Editor’s picks: 5 things to fix your super-dry skin (and only one is a moisturizer!)

All dry skin needs is more moisturizer. True or false?

Ding ding ding! That would be false. Yes, moisturizer is important—but there’s more to it than that. You need to exfoliate to get rid of the dead skin cells on the surface, slick on oils that nourish and protect, and masque it up like I told you about here. So for this week’s editor’s picks, check out some new dry skin fixes I love… and that you might not have considered. (For more winter skincare tips, check out this post.)

Pure + Simple Lactic Acid Plus

Pure and Simple Lactic Acid Plus Editors picks: 5 things to fix your super dry skin (and only one is a moisturizer!)

Oh Em Gee I love this product so much. Actually, I like most things Pure + Simple make—they’re the Toronto-based natural beauty chain where you can buy high-quality organic products as well as enjoy some of the best spa services in town. Lactic acid was something I’d been hearing more and more about lately, so when they offered to send me some to try, it was an immediate “yes, please!”

This is a clear, light, fast-penetrating lotion that contains 10 percent natural lactic acid (they also sell a 5 percent version). You put it on after cleansing and leave it five to 15 minutes before putting moisturizer on top, no rinsing. And here’s why it’s awesome. It exfoliates away those dry skin cells (as well as decongests pores if you’re prone to comedones), but it does so in the most gentle, non-irritating way. In fact, unlike other alpha hydroxy-acids (i.e. glycolic), lactic acid is actually hydrating. I can attest to this because my skin stings, gets super-flaky and goes red if I go too heavy on the glycolics, but I’ve been using this for almost a month now with no problems whatsoever.

I started with the lower 5 percent concentration (which they recommend if your skin is sensitive), and then gradually worked my way up to the 10 percent. You’re meant to use it at night, no more than once a day, but because I’m doing the Retin-A thing, I’m using it in the mornings. I’m finding it helps immensely with the dry Retin-A flakiness, and is gentle enough that my skin can handle it—whereas I’m sure glycolic would make my skin freak. Also, since it helps stimulate collagen production and diminishes the appearance of fine lines, scars and acne, I feel like I’m getting a double-whammy of goodness!

Out now for $60.45 at Pure + Simple or pureandsimple.ca.

Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask

Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask Editors picks: 5 things to fix your super dry skin (and only one is a moisturizer!)

Overnight masks are the BOMB. Instead of slathering your face in gooey moisturizing goodness that you have to wash off in 20 minutes, you get to leave it to sink in for a good seven, eight hours. Skin repairs itself when you sleep, so you have to think that at night, a mask is doing even more good things for your complexion.

The one that I’ve been a dedicated fan of for a few years now is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (smells incredible; works well too). I can’t recall seeing too many others on the market, so was happily surprised to see this newcomer from Clinique. It’s actually a slightly more elegant formulation—because obviously one of the concerns with a night mask is having it go on all greasy and rub off on your pillow (or bedmate). None of those issues here: this has a lightweight, cream-gel texture that penetrates fairly quickly and leaves your skin super-duper soft. I haven’t used it for the full eight hours yet (because HELLO Retin-A), but I have to say that after just two, my skin’s looking pretty darn plump. It would be a great idea to have a tube of this for those times when your skin is looking crap and a regular moisturizer just won’t do.

Out now for $38 at Clinique counters; click here to learn more and purchase.

Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough Replenishing Oil

Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough Replenishing Oil Editors picks: 5 things to fix your super dry skin (and only one is a moisturizer!)

I remember a time when I was totally weirded out by the idea of putting oil on my face. (“You want me to what?!”) The person who actually introduced me to them was Kristen Ma, co-founder of the aforementioned Pure + Simple beauty brand… and now I’m not scared at all. In fact, I’ve become a bit of a collector. I have my rose hip oil, my ayurvedic saffron oil, my Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery oil, my Decléor ylang-ylang oil… there’s way more, but let’s just say I have a lot in my collection!

The reason face oils are so fab is because skin needs both water AND oil. Most moisturizers, unless they’re specifically labelled oil-free, give you both—but when your skin is very dry, a pure oil can give you a lot more nourishment and also protection, because it forms more of a barrier on your skin. So I’ve just discovered this one from Philosophy and it is HEAVEN. I don’t know what the scent is, but it is fruity and it is amazing. The liquid is quite light and runny, so you don’t need more than two or three drops to do your whole face, and it sinks in right away—leaving a moisturized but pretty much matte complexion. You could also mix it into your regular moisturizer if you prefer, to give it an extra hydration boost.

Out now for $59 at The Bay; click here to learn more and purchase.

Lavilin Jojoba Body Serum

Lavilin Body Serum Editors picks: 5 things to fix your super dry skin (and only one is a moisturizer!)

And now we move on to the body… because I don’t know about you, but that’s where I REALLY notice dry skin issues. (Um, scaly legs, anyone?)

If you’re into hippie beauty stuff, then you may have heard of Lavilin. They make one of the best aluminum- and paraben-free natural deodorants… and now the Israeli natural beauty brand has expanded into prodz for other parts of the body, including this serum. Yep, serum! This is basically a body oil that’s super-rich in vitamins and fatty acids, because it’s a blend of a whole bunch of plant oils: jojoba, sweet almond, avocado, sesame, soybean, Brazil nut and argan. Wowza. Basically, you should think of it like you do that face oil I just mentioned—it’s going to hydrate your dry skin waaay more than a plain old body lotion.

I’ve been experimenting with this on my legs, and while it doesn’t absorb that quickly… and it doesn’t have a fancy smell (it’s natural, after all)… it basically deep-sixed all the scaliness in just one application. Impressed? Hell yes. Because it works so well, I figure I can use this on my legs throughout the winter and save the fragranced stuff for my upper body, where people can actually smell it. You can also mix or layer this with a body cream or lotion, or use it as a bath or massage oil.

Out now for $25.59; see here for locations. 

Linacare Rehydrating Body Cream

Linacare Rehydrating Body Cream Editors picks: 5 things to fix your super dry skin (and only one is a moisturizer!)

Now, before I totally diss regular body moisturizers as not up for the job of repairing severely dry skin, there’s one brand that IS an exception. Meet Linacare. This is a Canadian brand that has a serious reputation amongst dry skin-sufferers. Like, people going through chemotherapy and radiation kind of sufferers. And they would know.

Co-founder Carol Lee has been an email acquaintance of mine for years, but we finally met back in the fall when she was in Toronto—she comes here often to talk to (and help) patients at hospitals who can’t find anything to soothe their skin. But guess what? This cream does. You can read a few of the testimonials on their site. The reason it works is because the Harvard-trained doctor that formulated the product (co-founder Dr. Henry Fung) engineered an advanced transdermal delivery system that gets the moisturizing lipid molecules into the skin’s deeper cellular layers, unlike regular creams that only moisturize the surface. It’s unscented, a gorgeous white whipped texture, and feels really soothing.

Out now for $35; see here for locations. 

Tell me:

Have you tried any of these products?
What do you swear by for dry winter skin?
Ever tried lactic acid… or a face oil? (Two of my favourite pet beauty categories!)


Thursday, February 7/2013 at 6:04 pm

Ahhh, I can feel my dry, flaky skin breathing a sigh of relief just reading this! I’m really curious to try the lactic acid plus, as it sounds like a step up from the aveda exfoliant (citric acid, I believe) I’ve been using lately. Thanks for this great post :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, February 8/2013 at 11:02 am

Yeah, I’m a huge believer in lactic acid now! It’s pretty hard to find though – I know Philosophy is coming out with a cleanser but I think this Pure + Simple product would be better since you’re not washing it off.

If you try some let me know what you think!


Sunday, February 24/2013 at 11:54 pm

I’ve been using lactic acid body lotion on my super dry, eczema ravaged skin and it stings my scratch marks but it’s doing the job! It’s also getting ride of my KP :)! It’s called Lac-Hydrin and I got it at Shoppers on the bottom shelf, hidden with all the ugly, utilitarian bottles. I really, really want to try lactic acid on my face next.


Thursday, February 7/2013 at 7:05 pm

Yay for the Canadian-made! I can’t find Linacare’s ingredients listed. Wondered what they are. CV Skinlabs out of the States got a similar start, and they avoid using questionable ingredients in their products. Have it on excellent authority that cancer treatments completely brutalize skin. Good to (finally!) see some companies considering those people having to go through it.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, February 8/2013 at 11:03 am

Good question! I’ll email them and see if I can get a list for you.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, February 9/2013 at 2:41 pm

Hi Melanie,
Here’s the list of ingredients:

Distilled Water
Magnesium Aluminum Silicate
Stearic Acid
Cetyl Alcohol
Disodium EDTA
Mineral Oil
PEG-5 Soy Sterol
Diazolidinyl Urea
Propylene Glycol
Hydrogenated Polysorbutene
Glyceryl Stearate
Dimethicone Copolyol
PEG-100 Stearate
Aloe Barbadensis
Sodium Hydroxide
Polysorbate 20
Tocopheryl Acetate

Regarding the use of parabens, this is what the company has to say:
“Parabens are used in cosmetics as a preservative to maintain the product integrity by protecting them against microbial growth. The FDA believes that, at the present time, there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens. A 1984 Cosmetic Ingredient Review study concluded that the use of parabens in cosmetics is safe at levels up to 25%. Typically parabens are used at ranging from 0.01 – 0.3%. This case was reopened twice, in 2003 and 2005, which concluded the same assessment.”


Saturday, February 9/2013 at 3:05 pm

You are AMAZING!!! Thank you for this information!


Bex Doctor
Friday, February 8/2013 at 5:40 am

Great review! I might try one or two of these products. Thanks for sharing!


Friday, February 8/2013 at 2:29 pm

The body serum looks interesting! I think I finally have a good system down for my face so now I want to find some good products to help dry skin on the body.

I love face oils! I use one that my spa sells called Pure Oxygen by Skin Fitness Therapy. I started getting facials several years ago for bad acne and my aesthetician recommended it. I really disliked it at first because it seemed weird putting an oil on my face (especially with the acne I used to have) but after I got used to it I love it! I use it every night and I would never go back to night cream.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, February 9/2013 at 2:42 pm

I’m the same – I much prefer to put a face oil on now instead of a cream!


Tuesday, February 12/2013 at 8:08 am

I’m loving this Pure and Simple lactic acid! I’m just starting with the 5% version.

My skin always looked great with a glycolic acid, but now that I’m using retin-A at night, I wasn’t sure how to work that back in.

Retin-A at night and lactic acid in the morning is an excellent combo!

Michelle, can you recommend a good face oil for day?


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:03 pm

You could still do either the lactic or the glycolic in the morning—as long as they’re about 12 hours apart from the Retin-A it shouldn’t be a problem.

I have so many face oils! The Philosophy one would be good for daytime as it dries down very matte. I like Eminence’s too but it’s a little more of a dewy look.

Oh, and if you use the oils at night on top of the Retin-A just be careful you’re not using one with vitamin C, as that can interfere. Best to use vit C in the a.m. only. (I know this stuff is so confusing!)


Thursday, February 14/2013 at 9:24 am

Thanks, Michelle! I’m going to try the Philosophy oil for day.

Tuesday, February 12/2013 at 7:56 am

I would really love to try that body cream as I have very dry skin.
As for night face mask, Aromatherapy Associates have a very nice one, I use it several times per month.


Tuesday, February 12/2013 at 3:16 pm

Hey, is there a cheaper brand/alternative that offers a similar lactic acid based serum? $60 +tax for 50ml is a little more that I can afford on my student budget atm :(


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:05 pm

You know what, I haven’t come across much – which is why I was so excited by this Pure + Simple product. I have a lactic acid toner from Biologique Recherche but it too is expensive and hard to find… plus has some questionable ingredients i.e. phenol.

What you could do is try yogurt masks! They’re a natural source of lactic acid. Can’t get cheaper than that :)


Thursday, February 21/2013 at 3:54 pm

Have you ever thought about making your own healing cream? I came across this article earlier this week and am planning on trying it for my daughter eho has eczema and allergies. Almost everything causes her to have a reaction do I’m hopeful that this homemade formula may be the answer… http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/traditional-nourishing-and-healing-skin-care


Sunday, January 12/2014 at 9:05 am

Hey, Michelle!

I know this post is nearly a year old but I am having a dry skin crisis and of course I come to you for advice.

I am danbling with lactic acid, and may have overdone it a bit. And this winter weather has been brutal on my face.

So thanks for very helpful reviews, suggestions amd explanations.

I will definitely be trying something from your list. And I recall your article on your ‘Life Moisturizer’ which I will have to re-read.

Thank you for keeping me informed!


Tuesday, July 15/2014 at 7:07 am

This is educative. I have a dry skin on my body and combination on face but the lotion am using doesn’t stop this dryness what oil can I use that won’t darken my skin. Thanks alot


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