The Best Skincare Products for Dry Skin
A routine stacked with nourishing, hydrating products seems like the easy, obvious fix for anyone living with dry skin, right? Wrong. While moisturization is the number one concern for this skin type, it's only part of the equation. There's other struggles like dark spots, acne, and fine lines and wrinkles you might want to treat, too. And that's exactly what makes dry skin so tough to deal with.
"Whether it’s controlling acne or reversing aging — it’s just much more difficult when someone has dry facial skin," says Dr. Kenneth Howe, board-certified dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology in New York City. "That’s because the topical treatments we use to address these problems often dry out the skin further, or irritate the skin, resulting in inflammation."
Dry skin typically is more sensitive and prone to irritation because people with this skin type often have genetically inherited allergic tendencies like eczema and asthma. Dehydrated skin also has a weaker skin barrier, which is important for keeping moisture in and protecting skin from irritants.
Along with consulting with a dermatologist or doing a patch test before trying any topical acne or aging treatments, it's important to stick to skincare products with gentle formulas, and those made without ingredients known to be drying or harsh additives. "Alcohol is drying, so toners and astringents shouldn't be used," says Dr. Jeanine Downie, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Image Dermatology in Montclair, N.J. "Scents and perfumes are very drying as well."
Now that you know what shouldn't be in your skincare routine if you have dry skin, we asked the two dermatologists what types of products you should use. Keep reading for our guide on the best everyday skincare products for dry skin.
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Cleanser: Sente Daily Soothing Cleanser
Dr. Downie says to look for an unscented cleanser with a formula that cleans and keeps skin balanced. Dry complexions need all the moisture they can get, so she's a fan of Sente's Daily Soothing Cleanser because it washes away dirt, oil, and grime without stripping skin.
Serum: SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum
Go with a hydrating serum, ideally one hyaluronic acid in it. The humectant sucks in moisture from the air to moisturize and smooth extremely dry skin. Dimethicone, a hydrating silicone, is another ingredient to look out for. On top of hydrating skin, SkinMedica's serum also has anti-aging benefits, thanks to peptides and vitamin C.
Serum: SkinFix Barrier+ Lipid-Hyaluronate Serum
Another serum option is SkinFix's Barrier + Lipid-Boost Jelly. It's an uber-hydrating formula with a mix of lipids and sodium hyaluronate. These ingredients attract moisture, pull it in, and restore hydration. SkinFix's unique serum is like a glass of water for the skin: It goes on smooth and dries down quick.
Eye Cream: SkinBetter Interfuse Intensive Treatment
"Traditionally, a lot of eye creams deliberately provoked a bit of inflammation to create a small amount of swelling that temporarily smoothed out fine lines in the area," explains Dr. Howe. Instead, use a cream that's formulated with hyaluronic acid like SkinBetter's Interfuse Intensive Treatment. This gentle ingredient draws moisture to skin, which will hydrate the eye area and make it appear more smooth and plump.
Moisturizer: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
A thick, rich moisturizer? Dry skin loves to see it. "You should use a moisturizer that delivers the fatty lipids our skin needs to seal up fissures and cracks between skin cells," Dr. Howe explains. "The specific ingredients to look for are ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids." This SkinCeuticals cream is packed with lipids, which are key for strengthening the skin barrier and locking in moisture.
Anti-Aging: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
A ton of gold standard anti-aging ingredients like vitamin C and retinol can irritate dry skin. A peptide-rich product is a gentle, yet effective alternative. "These protein fragments stimulate our skin to produce collagen, while also acting as humectants that retain moisture in the skin," Dr. Howe says.
Streamline your routine with a peptide-infused moisturizer like this one from Drunk Elephant. It hydrates skin while simultaneously tackling fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of firmness.
Anti-Aging: Alastin Renewal Retinol
If your skin can tolerate it, Dr. Downie says that a retinol serum can be extremely effective on fine lines and wrinkles. The all-star ingredient works by accelerating skin cell turnover. Alastin's serum also contains a nourishing lipid that hydrates skin, and lowers the risk of retinol-induced inflammation and irritation.
Face Mask/Treatment: SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Mask
When you have an extra 15 minutes, Dr. Howe recommends a hydrating mask like SK-II's cult classic treatment. "It’s an intensely hydrating treatment that delivers deep and lasting moisturization," he says. "It’s the best thing outside of an office treatment like Dermasweep (which painlessly shoots hyluronic acid into the dermis, the inner layer of the two main layers of skin.)
Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Sunscreen is arguably the most important step in any skincare routine. Along with preventing signs of photoaging, it's the best way to avoid skin cancer. EltaMD's award-winning gel-based formula is a mineral-chemical blend that shields skin from UV/UVA rays and moisturizes.