When you hear the word "hydration," what do you think of? For me, it's water. I know water nourishes my body and helps hydrate my skin to keep me mostly acne-free (seriously, one sip of soda and there goes a pimple), but skin needs more than just water to be properly quenched.
In order to figure out how to achieve that, Shop TODAY consulted a few skin experts and rounded up their favorite products for happy, hydrated skin.
What to look for in hydrating skin care products
With so many products on the market touting hydrating effects, choosing the right ones for you can be tricky. An easy place to start is checking out the ingredients.
"Hydration is about bringing moisture to the skin, so some ingredients that are useful for this include humectants — which help to draw moisture in — including hyaluronic acid (which can hold 1,000 times its weight in water) and glycerin," says New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick. She also recommends using AHAs like lactic acid and glycolic acid, which both have humectant properties, as well.
What are the benefits of using hydrating skin care products?
Experts agree that regular use of hydrating products leave the skin looking and feeling healthy, nourished and plumper in the long term. "As someone who has been examining faces for almost 20 years, I can tell you the benefits to someone who takes care of their skin with hydrating products versus someone who does not is night and day!" Connecticut-based esthetician Nicole Caroline tells us.
"Dry skin attracts inflammatory cells, which creates redness and itchiness. So keeping your skin properly hydrated every day is a great way to keep it youthful," adds board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rita Linkner.
Hydrating skin care products, recommended by experts
"This lightweight hydrating cream absorbs easily without leaving the skin feeling greasy and contains a combination of glycerin (a great humectant), pro-vitamin B5, vitamin E and borage seed oil to help boost hydration and leave the skin feeling moisturized for up to 12 hours," Garshick says.
"The low molecular weight of hyaluronic acid allows the serum to penetrate beneath the skin's surface resulting in boosted hydration and a dewy glow," Garshick explains. This serum can be used up to twice a day and followed by a moisturizing cream.
"This face moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid and mineral-rich Vichy Volcanic Water to simultaneously help boost hydration and support the skin barrier, leaving the skin looking smoother and plumper," says Garshick. "It is easy to use and can be used on its own or followed by a thicker moisturizing cream. It is oil-free so [it] won’t clog the pores and can be used by all skin types."
"For those who prefer a mask option to help boost hydration, this mask will leave the skin feeling soft and smooth when it is rinsed off the next morning, as it contains glycerin in conjunction with ceramides and peptides to also help support the skin barrier and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," says Garshick.
"This silky, lightweight serum contains a mix of five molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, helping to attract moisture at different layers of the skin, improving the overall appearance of the skin and leaving the skin looking plump and refreshed," says Garshick.
Caroline recommends this hyaluronic serum to boost hydration. It comes in sets of 10 or 30 ampoules. They contain low- and medium-molecular weight hyaluronic acid to help improve the appearance of fine lines while also improving the appearance of tired-looking skin.
Caroline recommends this moisturizer that is infused with sodium hyaluronate (a derivative of hyaluronic acid) to help tackle fine lines and wrinkles. "My skin has never looked or felt better," wrote one Dermstore reviewer.
"This classic hydrating serum combines vitamin B5 with hyaluronic acid to provide extra hydration and replenish lost moisture," Garshick tells us. "While it can be used with or without a moisturizer, I find it enhances the benefits of a daily moisturizer and generally recommend using it prior to applying your moisturizing cream. It is oil-free so [it] can be used by those with acne-prone skin and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth."
This cruelty-free recommendation from Caroline has 1,000 five-star reviews on Sephora and over 77,000 likes. "[It's the] best serum I’ve ever used," one reviewer raved. "I have cystic rosacea and large pores. It has calmed my rosacea to almost nothing after about three weeks [of] use."
Linkner calls this a "great moisturizer with active [ingredients] like the emollient dimethicone and allantoin, which has great wound healing powers, [and] together provide a very calming effect." This treatment touts several benefits like relieving redness and protecting skin from the drying effects of wind and cold weather.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article stated the first product, Rodan + Fields Soothe Moisturizing Rescue Cream, was recommended by Dr. Rita Linkner, which was incorrect. It has now been replaced with the correct product, Rodan + Fields Soothe Sensitive Skin Treatment.
Meet the experts
- Dr. Marisa K. Garshick, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist for MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery. She serves patients in Manhattan, New York, and Clifton, New Jersey.
- Nicole Caroline is a master esthetician based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
- Dr. Rita Linkner, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City and the founder of RVL Skincare.