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The Best Moisturizing Ingredients to Look for This Fall

Prep for Winter

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Temperatures are dropping and the heat is getting pumped up inside—'tis the season to moisturize. The choices seem endless. What do you look for? Are all lotions and creams the same? Which is right for your skin? Here, we break down which product or ingredient may be best for you so you don't bring the wrong thing to the counter.

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The Challenge: Dry Skin

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Choose: Petrolatum

This is the most common concern we see in the winter as the wind parches the skin. Petrolatum is essentially purified mineral oil. You can find it in moisturizers, serums, and of course lip balms. A favorite ingredient among dermatologists, this oil is commonly recommended for its ability to protect/hydrate the skin barrier, heal wounds, and quell irritation. Petrolatum is a fabulous antidote to winter ash.

Try: Vaseline Intensive Advanced Repair Lotion ($10;

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Photo: Vaseline

The Challenge: Fine Facial Lines and Wrinkles

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Choose: Hyaluronic Acid

This also is an issue that ramps up with cold weather, as lack of moisture, seen with dry winter skin, actually accentuates fine lines. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring substance found in the eyes, joints, and skin. HA's thick, viscous nature provides good lubricant for the joints, and its ability to absorb water makes it fantastic skin plumper. The HA molecule can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water—instant radiance.

Try Skinmedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($178;

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Photo: Skinmedica

The Challenge: Keratosis Pilaris

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Choose: Alpha Hydroxy Acid (Lactic or Glycolic)

Ugh, keratosis pilaris (KP), those annoying bumps on the upper outer arms. Chilly temps irritate KP making it red, a condition called KP rubra. Unfortunately, it is genetic (yup, you can thank Mom or Dad for this one). The bumps are tiny little spicules of the skin protein called keratin. The keratin sits securely in the follicle not budging. The alpha hydroxy acids breaks down the grit, leaving a smooth texture.

Try: AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion ($12;

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Photo: Amlactin

The Challenge: Sun Damage, Sunspots, Uneven Complexion

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Choose: Broad Spectrum SPF 30 or Higher

To protect against skin cancer and premature aging, include sunscreen in your beauty routine 365 days a year. That being said, you may want to switch things up depending on the weather. In the summer a lighter lotion may be preferable, but as temps plummet, moisture is key. Multitask by adding a hydrating SPF to your a.m. regimen.

Try: EltaMD UV Facial Moisturizing Sunscreen ($20;

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Photo: Elta

The Challenge: Oily Skin

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Choose: A Hydrating Serum or Mask

It is still important to moisturize even if your grease glands are in overdrive. Instead of lathering on a lotion, look for a hydrating serum or face mask. Serums are highly concentrated, very absorbent, easy to layer, and light. Masks, especially the hydrogel or sheet variety, are a perfect way to infuse water into the skin—the short contact time makes sheen a non-issue.

Try: Boscia Sake Brightening Hydrogel Mask ($8;

If you don't have any specific skin concerns, remember that lotions are less hydrating than creams or oils. Choose products that have ingredients such as gylcerin, dimethicone, and shea oils. There is no doubt that as the winter solstice approaches, special attention needs to be paid to the hydration levels in the skin so that the only ash is in the bottom of your fireplace.

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Photo: Sephora


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