Routine For Dry Skin: Dry skin lacks moisture, causing dry, rough, or flakey skin. It’s common to experience dry skin during cooler months, but you can also have a dry skin type that lasts year-round. Dry skin can feel uncomfortable and itchy, but tailoring your skincare routine to add hydration back to your skin can help rebalance your skin’s moisture.
A basic dry skincare routine includes a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen with moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. However, depending on your skin’s needs, you can add more products to your daytime and nighttime skincare routines. Here’s what dermatologists recommend to build the best skincare routine for dry skin.
What Is Dry Skin?
Routine For Dry Skin, Your epidermis, or the top layer of your skin, has a delicate barrier that holds in water to hydrate and protect your skin from the elements. Dry skin, aka xerosis or xeroderma, happens when your skin barrier loses water too quickly.
As a result, people with dry skin have skin that can feel:
“Some people are born with dry skin, but others can have drier skin in the winter due to the cold, drying winter wind, central heating (or car heaters), and low humidity—all combining into a ‘perfect storm’ of skin dehydration,” Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery and director of dermatologic surgery at Metropolitan Hospital, told Health.
You may also have dry skin because of a condition like eczema, which causes the skin to become irritated, inflamed, and swollen.
Morning Skincare Routine for Dry Skin
Routine For Dry Skin, A good morning skincare routine helps prepare dry skin for the elements by adding moisture to your lacking skin barrier. Here’s how to help your dry skin stay hydrated and flake-free during the day.
Routine For Dry Skin, Cleansing your skin should always be your first step in the morning to remove dirt and create a clean slate. But dry skin types should also find cleansers that add additional moisture to their skin and don’t strip away much-needed face oils.
“Gentle cleansers, oil cleansers, and moisturizing cleansers with gentle and hydrating ingredients—such as glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid—are best for dry skin,” said Engelman. Oil-based cleansers are especially ideal for people with extremely dry skin to help seal in moisture.
Routine For Dry Skin, Toners are an optional skincare step that typically remove leftover oil and dirt. For this reason, many toners irritate dry skin and are better for oily, acne-prone skin. However, there are toners designed to hydrate dry skin. Engelman suggested choosing alcohol-free toners that contain hydrating and soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and aloe.56 These types of toners can support the most sensitive skin.
Routine For Dry Skin, Serums are water-based skin treatments with a high concentration of an active ingredient. If you have dry skin, look for serums with actives to help hydrate and protect your skin from dry environments.
Hyaluronic acid serums are great for dry skin and help draw water to the skin barrier, Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Premier Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center, told Health. Zubritsky suggests applying hyaluronic acid serums to wet skin to pull more water into your skin.
Routine For Dry Skin, Engelman also recommends serums with hydrating B Vitamins like niacinamide and panthenol. Serums with ceramides and vitamin E can also help replenish hydration levels and enhance the skin barrier.
People with dry skin can also use popular Vitamin C serums to help brighten skin, fade hyperpigmentation, and reduce UV damage. “If you are using a vitamin C serum, try a tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate product over an L-ascorbic product as this is more hydrating and less irritating to the skin,” Mary Alice Mina, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Baucom & Mina Derm Surgery and host of The Skin Real podcast, told Health.
4. Eye Cream
Routine For Dry Skin, Eye creams are also another optional addition to your daytime skincare routine. For dry skin, look for eye creams with hydrating peptides to add moisture to the delicate, often dry under-eye area. Daytime eye creams with antioxidants like Vitamin C and SPF can also help protect your delicate under eyes from sun damage.
Applying a rich moisturizer is essential to a dry skincare routine. Moisturizers repair a dry skin barrier by increasing your skin’s water content and sealing in moisture.
Mina recommends sticking with thick cream or oil-based moisturizers, especially with ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and rebuild the skin barrier. Zubritsky also recommends moisturizers with softening and moisturizing ingredients like squalane, shea butter, and glycerin.
Routine For Dry Skin, Dry skin needs protected from UV rays, too. Your morning skincare routine should always end with applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Making sunscreen a daily priority helps reduce your risk of wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer. You should apply a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen on your face, neck, chest, and ears every 2 hours.
Dry skin types can use mineral or chemical sunscreen. Zubritsky recommended moisturizing sunscreens with ceramides to continue combatting dryness. “I like to recommend a mineral-based sunscreen, as ingredients in chemical-based sunscreens can sometimes sting and burn.” Araya “Jay” Zaesim, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at U.S. Dermatology Partners, told Health.
Nighttime Skincare Routine for Dry Skin
Routine For Dry Skin, The point of your nighttime skincare routine is to remove oil and dirt from the day and add any moisture your dry skin loses during the day. This helps your skin cells repair damage from the day. Here’s how to hydrate your dry skin at night.
Routine For Dry Skin, You can continue using your gentle, oil, or moisturizing cleanser in the evening to remove dirt and makeup from the day. If you want to switch it up at night—or need more makeup-removing power—Engelman recommends gel cleansers. These can help remove dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping your skin’s natural oils. Mina notes that creamy or oil-based cleansers are also great at night to wash away makeup and daily pollution.
Routine For Dry Skin, You can add or skip a toner during your nighttime skincare. You may prefer using a hydrating toner at night if you have sensitive, dry skin. This can help remove excess grime and add more moisture to your skin while you sleep.
Your nighttime toner can be the same as your daytime toner, with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and aloe.
Routine For Dry Skin, A nighttime serum is another opportunity to add more hydration to your dry skin and treat fine lines. Again, choose hydrating serums with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, peptides, or ceramides. These ingredients moisturize and repair dry skin after a long day.
Dry skin types can also use exfoliating nighttime serums with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic and glycolic acid to exfoliate roughness, hydrate, and smooth fine lines.
These chemical exfoliators can help smooth dry skin by removing dead skin cells that make skin flakey and rough. But while both lactic and glycolic acid can help hydrate skin and smooth fine lines, glycolic acid can be too irritating for dry and sensitive skin. Lactic acid is a gentler option for dry skin types who want to exfoliate dry, rough skin.
Vitamin A derivatives like retinoids and retinol (a type of retinoid) help stimulate cell turnover and promote collagen production to help improve overall skin texture, reduce fine lines, and prevent clogged pores. Retinols can often be too irritating and drying for dry skin. Still, you can use them successfully depending on your skin’s tolerance.
When choosing which type of retinol to use, people with dry skin may have more luck with over-the-counter (OTC) retinol, retinyl palmitate, and retinaldehyde. Zubritsky recommended retinol products that add niacinamide to help maintain the skin’s barrier and retinol creams for added moisture. Prescription retinoid treatments like Differin (adapalene), Retin-A (tretinoin), Aklief (trifarotene), and Tazorac (tazarotene) may be too intense for dry skin.
Routine For Dry Skin, If you’re new to retinol products, apply a thin layer to your face and start slowly. Apply retinol every other night for about a week to start. You can gradually increase the frequency if your skin isn’t irritated. “If you are prone to very sensitive skin, you might want to start even slower with every third night,” noted Zaesim.
If you want to use a retinol and an AHA serum, avoid mixing them and using them on the same day. Combining these ingredients can cause irritation and excessive dryness or irritation.
5. Eye Cream
Routine For Dry Skin, You can continue using your everyday hydrating eye cream at night—or opt for more moisturizing power. At night, Mina recommended using an eye cream with peptides to soothe dry skin and then slugging—applying petrolatum-based ointment on top to seal in moisture .
Additionally, a night eye cream can help repair skin and reduce fine lines with ingredients like retinol, niacinamide, or hyaluronic acid. However, retinol eye creams may be too irritating for dry skin.
6. Moisturizer or Nightcream
Routine For Dry Skin, Moisturizing at night helps dry skin rehydrate and repair itself. You can stick with your daytime moisturizer or use a heavier night cream. Night creams are ideal for repairing the skin and have a very thick consistency that dry skin loves.
To really help add more moisture at night, look for night creams with hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Night creams with AHAs and retinol can also help stimulate cell turnover and reduce fine lines. Because these sometimes irritating ingredients are paired with a thick cream, dry skin types can often tolerate them.
7. Face Oil
Routine For Dry Skin, Applying face oil at night is a great way to help add even more moisture to dry skin. Look for face oils with fatty acids like argan or coconut oil to up your skin’s moisture. If you have sensitive skin, rosehip oil may help soothe and hydrate.