10 Best Face Moisturizers to Survive Canadian Winters (2020 Reviews)


Zoya Ahmad

Last Updated:

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Quick overview

Let’s talk about it — Canadian winter is pretty rough and it takes a serious toll on your skin. Gone are the days of sun-kissed tans and in comes dry and parched skin. 

Using a facial moisturizer every morning and every night is essential to combat the dryness this cold weather brings. Healthy skin is hydrated skin which means moisturizer is the single most important step in your winter skincare routine. 

Each of the products listed below will help hydrate your skin while also lightening acne scars, minimizing any fine lines or wrinkles, and overall brightening your complexion. With so many different products available, we know it can be overwhelming. 

Lucky for you, we have shortlisted ten of our favourite moisturizers based on different skin types and price points. Find one that works best for you and get ready to kiss your winter skin goodbye! 

Best face moisturizers of 2020

Our research

12

Research Sources

20

Products Evaluated

38k+

Reviews Considered

8

Hours of Research

Best face moisturizers comparison

NeutrogenaSummer FridaysThe OrdinaryDrunk ElephantCetaphilEmbryolisseOlayMuradFirst Aid BeautyWeleda
Best forOverallOvernightValueDry SkinOily SkinLightweightSPFRetinolFace & BodyLongevity
TextureGelThick creamCreamRich CreamLight CreamSilky CreamCreamCreamHeavy CreamRich Cream
Fragrance FreeYesNo synthetic fragranceYesYesYesNoYesNo synthetic fragrancesYesYes
Cruelty FreeNoYesYesYesNoYesNoYesYesYes
Notable IngredientsHyaluronic acidVitamin C, Niacinamide, Chestnut ExtractNatural Moisturizing Factors, Hyluronic AcidAfrican Oils, Ceramides, Sodium, Hyaluronate CrosspolymerZinc Gluconate, CeramidesShea Butter, Aloe Vera, Squalane, Vitamin EVitamins, NiacinamideRetinol, Niacinamide, PicolinamideOatmeal, Shea Butter, Eucalyptus Oil, CeramidesExtracts of Gentle Viola Tricolor, Calendula, and Chamomile, Beeswax
SPFNoNoNoNoYes, SPF30NoYes, SPF30NoNoNo
Total Reviews3,3574,2791,1954,9794059542,12162013,9056,228
Aggregate Rating4.44.34.44.34.14.44.3 4.14.44.4

Our pick for best overall – Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream Extra Dry

  • Quantity: 1.7 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Gel
  • Benefits: Hydration

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Lightweight, dries fast without being tacky
  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Keeps skin looking smooth and supple all day

Cons

  • Not a very thick consistency so it is not ideal as a night cream
  • No additional benefits other than hydration
  • Available in a jar so it is not as hygienic as a pump

This gel-cream moisturizer is a fan favourite with numerous rave reviews. It is a simple yet effective no-frills moisturizer that is easily available at most drugstores or even online. The ingredients are gentle, and the formula is dermatologist tested and fragrance-free, oil-free, and dye-free, so it’s unlikely to irritate even if you have sensitive skin. 

It consistently helps strengthen the skin’s barrier against moisture loss. Since it is extremely lightweight, it is fast-absorbing and will not take long to hydrate your skin. As a result, your skin will not look greasy even with a lot of product on which is ideal for daytime application.

Value

In the world of skincare, it is available, at what is considered, a pretty reasonable price point. A jar that will last you around two months if you use it as your daily AM moisturizer is a great deal. 

Versatility

It is a lightweight gel formula suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin as it is fragrance-free and oil-free. It is non-comedogenic so it doesn’t clog pores and can be worn under makeup as well.  Sensitive skin is prone to breakouts so products that work for all skin types are rare.  

Ingredients

This moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid which acts as a sponge and absorbs up to 1,000 times its weight in water making your skin plump and supple. Even though it is a gel, it acts and applies like a heavy cream immediately quenching your skin’s thirst. It also contains olive extract which helps improve the overall condition of the skin. 

Longevity

Since it is a lightweight gel product, reapplications throughout the day are essential as it does not last as long as a heavier cream would. It is best to use as only a daytime moisturizer. 

Best for overnight – Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

  • Quantity: 2.25 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Thick Cream
  • Benefits: Hydration + Brightens

Pros

  • Intensely hydrating
  • Brightening, evens out texture
  • Multi-purpose product
  • Clean ingredients

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Tube can be difficult to squeeze towards the end
  • Can be too thick during the summer months especially for day usage

This luxe hydrating mask which is relatively new to the skincare market can be used in multiple ways but the best and most effective way to use it is definitely as an overnight cream. This is the perfect way to use it — after a long night out or for when you have important plans in the morning since you’ll wake up with glowing skin. 

Summer Fridays is a clean, cruelty-free brand that stocks at Sephora and this is their best-selling product. Besides being used as a night cream, it can also be used as an eye cream, a wash-off face mask, under makeup as a primer, and a hydrating cream specifically for use while flying. It will immediately revitalize your skin making it look instantly renewed and radiant especially over the winter. 

Value

It is definitely an expensive and luxurious product with a full-sized tube. With daily consistent use, it will last you about two months or so depending on how frequently you use it. The good thing is that it is also offered in a smaller travel size if you want to try it out without breaking the bank. The brand also runs a recycling program where you can mail them (Summer Fridays covers the shipping) five empty products and get a free travel size in return.

Versatility

It works well for all skin types but works especially well for dry skin in the winter months. For oily skin, it might be a little too heavy in warmer months. 

Ingredients

This thick cream contains many key ingredients including Vitamin C and Niacinamide. Vitamin C will brighten any dark spots you may have and will help combat a dull complexion. Niacinamide helps to reduce your pores and even out any texture.

Longevity 

Given that it is a thick mask-like texture, it stays on the skin for an extended period of time without any need for reapplication.  After 8-10 hours, your skin will be glowing, hydrated, and plump.

Best value – The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA

  • Quantity: 1 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Cream
  • Benefits: Hydration

Pros

  • Unbeatable price
  • Canadian brand 
  • Great basic moisturizer

Cons

  • Doesn’t sink into the skin quickly, it requires some massaging 
  • Not ideal to wear under makeup for those with oily skin

We couldn’t list our favourite moisturizers without giving a special shout out to our very own homegrown Canadian brand — The Ordinary. The Ordinary makes a number of excellent products at affordable prices including this lightweight moisturizer. 

This product is vegan, cruelty-free, and formulated without oil, alcohol, silicone, nuts, gluten, and fragrance. It can be purchased at any of the multiple The Ordinary stores or online.

Value

This is the cheapest moisturizer on our list and is in comparison, if not cheaper, than other drugstore brands. It is a good sized product and will last you at least a month or longer. 

Versatility

It works for all skin types but can be tricky for those with extremely oily skin. It is a lightweight moisturizer but it is not very fast-absorbing so it takes time to sink into the skin and can sometimes become a little greasy. For this reason, those with oily skin prefer to use it at night or at times when they don’t necessarily need to apply makeup over the moisturizer to avoid shine.

Ingredients

This moisturizer contains Natural Moisturizing Factors which keep the skin hydrated with the help of amino acids, fatty acids, urea, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Not only does it result in instantaneously hydrated skin but with continued use, it will continue to stay that way. 

Longevity

It lasts about 6-8 hours on the skin but since it isn’t a heavy cream and is fairly lightweight, it will need reapplications throughout the day or a layer of a facial oil on top to make it last longer. 

Best for dry skin – Drunk Elephant Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream

  • Quantity: 1.69 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Rich Cream
  • Benefits: Hydration + Replenishment

Pros

  • Intensely hydrating
  • Lightweight formula
  • No greasiness or tackiness
  • Calms rosacea and many other skin issues
  • Hygienic pump application

Cons

  • Price is very high
  • Might not suit oily skin since it targets extra dry skin

This textured moisturizer by Drunk Elephant, another one of Sephora’s clean beauty brands, is a cult favourite. Like all other Drunk Elephant products, this moisturizer is oil-free, fragrance-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. 

It’s a luxury rescue cream that provides intense hydration without suffocating the skin or clogging any pores. It replenishes the skin’s barrier and protects it against pollution and other daily stressors. Despite it being a rich cream, it still feels light on the skin and goes on really smoothly because of its unique texture.

Value

This moisturizer is definitely on the pricier side. It should be noted that not much product is needed to sufficiently hydrate the entire face. It comes from a luxury skincare brand and all of their products are in line with this type of pricing. That said, if you have the means to splurge and have dry skin, this is worth checking out.

Versatility

This is specifically targeted at those with extra dry skin. Those with oily skin can use it only as a winter staple otherwise it may clog their pores. 

Ingredients

This luxurious cream is made up of six rare Africal oils, plant ceramide complex, and various other ingredients that help combat signs of aging and help retain long-lasting moisture. It also contains sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer, which has a smaller molecular weight than hyaluronic acid and is able to deeply penetrate the skin, delivering excellent hydration and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Longevity

Since this moisturizer is meant for extra dry skin and dry skin tends to soak up more product than its counterpart, it is made to be a rich and thicker formula that stays on the skin longer. Two pumps of this moisturizer are ideal for a full day of hydrated and soft skin. 

Best for oily skin – Cetaphil PRO DermaControl Oil Control

  • Quantity: 4.1 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Light Cream
  • Benefit: Shine Control + UV Protection

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Sun protection
  • Mattifies skin from excessive shine
  • No greasiness

Cons

  • Only works for oily skin
  • Since it has SPF, it is only for day usage
  • Sunscreen is not waterproof or water resistant
  • Must keep away from eyes

This dermatologist recommended drugstore moisturizer is popular for its 3-in-1 purposes. Those with oily skin often have breakouts and get excessive shine in their T-zone; this product combats that along with providing a base level of protection against the sun while simultaneously adding moisture back into the skin. It is a lightweight and fast-absorbing formula that is Non-comedogenic, non-greasy, and paraben-free.

Value

For a multi-purpose product like this, the price and quantity of this moisturizer is great. Your skin will stay moisturized, protected from the sun, and be less shiny. Since it is only appropriate for daytime, you would just be using it once a day so the moisturizer would last you at least 4 months. 

Versatility

It has specifically been formulated to suit oily skin so it is not suitable for dry skin. It will likely not be heavy enough for drier skin types. Products with sunscreens have a tendency of clogging pores especially for those with oily skin, however, this moisturizer specifically combats that. 

Ingredients

It contains Zinc Gluconate which absorbs excess oil and makes sure your skin is matte and shine-free throughout the day. It also has ceramides that replenish the natural moisture barrier of the skin. It uses oleosome technology to store sunscreen and gradually release it over an extended period of time all while maintaining the integrity of the sunscreen formula. 

Longevity 

It will last on your skin all day but is not meant for night usage partly because of the sunscreen properties and also because at night, thicker moisturizers are recommended for an added level of hydration. This sunscreen is SPF30 which is a good base level but if you are getting more sun exposure and want to be protected from it for a longer time, a number closer to SPF50 is recommended. 

Best lightweight – Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré

  • Quantity: 2.54 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Silky Cream
  • Benefit: Lightweight Hydration + Smoothing Fine Lines

Pros

  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Lightweight 
  • Multi-purpose product

Cons

  • Not as thick as needed for night time winter usage
  • It is difficult to get all the product fully out of the tube when it is almost finished

This unique French moisturizer has a silky and creamy texture but it is still lightweight while being immensely hydrating, which is a rare combination and the reason behind its cult following. It smooths out all fine lines and gives skin a healthy glow making it the perfect moisturizer for the daytime. 

It absorbs into the skin fast and leaves your skin feeling soft, smooth, and supple without feeling greasy. Like most other products, this is also fragrance-free. Tip: It can also be used as a makeup remover, primer, and is great for post-shaving irritation — we love a great multi-purpose product! 

Value

This moisturizer would fall into the mid-range category in terms of price. It is not as expensive as some of the other moisturizers on our list and in general but it is not as cheap as The Ordinary and other drugstore brands. It is pretty much in line with a high-end drugstore brand which is exactly how it is positioned in the French brand matrix.  

Versatility

This moisturizer is suitable for all skin types but is definitely a popular product for more sensitive acne-prone skin. A product that works for sensitive skin typically also works well for both dry and oily skin. For dry skin over the winter, it can be used in combination with a face oil for more nourishing overnight hydration. 

Ingredients

It contains shea butter, aloe vera, and squalane which work together to boost the skin’s elasticity and rebuild the hydrolipidic layer. The soy protein and Vitamin E combination help even out the complexion and overall strengthen the skin.

Longevity

It is a lightweight moisturizer but it feels silky and rich on the skin making it a rare and ideal skincare combination. The lightweight aspect of it makes it absorb into the skin quickly without being greasy but despite how fast it is absorbed, the hydration it brings to the skin stays all day.  At night, you can add a double layer of the moisturizer for more effective rejuvenation. 

Best with SPF – Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Moisturizer

  • Quantity: 1.69 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Cream
  • Benefits: Anti-Aging + UV Protection

Pros

  • Protects from the sun
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Works for all types of skin
  • Many additional benefits apart from hydration
  • Hygienic pump application

Cons

  • Only can be used as a day cream 
  • Might be too thick for oily skin types especially over the summer

This is another great multi-purpose drugstore moisturizer. It cuts your winter skincare routine in half with its seven benefits: it hydrates, replenishes, brightens, evens tone, minimizes the look of pores, restores firmness, and visibly smooths fine lines and wrinkles — all while protecting your skin from the sun.

This nourishing moisturizer is the total package for healthy skin. It is also an oil-free fast-absorbing formula which means it is not greasy and will not clog your pores. It must be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure to work effectively. The sun is the #1 cause for most skin damage and aging and protecting yourself from that is essential.

Value

Olay is a household name and has been a reliable drugstore brand for years. They have a variety of products in different price ranges — this particular product falls into their midrange line.

It is not the cheapest drugstore option but it is cheaper than most other luxury products stocked at Sephora. This will last you about 6 weeks with daily regular use. If you value reliability without breaking the bank, this is a solid option. 

Versatility

This moisturizer is on the heavier side but is made to suit all skin types but preferred amongst those with dry skin. Olay also sells a similar version of this without any SPF which is a little lighter and adds less shine onto the skin targeted towards those with oilier skin.

Ingredients

It contains vitamins and antioxidants which are important in revitalizing the skin while neutralizing damaging radicals to leave your skin more radiant than before. It also has niacinamide which helps reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion.

Longevity

As it is a heavier texture, it is long lasting and makes your skin look hydrated and plump throughout the day. Even in the driest of winter, you will not need to reapply this moisturizer — a single application in the morning will be sufficient for your skin till you sleep. 

Best with retinol – Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

  • Quantity: 1.69 fl. oz.
  • Texture: Cream
  • Benefits: Diminishes Fine Lines & Wrinkles

Pros

  • Effective anti-aging properties
  • Hydrating without being greasy
  • Helps lighten dark spots and scars

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Harsher ingredients which makes skin more sensitive 
  • Only for nighttime and for mature skin

If you’re under 25, you can go right ahead and skip this section! Retinol is Vitamin A, a potent ingredient, more suitable for later ages. It makes your skin cells turnover faster and build new skin cells to reverse the signs of aging.

With regular usage, your skin will become 83% more supple within 4 weeks. This night cream works while you sleep so you can wake up to transformed younger looking skin with visibly reduced lines and wrinkles, smoother texture, firmness and elasticity, and overall hydration.

Value

It is definitely a high-end product and the most expensive one on our list but given that it provides real results and is targeted at an older demographic, it is somewhat understandable. You can buy an effective and hydrating night cream that will completely transform your skin making you look 20 years younger — sounds like a bargain already!

Versatility

Since this product contains retinol, it is not meant for all types of skin. It is recommended to begin using retinol in your late 20s at the very earliest and that too sparingly. 

After 25 is when the elastin production in your skin starts to slow down and using this ingredient helps actively fight the appearance of fine lines, even skin tone, and boost radiance. Once your skin can handle the retinol, it is still not recommended for daily use unless you have developed deep wrinkles. 

Ingredients

Retinol is a harsh ingredient that makes the skin very sensitive to the sun so any product with retinol in it is only suitable at night and must be supplemented with heavy sunscreen the morning after to make sure the skin is not damaged further. 

If you are new to retinol, you need to ease into it and use it every few days so your skin can build up a tolerance for it. This moisturizer also contains niacinamide and picolinimine which help support the skin’s natural protective barrier. 

Longevity

This night cream has been created for overnight use so it does just that. It creates a thick mask-like layer on your skin and hydrates it as you sleep while simultaneously minimizing the signs of aging including the ones you can’t even see yet. 

Best for face & body – First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

  • Quantity: 6 oz
  • Texture: Heavy Cream
  • Benefits: Hydration + Itch Relief

Pros

  • Can be used for face and body
  • Provides itch relief for dry skin
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Not the most hygienic application because you have to stick your fingers in the tub each time
  • It’s on the heavier side so might not work for those who prefer lightweight moisturizers

This cult-favourite moisturizer is thick and can be lathered on the body as well as the face providing ultimate long-term hydration. This makes it an easy product to own since it fulfills many purposes.

This rich moisturizer penetrates and protects the inner layers of the skin without any greasy after feel. It is clinically proven to increase moisture in the skin by up to 169% after only a single usage. It is a clean product — free of fragrances, dyes, parabens, sulfates and cruelty.

Value

For the amount of product in this tub, it is pretty reasonably priced. This is the largest sized product on our list and that makes sense since it is used for both the face and the body. It will definitely last you a good amount of time.

Versatility

It is well suited for those with distressed, itchy skin or even those with eczema as it helps provide itch relief and repairs the skin’s barrier. It is suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin and even babies but it is most popular amongst those with extra dry skin and eczema.

Ingredients

The formula contains oatmeal, shea butter, eucalyptus oil, and ceramides that work together to soothe, calm, and heal skin. The oatmeal works as a skin protectant to relieve itching and minor irritation. 

Longevity

Moisturizers that work for the body are typically more hydrating than those that are just for the face and this one does exactly that. It is extremely thick so it stays on the skin all day. The cream will stay on your body and face for 24 hours. It should be reapplied after every shower and face wash.   

Best for longevity – Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream

  • Quantity: 2.5 oz
  • Texture: Rich Cream
  • Benefits: Long Lasting

Pros

  • Lasts all day
  • Immensely hydrating
  • Also acts as a body cream
  • A little goes a long way
  • Adds radiance to skin

Cons

  • It is not recommended for sensitive skin
  • Some reviews have claimed that it has clogged their pores because of how thick it is
  • Only appropriate for winter

This cream is considered a cold weather skincare essential. It launched in 1926 and has been popular ever since. It intensely hydrates and cares for the skin and stays on all day. The formula is dermatologically tested and recommended. 

It refreshes the skin by adding moisture and nourishment back into it which can soothe dry and damaged skin. It really is food for your skin! Not only can this cream be applied on your face but it also acts as a full body cream that you can use on any dry areas including hands, feet, and elbows. It is free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colorants, and mineral oils. 

Value

This is a pretty reasonably priced product and falls within the drugstore price range. It is so rich, almost wax-like, that a little goes a long way so a standard tube will last all winter if not more. 

Versatility

It is a thick moisturizer so it does not suit sensitive skin that is acne prone because it can leave a little bit of grease which might lead to breakouts. For drier skin, there is no grease leftover because dry skin tends to drink up all the product. It is ideal for dry skin over the winter, especially as an overnight cream. 

Ingredients

This moisturizer includes extracts of gentle viola tricolor, calendula, and chamomile. Skin Food uses these ingredients in a rich base of oils and beeswax to give skin a healthy radiance. Calendula is rich in essential oils and is gentle to dry, sensitive skin. 

Longevity

This is a thick and long-lasting moisturizer. It won’t typically need to be reapplied through the day but can be as needed depending on the the weather and how rough and dry your skin is. It is recommended to use twice a day in the winter for best results. 

Bottom line

NeutrogenaSummer FridaysThe OrdinaryDrunk ElephantCetaphilEmbryolisseOlayMuradFirst Aid BeautyWeleda
Value4.23.753.64.34.14.33.54.54.5
Versatility3.64.44.24.23.84.64.544.34.2
Ingredients44.53.94.64.44.54.24.74.24.2
Longevity54.84.34.744.34.34.14.64.7

What to consider when looking for a face moisturizer?

Now that you have a better idea of a range of moisturizers and their benefits, how do you go about choosing the right one for you? Here are a couple of factors to keep in mind.

Know your skin type

Every individual’s skin is different. What could be a holy grail product for someone could cause major breakouts for you. Know your skin type. You know your skin best — are you more oily or dry? Choose accordingly. Not everything will suit you. 

Do your research 

Read product reviews on multiple websites. Ask friends and family what works for them. Go to a dermatologist. Stores like Sephora give samples so try things out for a few days before investing in products, especially the more expensive ones.

Do a patch test first

If you have sensitive skin or you just want to be careful when you’re introducing a new product into your routine, do a patch test first. Only sample the product on a small area to see if you have any negative reactions to it.

If you don’t have an allergic reaction over the next 12-24 hours and you feel your skin can handle it, then you should be all set. Please note, it is normal for your skin to purge when you use harsher ingredients like retinol. This means your dead skin cells will start to shed fast and it will get worse before it gets significantly better.

Read ingredients and familiarize yourself with ones that are common 

This way, you will better be able to figure out what products suit you and what combinations you can make throughout your skincare routine. Keep an eye out for clean beauty — stuff that is made without harsh chemicals and that is fragrance free. 

It’s always great when products smell nice but it really isn’t good for your skin. Most brands work hard to make their products clean so it will be clearly stated and easy to find.

Have a budget

There are a lot of products out in the market so it is easy to splurge and get them all. Be sure to have a budget in mind and stick to it. If you’re going into a store, let the salespeople know what your budget is and they will help accordingly. 

Expensive products aren’t always the best products. Drugstore brands have high-quality cheaper moisturizers amongst other things that are great alternatives and dupes for more luxe brands.

What to read next?

Over to you

What kind of moisturizer do you use? Was this helpful? What are your winter skincare concerns? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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