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We all know how essential it is to wash our faces daily. But when you have dry skin, washing it becomes a balance between getting rid of debris, excess oil, makeup, buildup and dirt, and making sure that you’re not stripping away any hydration from your skin. That’s why choosing the right face wash is key to ensuring your already dry skin doesn’t get worse.
But before we get into how to best face wash for dry skin, we have to understand how we get dry skin in the first place. Dry skin is a result of increased moisture loss from the skin. According to board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology Dr. Marisa Garshick, this usually occurs when our natural skin barrier, which helps lock in moisture, is weakened or disrupted. Dr. Garshick explains that a lot of factors can contribute to dry skin, like low humidity, cold temperatures and irritating products.
It’s pretty easy to tell if you have dry skin or not. “Dry skin can be seen as skin that appears dull, flaky or rough,” Dr. Garshick tells WWD. “Sometimes, if it gets very dry, it can also be associated with red scaly patches, fine lines or cracks or even deep cracks that can bleed.”
What to look for in the best face wash for dry skin
When it comes to picking the right face wash for dry skin, Dr. Dendy Engelman, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic, says that you’ll generally want to look for oil-based cleansers with gentle formulas that cleanse skin without being too harsh. Key ingredients to look for include ceramides, peptides and hyaluronic acid. All of these ingredients, Dr. Engelman explains, are known to hydrate and strengthen the skin barrier.
How to wash your face
If you have dry skin, washing your face involves treating your skin very gently. Dr. Engelman explains that you’ll want to still wash your face every night to remove dirt, makeup, oil and other buildup. She also says to use warm or cool water when rinsing, as too hot or too cold water can dry out skin even further. Additionally, you may want to use face wash with one of the best facial cleansing brushes to get an extra deep clean.
In your daily routine, it’s also a good idea to follow up with hydrating skin-care and beauty products, particularly moisturizers, foundations and concealers specifically formulated for dry skin. And when you want to treat yourself to a mini spa experience, try one of the best face masks for dry skin, which are packed with nourishing ingredients that saturate the complexion to leave it looking super supple and fresh.
To get you to your perfect match, we rounded up the 15 best face washes for dry skin, according to our experts and our own personal testing. Keep scrolling to see them.
CeraVe Acne Foaming Cleanser
Dr. Garshick likes the CeraVe Acne Foaming cleanser for those with both dry and oily, acne-prone skin, because it contains all the ingredients to treat both skin concerns. “In addition to 4% benzoyl peroxide, which helps to reduce acne-causing bacteria without leading to antibiotic resistance, it also contains hyaluronic acid to help draw in moisture,” she says. “[It also has] ceramides to help support the natural skin barrier as well as niacinamide to soothe the skin.” As an added bonus, she says this product won’t leave skin feeling irritated or dry.
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Cleanser
The Neutrogena Ultra Gentle cleanser pretty much does it all — and on a budget. Dr. Garshick says it’s an effective cleanser that helps remove excess oil without damaging your natural skin barrier. It’s also free of harsh ingredients and oil-free, so she recommends it for all skin types. Plus, she says this cleanser has shown to be effective for cleansing both before and after wearing a mask, which is a huge win for everyone.
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil
Best Overall Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin
Dr. Engelmas says that oil-based cleansers are great for dry skin, as they’re able to cleanse without stripping it of its natural oils. Her pick for the best overall cleanser for dry skin is Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil. This oil has milky lather when worked into the skin and is packed with the right ingredients to soothe any dryness. “It nourishes the skin with nutrient-rich oils such as safflower, olive and apricot to dissolve impurities and leave behind a clean, soft complexion,” she says.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Best Budget Face Wash for Dry Skin
The best cleansers can also be wallet-friendly. Dr. Engelman’s best budget cleanser pick for dry skin is the Cetaphil gentle cleanser. “This creamy formula held up against five different tests of skin dryness and sensitivity,” she says. “It hydrates as it cleanses and helps soothe sensitive and/or irritated skin.” Priced at under $12, this drugstore-favorite cleanser is a steal.
Dove Beauty Bar
If you prefer soap bars, this is the option for you. Dr. Garshick likes the Dove Beauty Bar, because it effectively washes away dirt without drying the skin compared to ordinary soaps that can strip your skin of natural oils. “It’s formulated with one-fourth moisturizing cream to help replenish moisture, which helps to leave the skin feeling soft and nourished,” she says. “It’s easy to use and can be used by all skin types.”
Glo Skin Beauty’s Gentle Cream Cleanser
Best Facial Cleanser for Dry, Sensitive Skin
If your skin is dry and prone to sensitivity, then it’s important to find a cleanser that’s extra gentle and won’t compromise the skin barrier in any way. That’s where Glo Skin Beauty’s gentle cream cleanser comes in. “[It’s] a great choice for those with sensitive skin because it has a creamy consistency that conditions and revives skin while cleansing,” Dr. Engelman says. “Free of fragrance and dyes, it’s specially formulated to respect the skin’s natural moisture balance and provide a refreshed face without any irritation.”
Vanicream Facial Cleanser
When you have sensitive skin, it’s imperative to find a cleanser that doesn’t contain common irritants, like fragrance, dyes, parabens, formaldehyde and other preservatives. That’s why Dr. Garshick recommends the Vanicream facial cleanser. “It’s gentle enough to be used every day and can remove makeup and excess oil without drying the skin out,” she says. It’s also non-comedogenic.
Proactiv Renewing Face Cleanser
Best Face Wash for Acne-Prone Dry Skin
Dealing with dry and acne-prone skin can be tricky. Dr. Engelman says you have to find a cleanser that hydrates without adding oil or leaving behind any residue that can clog pores and make acne worse. Her pick for striking that balance is Proactiv’s Renewing cleanser. “It’s gentle enough to be used on dry skin twice a day,” she says. “And, it contains benzoyl peroxide that targets acne-causing bacteria.”
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Best Anti-Aging Cleanser for Dry Skin
Drying and aging skin go hand in hand. Dr. Engelman explains that our collagen production decreases as we age, which leads to fine lines, loss of skin elasticity and dryness. Something like the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm helps address all those skin concerns with its nourishing ingredients. “This contains hydrating factors such as starflower oil, elderberry oil and padina pavonica that work to boost collagen regeneration and leave the skin feeling smooth, hydrated and healthy,” she says.
Tatcha The Rice Wash Skin-Softening Cleanser
Dr. Garshick says this Tatcha cleanser helps wash away daily buildup, dirt and residue without stripping the skin of its natural oils, making it a great option for those with dry skin in general. But what makes it especially great for more mature skin is its many anti-aging ingredients, including Japanese rice powder, which Dr. Garshick explains has been known to improve skin’s overall tone and texture. It also contains an Okinawa algae blend and hyaluronic acid to help lock in moisture and plump the skin.
Alastin Skincare Gentle Cleanser
Best Splurge Cleanser for Dry Skin
If you’re looking to treat yourself and invest in a higher-end cleanser, Dr. Engelman recommends the Alastin Skincare gentle cleanser. “Sometimes, splurging on a good cleanser is worth it for reliable results,” she says. “[This] is actually part of my personal skin-care routine, because it’s just so effective and nourishing. The foaming formula is packed with hydrating ingredients and antioxidants, and effectively removes excess oil, pollutants, makeup and dirt.”
ReVive Cream Cleanser
For her pick of the best splurge cleanser for dry skin, Dr. Garshick likes ReVive’s cream cleanser. “This cream cleanser works to effectively remove buildup while leaving the skin looking and feeling softer and smoother,” she says. It contains soothing ingredients, like jojoba seed oil, to help calm skin and leave it glowing. While it will cost you a whopping $75, the array of skin benefits it offers makes it worth the buy.
Eve Lom Gel Balm Cleanser
Best Cleansing Gel for Dry Skin
Crafted with ingredients like shea butter and grapeseed oil, the Eve Lom Gel Balm cleanser moisturizes skin for up to 12 hours. It also contains chamomile oil and eucalyptus to help dissolve makeup and debris. Plus, its gel texture feels so cooling against the skin, making the cleansing step of your skin-care routine a true sensory experience. Not to mention, it has the most lovely scent.
Curel Foaming Face Wash
Best Foaming Face Wash For Dry Skin
The Curel foaming face wash is so gentle, it’s perfect for even the most sensitive skin. You’ll find it will remove debris without stripping the skin of any natural oil. It contains ceramides and glycerin to lock moisture in and soothe any irritation so that your skin is kept super soft. It’s also pH balanced and fragrance- and colorant-free.
Then I Met You Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel
Then I Met You’s Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel contains powerful but gentle ingredients to keep skin clean and healthy. It has fermented rice water that will clear skin of all impurities and antioxidants with antibacterial properties to treat acne. To keep skin hydrated and nourished while you cleanse, it contains glycerin and sodium hyaluronate to keep skin feeling silky soft.