How to ditch the desert-like effect with your skin

Modernist poet T.S. Eliot may have been right after all—April IS the cruelest month! Every year, it teases us mercilessly with the possibility of warmer weather and lighter clothing, only to trick us with random humidity drops and snow days.

This unpredictable environmental yo-yo-ing can leave that pretty face feeling like the proverbial Waste Land.

When healthy hydration feels like “a departed lover,” it’s time to reach for moisturizers with proven ingredients known not only to boost skin’s water content but also to help prevent moisture loss. It’s the ultimate one-two punch for “stirring dull roots with spring rain.” Here are the best ingredients for dry skin and how to find them in your favorite skincare formulas.

Good Chemistry. Great Skin.

What is the best way to hydrate your skin? Science! Let’s start with some basic chemistry that explains how some of the best ingredients for dry skin work, on a cellular level. In order to affect your skin’s moisture balance, an ingredient must fall into one of three molecular types. Humectants are substances with the ability to attract water molecules; as each little cell swells with moisture, fine lines and wrinkles instantly appear diminished for smoother skin overall. Ingredients classified as emollients have a different smoothing strategy; they work to even out texture by filling the spaces between dry, rough cells. And finally, occlusives help to improve your skin’s natural barrier function, locking in moisture to keep skin soft and supple.

Hyaluronic Acid

Our fave in the humectant category, hydrating and plumping powerhouse hyaluronic acid has three critical things going for it. First, it works like a “moisture magnet,” with a unique ability to attract water molecules to skin cells. Second, it’s bioidentical; as a substance, your body already produces, it’s easy for ALL skin types to absorb. And finally, hyaluronic acid tops our “best ingredients for dry skin” list because it actually helps your skin cells hang onto all of that heavenly replenishing moisture by holding up to 1,000 times its weight in H2O.

So, while it’s technically a humectant, hyaluronic acid also has secondary occlusive properties...and that’s a win-win! Masktini's Night Ranger Overnight Renewal Mask combines hyaluronic acid with a host of other soothing and smoothing superstars...we’ll talk more about those later, promise. We also like Peach & Lily’s Glass Skin Refining Serum, which piggybacks on the recent K-Beauty trend of translucent, poreless and illuminated skin.

Sunflower Oil

Wondering how to keep skin hydrated, without triggering breakouts? In the emollient category, the magical multi-tasking sunflower oil is rich in nourishing omega-6 fatty acids and Vitamin E, so it instantly starts working to help fill fine lines and wrinkles. Here’s the kicker, though: sunflower oil is also a natural anti-inflammatory that can help soothe red, irritated skin while stimulating the production of healthy new cells. And for the bonus round: this incredible natural oil also helps heal and prevent blemishes, but not by drying them out—instead, by curbing the growth of bacteria that created them in the first place.

For a balancing cleanser, try Paula’s Choice Perfect Cleansing Oil, which pairs sunflower oil with coconut oil for a softer, safer clean. And of course, our Metal Head Gold Brightening Mask combines sunflower oil with collagen-boosting Vitamin C extract and brightening pomegranate stem cell extract, to help visibly fade the effects of your days in the sun.

Marine Algae

Back to those Korean glass skin girls, we mentioned many times, we’ve wanted to ask them, “How do you keep your skin moisturized all day?” As it turns out, their secret weapon is often some kind of marine algae—the versatile, ultra-nurturing ingredient that has become the foundation for entire skincare lines like La Mer, Phytomer, and Algenist.

So why are marine algae one of the best ingredients for dry skin—something that’s been used for thousands of years to nurture complexions in cultures around the world? Like hyaluronic acid, some marine algae work at both the cellular level and on the surface, increasing your skin’s ability to attract and retain moisture. The popular K-Beauty brand Missha puts it in everything, including their Perfect Cover BB Cream (which also offers anti-aging and brightening benefits); it’s also a key ingredient in our Woke Bae Whenever Moisture Spritz.  

Apple Extract

Who knew that the old “apple a day” adage applied to the dermatologist, too! While fruit acids and other #smoothiegoals ingredients are not exactly strangers to the skincare industry, apple is kind of the new kid on the block—only recently becoming a skincare superfood staple.

Woke Bae Whenever Moisture Spritz is formulated with a proprietary humectant apple extract that’s proven to instantly boost skin’s moisture content by 88%; the fruit’s natural astringent properties also help to minimize pore appearance and neutralize blemishes. We’re also big fans of Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Brightening Eye Cream: it helps to beat under-eye bags, fade dark circles and send crow’s feet flying.