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Best Face Washes for Dry Skin, as Recommended by Dermatologists

Face Wash for Dry Skin
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Updated February 6, 2024

If you’re searching for the best face wash for dry skin, look for a hydrating cleanser that removes dead skin cells, pollutants, and makeup but won’t strip the natural oils in the process. While it may be easy to find moisturizers to slather onto your parched face, choosing the right cleanser for dry skin may be a bit harder, especially if you have a combination of factors to consider, like acne, aging skin, or redness. To help you find your next favorite face wash to treat dry skin, I talked with dermatologists to learn which ingredients help keep your face hydrated and happy.

What to consider when buying face wash for dry skin

Ingredients

“Dry skin needs skin barrier support,” shares Dr. Geeta Yadav, board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The most important ingredients to look for are humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which will help pull water into the skin. “Ceramides will help trap that water in there and fortify the skin barrier, and plant-derived oils like squalane, safflower, jojoba, and grapeseed, will also help regulate the skin barrier as well and promote more moisturized skin.”

Dr. Rachel Reyes-Bergano, DO, Medical Director of SkinSpirt Pasadena in CA, agrees. “Hyaluronic acid-based serums can restore plumpness to winter skin when used consistently. And definitely use a ceramide-based moisturizer. Ceramide is a type of lipid necessary to hydrate our skin and protect our skin barrier.”

In addition, Dr. Yadav adds that “niacinamide can also be a good ingredient to seek out as it promotes better skin barrier function, decreases water loss, and combats inflammation; dry skin can be more easily irritated than other skin types.”

Texture of face wash

“It’s worth noting most of these ingredients are ideal to have in cleansers for all skin types. What matters when it comes to skin type is the texture of the formula,” says Dr. Yadav. “Opaque, creamy cleansers, oil-based cleansers, or cleansing balms will go a long way towards supporting dry skin as they impart more moisture than other formats.”

Our top picks for best face wash for dry skin

Best budget face wash for dry skin: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser Face Wash for Sensitive Skin

Cetaphil consistently provides great skincare products at affordable prices—you can find this brand anywhere from drugstores to supermarkets, big box stores to beauty shops. (So you don’t have to hope this turns up in a beauty subscription box or seek out a boutique.) This face wash is great for dry, sensitive skin because it hydrates and reduces redness. It also helps irritated and rough skin, and contains dry-skin-friendly ingredients like glycerin and niacinamide.

Specifications:

  • Size: 8 fluid ounces
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide (vitamin B3), and panthenol (vitamin B5)
  • Price on publish: $11.99

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Easy to find
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Contains niacinamide to support moisture

Cons:

  • Some users say it doesn’t remove makeup as well as other face washes

The bottom line:

This is an affordable, dermatologist-tested face wash suitable for individuals with dry skin.

Best budget face wash for dry skin
Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, Face Wash for Sensitive Skin

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, Face Wash for Sensitive Skin

Best splurge face wash for dry skin: Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

This lightweight gel cleanser is (as the name portends) gentle enough for dry skin, and its key ingredients, like marine peptides and glycerin, keep your dry skin hydrated and feeling healthy. It’s also great for sensitive skin because it contains chamomile essential oils to soothe irritated skin.

Specifications:

  • Size: 6.7 fluid ounces
  • Key ingredients: Marine peptides, chamomile essential oils, hydrolyzed algin, and glycerin
  • Price on publish: $40

Pros:

  • Made from natural ingredients, including soothing chamomile
  • Hydrolyzed algin is clinically proven to decrease damage from free radicals
  • Gel formula makes it easy to use and remove

Cons:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

If you can afford this all-natural and gentle cleanser, it will soothe and hydrate irritated, dry skin.

Best splurge face wash for dry skin
Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (200 ml.)

Dr. Loretta Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (200 ml.)

Best face wash for dry, sensitive skin: Paula's Choice Calm Ultra-Gentle Cleanser

If you have sensitive and dry skin, seek out ingredients that calm inflammation. Paula’s Choice contains ingredients like triglycerides and glycerin to keep your face healthy and hydrated. Although it’s recommended for dry complexions, it is designed for all skin types, so you can share it.

Specifications:

  • Size: 6.7 fluid ounces
  • Key ingredients: Triglycerides, glycerin, and prebiotic sugars
  • Price on publish: $19

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Good for all skin types
  • Prevents moisture loss
  • Prebiotic sugars support the skin’s microbiome

Cons:

  • It may be too expensive compared to drugstore options

The bottom line:

A gentle cleanser with hydrating and smoothing ingredients that works on all skin types, especially dry and sensitive skin.

Best face wash for dry, sensitive skin
Paula's Choice Calm Ultra-Gentle Cleanser

Paula's Choice Calm Ultra-Gentle Cleanser

Best face wash for dry, acne-prone skin: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin

This Dr. Yadav-approved dry-skin product contains three key ingredients that make it a good face wash for acne: Salicylic acid to soften rough skin and slough off dead cells, ceramides for building skin-barrier protection, and hyaluronic acid to help hydrate dry skin. Best of all, it’s affordable and easy to find, and it works on various skin types. Dr. Yadav says the formula’s time-release technology will continue to deliver ceramides into the skin all day to help it replenish.

Specifications:

  • Size: 12 fluid ounces
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid
  • Price on publish: $13.68

Pros:

Cons:

  • None

The bottom line:

Recommended by dermatologists, CeraVe offers great products at affordable prices, like this face wash designed to improve the texture and appearance of acne-prone skin.

Best face wash for dry, acne-prone skin
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin 12 fl oz

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin 12 fl oz

Best face wash for dry, mature skin: Stripes Resting Clean Face Ultra Gentle Cleanser with Squalane + Ceramides

When you age, your skin may naturally become drier and need more assistance from cleansers and other products to stay hydrated to combat menopause-related dullness. This gentle face wash contains ingredients like squalane and ceramides and is good for diminishing fine lines, improving brightness, reducing redness, smoothing out rough texture, and improving natural moisture long after you’ve rinsed off the cleanser. Afterwards, you have the perfect clean slate for applying anti aging serums or the best night creams.

Specifications:

  • Size: 3.7 fluid ounces
  • Key ingredients: Squalane, Embelia leaf extract, and ceramides
  • Price on publish: $42

Pros:

  • Good for improving the dullness of mature skin
  • Supports the skin’s moisture barrier
  • Ingredients are targeted to improve the quality of one’s skin during and after menopause
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons:

  • Sold only at Sephora
  • Expensive

The bottom line:

This might be the best face wash for mature women who have dry, dull, or red skin and need a gentle, hydrating cleanser before applying products like a night cream or anti aging serum.

Best face wash for dry, mature skin
Stripes Resting Clean Face Ultra Gentle Cleanser with Squalane + Ceramides 3.7 oz / 110 mL

Stripes Resting Clean Face Ultra Gentle Cleanser with Squalane + Ceramides 3.7 oz / 110 mL

Best drugstore face wash for dry skin: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

CeraVe offers a great budget-friendly range of products formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which are good for dry skin. Unlike some cleansers, this does not contain microbeads or any harsh chemicals. CeraVe products come highly recommended by dermatologists as an affordable option.

Specifications:

  • Size: 8 fluid ounces
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, salicylic acid, and niacinamide
  • Price on publish: $14.49

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Salicylic acid smooths rough skin more gently than face scrubs
  • Suitable for those with psoriasis
  • Developed by dermatologists

Cons:

  • If you’re looking for 100% organic key ingredients, this isn’t for you

The bottom line:

Another winner from CeraVe, this gentle cleanser exfoliates and hydrates without drying out your skin.

Best drugstore face wash for dry skin
CeraVe Face Renewing SA Cleanser, Salicylic and Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide & Ceramides, 16 oz | CVS

CeraVe Face Renewing SA Cleanser, Salicylic and Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide & Ceramides, 16 oz | CVS

Best all-natural face wash for dry skin: Manuka Honey Facial Cleanser from Wild Naturals

Made in the U.S. with all-natural ingredients, including Manuka honey, this face wash gently cleans and hydrates dry skin. It smells delicious but isn’t loaded with fake fragrance. It’s a good choice for treating rough and sun-damaged skin, thanks to healing organic aloe vera and honey.

Specifications:

  • Size: 4 fluid ounces
  • Key ingredients: Aloe vera, Manuka honey, Cehami flower extract, and hyaluronic acid
  • Price on publish: $18.86

Pros:

  • All-natural organic ingredients
  • Cehami flower extract helps reduce redness and itchiness
  • Cruelty-free

Cons:

  • Expensive for a small amount

The bottom line:

If you are looking for a face wash made in the U.S. with all-natural ingredients to deep clean a dry complexion, give this a try.

Best all-natural face wash for dry skin
Face Wash - Gentle Face Cleanser Facial Scrub with Aloe Vera Extract & Manuka Honey - Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Dry & Sensitive Skin Oil Face Cleanser - Repairs & Soothes Irritated & Damaged Skin

Face Wash - Gentle Face Cleanser Facial Scrub with Aloe Vera Extract & Manuka Honey - Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Dry & Sensitive Skin Oil Face Cleanser - Repairs & Soothes Irritated & Damaged Skin

Best hydrating face wash for dry skin: SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser

Dr. Yadav recommends this product line for many different skin types, but this gentle cleanser is a great choice for dry skin because of its hydrating and non-abrasive qualities. “I am a big fan of SkinCeuticals products—this cleanser is very, very gentle and uses mild ingredients to cleanse the skin, making it ideal for dry and sensitive skin,” says Dr. Yadav. This cleanser’s key ingredient is orange oil, which is antiseptic and soothing on dry and irritated skin, making it a skin care tool that you didn’t know you needed.

Specifications

  • Size: 6.4 ounces
  • Key ingredients: Orange oil
  • Price on publish: $39

Pros:

  • Non-abrasive
  • Gentle on sensitive skin
  • Soothing gel-cream texture
  • Removes long-wear makeup

Cons:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

This face wash is ideal for sensitive and dry skin, providing a gentle clean and long-lasting hydration.

Best hydrating face wash for dry skin
SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser (6.42 fl. oz.)

SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser (6.42 fl. oz.)

How we selected the best face wash for dry skin

I selected the best face washes by interviewing dermatologists about what makes a great face wash for dry skin and by researching recommendations for ingredients by the American Academy of Dermatology. We talked to friends and colleagues who shared their opinions, tested out products, plus sifted through hundreds of reviews.

How to tell if you have dry skin?

“If your skin is flaking, has red patches, or peeling, [it] may be dry which simply means it lacks moisture due to small cracks in the skin. This skin type may also get easily irritated,” shares Dr. Morgana Colombo, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist at Integrated Dermatology in Reston, Virginia.

What ingredients should people with dry skin look for?

Ingredients like niacinamide, humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and plant-derived oils like squalane, safflower, jojoba, and grapeseed are all great for dry skin and other complexion types.

What ingredients should people with dry skin avoid?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, if you have dry skin, you should avoid the following ingredients: alcohol, alpha-hydroxy acid, cleansers with fragrance, and retinoids. These products remove the skin’s oils.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is it OK to use a face wash daily with dry skin?

“Generally speaking, washing your face twice daily is a good rule of thumb for everyone,” says Dr. Colombo. “However, this absolutely will depend on your skin type, your lifestyle and your daily activities. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you will want to be mindful of how much you are washing your face, so maybe once a day is enough.”

Is CeraVe good for dry skin?

“CeraVe is a wonderful line at a budget-friendly price point—all of their products are

formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides,” says Dr. Yadav. The Hydrating Facial Cleanser (on my list) is a favorite. Dr. Yadav adds that this cleanser “in particular, is nice and creamy, helping to nourish and cleanse dry skin. Even after you’ve washed it away, the formula’s time-release technology helps continue to deliver ceramides into the skin to leave it replenished.”

What should you not use on dry skin?

As noted above, try not to use alcohol-based face wash or those with heavy fragrances. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, cleansers with alpha-hydroxy acid and retinoids should be avoided if you have dry skin because they can exacerbate dryness.

How can I rejuvenate dry skin on my face?

After cleansing your face with a hydrating cleanser, it's important to moisturize your face generously to get that moisture back in your skin, recommends Dr. Colombo. “I would also limit extremely hot showers or baths as the hot water can cause additional irritation. Using a humidifier can also help and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!” For more focused hydration, check out our lists for the best eye creams and the best tinted moisturizers.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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