No one likes dry skin. It feels uncomfortable, and if left untended, it can actually lead to other skin concerns. But keeping skin hydrated takes more than just a quick swipe of lotion.

Proper skin hydration requires the right ingredients and the right application. To get a breakdown of what type of moisturizers we should be using, we asked board-certified Dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick from MDCS Dermatology how to hydrate skin. See what she had to say below.

The Importance of Moisturizing

According to Dr. Garshick, the skin barrier weakens and loses moisture with age. This causes dryness, sensitivity, irritation, dullness, and wrinkles. To combat this, you should moisturize your skin regularly.

"When we hydrate the skin, it helps plump the skin, improves the overall texture, and gives the skin a healthy, refreshed look," she says.

Look for the Right Ingredients

Dr. Garshick names glycerin and hyaluronic acid as key ingredients for drawing moisture into the skin. Studies have shown that glycerin hydrates the outer layer of the skin, improves skin barrier function, protects against skin irritants, and helps heal wounds. Hyaluronic acid has been proven to help skin retain moisture.

She also names ceramides as another helpful ingredient. "When hydrating the skin, it is also important to lock the moisture in by looking for ingredients that help support and strengthen the skin barrier, such as ceramides, to prevent further moisture loss," she says. Specifically, ceramides are known for keeping moisture from escaping the skin and protecting the skin from other environmental aggressors. A ceramide-enhanced moisturizer to try is EltaMD Moisture-Rich Body Crème.

While there are some great skin care ingredients that are known to have the opposite effect, you don't have to swear them off; you just need to balance them out. "It is important to always remember when using ingredients that may be drying or irritating to the skin — such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid — to also use a moisturizer to help support the skin barrier and restore hydration, allowing increased tolerability of the product," she says.

She says you can hydrate skin using moisturizers, serums, and even sunscreens, as long as they have known moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides. You may not want to rely on just your sunscreen, however. If you're getting your hydration from a purpose-made product like EltaMD PM Therapy at night, you can branch out to other SPF products like EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 or EltaMD UV Glow Broad-Spectrum SPF 36 to protect the skin from sun damage.

Additionally, you'll want to avoid harsh soaps and scrubs as those can strip the skin of its natural oils and leave the skin susceptible to dryness and irritation. She also says to avoid long, hot showers as they will dry out the skin; lukewarm water is best.

Moisturize Daily and in the Right Amount

Dr. Garshick recommends moisturizing one to two times a day. For those with dry or sensitive skin, she says it might be beneficial to moisturize certain areas like your hands after every time you wash them to prevent further dryness.

When moisturizing your face, she says to use a nickel to a quarter-sized amount of moisturizer. For the body, she says to use a quarter-sized amount for each area—chest, arms, and legs. While it may vary, she says generally it's best to apply an even layer of moisturizer across your desired area.

She also recommends moisturizing soon after you shower to really help lock in moisture. And yes, there is a thing as too much moisturizing. You don't want to over-moisturize your face, as constant overuse of a product will impede natural oil production and inadvertently lead to dryness.

Thankfully, figuring out how to hydrate skin isn't complicated. Just remember to find the right ingredients and stick to a routine, and you'll be good to go.


  • Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.