Moisturizers are the unsung heroes of the beauty industry. On the one hand, it's hard to make a medicated hand moisturizer sound sexy. (Which begs the question: why all advertising and beauty products have to be sexy?) On the other hand, moisturizers are one of the biggest money makers in the industry. We're always hearing about the new most luxurious face cream in the world, crafted of the tears of highly moisturized children frozen in gold leaf diamonds. Are the gimmicks worth it? Every woman has to decide for herself. Here's a smattering of highly praised winter must-haves in a variety of price ranges.
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
For serious moisturizing, it's often the drugstore and not the beauty counter where you're going to find the most effective products. They are going to be no frills, though. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula, $5, is a heavy-duty hand cream that has an almost Vaseline-like texture. It comes scented and fragrance-free, and dermatologists recommend it for skin conditions like eczema. Put this on your hands at night with cotton gloves on top and you'll have new hands in the morning.
The great thing about body oils is that they go on a lot lighter than the heavy, chemical-laden creams we've become accustomed to and moisturize just as well if not better. They're also less greasy, which is kind of unexpected. It's a great idea to put body oil (or any moisturizing product) on right after the shower to lock in some of that moisture and prevent the drying effects of the water evaporating off your skin. If you'd like to go the luxe route, my favorite is Nars Monoi Body Glow II, $59, which is an extension of their cult bronzing oil without the bronzing. It contains Monoi de Tahiti oil refined in coconut extract. If you're looking for something more bare bones, plain old coconut oil is one of the best moisturizers. A tub like this one from Source Naturals, $9.99, will last you forever and smells delish.
Face Cream is a category where people can spend exorbitant amounts of money for the hope of beautiful skin that never ages, or at least avoids the fillers for a few more years. But if you're really just looking for the best moisturizing product, there's a little less sticker shock. After my first trip to an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa for a facial and exfoliating treatment, I left the most moisturized I had ever felt in my life, and it lasted for days. I knew I had to find out what was used and it was the Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, $19.50. Just a tiny amount moisturizes your whole face and prevents windburn from skiing, I can attest! At the drugstore, your best bet is the Olay Regenerist line. It continually earns beauty editors' and dermatologists' highest marks in the drugstore face cream category. Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream, $25.99, is the most moisturizing if you're not as interested in the anti-aging technology of some of their other products.
Vitamin C Serum
A Vitamin C serum is a powerful antioxidant with tremendous anti-aging benefits, but for our purposes it also moisturizes and protects skin on its own and especially helps skin absorb and reap the most benefits from your regular moisturizer. But keep in mind that some Vitamin C products can sting or cause redness on sensitive skin. If you have a skin condition or your skin is dry to the point of cracking, you might want to avoid this one. My friend, whose complexion is flawless, recommended Kiehls Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, $58. She says her skin stays more hydrated with less moisturizer with the Vitamin C Serum.
Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream
You'll notice a lot of these products are aimed at helping your skin absorb and reap the benefits of your regular moisturizer. Well, exfoliation is the best thing you can do for that. Some people think exfoliating is drying to the skin, but you're actually removing the dead skin cells to reveal healthier more hydrated cells beneath, and allowing your moisturizer to work on a deeper layer of skin. My favorite for years has been Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula, $19.50. It's much gentler than the rough exfoliators that were popular for a while, and has a wonderful fresh scent, too. I just feel like my skin has been revitalized when I use it. Find an exfoliator that works for you and work it into your regular skincare routine and you'll notice a difference. Also don't underestimate the exfoliating benefits of massaging your face with a wet washcloth!