Cleansing is one of the most drying steps in a skincare routine. Here's what you should avoid and what you should use instead.
If you're not sure which type of cleanser is best for dry skin, you're probably already aware that cleansing is the most drying step in your skincare routine.
Cleansing relies on ingredients called surfactants, which can dissolve in both oil and water. Surfactants are great cleansers because they can remove both water-soluble and oil-soluble makeup and other substances.
Traditional cleansers can aggravate dry skin by washing away natural oils.
Dry skin is deficient in the naturally protective oils that create a barrier on the skin's surface. These natural oils are what keep moisture locked in.
The Best and Worst Cleansers for Dry Skin
Because surfactants are so efficient at removing oil, traditional cleansers can leave your skin feeling drier than it did before you washed. If you have dry skin, avoid the following cleansing products, which are likely to wash away skin's natural oils:
- Soap (bar or liquid)
- Clear face washes
- Shower gels
- Foaming cleansers
- Bubble baths
Instead, replace them with:
These types of cleansing products are more selective about what they remove from skin. Your natural protective oils will remain on your skin instead of being rinsed down the drain.
Some gentle cleansing products work by using milder surfactants, and others rely on the scientific principle of 'like dissolves like'. An oil-based cleanser plus water from your tap are just as effective as a surfactant.
For body cleansing, we recommend a cleansing cream such as:
- Uriage Creme Lavante Cleansing and Nourishing Cream
- La Roche–Posay Lipikar Syndet Cleansing Cream–Gel
- Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser
For facial cleansing, we recommend a cleansing balm or oil such as:
- Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil
- Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm
- philosophy purity made simple mineral oil-free cleansing oil
Micellar waters are a family of cleansing products that have only recently gained cult popularity. They began their humble journey as a well-kept secret of French pharmacies. Micellar waters are applied with a cotton pad and require no water activation or rinsing.
The key to these clear, water-based solutions is micelles: tiny molecules of oil that activate with only gentle application. Much kinder to skin than surfactants, micelles dissolve makeup and excess oil, then remain to provide moisture.
For quick, waterless cleansing (perfect for travel), we recommend a micellar water such as: