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When you have dry skin, moisturizer might be the product you reach for the most. But face wash can be just as important in your skin care arsenal for keeping your skin looking and feeling its best.

In fact, choosing the right cleanser for your skin type might just be essential to achieving the glowing, even skin tone you’re after. Many cleansers contain powerful hydrating ingredients, like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, that work wonders on dry and sensitive skin.

As a 2011 clinical review noted, the oils, dirt, and toxins in the environment won’t dissolve with water alone. That’s why everyone should cleanse their face at the end of each day.

If you don’t cleanse your skin daily, you’re likely to experience more breakouts when the remaining oil, dirt, and toxins clog your pores.

Cleansing your face gets impurities and dead cells off the surface, which can prevent acne outbreaks, inflammation, and other skin conditions. Plus, the remainder of your skin care routine will be more effective, as skin care products work best on a clean face.

When you have dry skin, finding a cleanser that’s gentle, noncomedogenic, and moisturizing is crucial. The wrong cleanser could potentially dry out skin even more, so it’s important to do your due diligence when shopping.

We rounded up 10 of the most highly recommended face washes for dry skin.

When compiling this list, we kept in mind the following ingredients that are great for dry skin:

  • hyaluronic acid
  • ceramides
  • glycerin
  • urea
  • antioxidants
  • aquaporins
  • salicylic acid

The products listed below contain ingredients dermatologists recommend for the specific conditions they address.

We also considered price points, any negative reviews, and any possibly hazardous ingredients to give you a well-rounded view of what each cleanser has to offer your skin.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $12
  • $$ = $12–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best vegan face wash for dry skin

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: aloe, allantoin, glycerin, antioxidants
  • Type: cream
  • Skin type: all

This face wash has a creamy, moisturizing consistency when mixed with lukewarm water. The whipped texture locks in moisture while it cleanses.

The product is free from alcohol, as the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) suggests cleansers should be. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and free from phthalates, parabens, and oxybenzone.

Some reviewers report breakouts and red bumps on their face after using this product.


  • fragrance-free
  • pH-balanced formula
  • helps stave off environmental aggressors with licorice root, feverfew, and white tea extracts


  • some reviewers experienced more breakouts
  • does not contain a ton of active ingredients, so it’s not the best option for those with acne-prone skin
  • some reviewers report it doesn’t lather as much as they’d like
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Best foaming face wash for dry skin

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $$$
  • Active ingredients: glycerin, squalene, antioxidants
  • Type: gel
  • Skin type: all

This face wash is fragrance-free, and it foams up when you use it. It’s also loaded with emollient ingredients, including apricot kernel oil, glycerin, and squalane. Glycerin acts as a humectant and helps bind water to the skin, which increases hydration and helps the skin retain that moisture.

This cleanser contains vitamin E, which has a number of benefits for healthy skin.

Keep in mind that Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser is advertised as being “for all skin types,” so it’s not specially made for dry skin. It also contains alcohol, which may strip or irritate skin.


  • cleanses without over-drying
  • a little goes a long way
  • fragrance-free


  • expensive
  • contains alcohol
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Best face washes for acne-prone dry skin

Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: salicylic acid, glycerin
  • Type: gel
  • Skin type: acne-prone

Mario Badescu infuses this cleanser with extracts of thyme, aloe, and chamomile to soothe irritated skin. It’s also powered by salicylic acid, an ingredient known to deep clean and help prevent acne breakouts.

This cleanser contains alcohol, which the AAD advises against. It’s also got some paraben ingredients and lists “parfum” on its label, which could mean anything. Do a test run with this cleanser first to see if it works for you.

It works well for lots of happy customers, but some ingredients might irritate your skin.


  • effective formula deep cleans but doesn’t strip the skin
  • cruelty-free
  • oil-free


  • potentially irritating for some skin types
  • some reviewers dislike the strong fragrance
  • formulated with perfume
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Best deep cleanser

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Active ingredients: benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid
  • Type: foam
  • Skin type: acne-prone

The active ingredient in this formula is benzoyl peroxide, a powerful anti-acne agent. Many forms of benzoyl peroxide are only available with a prescription, but this over-the-counter (OTC) cleanser has just enough (5 percent) to fight acne.

Some reviewers with acne swear by this cleanser because it removes acne-causing bacteria and clears pores. But some reviewers report redness and dry patches after use.

If you have skin that’s both dry and acne-prone, use this cleanser with caution. Start by cleansing your face with it once daily before bedtime and work up to using it twice per day if your skin can handle it.


  • doesn’t leave behind any residue
  • a little goes a long way
  • provides a deep, powerful cleanse


  • potentially drying for some skin types
  • should be used with caution
  • may lead to redness
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Best oil-free face wash for dry skin

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: thermal spring water, niacinamide, glycerin, ceramides
  • Type: cream
  • Skin type: sensitive, dry, oily

This oil-free, paraben-free formula has been specifically tested on sensitive skin. Reviewers love how quickly it dissolves makeup, and how easy it is to rinse off of their faces.

It also contains tocopherol, a naturally occurring type of vitamin E that helps heal irritated skin.

This product doesn’t foam or change textures when applied, which some reviewers don’t like. It also has sodium chloride, an ingredient that strips moisture and causes redness for some skin types.


  • hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic
  • washes away easily
  • very gentle


  • creamy formula doesn’t work up a lather
  • contains sodium chloride
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Best face wash for dry, sensitive skin

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap, Extra Mild

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: sucrose, antioxidants
  • Type: cream
  • Skin type: sensitive

Clinique’s cleansing formula for sensitive skin is deceptively simple. Hydrating olive oil, soothing cucumber, and cleansing sunflower refresh your skin, while caffeine and vitamin E help give your skin that “awake” feeling post-cleanse. It’s also free of parabens.

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap gives off a distinct, slightly medical smell. If you’re looking for a cleanser that lathers up or creates foam on your face, you might be disappointed with this formula.

In fact, some reviewers describe the greasy feeling of this product like “washing your face with lotion.”


  • basic formula is gentle and effective
  • soothes and hydrates even sensitive skin
  • paraben-free


  • has a bit of a scent
  • may leave behind traces of makeup
  • does not lather
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Best alcohol-free face wash for dry skin

Hada Labo Tokyo Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Active Ingredients: hyaluronic acid, glycerin
  • Type: cream
  • Skin type: sensitive

This product line is extremely popular in Japan and for good reason. Hada Labo Tokyo Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is alcohol-free and paraben-free.

It’s also packed with hyaluronic acid that seals moisture into your skin, and it uses derivatives of coconut oil for an extra moisture-sealing barrier.

Reviewers love that one bottle lasts a long time, as you only need a pea-size amount to get a good clean.

Also, while some people aren’t affected by using coconut oil on their face, others find that it clogs their pores. If coconut oil clogged your pores in the past, you might not like this product.


  • a little goes a long way
  • budget-friendly
  • fragrance-free


  • coconut oil may be irritating for some
  • off-putting scent
  • some users report a greasy texture
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Best face wash for dry skin and eczema

Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Nourishing Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Active ingredients: glycerin, antioxidants
  • Type: cream
  • Skin type: all

This extremely affordable pick lathers up on your skin with vitamin E and blackberry extracts. These ingredients may soothe inflammation that aggravates eczema symptoms.

The cleanser also contains vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, which may improve chronic inflammation.

Some people report a strong perfume smell and skin irritation after using this product.


  • lathers well
  • affordable price point
  • may soothe eczema symptoms


  • strong fragrance
  • some people find it too drying
  • may lead to some irritation
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Best hydrating face wash for dry skin

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Active ingredients: hyaluronic acid, glycerin
  • Type: cream
  • Skin type: normal, dry

CeraVe often boasts that the brand’s formulas are developed with the help of dermatologists, making the products exceptionally gentle.

This cleanser is packed with hyaluronic acid to seal moisture into your skin. It’s also fragrance-free and noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.

This formula does contain alcohols and parabens. Some reviewers find the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser to be too creamy, leaving their skin feeling oily or cakey, even after rinsing.


  • gentle and great for sensitive skin
  • cleanses effectively without stripping skin
  • creamy and nourishing


  • formulated with parabens, which can be irritating
  • not a ton of active ingredients
  • can take longer to rinse due to heavy texture
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Best gentle face wash for dry skin

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

  • Price: $
  • Active ingredients: glycerin
  • Type: cream
  • Skin type: all

This drugstore favorite gets the green light from the National Eczema Association for being super gentle on skin. This cleanser simply does what it’s supposed to: cleanses skin gently, without drying out skin.

It’s easy to get off and has no essential oils that may trigger sensitivity for some skin types.

Reviews mention this really is a no-frills product. There isn’t much by way of fragrance, and there’s no lather when you apply it.


  • accessible price point
  • creamy texture that’s pleasant to apply
  • fragrance-free


  • some users report a burning sensation
  • may leave behind traces of makeup
  • users with extremely dry skin might not find enough hydration
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PriceActive ingredientsTypeSkin type
First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser$$$aloe, allantoin, glycerin, antioxidantscreamall
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser$$$glycerin, squalene, antioxidants gelall
Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser$$salicylic acid, glycerin gelacne-prone
Differin Daily Deep Cleanser$benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acidfoamacne-prone
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser$$thermal spring water, niacinamide, glycerin, ceramidescreamsensitive, dry, oily
Clinique Liquid Facial Soap, Extra Mild$$sucrose, antioxidants creamsensitive
Hada Labo Tokyo Gentle Hydrating Cleanser$hyaluronic acid, glycerincreamsensitive
Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Nourishing Cleanser$glycerin, antioxidants creamall
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser$$hyaluronic acid, glycerin creamnormal, dry
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser$glycerincreamall

With so many cleansing products on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here’s how to narrow down which cleanser to select:

  • Check the ingredients: Is it important to you that a product is cruelty-free or vegan? Are you concerned about certain ingredients, like parabens or phthalates? Answering these questions will narrow your options considerably.
  • See if the product treats your condition: Are you concerned about skin that’s overly dry? Are you looking to prevent acne outbreaks? Most products excel in one or two areas, so be realistic about your expectations, and find a product marketed toward your number one skin issue.
  • Avoid harsh additives: Alcohols, fragrances, dyes, and other ingredients can be harmful to dry skin and cause further dryness. Products with fragrance or “parfum” can lead to irritation, redness, allergic reactions, rashes, and dermatitis. Look for products that are creamy and have hydrating ingredients, like aloe and hyaluronic acid.
  • Check the formula: There are so many formulations and textures when it comes to facial cleansers. Do you want something that foams? Do you prefer a gel consistency or a creamy consistency? While some of it depends on skin type (some cleansers may be too thick for oily skin), a lot of it comes down to personal preference.

Using a gentle cleanser on your face is a good idea for most people. But there are some things you should know when you use a facial cleanser:

  • Whether you’re using a prescription or OTC anti-acne product, you might not want to use an acne-fighting cleanser, too. Overuse of acne-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, can dry out your skin in the long run.
  • If you’re using a cleanser that contains retinol (vitamin A), be extra careful to apply sunscreen whenever you go outside. Retinols can make your skin more prone to sun damage.
  • As we mentioned above, the AAD suggests that cleansing products do not contain alcohol. However, many of them do, even the cleansers made specifically for dry skin. Read ingredient labels carefully, and look out for alcohol and other potential irritants.

Outside face wash, what habits or products can dry skin?

Taking long, scorching hot showers or too many showers (more than once a day) can dry out your skin.

Additionally, not putting moisturizer on after cleansing can dry out our skin. You want to seal moisture into your skin as fast as you can after cleansing, and using a good moisturizer with occlusive components can help.

What should I look for in a face wash for dry skin?

The following ingredients are ideal for dry skin:

  • vitamin E
  • hyaluronic acid
  • glycerin
  • hydrators, like humectants and ceramides

What are some ingredients to avoid?

The following ingredients have the potential to dry out or irritate dry skin:

  • alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), urea
  • retinol or retinoids
  • benzoyl peroxide, alcohol, and antibacterial soaps
  • fragrance

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

Totally. Just stick to a hydrating cleanser. No matter your skin type, you need to cleanse your skin daily to remove any dirt, makeup, oil, and grime.

Figuring out a cleanser that works for you can take your beauty routine to the next level. Even if you have dry, sensitive skin, or skin that’s acne-prone, chances are there’s a cleanser for you.

Be patient. You might need to do some trial and error to find your match. If you’re concerned with the way your skin looks, or if you have visibly dry skin, speak with a dermatologist.