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The 8 best serums for dry skin, according to our experts

While everyone’s skin is different, these hydration heroes may soothe, nourish, and transform your complexion.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 21, 2023 • 9 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
Woman Hydrating Skin
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 21, 2023 • 9 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

When you’re dealing with dry skin, it can feel like an endless search to find the products that keep your skin hydrated and soft—after all, there are so many to choose from. But at Curology, we’re on a mission to take the guesswork out of skincare. That’s why our dermatology experts are sharing the best serums for dry skin that may prove beneficial for your own complexion.

Whether you have dry skin due to aging, genetics, or external factors, understanding what causes your dryness and using products with the right hydrating ingredients may help you get a complexion that radiates health and vitality. Remember, everyone’s skin is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to talk to your dermatology provider!

What causes dry skin? 

A combination of external and internal factors can cause dry skin. If you deal with dryness, it can be helpful to understand the factors that can lead to it.

External causes of dry skin

Externally, lifestyle habits and environmental conditions can contribute to dryness. Harsh cleansing methods, such as frequent hot showers and strong soaps, can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness. Environmental factors like cold weather, low humidity, dry indoor heat, and intense sunlight can dehydrate your skin, leaving it dry and flaky. Occupational factors, such as exposure to irritating chemicals, can further worsen your dry skin.¹

Internal causes of dry skin

Internally, various factors can play a role in causing dryness. Changes in your skin's lipid composition and organization can disrupt its natural barrier, leading to increased water loss and dry skin. Also, reduced activity of Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs), which are elements responsible for maintaining skin hydration, can contribute to dryness.Curology’s experts share the top serums for dry skin. These hydration heroes can help soothe, nourish, and transform your complexion. 

Sometimes, dryness can be caused by an underlying health condition.³ Skin diseases, including inflammatory and infectious skin disorders, can disrupt your skin’s moisture balance and result in dry skin. Internal or systemic diseases such as inflammatory and psychiatric diseases can also impact your skin’s hydration levels and lead to dryness. Finally, dietary factors, such as dehydration and malnutrition may have side effects that include dry skin.⁴

By understanding the causes of dry skin, both external and internal, you can make informed choices in your skincare routines and take the necessary steps to prevent and manage dryness effectively.

Ingredients that hydrate your skin 

When it comes to hydrating your skin, various ingredients play an important role in preventing water loss, attracting and binding water, and maintaining optimal hydration levels. Here are some ingredients known for their moisturizing properties:⁵

Occlusive moisturizers: Occlusive moisturizers often contain substances that help form a barrier on your skin’s surface to prevent water loss and promote hydration. 

Examples of ingredients that can be used as an occlusive moisturizer include:

  • Petrolatum

  • Mineral oil

  • Paraffin

  • Squalene

  • Vegetable oils (Such as castor oil and soybean oil)

  • Cholesterol

  • Ceramides

Humectants: These substances attract and bind water to your skin, effectively hydrating it.⁶ Some humectants like urea can increase your skin's penetration as well, so your skincare products are absorbed more efficiently.

Common humectants include:

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid, and lactic acid

  • Urea

  • Glycerin

  • Honey

  • Propylene glycol

  • Sorbitol

  • Hyaluronic acid

Fatty acids: Fatty acids, such as stearic acid, are commonly used as emulsifiers in skincare products.⁷ They work synergistically to maintain skin hydration, support the function of your skin barrier, and ensure the optimal delivery of moisturizing ingredients.

These ingredients, whether used individually or in combination, contribute to effective skin hydration and help improve your skin’s moisture balance. Incorporating products containing these moisturizing ingredients into your skincare routine may provide the hydration and nourishment necessary for healthy, supple skin.

It’s important to remember that individual skin types and sensitivities may vary, so look to perform a patch test and consult with a dermatology provider to determine which ingredients are best suited for your specific needs.

8 best serums for dry skin, according to our experts 

Now that you know what causes dryness and what ingredients are best for hydrating your skin, let’s take a look at 8 different moisturizers on the market today that you may want to consider.

1. La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum

This serum has key ingredients that are beneficial for dry skin. Hyaluronic acid acts as a potent humectant, attracting and retaining moisture in your skin and providing hydration.⁸ Vitamin B5 also helps keep the skin soft.⁹

2. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum

This serum is specifically designed to hydrate the skin, making it suitable for dry skin types. The key ingredient, hyaluronic acid, attracts and retains water, effectively replenishing moisture levels. Its lightweight and non-comedogenic formula ensures hydration without clogging pores, promoting overall skin health.

3. Paula's Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturizer

This moisturizer may be beneficial for dry skin due to the inclusion of ceramides. Ceramides replenish the skin’s lipid barrier, preventing moisture loss and promoting hydration.¹⁰ The addition of vitamin C and retinol may provide extra skin benefits, such as brightening and anti-aging effects.¹¹

4. Darphin Hydraskin Intensive Skin-Hydrating Serum

Formulated with hyaluronic acid, this serum works to retain moisture in your skin, providing hydration to combat dryness. The presence of natural botanical extracts offers additional hydration and antioxidant benefits.

5. SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

Much like the serum by La Roche-Posay, this gel formula combines hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 to deliver hydration and aid in skin repair. Its oil-free nature makes it suitable for all skin types, including dry skin, ensuring sufficient moisturization without excessive greasiness.

6. Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner

With aloe vera as a key ingredient yet, this toner may provide hydrating effects for dry skin. Alongside maintaining skin moisture, aloe vera also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the skin.¹²

7. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

This serum contains a powerful combination of vitamins C and E, along with ferulic acid. Ferulic acid offers multiple benefits for the skin. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Widely used in skincare, it acts as a photoprotective agent, delays skin aging, and brightens the complexion.¹³

8. Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Enriched with pineapple ceramide and pro-vitamin B5, this serum provides intensive hydration to dry skin. It works to retain moisture, promoting a healthier and more hydrated complexion.

Choosing the serum that’s best for you

When it comes to choosing the best serum for your skin, there are several important factors to consider. Start by identifying your specific skin type, so you know what types of serums to look for. Next, determine your targeted skincare goals, such as hydration, anti-aging, brightening, or acne-fighting.

Pay attention to key ingredients that are suitable for your needs. For dry skin, look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or nourishing ingredients like ceramides. Ensure the serum you choose is compatible with your existing skincare routine, as it should seamlessly fit in and complement the other products you use.

Setting a budget is also important, as quality serums are available at different price points. Perform a patch test on a small area of your skin to check for any potential allergies or reactions. Also, you may consider the brand reputation and reviews from other users to gain insights into the serum’s performance and efficacy.

Keep in mind that choosing the right serum tailored to your needs is best done with advice and guidance of a dermatology expert.

Hydrate your skin with Curology 

Hydrating your skin is essential for maintaining a healthy, radiant complexion. With Curology, you can find products that help provide the hydration your skin needs. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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curology bottle

Curology’s moisturizer is formulated with carefully selected ingredients that provide optimal hydration to the skin. The featured ingredients play a key role in deeply hydrating and maintaining moisture levels:

Hyaluronic acid attracts water molecules, allowing it to hydrate and plump your skin deeply. It helps restore moisture balance and improve your skin’s overall hydration. Glycerin is a humectant that works by attracting and locking water into the skin's outer layer. It helps maximize moisture levels and promotes long-lasting hydration, leaving your skin soft and supple.

These key ingredients, alongside other carefully chosen ingredients, work together to provide deep hydration and nourishment to your skin, leaving it refreshed, moisturized, and glowing. Try it out today and give your skin the hydration it craves!


What type of serum is best for dry skin?

The best serum for dry skin is one that suits your skin type and contains proven hydrating ingredients such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients help replenish moisture and promote hydration in the skin.¹⁴

Should you put the serum on dry skin?

Yes, applying serums to dry skin can be beneficial as they help hydrate and nourish your skin.  Remember, everyone’s skin is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. If you have any questions, talk to your dermatology provider!

Which is better for dry skin serum or oil?

Both serums and oils have benefits for dry skin. Serums deliver concentrated active ingredients deep into your skin, often including hydrators like hyaluronic acid. On the other hand, oils provide a barrier that prevents moisture loss, making them ideal for dry skin. Consulting with a dermatology provider can help determine which option is best suited for your individual skin needs.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework, so you don’t have to:

  1. Gade, A., et al. Xeroderma. StatPearls. (2022, November 15). 

  2. Proksch, E., et al. Dry skin management: practical approach in light of latest research on skin structure and function. J Dermatolog Treat. (November 2020).

  3. Gade, A., et al. Xeroderma. StatPearls. Ibid.

  4. Gade, A., et al. Xeroderma. StatPearls. Ibid.

  5. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. (2022, August 21).

  6. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. Ibid.

  7. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. Ibid.

  8. Draelos, Z.D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). (August 2021).

  9. Ebner, F., et al. Topical use of dexpanthenol in skin disordersAm J Clin Dermatol. (2002, n.d.).

  10. Berkers, T., et al. Topically Applied Ceramides Interact with the Stratum Corneum Lipid Matrix in Compromised Ex Vivo Skin. Pharm Res. (2018, February 6).

  11. Mukherjee, S., et al. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety Clin Interv Aging. (December 2006).

  12. Surjushe, A., et al. Aloe vera: a short review. Indian J Dermatol. (2008, n.d.).

  13. Zduńska, K., et al. Antioxidant Properties of Ferulic Acid and Its Possible Application. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. (2018, September 20).

  14. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. Ibid.

Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Erin Pate Nurse Practitioner, NP-C

Erin Pate, NP-C

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