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My dermatologist recommended this $13 moisturizer, and I'll never buy the fancy stuff again

Vanicream is what my dry, sensitive skin craves come winter.

As a skin care-obsessed shopping writer who's constantly hunting for the best products, my bathroom cabinets are overflowing with every kind of moisturizer, serum, lotion and cream — you name it. And because I have exceptionally dry, sensitive skin, I'm particular about which products I'll actually use, let alone repurchase.

That said, there's one staple my collection will never be without: Vanicream. My dermatologist recommended this unassuming moisturizer a few years ago, and I haven't looked back. Not only is it the sole product I can apply to both my face and body without fear of getting a rash, it also costs a mere $13 for a whopping 1-pound tub. Keep reading for my “glowing” review.

Why splurge on a pricey moisturizer when a highly effective one is this affordable?

$14 at Amazon
Explore More Buying Options
$21 at Ulta Beauty$14 at CVS Pharmacy

I'll be the first to admit that Vanicream doesn't have the sexiest packaging. But while it might not come in a sleek tube or have a trendy pastel design, it works — and when your skin's as flaky and red as mine, especially during the winter, that's what matters. Plus, it has a nifty pump that keeps the product from getting under your nails, and the massive tub will last for-ev-er.

As I mentioned, my skin (especially my face) is parched and prone to redness, itching and flaking — I was even diagnosed with mild psoriasis last year. Because of that, I have to be careful about what I slather on to avoid flare-ups.

Vanicream was specifically formulated for sensitive skin. It's free of irritants, including dyes, fragrances, lanolin and parabens, and in spite of its rich texture, it's noncomedogenic, meaning it's unlikely to clog pores. Its short list of ingredients includes sorbitol, which is like a moisture magnet that transfers water from the air to your face; cetearyl alcohol, a milder alcohol that helps soften and soothe; and propylene glycol for boosting moisture retention. It even has the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance, which is only awarded to products that have been thoroughly tested.

a tub of vanicream moisturizer
Sometimes, the best things come in nonflashy packages. (Amazon)

Because Vanicream is so gentle, I can apply it all over my body and face with abandon. The first time I used it, I was worried it would be too thick. I usually prefer more lightweight skin care products because I hate feeling greasy, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it was absorbed. A little goes a long way — a dime-size dab is sufficient for my face. When I apply it while my skin is still wet after a shower, there's barely any hint of it after I've dried off — just refreshed, hydrated skin that feels softer and plumper.

I find it especially effective for targeting rough skin on my knees, elbows, feet and hands, and I've experienced far less flaking and cracking since I started using it. If your skin isn't as dry as mine (lucky), you might find it a bit heavy during the warmer months, but I use it all year long. Come winter, it's an absolute must.

author before and after photos showing their hand with and without vanicream moisturizer
Duller, rougher skin on the left, before Vanicream moisturizer; glowier, smoother skin on the right, after applying. (Britt Ross/Yahoo)

Seeing as it has over 30,000 perfect ratings from Amazon customers, I'm far from being Vanicream's only fan.

“For years I used expensive creams,” wrote one happy shopper. “My dermatologist introduced me to Vanicream about 8 yrs. ago and I now don't even wear make-up. I am 68 years old and get so many compliments wherever I go. Everyone thinks I have make-up on and I have no wrinkles. Wish I had heard about this product years ago. It sure would have saved me a lot of money.”

“I have tried so many products for my neck and face, and this is the only one that worked,” shared another impressed user. “My neck started to get really ‘crepey’ and I was at my wits end. ... Then I tried Vanicream and it changed my life!! I know that sounds cliche but it really did bring my skin back to where it used to be. The redness, itching, scaling, crepe-like appearance is all GONE and it looks and feels normal again. ... It tightened everything up too and made my 58 year old neck look much younger. Or at least not like I’m 98.”

“This is the best cream that I have ever bought for eczema,” shared yet another fan. “The only downside is that the cream leaves a white sheen on you or your clothing. However, I choose to deal with it so I don't have itchy or peeling skin.” (Pro tip: Applying this cream to wet skin helps it absorb better, and I don't see any white cast when I do this. Regarding clothing, you'll just want to be careful, as you would be when applying any skin care product.)

I've used my current tub daily for nearly six months and still have a third of it left — a little goes a very long way!

$14 at Amazon
Explore More Buying Options
$21 at Ulta Beauty$14 at CVS Pharmacy

Another cost-effective skin care product I'm loving? These reusable under-eye masks:

You could easily spend $25 on a week's worth of disposable eye masks, so the fact that these are reusable makes them a steal. They hardly add any time to my skin-care regimen, plus there's less waste and I'm able to use them with a variety of products.

$25 at Dieux

Read my full Dieux Forever Eye Mask review for more.

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.