Best Korean Moisturizers for Dry Skin (2018)

Updated 5 years ago

Does your face sometimes feel tight and uncomfortable after cleansing? Or maybe you see some flaking and peeling with rough patches. The worst is when just a simple smile makes your face crack. Literally. If that’s the case, you are experiencing dry skin and require some good ol’ moisturizing to soothe it. Since K-beauty is notable for the recent ‘glass skin’ trend whereby one shows off healthy skin that is plumped up with moisture, it makes sense to look at Korean moisturizers to solve your dry skin woes.

COSRX Advanced Snail 92 All in One Cream

Riding on the hype of snail products, Cosrx has released an advanced hydrating cream that contains an impressive 92% snail secretion filtrate! Before you recoil in disgust, snail mucin is renowned for its skincare benefits as it is rich in hyaluronic acid which pulls in hydration to your outer skin layer. Its efficacy in combating dryness is well-supported by users who claimed this as their go-to moisturizer.

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid

A definite life-saver for dry skin individuals, this serum-like liquid intensely hydrates your skin to conquer dry patches, flaky skin or itchiness for a soothing relief. It is enriched with ceramides which form a protective structure of water and lipids among the skin cells to help strengthen your skin barrier, hence protecting it from moisture loss and treating dryness at its root.

Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream

Having achieved holy grail status with its superb ratings, this cream is the ultimate answer to all your dry skin issues. This is another product that contains 92% of snail mucin, in which reviewers claimed that it helped to restore dry skin to its original, healthy state in as quickly as two weeks. Its fragrance- and parabens-free formulation prevents further aggravation of sensitive, dry skin.

Innisfree The Green Tea Seed Cream

This heavy-duty moisturizing cream is impressive in hydrating dry skin without giving you clogged pores. Acting as a dual shield against dryness, it consists of skin-soothing Jeju green tea to rejuvenate dry, damaged areas while the green tea seed oil forms a protective barrier to retain moisture deep in your skin layers.

belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb

Touted as the best moisturizer for long-lasting hydration by countless users, this thick cream provides up to 26 hours of moisture so that your skin is kept hydrated all the time. It is enriched with comfrey leaf, which is high in allantoin, to stimulate cell regeneration and heal damaged skin while keeping it well-moisturized. Do remember that a little of this goes a long way.

Benton Snail Bee High content Steam Cream

Users loved this thick, hydrating cream for diminishing redness, flaking and rough patches that are caused by dry skin. One reviewer even mentioned that the product stopped the peeling on her face after using it for the second night. Besides being rich in snail secretion filtrate, it also contains niacinamide and sodium hyaluronate to retain water in the skin and boost hydration levels. Wake up to smooth and supple skin with this cult favourite!

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Cream

Made with 63.4% of Super Collagen water particles and formulated with baobab oil which is rich in omega fatty acids, this rich cream sinks deeply into your skin to keep it nourished and well-hydrated. Due to its lightweight consistency, it leaves no greasy residue and is perfect for layering underneath your makeup.

Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream

Users claimed this as their miracle cream for banishing dry skin problems while keeping their skin dewy and reinvigorated all day. Imbued with Laniege’s own air-wetting formula and mini hyaluronic acid particles to better penetrate skin layers, it promises to rejuvenate dry skin, giving you a healthy, glowing complexion.

Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream

This vegan-friendly cream deeply hydrates dry skin while soothing redness and irritation.  Formulated with moisture-replenishing ingredients such as shea butter, ceramide 3 and lipidure, it glides on smoothly to keep your skin moisturized all day long without causing your makeup to ball up and pill.

Skin & Lab Red Cream

Fans of this product love it for its effectiveness in keeping dryness at bay. The cream’s gel-like texture creates a protective barrier to keep your skin moist throughout the day. Use it as a night cream and you can look forward to waking up with smooth, glowing skin. It also comes with a complimentary spatula to scoop out the cream so that hygiene is not compromised.

Atopalm Intensive Moisturizing Cream

Using its own multi-lamellar emulsion (MLE) technology which imitates healthy skin’s lipid layer, this product helps to restore your skin to its healthy state. Users declared this cream impressive in repairing dry, damaged skin, and it also relieves more serious skin conditions like eczema. Its parabens-free formula ensures it does not further irritate sensitive skin.

Hera Aquabolic Hydro-Whip Cream

This luxury cream promises to give you skin that is as smooth and satiny as a delicate rose petal. Formulated with moisturizing ingredients such as Rosy-Satin Complex and betaine, it provides intense hydration to revitalise dry skin. With an exquisite rose scent, this is the perfect cream to unwind with after a long day at work.

Scinic Honey All in One Ampoule

With a kickass blend of skin-loving ingredients such as honey, royal jelly, and propolis extract, this product is the answer to your dry skin woes. Honey is well-known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties while royal jelly and propolis are great for soothing dryness. This highly raved product is also bang for your buck due to its inexpensive price tag.  

Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer

Widely-known as the juiciest fruit, watermelons have the highest water content at 92%. It is no wonder then that Glow Recipe utilizes this amazing fruit in its moisturizer to deliver hydration directly to your skin. Its gel-like emulsion sinks quickly into your skin and seals the moisture in so that your skin feels hydrated all day.

Yeouth Day Night Moisturizer for Face

This inexpensive moisturizer is suitable for both day and night use to achieve translucent, dewy skin. It consists of snail extract to repair and soothe dry skin while the hyaluronic acid in it helps your skin to retain moisture, keeping it plumped and supple. Users also loved it for its fast absorption into the skin which makes application a breeze.


With so many options to suit everyone’s needs, say goodbye to dry skin forever!

Moisturizer: Be Skin-Savvy

To clarify, moisturizers are not the same as serums even though some might mistake them as such. A key difference lies in how moisturizers are conditioning skincare products while serums are treatment products. What is conditioning? Most moisturizers consist of essential ‘sealing’ ingredients like emollients which protects the skin’s barrier to lock moisture in while skin-replenishing ingredients like ceramides help to repair it. This also prevents evaporation of moisture from the skin, thereby reducing dryness. On the other hand, serums are highly concentrated actives designed to penetrate deeply into the skin to treat specific problem areas. They do not contain ‘sealing’ ingredients that are key to maintaining your skin’s barrier. As such, by using a conditioning skincare product like moisturizer, it strengthens your skin barrier and restores it to its original, healthy state. Given that most causes of dry skin comes from an impaired skin barrier, this is the main reason why including a good moisturizer in your routine is a top priority.

How to Apply Moisturizer for Dry Skin

It’s best to moisturize after cleansing and toning your face so as to ensure that your skin is clean and ready to receive the full hydration benefits. Since Korean women are well-known for their flawless and luminous skin, it would make sense to try out their 10-steps skincare routine. Yet, the question is at which step should you apply your moisturizer?

The K-Beauty 10-Step Skincare Routine:

  • Makeup Remover or Oil Cleanser: as we all know, you have to remove your makeup first before you pile on the goodness! ‘Nuff said. Tip - an oil cleanser is great for removing stubborn traces of makeup.

  • Water-based Cleanser: as part of the commonly-known double cleansing regime, make sure to follow up with a good water-based cleanser to whisk away any remaining impurities and residue.

  • Exfoliator: sloughing off dead skin is important for cell renewal to keep your complexion smooth and radiant. You can exfoliate once or twice a week, depending on your needs and schedule.

  • Toner: this is essential for recalibrating your pH levels after cleansing, and to prep your skin for the next step.

  • Essence: this is the second-most essential step of the skincare routine. An essence usually contains an active to boost cell regeneration for brighter, clearer skin.  

  • Treatments: this is where your ampoules, serums and boosters come in. They are typically much more concentrated than essences, which makes them effective at resolving various skin concerns.

  • Sheet Masks: another must-have in the routine given their amazing ability at hydrating the skin which is perfect for dry skin users. You can do a sheet mask as many times a week as you like since these can be used on a daily basis.

  • Eye Cream: yes, it’s important to moisturize the face, but let’s not forget our eyes too. Eye creams are jam-packed with nourishing and hydrating ingredients to protect the delicate skin around the eye area.

  • Moisturizer: this is where the star product comes in. Remember to gently tap in your moisturizer to ensure it sinks in so that it can work its wonders.

  • Sunscreen: sun protection is extremely important for those with dry skin since UV rays can further damage the skin barrier and exacerbate the problem. Remember to reapply as needed.

What is the right way to apply moisturizer?

  • Tap, Not Rub: Korean women are well-known for patiently tapping skincare products onto their face instead of rubbing it in. And there is a good reason behind using this specific action. While most of us might be inclined to rub since it seems like the foolproof way of ensuring that the product gets absorbed into the skin, rubbing is actually detrimental to the skin since it stretches the skin which gives you wrinkles. Rubbing also increases the chance of irritating sensitive skin. So ladies, the next time you put on your moisturizer (or any skincare products), remember to tap it in instead.  
  • Let It Sink In: this is really important to ensure that your skin receives the full moisturizing benefits from the product. Wait for a few minutes to let it penetrate into the skin, then move onto the next step in your routine.

Tips for relieving dry skin:

Besides investing in a good face moisturizer, below are some other lifestyle tips on how to alleviate dry skin:

  • Use a Humidifier: keeping a humidifier nearby helps to add moisture to the air in your indoor environment which is a great relief for dry skin.
  • Avoid Hot Showers: maybe a hot shower at the end of the day to soothe those tired muscles is what you want but it will definitely not help your dry skin. This is because hot water strips away the skin’s natural oils which means removing its protective barrier and worsening your dry skin problems. Instead, consider using warm to lukewarm water for your bath.
  • Use an Overnight Sleeping Mask: while moisturizers are essential to your daily routine, sometimes your skin may need an extra boost. Enter overnight sleeping masks which are a notch above your usual creams. These work to deeply moisturize inner skin layers as you sleep so that you wake up with a luminous glow on your face. Go for those with hyaluronic acid and ceramides as these specifically target dryness.

Dermatologists also advise not to forget your neck and décolletage areas as they tend to show the first signs of ageing. So remember to include your neck, throat and the chest skin just below it as you go through your moisturizing routine.

What Causes Dry Skin?

The skin is made up of three layers - epidermis (outermost layer), dermis (beneath the epidermis) and hypodermis (innermost layer). When the skin experiences symptoms of dryness such as flaking, rough patches or tightness, it is oftentimes due to a breach in the epidermal barrier. This is because one of the integral functions of the barrier is to maintain water content and balance in the skin. When the barrier is working well, your skin feels supple, smooth and bouncy. When this barrier is compromised or weakened, the skin loses its ability to regulate its hydration levels and lock in moisture, thereby leading to dry and rough skin.

More causes for dry skin

  • Ageing: your skin ages every year which means a reduction in its ability to synthesize naturally hydrating ingredients like ceramides and lipids to keep it moisturized. This will increase your likelihood of having dry skin over time.
  • Low Humidity: during certain seasons, the air becomes colder and dryer which signifies lower moisture in the air. This can greatly affect your skin since low humidity causes enzymes in the skin to become less effective at producing naturally moisturizing factors which are essential in keeping the skin hydrated.
  • Soaps: harsh chemicals in your body wash or face cleanser can easily strip away your skin’s natural oils, resulting in that overly-tight feeling. Moreover, fragrances found in scented products tend to irritate already sensitive skin. As such, it is best to keep an eye out for mild, gentle products that exclude parabens and fragrances in the ingredient list.
  • Hard Water: you may be surprised to hear that water could be the culprit behind your dry skin. This is because when it is highly concentrated in minerals, it can thicken the oils on your skin which will clog glands and prevent moisturizing ingredients from being absorbed. Maybe it’s time to invest in a filtration system in your bathroom.
  • Overusing Chemical Peels: it is important to note that overusing chemical exfoliants can create an adverse effect on your skin instead of benefiting it. Most peels are highly concentrated or contain potent actives which are not suitable for frequent use. Try to limit these products’ usage to once or twice a week. If you still experience dry skin symptoms, speak with your dermatologist to explore more suitable alternatives for you.
  • Air Travel: while the jet-setting lifestyle sounds really glamorous, it can be rather taxing on your skin. Being confined in a small area with zero humidity is not doing your skin any favours. That glass of red you just had probably isn’t going to help either. So pack a heavy-duty moisturizer in your carry-on for easy application, and remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
  • Air-conditioning: ahh, that cool air sure feels good on hot days. But could it be causing you dry skin? Air-conditioning actually contributes to drier air and lower humidity in offices and homes, which disrupts your skin’s moisture levels.
  • Diet: if you are actively cutting out oil-based foods like salmon and fish oil supplements, stop! When your diet lacks in omega-3 fatty acids, it can lead to dry skin since these fats are essential to maintaining a healthy skin barrier.  


Dry skin is not a condition that you have to put up with for life. More often than not, it is caused by a combination of internal and external factors which can be resolved with certain changes to your lifestyle. So look at what is triggering your dry skin problems and adjust your daily routine accordingly. But first and foremost, you should start by looking for a suitable moisturizer to alleviate that dryness.