The Skin-Saving Guide To Heavy Moisturizers


It's deep into January, the holiday glow from the extra butter you've consumed has faded and all you're left with is a $25 Christmas gift card to Chili's and skin that feels like a crusty old Fruit Roll-Up. You've come to the right piece of internet! We feel your How is my skin so gross and dry and gritty right now? pain, and we too have sought answers from the Gods of Hydration. They're actually still on vacation in Barbados with Rihanna, but their PR reps replied with a ton of options, and from that cornucopia of humectants we assembled a team that might as well be the Rescue Rangers of the winter skincare game (consider us your personal Gadget). Here we have the top solutions for scaly, clogged, miserable skin, conveniently organized by specific concern...

If You Are An Arctic Explorer (Hey there, Harry) Or Perhaps Live in the Mysterious Frozen Paradise of "Canada"
You, friend, are going to need something to fill your face with water and then seal that shit in tight. Enter Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, which actually was designed for mountaineers and is impossible to beat for its ability to coat your skin like the people equivalent of floor wax. If you're not quite ready to climb Everest, L'Occitane Shea Protective Face Cream is something you might want to look into. Shea is rich and—as the name implies—buttery, making it a natural barrier cream. L'Occitane's formula also has SPF 20, so you can avoid the dreaded snow-burn.

If You Need To Maintain Vegan Superpowers
Everyone knows vegans get special powers (because why else would you give up cheese?), so we totally understand if you wanna avoid losing your ability to levitate or bend spoons with your mind or whatever. Historically, "green" facial emollient options have been extremely simple (organic coconut oil and jojoba oil, for example, are both easily absorbed emollients if you want no-frills skincare). But sometimes fixing winter awfulness requires something that does more than add moisture. We suggest Lush Gorgeous. It's responsibly sourced, organic wherever possible, packed with every oil from olive to evening primrose, and has a bunch of pore-decongesting fruit acids. Plus it smells like pineapple upside-down cake.

If You Just Want Something To Be Easy For Once, Dammit
So you've annihilated three stress balls in the past two weeks. Which is perfectly understandable, given the time of year (Holidays! Q1 goals! 2014 celebrity death pool betting! Southwestern Eggrolls or Skillet Queso?! AHHH!). That doesn't mean you should let the issue go unchecked, letting your skin pay the price. Caudalie Premiere Cru the Cream is our current preferred one-stop moisturizer for people who have yet to achieve work-life balance. This stuff contains every hydrating and age-fighting ingredient the law will allow, and it's intense but still light enough to absorb quickly.

If your stress manifests in the form of zits, Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Oil is another nice, simple way to bring your skin back from the verge. It's non-comedogenic, smells faintly of Frangelico, and feels like decadent, relaxing facial (if you close your eyes and pretend while you massage it in).

If You Are An Infant
You must be a very clever neonate indeed if you're reading this, so surely you know how important gentle ingredients are with thin, delicate skin. For babies (and sensitive adults), we found a DIY regimen that's inexpensive and all-natural, too. Start by gently patting a thin layer of rose oil over your face, then follow up with avocado oil on dry patches. After that, just dab on zinc oxide, which safeguards skin and also happens to be an excellent sunscreen.

If you prefer lotion to oil, we can't recommend Ren Rescue Cream highly enough. It's rose-based but viscous (this may be the only time you'll ever see "viscous" used positively). The trick to making it work is rubbing it between your palms to melt it before you apply. When your skin recovers from its current freakout, maybe move on to a more mild organic option like Nature's Gate Avocado Night Cream, or a fluffy skin-softening concoction like Mario Badescu Bee Pollen Night Cream, which has honey and wax to kill bacteria and coddle your precious lipids.

—Lacey Gattis

Photos by Mathea Millman.

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  • facestuff

    You forgot about Aveda's tourmaline hydrating creme. It does wonders, truly. The only moisturizer I will trust in the colder months.

  • Lilly

    I am loving one called Rose Soothing and Protective Moisturiser by MV Skincare. It has a lovely thick consistency but it spreads wonderfully, especially after spritzing my face with a mist and using a few drops of an oil (I am loving Argan). It's perfect for sensitive skin, it makes my redness go down very quickly. It's so so good, ITG you guys need to try it!

    • Tara Warkentin

      I would really like it, but, you know…. money. Right now I'm using a mix of avocado, coconut and almond oil which is fine but not amazing. Is it worth the price?

      • Lilly

        I totally understand! To me the product is worth the price because I have had a really hard time finding a moisturizer to use in the daytime. I need something that is rich enough to protect my cheeks and chin from getting irritated by the cold weather (very sensitive) without making my oily areas (forehead and nose) get shiny. That's why I like it so much. I love using face oils, and I apply them every single night, but during the day I usually go for a cream or a lotion. Combination skin can get insanely complicated to take care of, especially when the weather changes from dry and cold to warm and humid, (that is what happened in the past few days...). What is your skin type Tara?

        • Tara Warkentin

          I think I'm similar to you… dry/combination/sensitive. Thats really helpful though. Your blog is amazing!

          • Lilly

            Thank you Tara! So kind of you to say that :)

          • Tara Warkentin

            Sorry, I have one more question: I realized that you can buy a sample size (15ml) and was wondering how long you think it would last??

          • Lilly

            Hi Tara, sorry for the delay! I have used the 70ml bottle for the past two months, (the formula is pretty concentrated), so I suppose the sample size would last about two-three weeks. However, it really depends on how much you would use it.

  • VanessaV

    I actually just switched from the Kiehl's ultra facial cream to their creme de elegance repair because it's supposed to be even heavier. The ultra facial cream was not cutting it in these New England winds! Also, a quick warning on the coconut oil, it surprisingly burns like all hell if you get it in your eyes. I was trying it as an under eye cream but I can't take the stinging!

    • ekmc

      The creme de elegance repairateur is the ISH. i switched to it about five years ago and it's the ONLY thing, other than a face oil, that can make my skin feel nice and supple in the London cold.

  • 1Alouette

    I love using oils: avocado, olive, argan....and YES to Mario Badescu anything!

  • Talia

    I gave up cheese. My superpower is lactose intolerance. :)

  • Lola G

    Gorgeous is beautiful and nourishing, but it's actually vegetarian, not vegan as it contains orange blossom honey water, to hydrate your skin and lock in moisture!

  • Jennifer Monforton

    Killer list! My skin is oily but can get super dehydrated in the Winter (thanks, Canada!). Will have to check some of these out! xo

  • Eliza

    I use Kiehl's Skin Rescuer (sometimes over a Caudalie serum) during day, and Josie Maran's Argan Oil at night, and it has completely cured my dry-winter-skin face.

  • Natasha Kembrey

    coconut oil is so good for everything! x

  • Maria

    I just love coconut oil and have had no problems with it giving me breakouts

  • Sara Ashtaryeh

    I've had that problem too, but with other creams. There's also an even more intense balm version of this one. Haven't tried it yet.

  • tessamarisol

    two words: la mer

  • Kelsey

    I just started using boscia Tsubaki Sleeping Mask as my night cream and it is honestly the best thing I have ever tried. My skin is combination and I get blackheads with my large pores but if I don't moisturize intensely in the winter (I live in Canada) my skin gets tight and flaky and eventually scaly. Now every night I use the sleeping mask with Fresh's brown sugar face scrub beforehand and my skin has never looked better! In the morning I can then get away most days with just some Green Beaver sunblock (it's a physical block, not a chemical one) and NARS tinted moisturizer but I will use 100% Pure facial oil if need be. It has taken me half a decade to find the perfect winter system for my crazy skin and I can honestly say all these products are worth the cost.

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    Rose Hip Oil and Weleda anything is awesome. I'd also recommend trying sea buckthorn oil both inside and out. I get super dehydrated skin, dry eyes, and painfully dry sinuses in the winter. I find that those omega 7 caps from New Chapter Organics knock all that out in a matter of days. Makes your skin look amazing too!

  • Lola

    I use Yves Rocher Riche Cream. I believe it is intended for more mature skin (I borrowed it from my grandmother) but it is awesome to use in the winter time! I live in a very, very cold country, so I need a super hydrating moisturizer in the (looong) winter months.

  • Christine Stevens

    Is it weird that I just know when you've written an article simply from the title? Although I don't know if I can tell "winter" to F off (I live in Florida...we aren't experiencing much of the dreaded polar vortex), sometimes I need options for intense hydration when the heat & sun dry my face up like a prune. Another go-to for me if I get sunburn and start to peel (naughty), is Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream. It is very oily and smells of full on roses, but it keeps the peeling at bay. Though I am VERY fond of the Caudalie Premier Cru. Fond of anything from Caudalie, really.
    I can also unashamedly say that I actually physically laugh when I read your articles. They are my favorites without question on ITG! As always I can't wait for the next one!

    • ITGLacey

      Christiiiiiiine! You are such a complete & utter sweetheart & hearing from you always brightens my day!
      I wish I were in Florida right now myself! ;)

  • tess

    Weleda Skin Food. Use it on my cheeks. Sinks right in. Also slather it on dry hands and puton gloves.p

  • murt

    I've been using Cerave in the big tub on my face and it's been great - I sandwich it under a layer of thick zinc oxide sunblock (Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen) before I go outside, and that really seems to work to protect my face.

    I also like Skinactives Every Lipid Serum - usually use this at night.

  • Yassira

    Great post as always and great list, I can also highly recommend a beautiful night cream from a small but uberpowerful British brand Dr Jackson Cream Nr 02. Their coconut melt is also divine.

  • Kassandra Fairhall

    I have extremely dry skin, and yes live in that area of Canada where it's frozen 75% of the time, I use Kiehl's Ultra Facial cream and I love it, it does wonders for my unfixable dry skin. Such a great cream, it has no scent and feels great on your skin

  • maryk

    so... did I miss the memo? shit is not a curse word any longer. Even my scrabble opponent used it! Gee, maybe I'm old.


Jarrow Formulas
Jarrow Formulas Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Caudalie Premier Cru The Cream
Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Oil
Desert Essence
Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil
L'Occitane Shea Protective Face Cream SPF 20
Kiehl's Since 1851
Kiehl's Since 1851 Ultra Facial Cream
Cult Beauty Ltd.
Rosehip Oil 20ml
Melvita Avocado Oil (Repairing) 1.69oz, 50ml
Ocean Potion Suncare
Ocean Potion Suncare Face Potion Sunscreen Cream
REN 'Vita Mineral' Emollient Rescue Cream