The Best Hydrating Face Washes for Dry Winter Skin
Face washes and cleansers are supposed to wash away all of the dirt, excess oil, and makeup from your skin. But some formulas are overachievers that tend to clean your skin a little too well, leaving it stripped of moisture. Throw cold weather in the mix, and your already dry skin is now extremely thirsty.
The key to preventing the cycle of dry winter skin is using a face wash that gets rid of the grime on your face while simultaneously moisturizing it with gentle, hydrating ingredients.
But even though New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green says that a moisturizing face wash is important to use during the winter, it should actually be a staple in your skincare routine all year round.
"Your skin needs all the hydration it can get regardless of the season," Dr. Green tells InStyle. "Having a hydrated face will improve your skins elasticity, which in return will decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, hydrated skin helps maintain your skins oiliness – believe it or not dehydrated skin actually causes more oil production because your skin is trying to compensate for the lack of moisture."
When choosing a face wash, Dr. Green recommends a formula that contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid. "Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in our skin — it helps our skin to retain moisture," she explains. "However as we age, the amount of hyaluronic acid our body produces begins to decrease, causing the skin to become dry and rough. Using a face wash that contains hyaluronic acid will help maintain that moisture that your skins needs, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."
To help you sort through all of the face wash options out there, we've rounded up the best hydrating formulas that cleanse skin without drying it out. Keep reading to find your new favorite face wash.
- CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash
- Holifrog Tashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash
- Renee Rouleau Moisture Protecting Cleanser
- Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
- Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
- SkinCeuticals Soothing Cleanser
- Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser
- The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash
"CeraVe's Hydrating Facial Cleanser contains ingredients such as ceramides, which help maintain your skins natural barrier and also helps lock in moisture," says Dr. Green. This affordable option is also formulated with hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that helps skin stay hydrated throughout the day.
To buy: $14; Amazon.com.
Holifrog Tashmoo Water Lily Nourishing Milky Wash
If you went too hard on exfoliating treatments or have redness from skin conditions like eczema or rosacea, a hydrating cleanser stacked with calming ingredients can help to soothe skin. This gel cleanser contains unscented botanical extracts, 14 amino acids, and antioxidants to help skin retain its moisture and strengthen to prevent future irritation.
To buy: $38; Dermstore.com.
Renee Rouleau Moisture Protecting Cleanser
Thanks to a unique gel-to-milk texture, this moisturizing cleanser wipes away makeup, dirt, and excess oil without compromising the skin barrier, which is key for ensuring the skin remains soft and smooth. While the formula is sulfate-free, making it gentle enough for sensitive skin, it still creates a satisfying lather when it comes into contact with water.
To buy: $38; Reneerouleau.com.
Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser
This cleansing balm melts away makeup, sunscreen, and yes, even waterproof mascara. With a mix of non-fragrant, soothing, and nourishing fruit oils, the cleanser leaves skin smooth, and of course, completely makeup-free. Bonus: The jar comes with a tiny vial of exfoilting bamboo and charcoal powder to mix into the balm for a weekly deep-cleansing treatment.
To buy: $34; Sephora.com.
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser
"Cetaphil facial cleanser is also known for helping the skin retain its moisture," says Dr. Green. "It’s non-irritating which is great for those that have delicate skin."
To buy: $10; Walmart.com.
SkinCeauticals Soothing Cleanser
This dermatologist-favorite skincare brand's hydrating cleanser was made to be gentle enough for sensitive or post-dermatological procedure skin. Free of sulfates, parabens, soap, dyes, alcohol, and synthetic fragrances, the formula contains glycerin to boost moisture along with calming cucumber extract.
To buy: $35; Dermstore.com.
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Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser
Thanks to glycerin, an ingredient that attacts more moisture to the skin, this mild cleanser is extremely nourishing. There's also no harsh irritants like soap, fragrance, parabens, and essential oils.
To buy: $8; Amazon.com.
The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser
Yes, it's an oil, but squalane is non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn't clog pores. Along with improving moisture, it also protects the skin barrier, which makes this ingredient perfect to include in a face wash. The Ordinary's Squalane cleanser turns into a rich oil when you rub it in your hands and effortlessly breaks up makeup and dirt by massaging it into your face.
To buy: $19; Sephora.com.