The Best Dry Skin Products That Work
Take a walk through the skin care aisle at your local supermarket and you’ll see tens of different brands of body washes. Some smell better than others, some have bright colors, others have exfoliating beads. But don’t fall for a pretty package. Watch for these key ingredients to determine if a body wash is going to help your skin:
Ingredients that help heal dry skin
- Aloe vera soothes sensitive and sensitized skin
- Glycerin and sorbitol draw moisture into skin
- Glycolic and lactic acid gently exfoliate skin cells and retain moisture
- Jojoba oil is similar to your natural oils, helps soften skin
- Coconut oil is naturally anti-bacterial, heals skin and locks in moisture
- Herbal ingredients like chamomile and lavender calm irritated skin
- Almond, sunflower, olive, and avocado oils don’t clog pores and protect skin from moisture loss
The best body washes for dry skin
We’ll start with the most gentle formulas recommended by dermatologists. These work on your face or your whole body.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
People suffering with psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema have reported success using the Gentle Skin Cleanser from Cetaphil. It moisturizes skin while it washes away dirt, and it doesn’t strip off all the skin’s natural oil. if you’re camping, you can use it without water because it doesn’t need to rinsed. It’s hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic, and has no scent. In other words, buy this in the bulk size so the whole family can enjoy it.
Kiss My Face Anti-Stress Shower Gel
Kiss My Face has been making natural products from organic ingredients for decades. Their Anti-Stress Shower Gel smells great and manages to stimulate skin while making it feel softer. It’s based on aromatherapy components like ginseng, lavender, orange, and rosemary extracts plus olive oil and aloe vera.
Besides the Anti-Stress Gel, Kiss My Face makes a whole line of other body washes with different scents and different purposes. All of them tend to be gentle and good at reviving dry skin.
bliss Super Minty Soap ‘N Scrub
The fresh peppermint smell will wake you up while the jojoba beads help you shed old, dry skin. Users of the bliss Minty Soap ‘N Scrub say it makes their skin feel new again.
There are a number of reasons why the skin on your head is dry. Some people normally have drier skin than others. Other people may be sensitive to ingredients like surfactants in shampoos. The worst offenders are sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate, also known as SLS.
Other irritating ingredients are silicones and resins. Silicones are often found in hair care products that smooth and straighten. Resins make up most hair sprays and styling products that make curls and volume. When these products aren’t washed out, they build up and cause problems.
Another cause of dry, itchy scalp is dandruff. It’s happens when skin over-reacts to a fungus called P. ovale. While this fungus normally lives undetectable on human heads, sometimes skin starts fighting it at a faster rate, leaving behind lots of dead cells as dry flakes.
Now, if a person has psoriasis, which is a non-contagious chronic condition, their skin will be extra flaky and dry. There will be a buildup of dead skin that blocks hair follicles and prevents moisturizing products from working. If you think this describes you, it’s best to consult with a doctor on how to treat your scalp. Regular hair products for dandruff might not solve the problem.
Finally, if someone has a combination of clumps of oily skin flakes or yellow scales, it could be seborrheic dermatitis from producing too much sebum. It’s an allergic reaction to foods, stress, or personal care products. Many times dandruff shampoo will at least keep the flaking under control. But sometimes it might be necessary to use a prescription product.
Now that you’ve seen the range of reasons why your scalp might be dry, let’s take a look at the shampoos that treat it.
The best shampoos for dry scalp
We’ll begin with gentle shampoos that clarify and moisturize, then move on to powerful over-the-counter dandruff-fighters.
Klorane Shampoo with Peony for Sensitive Scalp Relief
Klorane, one of the top brands sold in European pharmacies, offers their Shampoo with Peony for Sensitive and Irritated Scalp. The floral extract of peony stops itching for up to 24 hours after use.
The formula avoids irritants like parabens, silicones, and sulfates in favor of a pH-balanced hypoallergenic list of ingredients. Plus, this shampoo is both biodegradable and vegan.
Wella Elements Shampoo—Gentle Moisturizer
Wella Elements Shampoo stops dry scalp by moisturizing both skin and hair. It does not contain the all-too-common irritants called SLS, or sulfates. This product comes recommended by many salons for use on all hair types.
Davines MOMO Shampoo—Fights Dandruff and Moisturizes
Davines MOMO Shampoo contains a gentle dandruff-fighting ingredient called selenium sulfide. It is both anti-septic and anti-fungal to soothe dry and irritated skin. MOMO also contains Cartucciaru Melon extract to moisturize hair and skin without making it oily. It doesn’t matter if you have oily or dry hair, MOMO Shampoo will leave it clean, shiny, and flake-free.
You can do a lot to help your skin improve if you use a moisturizing face wash each day, gently exfoliate on a regular basis, and apply a hydrating face lotion morning and night. You don’t need soap or harsh cleansers to remove makeup, oil, and grime, or to unclog pores. There are many face washes formulated for dry skin that will do all that without stripping your natural oil.
One tip that will help you to protect your skin is to wash with lukewarm water—not hot, not cold.
What makes a face wash good for dry skin?
When you’re shopping for a new face wash, take a look at the label. No matter what the ad says about the amazing qualities of that product, the ingredients will reveal its true power to help or harm you.
If the ingredients list contains SD or denatured alcohol, those will dry out your skin. Cetyl and stearyl alchohols are okay because they are “fatty” ones that condition skin.
Lots of people are avoiding products with sulfates like sodium laureth and sodium lauryl (SLS/SLES) because they can cause an allergic reaction. They make lather, but they aren’t necessary to get your skin clean. When possible, we didn’t choose washes with these components for our review.
Parabens and MI (methylisothiazolinone) are preservatives banned in the European Union from products that are left on skin, but are still commonly used in the USA. Since we selected face washes that are rinsed off, this concern doesn’t apply, but we tried to avoid products with these ingredients anyway.
When we chose our products for this article, we looked for face washes that have a lot of positive feedback and good value for the money. We checked their labels to see if they had ingredients that moisturize and protect dry skin, like these:
- Aloe vera soothes and heals irritated skin
- Cucumber reduces redness and swelling
- Chamomile is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory
- Vitamin E, or tocopherol, neutralizes the free radicals that cause aging
- Glycerin helps skin draw in moisture from water
- Jojoba oil softens skin because it’s very similar to sebum, skin’s natural oil
- Coconut oil is naturally anti-bacterial, and it’s an emollient that locks in moisture
- Other natural oils like almond, olive, sunflower, and avocado are gentle, don’t clog pores like mineral oil, and protect skin from losing moisture
- Ceramides reinforce the skin’s protective barrier to avoid moisture loss
Now that you’ve seen a brief overview of how we chose the best face washes for dry skin, here are the ones we selected.
The best face wash for moisturizing dry skin
We’ll begin with a popular Canadian product that’s been delighting users all over the world.
Carapex Botanical Facial Cleanser
Carapex’s Botanical Facial Cleanser is creamy and gentle on skin. It doesn’t leave skin feeling dry, or like it has a residue after rinsing. Regular use seems to improve skin color and texture, getting rid of redness.
The formula uses cucumber, chamomile, and Japanese green tea extracts to neutralize free radicals, shrink pores, and fight signs of aging. The coconut, sugar beet, and corn base hydrates and softens skin. While it doesn’t lather much, users say it works very well. People with sensitive skin appreciate the fact there are no perfumes and no artificial colors.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Wash Cleanser for Normal to Dry Sensitive Skin
From Canada, we’ll move on to France. La Roche-Posay’s products are based on thermal spring water packed with minerals, like their Toleriane Hydrating Face Wash. It won’t disturb the natural pH of your skin, but it will remove makeup and impurities. The formula has glycerin, ceramides, and niacinamide to hydrate and protect skin and reduce irritation. It’s gentle enough to be used twice a day, and it’s free from perfumes, oils, sulfates, and parabens.
Hada Labo Tokyo Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
And now, here is a popular product from Japan. The Hada Labo Tokyo company says they have the number 1 skin care line in Japan. Their Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is making a splash in the USA. Users say it’s great because it lathers up nicely and takes off makeup, but leaves their skin feeling soft and supple.
The ingredients list mentions methylisothiazolinone, but the formula doesn’t contain an artificial fragrance, parabens, alcohol, dyes, or mineral oil.
The key ingredients in top facial moisturizers
When you’re choosing a new moisturizer for your face, look for these ingredients that plump skin to erase fine lines and take years off your appearance:
- Vitamin E, aka tocopheryl acetate, and Vitamin B3, aka niacinamide
- Emollients like jojoba oil, coconut oil, and shea butter, aka butyrospermum parkii
- Aloe vera
- Humectants like glycerin, grape seed oil, and hyaluronic acid
Aloe vera and Vitamin E heal rough skin, and Vitamin B3 helps the skin form a protective barrier against environmental damage.
Emollients like jojoba oil, coconut oil, and shea butter lock in moisture so skin stays soft and hydrated for longer. Jojoba oil is a plant derivative that’s non-comedogenic because it’s very similar to the sebum, or the oil that human skin produces.
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance that’s found in skin, but the amount diminishes with age, so it’s a great idea to add more with a moisturizer. It’s a humectant that draws water into skin to hydrate it. Grape seed oil and glycerin are also good at helping skin soak up moisture.
The best face moisturizers for dry skin
Now let’s take a look at reviews of the top moisturizers.
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream 48 Hour Facial Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid for Dry Skin
Vichy is a skin care brand sold in pharmacies in Europe because it’s not a run of the mill drugstore brand. It’s pricy, but there are some very high quality products in its lineup. The Aqualia Thermal Rich Cream is especially good at reviving dry skin and making it young again. It won an International Beauty Award from Elle in 2015.
Vichy says the Aqualia cream’s effects last up to 48 hours after it’s applied. The formula is based on volcanic thermal spring water plus hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and shea butter. It’s oil-free and safe for sensitive skin, and it has a creamy texture that sinks in fast. Women who used it for 4 weeks were asked questions about their experience with the moisturizer. Over ninety percent reported that their skin felt hydrated all day.
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Hydrating Fortifying Lotion 24 Hour Facial Moisturizer with SPF 25
Some people prefer to use the Vichy Thermal Rich Cream only at night, and use this Fortifying Lotion with sunscreen during the day. The lotion protects against both UVA and UVB rays with avobenzone 3%, octisalate 5%, and octocrylene 7%. It has a much lighter texture than the Rich Cream, but still hydrates skin for up to 24 hours.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream, Extra-Dry Skin
Neutrogena is a well-known brand used by women and men all around the world. Their Hydro Boost Gel is designed to moisturize extra-dry skin without clogging pores or irritating sensitive faces. It’s based on hyaluronic acid, olive extract, and glycerin. Neutrogena says the hyaluronic acid alone adds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. The ingredients reveal that this moisturizer is free from oils, dyes, parabens, and fragrances.