I Tried these 5 Moisturizers to Find the Best One to Add to Your Winter Skincare Routine

Winter is here, which means dryer skin and having to up your self-care game. Lucky for you, the one thing I've always struggled with during the winter is dry skin. So I went out and bought four moisturizers to compare with my current moisturizer, determined to find the best of the best to save my – and your – skin in this dry winter weather!

I used each product for four days and took before and after pictures of my skin; my before on the left and my after on the right. I noted how my face felt when I first put the product on versus after four days, and rated each one on a scale from one to ten, one being the worst and ten being the best. I also forwent any masks or nose strips to ensure that nothing tampered with my results – the only product I used in addition was my Neutrogena face soap.

Now let’s get down in the pores!

1. Olay Complete Daily Moisturizer With Sunscreen ($14)

This moisturizer popped out to me when I first saw it. A moisturizer with sunscreen in it? That’s the best of both worlds! I was curious to see if this moisturizer would have a sunscreen consistency to it and, behold, when I pumped a bit into my hand, that was the first thought that popped into my head.

Upon application, the moisturizer was smooth and soft on my skin. I was excited for the potential of this moisturizer to live up to my expectations, but then I felt a slight burn on my cheeks. Now, my cheeks are the driest area on my face, and they’re so sensitive they usually turn red when interacting with a new product (or even just feeling the wind hit my face). I decided to also ask my mom how my face looked with the moisturizer on to get a second opinion, and she said that my face looked greasy. I was absolutely brokenhearted, because my expectations for this product went out the window by my second use. 

side by side of woman looking at camera Original photo by Nicole Wojnicki

Overall, I felt like my left eye was left burning a bit. It also felt like I had an oily layer over my skin, probably because of the sunscreen. Despite its flaws, my face actually did feel moisturized and hydrated, so I give it a six out of ten.

2. Cetaphil Daily Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion ($18)

I’d heard a lot about how good Cetaphil is, which is why I just had to try out their moisturizer and see for myself. Seeing how this was also an oil-free moisturizer designed for dry skin, I was hoping this would do wonders for me. Overall, the moisturizer dried in quickly, but then started to burn on my face. I also noticed red bolts on my face during the final application. 

side by side of woman looking at camera Original photo by Nicole Wojnicki

I liked how you could actually feel the moisturizer soak up into your skin, compared to the Olay one which was greasy on your face. But while I loved how quickly it dried and how gentle it felt on my face, I can’t ignore the fact that it gave me red bolts. I give Cetaphil a eight out of ten.

3. Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($14)

I received this in the mail as a sample and needed an excuse to try it. The fact that it has collagen in it had me excited to try it, since collagen has a lot of reported benefits for your skin’s health. I expected this to make my skin perfect. While this was a brand I’d never heard of, I had high hopes that this could help my skin over time.

Oh dear, was this a disaster! As soon as I applied it, my skin felt like it was on fire and my face turned red as the sun. It was extremely greasy, leaving a shiny residue on my hands.

red greasy hand Original photo by Nicole Wojnicki

The worst part was how it smelled. It was so bad, I gagged. I couldn’t use this for three more days, so I threw it away and moved on to the next moisturizer. I give this moisturizer a one out of ten, since it did absolutely nothing for my skin and smells terrible. You can even see in the picture below how uncomfortable I looked after one use. 

woman looking at the camera looking unsure Original photo by Nicole Wojnicki

4. Garnier Green Labs Canna-B ($22)

I really wanted to try a moisturizer with cannabis in it, and the moment I saw this on a commercial, I knew I had to try it.

Even with the cannabis, nothing can stop the flare ups I have on my cheeks. I also felt a slight flare up underneath my eyelids. They may’ve been red, but I liked the feel of the moisturizer on my face. It probably takes second in feel, with Cetaphil beating it. I was hoping the cannabis in this moisturizer would calm the flare ups I had with other products, but it did not. I’m disappointed because I expected more from this cannabis moisturizer. Overall, I rate it a seven out of ten.

side by side of woman smiling Original photo by Nicole Wojnicki

5. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($25)

This is the moisturizer I’ve been using for years now. I absolutely love the Neutrogena Hydro Boost line (I even use the Hydro Boost body lotion on my skin) and if I could, I’d buy every product in the line.

side by side woman looking at camera Original photo by Nicole Wojnicki

I always love the water feel of this cream. It feels smooth on my skin. Overall, this face moisturizer is my favorite one. My face feels hydrated and silky. I still have red cheeks and flare ups which usually go away after a week of constant use. This moisturizer literally feels like I’m putting water on my face. Still love and want to buy the whole line. Overall, I rate it a ten out of ten.

Score wise, the Neutrogena moisturizer won because it was the best moisturizer for my skin. Feeling wise, I liked the Cetaphil, because it was almost like you'd never even applied moisturizer to your face. It had a more natural feel compared to the others, which were all more of a heavy moisturizer. 

If you aren't already using one, I definitely recommend trying a moisturizing cream this winter. It will definitely up your skincare game. Your skin gets dry from the heat, from the blowers in your car to the temperature of your shower. Moisturizer (and drinking lots and lots of water) gives your skin the benefit of counteracting the damage the heat is doing. Before you invest in a moisturizer, I recommend you read reviews first, and buy the smallest size they have to give yourself a trial period. That way if your skin doesn’t react well, you can throw it away without feeling like you wasted too much money. Happy moisturizing!

The Her Campus National Editors write about products we love and think you'll love too. Her Campus has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase. All products are in stock and all prices are accurate as of publication.