7 Heavy-Duty Moisturizers That Live Up To Their Promises

Your flaky face will thank you.
Publish date:
March 19, 2014
moisturizers, clinique, cerave, face creams, Mario Badescu, Kiehl's, pond's

Remember when I fell in love with the costly Dr. Jart+ moisturizer a few months ago? It was my first foray outside of the world of drugstore products, and more importantly, it was my first step towards seriously upping my moisturizing regimen. Using a moisturizer that was not only effective but also enjoyable to use helped me to take better care of my skin.

Still, this winter has been rough. My skin has been red, dry and flaky. Sometimes, I’d put makeup on and be forced to take it all off because it clung to dry patches--not a good look. I finally ran out of the Dr. Jart+ recently and decided to search for something else. I knew I needed something way heavier to get me through the cold weather still to come.

I decided to once again try a selection of both drugstore and higher-end moisturizers. These are all moisturizers for really dry skin, so if you have oily or even normal skin, proceed with caution.

Pond’s Dry Skin Cream

I decided to try this one for two reasons: Pond’s is a drugstore classic that women of all ages swear by, and also you get a ton of product for the price. It’s effective, too. It’s not the the heaviest moisturizer; it goes on lightly and absorbs quickly, leaving behind only a slight sheen for a few minutes. It was more than adept at eradicating dryness and, true to its claims, it didn’t bother my sensitive skin in any way.

For me, the biggest problem is the smell. If you like the Pond’s scent and you have the annoying combination of very dry skin and a tight budget (I can sympathize), then this might be the smartest choice for you. However, if you can’t stand the smell and you’re willing to pay a little bit more for a different drugstore classic, this next one might be better for you.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream For Normal to Dry Skin

This is another cheap drugstore buy that will last you forever and ever, and it is blessedly fragrance-free. The texture is similar to the Pond’s. It’s white, moderately thick, and very creamy. It takes a little longer to blend in and leaves more of a sheen, but that gets absorbed quickly. It didn’t irritate my skin, and definitely provided adequate moisture (no flakiness or dry patches while using this). If you’re looking for an excellent fragrance-free drugstore moisturizer for dry skin, this one is the best value for your money.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream

A dollop of this takes even longer to blend than the previous two moisturizers, though it does absorb completely within five minutes. It has a funny consistency, somewhere in-between jello and pudding. If you open it and shake the jar a little, you can see the moisturizer jiggling. I can’t help but do this every time I use it.

It’s technically fragrance-free but if you really sniff, you can smell a faint scent. It’s also paraben-free.

It claims to provide 24-hour hydration, so I put it on first thing in the morning and by the end of the day, my skin was still soft and bright--but not shiny or greasy. I can’t explain why exactly, but this cream probably had my favorite consistency out of all of them. I’m a relatively new fan of Kiehl’s, and after using this cream I can’t wait to try more of their products.

Clinique Moisture Surge Intense

Like the Kiehl’s cream, this cream has no added fragrance but you do get a slight whiff of something when you open the (very pretty) jar.

Anyway, the name Moisture Surge Intense is perfect for this product. It has a thick, gel-like consistency and goes on very smoothly. It takes a few minutes to absorb, but it doesn’t leave behind any greasiness or stickiness once it does. This cream also promises 24-hour hydration, and it lived up to the promise without giving me a shiny face all day.

Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask

Since this is an overnight "mask," it makes sense that it’s a lot thicker than the aforementioned cream. It still blends really well, though, so you won’t have to go to sleep on your back for fear of smearing greasy moisturizer all over your pillow. I was really, really excited about that because I prefer to sleep with my face smashed into my pillow.

You get a lot of product with this, and it comes in a handy squeeze tube. If you’re looking specifically for a heavy-duty night cream that will actually allow you to sleep with it on, get this stuff. No fragrance or greasiness to bother you, and it will do all the work for you while you sleep. When I woke up in the morning after using this, my skin looked and felt so much better.

Mario Badescu Cream “X”

It has a pleasant, almost perfumey scent that my sister described as “an old lady smell” but that I like. It’s not overbearing, but if you hate fragranced products then this might not be for you.

This is a very thick, almost waxy cream. The jar is small, but I was floored when I opened it and saw how insanely dense it is. Since you only need a little bit, I imagine it lasts a very long time. It does go on rather heavily (which is why you shouldn’t use too much) but if you blend it in and give it some time to absorb, you could easily wear it during the day under your makeup.

Alternatively, it makes for a fantastic night cream. I woke up with glowing skin every morning after using this the night before. The very first ingredient is peanut oil, which is apparently great for dry skin because it has high levels of vitamin A and vitamin E. It’s not the prettiest packaging, but it felt positively luxurious to use. It’s the kind of product that I look forward to using.

Mario Badescu Hydrating Moisturizer with Biocare and Hyaluronic Acid

This is another excellent Mario Badescu option. If you want something that’s not quite as heavy as Cream “X” (and less expensive) then you should consider this moisturizer.

The best part is that it comes out of a squeeze bottle--so no dipping your fingers in a jar-- and there is no fragrance.

To sum it up, if you’re looking for a drugstore moisturizer to baby your dry skin, go with Pond’s, or with CeraVe if you want fragrance-free. Either one will give you a lot of bang for your buck. If you’re willing to spend a little bit more money and you want something fragrance-free that absorbs quickly, you can’t go wrong with Clinique, Kiehl’s, or the Mario Badescu Hydrating Moisturizer (which has the added benefit of the easy squeeze tube packaging). And if you’re willing to spend top dollar for the heaviest, most luxurious cream out there, Mario Badescu Cream “X” is amazing. I’m planning to purchase at least one of these two next winter.

All of the moisturizers that I listed here worked really well but remember, the most important part of finding the right moisturizer is making sure you enjoy the experience of putting it on every day. No moisturizer is going to work when it’s sitting in the back of your medicine cabinet.

What's your favorite, ultra-hydrating moisturizer?