’s moisture level is mostly affected by external factors, such as humidity or using oil-stripping products. Consuming water and foods with high water content stave off dehydration, but you still have to use skin moisturizers.

3. Exfoliating Makes it Worse

If your skin feels tight and flaky, you might think that exfoliators are off limits because you’ll end up even drier. On the contrary, buffing away dead skin cells unclogs your pores and help your skincare products work better. Just don’t rub too vigorously or use facial scrubs with harsh ingredients. Try a gentle chemical exfoliant like lactic acid or glycolic acid instead.

4. Slather on the Moisturizer—More is Better

Excess moisturizer won’t be able to absorb deep into skin tissue. It will just remain on the surface and block the pores, leading to breakouts. The skin can’t breathe, and looks more greasy than healthy. Applying moisturizer or lotion twice a day, after your morning shower or before going to bed, is enough. Heavy oil-based creams aren’t necessary, either. A lighter gel sinks into the skin more easily, delivering moisture and nutrients much faster.

Caring for Dry Skin with a Gel Moisturizer

Winning the battle against dry skin starts with a great moisturizer. You need a product that instantly refreshes your skin and protects it from further moisture loss. The best moisturizers combat dryness but let your skin breathe. At the same time, you should avoid those that could worsen redness and flakiness. You want one that provides gentle, lightweight but long-lasting care, like a gel moisturizer.

There’s a cornucopia of face gels in the market today. Choose the right product to address your concerns and say goodbye to dry skin. With regular use, you will wake up every day with a natural, healthy glow.