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Dealing with dry, dehydrated skin? Don’t despair. There’s a skin care routine for that!

Maybe your skin feels tight, scaly, flaky, or a combination of all three.

We’ve got you covered.

The following skin care routines and product recommendations for dry skin can leave your skin happy, hydrated, and glowing.

Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.

That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.

We only recommend something we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched by our team.

According to a small 2022 study, a consistent skin care regimen can lead to measurable changes in dry skin.

Dry skin can be uncomfortable and is usually marked by scaling, itching, and cracking. While dry skin commonly affects the hands, arms, and legs, it can affect any part of the body.

According to Shawnda Dorantes, RN, BSN, and co-owner of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa, there are several causes of dry skin. These include:

  • environment
  • hard water
  • genetics
  • excessive washing
  • exposure to irritants
  • medical conditions, like hypothyroidism or diabetes

These factors can be mostly classified into two categories, says medical aesthetician Olivia Sparks.

“Dry skin causes can be classified as internal or external, and the easiest to address are the external factors,” Sparks says.

These include factors like:

  • humidity
  • bathing habits
  • use of harsh soaps

According to Sparks, dry skin, flakiness, and cracked lips may be due to a vitamin B deficiency.

A deficiency in B vitamins “will also make you more sensitive to certain skin care products and sunlight,” she says.

Talk with your healthcare professional about taking a vitamin B complex supplement.

While the causes may differ, anyone can practice a skin routine for dry skin that will be to their benefit.

“As skin dries, it shrinks and causes cracks, which can get deep, painful, and even start to bleed. Cracks allow germs and bacteria to enter the body, which can potentially lead to a skin infection,” says Melanie Speed, RN, BSN, CAN, and owner of Flawless Aesthetics.

When it comes to a skin care routine for dry skin, keep the five steps listed below in mind:

  1. Cleanse with a hydrating cleanser that doesn’t disrupt the outer skin layer.
  2. Tone with an alcohol-free toner to restore skin pH.
  3. Target specific skin concerns with a serum.
  4. Moisturize with a nourishing, noncomedogenic moisturizer to lock in hydration.
  5. Protect from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays to prevent sun damage.

Cleanse

Your first step is to choose a hydrating cleanser. You want a cleanser to remove dirt and oil without causing a disruption to the outer skin layer.

A good ingredient to look for is hyaluronic acid.

Tone

Many toners use alcohol as a main ingredient, which dries out the skin. Look for an alcohol-free toner with active ingredients that restore the pH levels of your skin.

Target

This step helps to target specific skin concerns. Focus on hydration with a pure hyaluronic acid serum, or opt for something meant to target skin concerns like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, or acne.

Moisturize

A good moisturizer will lock in the benefits of a serum. Use a moisturizer daily that’s specifically designed for the face.

According to Sparks, “facial moisturizer needs to be really nourishing and hydrating but avoid products that might clog your pores.” It’s a safe bet to look for “noncomedogenic” on the label.

Protect

Daily sunscreen use prevents harmful UV rays from damaging the skin.

Believe it or not, acne can happen even when you have dry skin. A few tips can help you clear up blemishes and hydrate at the same time:

Remember that alcohol, dyes, and fragrances may be irritating to sensitive skin. It’s best to look for noncomedogenic products.

There are plenty of natural remedies for dry skin, and some work great for the face.

Coconut oil is an emollient that can be used on sensitive areas, like the under-eyes and around the mouth.

Oatmeal is another soothing ingredient that can help relieve redness and itching.

You can use it in a homemade face mask.

Increasing your intake of omega-3s is another great way to address dryness. Try adding flaxseeds, salmon, and walnuts to your diet.

With all the steps and products, it can be a bit daunting to figure out what products to use and how to not break the bank. Luckily, there are a lot of quality products for dry skin that are affordable.

You can easily find options at your local drugstore or online. Peruse ingredient lists and reviews from people with dry skin. Keep in mind that a higher price tag doesn’t always mean the product will work better for your skin.

A skin care routine for your body will be similar to your face routine. The main difference is the products you’ll use for each.

The first step is cleansing. Choose a product that includes hydrating ingredients like:

Then move on to moisture, ideally applying while the skin is still damp. Look for creams and ointments that include one or more of the following:

You may find that you benefit from an ointment or cream over a lotion because they contain more oil and less water.

Dry patches on the elbows and knees are fairly common. For the most part, you can moisturize them the same way as the rest of your body.

You may want to try an ointment, which is oilier and takes longer for your skin to absorb than a cream.

In some cases, dry patches on the body may be due to a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. If you suspect you may be experiencing a skin condition, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional.

Surprise! It’s the same.

A dry skin care routine for men is the same as for anyone else. While some men may have different preferences in scents and packaging, all skin needs the same kind of care.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you have dry skin that you may not have thought of.

Don’t overdo the caffeine

“Try not to overdo the caffeine intake. Too much caffeine and not enough water will dry you out in a heartbeat,” Sparks explains.

Go easy on the hot water

Hot showers or baths can strip the skin of natural oils. This can cause irritation, dryness, and sometimes even damage to the skin.

Instead of a steamy shower or bath, keep it just warm enough to soothe and relax without drying your skin out.

Avoid harsh products

Some products may make dry skin worse, like:

Don’t skip the sunscreen

“Protect your skin from sunburn and skin damage, which will leave skin tight, dry, and looking aged,” Dorantes says.

Don’t under-moisturize

Lotion collectors, rejoice! You’d have to work really hard to overdo it on the moisturizer.

Kavita Mariwalla, FAAD and board certified dermatologist, says that moisturizing twice daily is ideal.

“Don’t apply moisturizer just once a day. Make sure you apply it twice, and one of those times should be on damp skin,” she says.

While dry skin is mostly harmless, there’s always a possibility that it could be caused by a condition like eczema or psoriasis. Talk with your doctor if you suspect an underlying skin condition.

Additionally, Mariwalla explains that a broken skin barrier can lead to infection. It’s important to protect your skin health to prevent this.

Speed recommends wearing gloves to protect your hands when working with chemicals or lots of water.

Now that you have your routine and best practices settled, it’s time to choose some products. Here are a few recommendations to get you started.

We picked each of these products by carefully combing ingredients lists and looking at reviews from users with dry skin. We also got recommendations from the experts quoted in this article, as well as Healthline staff with dry skin.

Each product has been vetted by our team for medical and business standards. Learn more here.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15–$45
  • $$$ = over $45

Best cleansers for dry skin

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 20 fluid ounces (fl oz.)
  • Key ingredients: glycerin

This ultra-gentle cleanser can be used on the face and the body. It’s pH-balanced, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free, so it’s gentle enough for even the driest skin. Glycerin softens and hydrates as it cleanses.

While this cleanser has long been a favorite of those with sensitive skin, one thing that’s worth keeping in mind is that the product was recently reformulated. Some say the new and improved formula is just as great as the old one, while others find that it doesn’t work as well for their skin.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 19 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin

This hydrating facial cleanser is made to clean facial skin without stripping moisture, leaving it feeling hydrated but not greasy. It’s free of parabens, soap, and fragrance.

Reviewers with dry skin say that using this cleanser daily has helped their skin become less dry over time.

Best toners for dry skin

Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Toner

  • Price: $
  • Size: 12 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: coconut water, neem extract, papaya extract, glycerin

This soothing mist toner is designed to hydrate and balance skin. Ethically traded coconut water, extracts of neem and papaya, and glycerin combine for a softening effect that doesn’t strip moisture.

Reviewers love that this toner makes their face feel fresh and dewy, rather than dry and tight like alcohol-based toners.

Cocokind Rosewater Facial Toner

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 4 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: rose hydrosol

Rosewater Facial Toner from cocokind is a rose hydrosol designed to soothe and hydrate with a quick spritz. It’s a lightweight, fragrant mist you can use to balance your skin’s pH level.

With just one ingredient, this is especially good for sensitive skin.

As an added bonus, cocokind as a brand is ultra-focused on sustainability. Their packaging is almost completely plastic-free, ingredients are sustainably sourced, and you can see exactly how much carbon emission each product is responsible for right on the cocokind website.

Best serums for dry skin

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

  • Price: $
  • Size: 1 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5

With three forms of hyaluronic acid, this concentrated product is designed to hydrate deep within your skin. Vitamin B5 adds another level of surface hydration.

Reviewers say the serum leaves their skin soft and provides a plumping effect.

Beekman 1802 Milk Drops Probiotic Ceramide Serum

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 0.95 oz.
  • Key ingredients: goat milk, ceramides, probiotics

This lightweight serum combines ceramides and probiotics with a signature Beekman ingredient: goat milk. It’s a microbiome-friendly serum that absorbs rapidly, leaving skin feeling hydrated and softened. It’s designed to be non-irritating, though some reviewers with very sensitive skin note that it wasn’t quite a match for them.

Best firming moisturizer for dry skin

SkinFix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • Key ingredients: peptides, hyaluronic acid, shea butter

Mariwalla recommends this face cream. It’s deeply hydrating, brightening, firming, and plumping. It works well for average, dry, and oily skin.

If you try the cream and like it, SkinFix makes repurchasing a cinch. Instead of buying a whole new jar, you can simply buy a refill and pop it in your first jar. It’s a win-win, saving both packaging and money.

Best eco-friendly moisturizer for dry skin

Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 2 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: peptides, squalane, jojoba, shea butter, reishi

This cream is made to boost skin hydration without clogging pores. It’s a soothing formula that won’t irritate dry, reactive, or sensitive skin.

The cream is truly fragrance-free, which is a bonus for those with sensitive skin and noses.

Plus, it comes in an eco-friendly glass jar (the cap is still plastic), and it ships in recyclable paper packaging. Products are made in California, with ingredients sourced locally whenever possible.

Best moisturizer for dry skin with acne

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1.7 oz.
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid

This hydrating water-gel face moisturizer is completely free of alcohol, which can be drying. The noncomedogenic formula is also free of oils, making it a nice light choice for acne-prone skin.

Still, even without heavy oils, it’s hydrating thanks to hyaluronic acid. It absorbs quickly, and reviewers report that a little goes a long way.

Keep in mind that if you have sensitive skin, you may want to take a thorough look at the ingredients list. It does contain blue dye, as well as fragrance.

Best tinted moisturizer for dry skin

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 1 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal

If you don’t wear makeup but still want sheer coverage on your skin, this tinted moisturizer may be a great low maintenance product. It’s made to relieve dryness, even skin tone, and protect your skin from UV rays.

The SPF 30 moisturizer contains octinoxate, octocrylene, octisalate, and avobenzone as its active ingredients. That means it’s a chemical sunscreen rather than a physical (or mineral) sunscreen.

Chemical sunscreens blend into the skin more easily than physical sunscreens, which can leave behind a white cast. However, some of these chemicals can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Their safety is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Best inexpensive moisturizer for dry skin

Dermasil Labs Oil Free Facial Creams

  • Price: $
  • Size: 2 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: vitamin E, glycerin

These facial moisturizers come in a two-pack: one for daytime and one for nighttime. Both formulas contain glycerin to hydrate dry skin.

Keep in mind that the daytime formula doesn’t contain sunscreen, so if you’re looking for a product that does it all, this isn’t the one for you. However, if you’re fine with your skin care routine having multiple steps, you may find that this product relieves dryness without putting a big dent in your wallet.

Best mineral facial sunscreen for dry skin

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 3.4 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide, vitamin E

“I recommend wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from harsh UV rays regardless of your skin type,” Mariwalla says. She recommends this sunscreen, which is mineral-based with a lightweight consistency.

In addition to protecting you from the sun’s rays, it’s designed to help repair existing sun damage.

Some reviewers comment that it does leave a bit of a white cast, which is to be expected with mineral sunscreens. Still, others note that it absorbs more quickly than other brands and is easy to mix with BB cream to help it blend better.

Some reviewers also note that the product is strongly scented. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, this product may not be your best bet.

Best chemical facial sunscreen for dry skin

La Roche-Posay Anthelios

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 5 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene

This is Mariwalla’s other sunscreen recommendation. It’s a chemical-based sunscreen, but it’s free of oxybenzone and octinoxate. These two common ingredients are damaging to coral reefs.

The broad-spectrum formula can be used on the face and body and is safe for sensitive skin. It has a nongreasy texture and absorbs quickly, leaving skin smooth and hydrated.

Best inexpensive facial sunscreen for dry skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 5 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, glycerin, avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene

With hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and SPF 30, this is sun protection and hydration in one product. It’s a moisturizing sunscreen lotion that absorbs quickly with no greasy residue. It’s oil-free, noncomedogenic, and made without oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Best body cleansers for dry skin

Sebamed Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 33.8 fl oz.
  • Key ingredients: vitamin E, sodium lactate

This cleanser is formulated for sensitive skin, with a slightly acidic pH that helps protect against dryness. It’s a mild, fragrance-free option designed to support hydration in the skin.

Best of all, it’s multipurpose. Not only can you use it to wash your face, but you can also use it as a body wash.

Reviewers say it’s non-irritating and doesn’t leave skin dry or itchy.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar

  • Price: $
  • Size: 4.5-oz. bar
  • Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid

Bar soap has a reputation for being drying, but this product is an exception to the rule.

Made with 5 percent moisturizing cream, it’s designed to cleanse without stripping the skin. The fragrance-free cleanser is nondrying and non-irritating, and it can be used on the face, body, and hands.

It has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, meaning it’s suitable for people with eczema or sensitive skin.

Best body lotion for dry skin

AmLactin Rapid Relief Restoring Lotion

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 7.9 oz.
  • Key ingredients: ceramides, lactic acid

“AmLactin Rapid Relief Restoring Lotion is my favorite body [moisturizer] since it has 15 percent lactic acid,” Mariwalla says.

The lactic acid gently exfoliates dry, flaky skin, while ceramides moisturize.

Reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Reviewers comment that this lotion worked for them when nothing else did. They’re also impressed that the results seem to last, with the lotion banishing dry skin for a full 24 hours.

Best body cream for dry skin

Ceramedx Ultra Moisturizing Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 6 oz.
  • Key ingredients: ceramides, hyaluronic acid, shea butter

If you prefer a thicker body cream over a thinner body lotion, this product may be just what you’re looking for. Plant-based ceramides and moisturizers make this fragrance-free cream a soothing, hydrating choice for sensitive or severely dry skin. Use it on the hands or body to lock in moisture without stickiness.

Like AmLactin Rapid Relief Restoring Lotion, this product also contains lactic acid to exfoliate dry skin.

Best ointments for dry patches

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

  • Price: $
  • Size: 7 oz.
  • Key ingredients: glycerin

Aquaphor Healing Ointment is a versatile ointment that can be used to moisturize just about anything from head to toe. It’s preservative- and fragrance-free, making it a good choice for sensitive skin.

Compared with a cream, an ointment offers more protection against moisture loss in the skin. They can feel a little greasy, but a little generally goes a long way.

Note that color variations ranging from a translucent white to a light yellow are usual.

Lanolips 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 0.52 oz.
  • Key ingredients: lanolin

This is another multi-use balm, designed to hydrate everything from chapped lips to dry patches on the face and body. The product uses pure lanolin, making it an alternative to petroleum-based balms.

Lanolin is an oil that’s naturally found in sheep’s wool, so this product isn’t vegan. However, it is cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

Once dry skin becomes uncomfortable or you’re not able to treat it on your own, it’s time to contact a dermatologist. They can help you figure out the cause of your dry skin. This may include environmental factors or skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

Your dermatologist can also work with you to develop a treatment plan, which may include over-the-counter or prescription products.

Will a toner dry out my skin?

It depends on the ingredients. Alcohol-based toners can be drying, while alcohol-free toners can provide needed moisture.

If you have dry skin and want to use a toner, look for one made with hydrating ingredients, like glycerin or rose hydrosol.

Should you use an oil- or water-based cleanser for dry skin?

Oil-based cleansers are designed to remove impurities, makeup, and debris without stripping moisture, so they’re a good choice for dry skin. Pair a gentle oil cleanser with a damp microfiber cloth to sweep your skin clean, and you’ll avoid stripping your skin the way traditional cleansers often do.

If you prefer a water-based cleanser, that’s okay too. Just be sure to look for one with hydrating ingredients, like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or ceramides. Some people also have success with micellar water as a gentle cleanser.

Is vitamin C okay for dry skin?

Certain forms of vitamin C, like ascorbyl glucoside, offer all the brightening benefits without the irritation. If you have dry skin, look for this form of vitamin C specifically. Otherwise, you may have success with a product that combines another form of vitamin C with hydrating ingredients like glycerin.

If you have dry skin, following a daily skin care routine is a great way to find relief. By cleansing, toning, treating, and moisturizing your skin, you’re taking steps toward a healthy, happy dermis.

Consult with a dermatologist for the best routine for you.

Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website.


Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.Jessica Timmons has been working as a freelance writer since 2007, covering everything from pregnancy and parenting to cannabis, chiropractic, stand-up paddling, fitness, martial arts, home decor, and much more. Her work has appeared in mindbodygreen, Pregnancy & Newborn, Modern Parents Messy Kids, and Coffee + Crumbs. See what she’s up to now at jessicatimmons.com.