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.
Supporting your skin’s natural moisture barrier is very important 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?
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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 strengthen’s the skin barrier
- Antioxidants: Protect dry skin and the skin barrier against environmental aggressors that can cause oxidative damage
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 incorporate products into your skincare routine that are rich in hydrating, moisturizing and soothing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and squalane. The dry skincare routine steps listed below are in order of application.
1. Hydrating Cream Cleanser
Choosing a cleanser that protects your skin barrier is an important first step of your skincare routine. Cream cleansers generally use emulsifiers to help skin retain their 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 is formulated with ceramide-3, niacinamide, glycerin, and La Roche-Posay Prebiotic Thermal Water. These ingredients work to maintain the skin barrier while gently removing dirt, oil makeup, and other impurities. It leaves your skin soft and clean without any residue or tightness. It’s fragrance-free and also suitable for sensitive skin.
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.
Cult-favorite Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm is fragrance-free and has a lovely rich texture as the first step of a double cleanse. Follow with a gentle cleanser like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser.
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 is formulated with algae extract, bamboo extract, and coconut water. It removes post-cleanse hard water residue and any leftover makeup. This 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.
A hydrating essence is another way to add hydration. E.l.f. Hydrating Water Essence is formulated with purified water, coconut water, algae, and coffee to soothe and hydrate the skin. The formula is thicker than a toner but very moisturizing and soothing for such a lightweight liquid.
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 lactic acid is one of the most gentle and hydrating chemical exfoliators.
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 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 and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, large pores and improves skin firmness and thickness.
My all-time favorite lactic acid product, Sunday Riley Good Genes all-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment quickly exfoliates and plumps fine lines in as little as 3 minutes. This treatment uses purified grade lactic acid to exfoliate pore-clogging dead skin cells to reveal a more radiant complexion. It improves the look of dark spots and discoloration, for more even-toned skin with better clarity.
NOTE: Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 protection when using this product (and other direct acids) and for a week after, as direct acids can make your skin sensitive to the sun.
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 for dry skin for good reason: it can attract 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. There are so many fantastic products to choose from, but a few of my affordable favorite hyaluronic acid products include The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum (so affordable) and RoC Multi Correxion Hydrate & Plump Night Serum Capsules.
Hyaluronic acid 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.
These little capsules from RoC are vegetal-based and 100% biodegradable. They contain premeasured doses of hyaluronic acid (in a 3% complex) that leave your skin hydrated, soft, and silky. 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 your 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.
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 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.
Olay Regenerist Ultra Rich Moisturizer contains shea butter, amino peptide, and vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, glycerin, and panthenol (vitamin B5). This is Olay’s richest moisturizer and really locks in all of the restoring ingredients applied earlier in your skincare routine.
6. Facial Oil
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 skincare 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 skincare 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 and soften your skin.
The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane is a super lightweight non-comedogenic saturated and stable hydrocarbon. It feels weightless on the skin, sinks in quickly, and leaves your skin silky smooth and moisturizes without a heavy greasy feeling. This is my current favorite facial oil.
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 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.
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.
While having dry skin can be a challenge, the good news is that it can be managed. 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 skincare products for dry skin into your skincare routine and using them consistently can provide a large payoff. The result? Balanced, supple and healthy skin on both your face and body.
Thanks for reading, and until next time…