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The Best Drugstore Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, there are a variety of skincare products that you can incorporate into your skincare routine to boost and lock in hydration, keeping your skin moisturized.

The best skincare routine for dry skin incorporates hydrating, soothing, and replenishing ingredients.

The Best Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

Supporting your skin’s natural moisture barrier is very important when it comes to skincare for dry skin.

So adding in a few hydrating and moisturizing products to your skincare routine can make all the difference. But first, how do you determine if you have dry or dehydrated skin?

This post on the best skincare for dry skin contains affiliate links, and any purchases made through these links will result in a commission for me at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure for additional information.

A Hydrating Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

Skin needs 10-15% water content to remain elastic, so how do you ensure dry skin stays healthy? One way is to focus on skincare products that contain ingredients that support dry skin.

You can easily incorporate skin care for dry skin into your current routine. Look for ingredients that are rich in hydrating, moisturizing, and soothing, such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and squalane.

The dry skincare routine steps listed below are in order of application. Here is a sample routine with some of the best products for dry skin (most are from the drugstore):

Double Cleansing Dry Skin

If you are wondering whether you can double cleanse if you have dry skin, the answer depends on your skin.

Washing your face twice increases your chances of irritation and dryness.

But if you want to ensure that your makeup and sunscreen are fully removed at the end of the day, you can start with an oil-rich cleansing balm or cleansing oil and then follow it with a gentle water-based cream cleanser.

1A. Oil Cleanser (PM Routine)

e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm

E.l.f. Holy Hydration! Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm contains hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides to remove makeup without stripping your skin.

Follow with a gentle cleanser like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser discussed next.

1B. Hydrating Cream Cleanser

Choosing a cleanser that protects your skin barrier is an important first step in your skincare routine.

Cream cleansers generally use emulsifiers to help skin retain its natural oils without stripping the skin as opposed to foaming cleansers, ideal for combination/oily complexions, that use harsher surfactants to remove dirt and oil.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is formulated with:

  • Ceramide-3
  • Niacinamide
  • Glycerin
  • La Roche-Posay Prebiotic Thermal Water

These ingredients work to maintain the skin barrier while gently removing dirt, oil makeup, and other impurities.

This hydrating facial cleanser leaves your skin soft and clean without any residue or tightness. It’s fragrance-free and also suitable for sensitive skin.

Related Post: The Best Drugstore Skincare Treatments for Dry and Dehydrated Skin

2. Hydrating Toner/Essence

Forget about astringent toners from the past that would benefit oily and acne-prone complexions. Today, many toners are formulated with ingredients to hydrate and soothe dry skin while balancing pH levels.

Versed Baby Cheeks All-In-One Hydrating Milk

Versed Baby Cheeks All-In-One Hydrating Milk

Versed Baby Cheeks All-In-One Hydrating Milk is formulated with:

  • Algae extract
  • Bamboo extract
  • Coconut water

It removes post-cleanse hard water residue and any leftover makeup.

This Versed hydrating milk also restores the skin’s natural pH balance between 5.0 and 6.0.

This milky toner contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that draw moisture to the skin.

3. Exfoliation for Dry Skin

Depending on your skin’s sensitivity level, you don’t have to skip exfoliating your skin for fear of irritating or drying out your skin even more if you use a gentle chemical exfoliator.

The alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) lactic acid is one of the more gentle and hydrating chemical exfoliators, as it has a smaller molecule size than other AHAs, like glycolic acid.

Lactic Acid for Dry Skin

Lactic acid helps to improve cell turnover by sweeping away dead skin cells and improving the skin’s ability to hold moisture. It also supports ceramides in your skin, which help maintain your skin barrier.

You can use lactic acid a few times a week as tolerated as a treatment to help combat dullness and provide a glowing and more even complexion.

Lactic acid also helps to reduce the look of fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and enlarged pores and improves skin firmness and thickness.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA in front of roses and a plant

For an affordable lactic acid treatment, The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA resurfaces your skin with a high 10% concentration of lactic acid.

The serum also contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin and Tasmanian pepperberry extract to offset any potential irritation.

It’s ideal for dry skin, and you can’t beat the price!

TIP: If the 10% lactic acid concentration is too strong for your skin, The Ordinary also offers a 5% lactic acid serum.

4. Serums and Treatments for Dry Skin

The serum and treatment step of your dry skincare routine is where you will usually find the most concentrated active ingredients for dry skin.

Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular skin ingredients if you have a dry skin type.

It acts like a sponge and attracts up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, keeping your skin hydrated and supporting your skin barrier.

In recent years, the beauty industry has seen a huge increase in products marketed as containing hyaluronic acid.

The Inkey List Lactic Acid

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a favorite for its excellent formula and low price.

A 2% hyaluronic acid concentration helps to ensure that transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is minimized.

TEWL measures the amount of water that evaporates from the surface of your skin.

Skin can appear dewier thanks to improved hydration and elasticity. Hyaluronic acid also helps to minimize the look of line lines and wrinkles thanks to its plumping effect.

Anti-Aging Benefits

The serum also contains Matrixyl 3000, a peptide complex that may help stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, resulting in firmer, smoother, and more youthful-looking skin.

Hydrating and anti-aging in one affordable serum!!

RoC Multi Correxion Hydrate + Plump Night Serum Capsules

RoC Multi Correxion Hydrate & Plump Night Serum Capsules

RoC Multi Correxion Hydrate + Plump Night Serum Capsules contain premeasured doses of hyaluronic acid (in a 3% complex) that leave your skin hydrated, soft, and silky.

The capsules also contain jojoba seed oil, a wax ester that is similar in composition to the natural oils produced by the skin.

Jojoba oil is an effective emollient that can help to soothe and soften the skin while providing nourishing, non-greasy moisture.

These little hydrating capsules from RoC are vegetal-based and 100% biodegradable. They’re great for travel, too.

TIP: A few times or even once a week, you may want to use a deeply hydrating sheet mask after cleansing, toning, and serums to boost your skin’s hydration. Or try a rinse-off hydrating face mask after cleansing.

Retinoids & Dry Skin

If you choose to use a retinoid in the evenings to address the signs of aging, which I think is a great idea once you reach your mid 20’s, consider using a retinoid that is gentle on dry skin.

I love The Ordinary Granactive Retinoids because when I use them I do not experience the irritation that comes along with retinol products.

Even better, The Ordinary offers some of their Granactive Retinoids in a squalane base, which supports hydration and moisture retention.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% In Squalane

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% In Squalane, handheld.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% In Squalane contains a highly stable and effective form of retinoid called Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR).

HPR has been shown to reduce the appearance of signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging, while also improving skin texture, tone, and overall radiance, without the typical irritation that comes with retinol.

The formula is also infused with squalane, a lightweight, non-comedogenic oil that helps to hydrate and nourish the skin without clogging pores or causing breakouts.

An ideal anti-aging retinoid serum for dry skin.

Related Post: The Inkey List vs The Ordinary: Anti-Aging Skincare on a Budget


Ceramides are lipids that hold skin cells together. They are naturally present in our bodies but decrease as we age. They help to keep our skin barrier strong, which keeps out environmental aggressors that cause skin damage.

A healthy skin barrier ensures that moisture stays in our skin. A damaged skin barrier can cause dryness, irritation, redness, and even acne.

So using products with ceramides is ideal for those with dry skin.

The Inkey List Ceramide Night Treatment

The Inkey List Ceramide Night Treatment

The Inkey List Ceramide Serum (formerly called Ceramide Night Treatment) is formulated with a 3% multi-ceramide complex that works overnight to rehydrate the skin.

It also contains 2.5% multi-molecular hyaluronic acid to hydrate and soothe multiple layers of skin.

This treatment can be applied 2-3 nights a week in place of your regular moisturizer

5. A Rich Moisturizer

This is the step of your skincare routine that you want to seal in all of the hydrating ingredients applied in the earlier steps of your skincare routine.

Look for moisturizing creams and lotions made with hydrating and replenishing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter, glycerin, fatty acids, and antioxidants.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides is a highly concentrated moisturizer designed to provide deep hydration and strengthen your skin barrier.

This nourishing cream contains skin-identical Natural Moisturizing Factors, phytoceramides, which are plant-based ceramides, and skin lipids that work together to improve skin hydration and moisture retention.

Compared to The Ordinary’s original moisturizer (Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA), this moisturizer has almost four times more moisturizing emollients and two times more humectants, ensuring maximum hydration for dry skin.

The rich cream contains nourishing active ingredients, including:

  • Glycosphingolipids
  • Glycolipids
  • Fatty acids
  • Sodium PCA
  • Sodium lactate
  • Urea
  • Sodium hyaluronate
  • Amino acids

The Ordinary’s clinical test on 30 people showed that this moisturizer immediately boosts skin hydration by 68%.

Excellent when used as a night cream, this The Ordinary product moisturizes, soothes, and effectively hydrates dry skin, leaving it looking healthy and radiant.

See my The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + PhytoCeramides review for details on my experience with this moisturizer.

Olay Regenerist Ultra Rich Moisturizer

Olay Regenerist Ultra Rich Moisturizer

Olay Regenerist Ultra Rich Moisturizer is filled with skin-loving ingredients, including:

  • Shea butter
  • Amino peptide
  • Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide
  • Glycerin
  • Panthenol (vitamin B5)

This is Olay’s richest moisturizer and really locks in all of the restoring ingredients applied earlier in your skincare routine.

Olay Regenerist Ultra Rich Moisturizer

This rich cream makes quick work of flaky skin and dry patches for softer, smoother skin.

6. Facial Oil (Optional)

While facial oil can benefit many skin types, it is especially helpful for dry and dehydrated skin. Face oils can be applied in a few different ways.

You can apply an oil as the last step in your skin care routine (but before sunscreen in the AM), to seal in all of the active ingredients underneath. Or, you can apply a lightweight oil before a heavier moisturizer.

Facial oils can help your skin stay hydrated, seal in moisture, and support your skin barrier.

In addition, depending on the formula, facial oils can address other skin care concerns, such as acne, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

There are many different varieties of excellent facial oils for dry skin, including squalane, marula, Moroccan, and moringa oils.

Squalane is similar to the squalene (with an e) produced by our sebaceous glands. Squalane is hydrogenated to make it stable.

It has emollient properties and fills in the spaces between skin cells to soothe dry, irritated skin and soften your skin.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane is a super lightweight, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), saturated, and stable hydrocarbon.

It feels weightless on the skin, sinks in quickly, leaves your skin silky smooth, and moisturizes without a heavy, greasy feeling, making it suitable for those with combination and oily skin.

This is currently my favorite facial oil.

The Ordinary Marula, Squalane & Moroccan Argan Oils for Dry Skin

A few other face oils that are excellent for dry skin include argan oil and marula oil.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil is a pure, natural oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree in Morocco.

It is rich in fatty acids and the antioxidant vitamin E. The oil deeply nourishes, moisturizes, and protects the skin and hair.

The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil is cold-pressed and unrefined. It’s rich in fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid, which are ideal for dry skin.

Antioxidant-rich marula oil helps to nourish and hydrate the skin while also protecting it from environmental stressors and promoting a more radiant complexion.

7. Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen (AM)

It is important to remember that applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 is an important component of any skincare routine, regardless of your skin type.

Unprotected sun exposure can wreak havoc on your skin barrier, so it is important to protect your dry skin from the damaging effect of UV rays.

CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 Sheer Face Tint

CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 Sheer Face Tint

CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 Sheer Face Tint is a broad-spectrum tinted mineral sunscreen with SPF 30 protection. It contains 5.5% titanium dioxide and 10% zinc oxide.

Since mineral sunscreens can leave a white cast on your skin, this sunscreen is tinted to offset the whitening effect of the mineral sunscreen ingredients.

What makes it so great for dry skin is that it contains three essential ceramides to protect the skin barrier while locking in moisture.

It also contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid for additional hydration and moisture. It leaves your skin with a plump and natural finish that feels quite hydrating for a sunscreen formula.

8. Body Moisturizer

Dry skin doesn’t stop at your face. The rest of your body can benefit from the same moisturizing ingredients that you use for your face.

There are several affordable body moisturizers that hydrate and protect your skin from head to toe.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

A best-seller and perennial favorite is CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. A bonus is that this cream can be used on both the face AND body.

Ideal for dry and very dry skin, it works to support the skin’s natural barrier and helps the skin retain moisture.

This fragrance-free cream for dry skin is formulated with hyaluronic acid, three essential ceramides, and CeraVe’s MVE Technology to provide continuous moisture for a full 24 hours of hydration.

Related Post: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream vs Lotion

What Is The Difference Between Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin?

Did you know that dry skin and dehydrated skin are not the same?

Dry skin is characterized by a skin type that does not create enough sebum, or oils, produced by your sebaceous glands.

These oils are important because they lubricate the skin, seal in moisture, support the skin barrier and even have anti-inflammatory properties.

Without enough of these oils, the skin’s moisture barrier can become weakened. A weakened skin barrier can’t retain the important substances to keep it hydrated, supple, and moisturized.

That is why a targeted skincare routine for dry skin is extremely helpful. It reintroduces hydrating and soothing ingredients to your stratum corneum layer (outer layer) of skin to strengthen your skin barrier, among other benefits.

Signs of dry skin include flaky, itchy, and rough skin.

Dehydrated skin can happen to anyone, even those with combination or oily skin types. Dehydrated skin occurs when skin cells are lacking water.

This can occur due to many different reasons, such as diet, not drinking enough water, sun exposure, and other environmental factors.

You can even have excess oil on your face while having dehydrated skin. (That’s no fun, right?) Logically, replenishing your skin by drinking fluids will help improve dehydrated skin.

Signs of dehydrated skin include a feeling of tightness in your skin, dullness, fine lines, and wrinkles being more noticeable, plus redness and inflammation.

NOTE: Whether you have dry skin or dehydrated skin, incorporating hydrating, soothing, and moisturizing products into your skincare routine will help balance and protect your skin.

Related Post: The Best The Ordinary Products for Dry Skin

What Ingredients Are Good For Dry/Dehydrated Skin?

Look for the following ingredients in your skincare products to rehydrate, soothe, protect, and moisturize dry skin:

  • Hyaluronic Acid: A molecule found naturally in the body that lubricates, plumps, and hydrates the skin
  • Ceramides: Waxy lipids that hold skin cells together and help create your skin barrier
  • Aloe Vera Gel: Gel from the aloe plant used to soften and repair skin
  • Lactic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid that gently exfoliates dead skin cells and clogged pores and helps to improve moisture in the skin
  • Plant Oils/Plant Butters: Supports the skin’s natural barrier and prevents transepidermal water loss
  • Glycerin: A humectant that attracts moisture to the skin, hydrates the skin, and strengthens the skin barrier
  • Antioxidants: Protect dry skin and the skin barrier against environmental aggressors that can cause oxidative damage

Related Post: The Ordinary Soothing & Barrier Support Serum Review

The Best Drugstore Skincare For Dry Skin

While having dry skin can be a challenge, the good news is that it can be managed, especially with some of these affordable skin care products.

Once you determine that you have dry skin (or dehydrated skin), you can take the steps to balance your skin and support your skin barrier.

Incorporating a few of these skin care products for dry skin into your skin care routine and using them consistently can provide a huge payoff.

The result? Balanced, supple, and healthy skin on both your face and body.

To up your skincare game, check out these skincare books to learn more about taking care of your skin.

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