16 of the Best Cleansers for Dry Skin

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

10.12.21DISCLAIMER

Facial cleansing is an integral part of any skincare routine. It’s necessary for sweeping away dirt, oil, bacteria, makeup, dead skin cells, and environmental pollutants. Skipping this vital first step can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, dull skin, and accelerated aging. Equally important is choosing the right cleanser for your skin type and washing correctly. 

Even so, a survey conducted by 1,000 adult men and women in the United States revealed that 60 percent of consumers report they feel uninformed about proper skin cleansing methods. Additionally, 52 percent of consumers (66 percent of men and nearly 40 percent of women) use bath wash or hand soap to cleanse their face. In contrast, more than one-third only use water. Additionally, 65 percent have no idea what ingredients to look for when purchasing a facial cleanser, and 63 percent don’t understand the purpose of those ingredients.

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2022?

If you have a dry skin type, harsh soaps or the wrong cleanser will only dry your skin out further — possibly leading to a more severe condition such as dermatitis. Still, no matter how dehydrated or flaky your skin may be, it’s vital that you’re washing it. The key is using the best cleanser for dry skin. Here are 16 of our favorites.

Best Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin: The List

Carrot & Stick The Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, $40

Carrot & Stick The Repair Cream, $80

Formulyst Creamy Cleansing Foam, $40

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $9.20

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, $32

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, $13.99

Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil, $28

Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel, $65

REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk, $34

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, $39

Perricone MD Hypoallergenic CBD Sensitive Skin Therapy Gentle Cleanser, $35

Avène Gentle Milk Cleanser, $20

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Daily Gel Cream Exfoliating Cleanser With Hyaluronic Acid, $11.49

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, $7.90

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Cream Cleanser, $25

Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Cream Cleanser, $9.49

Nuria Calm Cleansing Milk, $22

Dry Skin 101

Dry skin — also referred to as Xerosis —  is a common skin type that accounts for nearly half of all dermatologist visits. It’s determined by genetics, age, dry air, lifestyle habits, and environmental factors. The dryness level is influenced by sebum production, natural moisturizing factors, sensitivity, and predisposition to skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Women are more prone to dry skin than men, and all skin, regardless of type or ethnicity, gets drier as it ages. 

Related: Best Eye Creams

The stratum corneum (the outermost compartment of the epidermis) provides skin hydration. Its lipids play a significant role against evaporation holding water. Sweat and oil glands and natural skin moisturizing factors (a mixture of highly hygroscopic molecules such as amino acids, sugars, lactic acid, urea) contribute to moisture content maintenance, acting as endogenous humectants.

The stratum corneum (the outermost compartment of the epidermis) provides skin hydration. Its lipids play a significant role against evaporation holding water. Sweat and oil glands and natural skin moisturizing factors (a mixture of highly hygroscopic molecules such as amino acids, sugars, lactic acid, urea) contribute to moisture content maintenance, acting as endogenous humectants.

Characteristics of Dry Skin

  • It feels tight and brittle
  • Lacks elasticity
  • Texture feels rough
  • Complexion appears dull and blotchy
  • Scaly, flaky, and itchy
  • Red, irritated, potentially infected
  • Chapped and cracked
  • Pronounced fine lines and wrinkles 

What Causes Dry Skin? 

Skin type aside, dry skin can be caused by harsh soaps or detergents, long and hot showers or baths, excessive sun exposure, itchy clothing, certain medications, metabolic changes, fluctuating hormones, and extreme temperatures. Research suggests that six in ten Americans are affected by “winter skin syndrome,” a temporary condition characterized by dry, flaky, itchy, sensitized skin. Along with deliberately changing their skincare routine (cleanser included), they potentially seek professional help from a dermatologist. 

Shopping for a Dry Skin Cleanser

 

What to Look For

If you have dry skin, opt for a cleanser with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides, natural oils (think jojoba and avocado) that hydrate and moisturize your skin. While not all foaming cleansers are off the table, cream, oil, or balm formulas can be more gentle on dry skin. If your skin feels tight and dry within a few minutes after washing, you need to try a different cleanser.

 

What to Avoid

Avoid cleansers with ingredients that should be reserved for oily or acne-prone skin. While cleansers with salicylic or glycolic acids effectively reduce oil and breakouts, they will only deplete dry skin further, resulting in a cracked, red, and irritated complexion. Before purchasing the best face cleanser for dry skin, scan the ingredient label to ensure it doesn’t include any of the following ingredients: 

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Sodium chloride
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Ammonium lauryl sulfate
  • Soaps such as sodium tallowate or cocoate
  • Salicylic acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Willow bark (the natural version of salicylic acid)
  • AHA acids
  • Artificial fragrances

Tips for Cleansing Dry skin

  • Avoid scorching hot or icy cold water — tepid is best
  • Use a light touch when cleansing and avoid abrasive washcloths, sponges, or electronic cleansing devices
  • Pat, don’t rub your face dry

Best Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin 

Carrot & Stick The Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, $40
This gentle, hydrating is formulated with natural hydration, including hyaluronic acid, that won’t strip precious oils, disrupting the surface barrier. It does not contain harsh sulfates that can irritate the skin. It uses plant-based ingredients, like, coconut-based surfactants that help the product work into a luxurious lather.

Carrot & Stick The Repair Cream, $80
A proprietary probiotic formulation keeps the microbiome operating at peak performance and skin looking hydrated and visible issues diminished. Formulated to nurture and protect skin’s microbiome. The microbiome is the ecosystem of microbes that live on the skin surface. Happy microbes equal a healthy microbiome and a healthy microbiome equals healthier-looking, more radiant skin.

Formulyst Creamy Cleansing Foam, $40
Formulyst’s Creamy Cleansing Foam purifies pores and removes makeup without stripping the skin of its essential natural oils. This revolutionary formula contains a high concentration of mineral-rich actives chosen for their mildness. It produces a delicate, airy, slightly creamy foam that eliminates surface dirt without irritating the skin.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $9.20
This multiple-award-winning cleanser is beloved by dermatologists and editors alike, and for good reason. It has a lotion-like texture that feels exceptionally soothing, which is great if you’re struggling with acne, dry skin, or skin conditions like eczema or rosacea. But anyone with normal to dry skin can use this non-foaming cleanser to gently lift away dirt, oil, and makeup without irritation.

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, $32
This jelly cleanser contains a blend of mild coconut-derived surfactants and makeup-dissolving emollients to gently remove all traces of makeup, excess oil, pollution, and any other impurities, leaving skin clean and soft. It also includes hydrating ingredients, like glycerin and cantaloupe fruit extract to prevent dryness.

Related: Best Hydrating Serums

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, $13.99
The best cleanser for dry skin removes dirt, makeup, and other impurities without stripping it of its natural moisture. As with all CeraVe skincare products, this face wash contains essential ceramides to help restore and maintain your skin’s natural barrier, resulting in a hydrated, soft, and smooth complexion.

Caudalie Vinoclean Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil, $28
If you’re tired of harsh cleansers leaving your dry skin tight and uncomfortable, why not give a cleansing oil a try? This lightweight, viscous face wash formulated with plant-derived oils (think castor seed, sweet almond, and sunflower seed) removes makeup and impurities without stripping essential lipids from the skin. 

Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Gel, $65
This lightweight cream-gel cleanser gently cleanses the skin while addressing dryness, thanks to soothing and moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin, sweet almond oil, and rose flower water. With regular use, the skin’s texture and tone are improved, and redness is reduced. User trials indicate that 100% of users said their skin feels cleansed without being attacked. 

REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk, $34
A cleansing milk is always a good choice for dry skin, but this nourishing formula from REN goes the extra mile. It’s infused with blackcurrant seed oil, Omegas 3 and 6, and vitamin E to calm redness, itchiness, dryness, and irritation. Additionally, fennel seed extract provides antioxidant protection from skin-damaging free radicals and environmental pollution. 

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, $39
This soap-free, lightweight gel cleanser is one of Dermalogica’s best-selling products. Despite having a foaming action, it doesn’t disturb the skin’s natural moisture balance. The formula contains soap bark extract, a botanical that contains saponins that act as natural surfactants to cleanse the skin gently. To top it off, calming balm mint and lavender extracts soothe the skin, so it’s gentle enough to use every day. 

Perricone MD Hypoallergenic CBD Sensitive Skin Therapy Gentle Cleanser, $35
The key ingredient in this gentle, low-foaming cleanser is 99% pure anti-inflammatory Cannabidiol (CBD), making it the best cleanser for dry, sensitive skin. This formula effectively sweeps away impurities without removing essential moisture, so the skin feels refreshed and soothed after each wash. 

Avène Gentle Milk Cleanser, $20
What makes this cleanser desirable for dry skin is the fact that it’s a no-rinse formula. It effectively removes dirt, oil, makeup, and impurities while providing moisture and antioxidant protection. Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and Avène Thermal Spring Water, which is clinically shown by 150 studies to soothe, soften and calm the skin.

Related: Best Cleansing Oils

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Daily Gel Cream Exfoliating Cleanser With Hyaluronic Acid, $11.49
This lightweight gel-cream face wash contains gentle enzymes to dissolve dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. It also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid, making it the best cleanser for dry acne-prone skin. Despite its exfoliating action, this cleanser is gentle enough to use every day — just be sure to avoid the eye area.

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, $7.90
Despite the low price point, this cleanser is anything but basic. It’s formulated with lipophilic esters and squalene to dissolve makeup and impurities while hydrating the skin effectively. 

When rubbed between the palms, the product undergoes a meaningful textural change from a balm-like consistency to a clear oil, which increases its cleansing efficacy. 

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Cream Cleanser, $25
This rich cream cleanser is formulated with plant-derived oils that remove surface dirt and impurities while leaving the skin soft and smooth. Glycerin — one of the first ingredients on the list — deeply hydrates while soap bark extract aids the cleansing process without zapping the skin of vital moisturizer. Reviewers agree it’s an excellent face wash for dry, sensitive skin. 

Related: Best Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Cream Cleanser, $9.49
This face wash has all the benefits of Olay’s Collagen Peptide formulas, which means you’ll be left with skin that’s hydrated and visibly supple. Immediately after cleansing, you’ll notice that your skin looks more radiant, smooth, and bright. 

Nuria Calm Cleansing Milk, $22
Sunflower seed oil effectively melts away makeup, excess oil, and impurities while vitamins, glycerin, and essential fatty acids hydrate and soften the skin by helping to reduce water loss. It’s free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehydes, and other toxic ingredients and is clinically proven safe on sensitive skin.  

Best Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin: The Final Word

What’s the Best Facial Cleanser on the market? Overall, we suggest Carrot & Stick The Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. Always apply a moisturizer after. We recommend a formula specifically designed for dry skin. We recommend Carrot & Stick The Repair Cream.

Dry skin — also referred to as Xerosis —  is a common skin type that accounts for nearly half of all dermatologist visits. It’s determined by genetics, age, dry air, lifestyle habits, and environmental factors. The dryness level is influenced by sebum production, natural moisturizing factors, sensitivity, and predisposition to skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Women are more prone to dry skin than men, and all skin, regardless of type or ethnicity, gets drier as it ages.

Facial cleansing is an integral part of any skincare routine. It’s necessary for sweeping away dirt, oil, bacteria, makeup, dead skin cells, and environmental pollutants. Skipping this vital first step can lead to clogged pores, breakouts, dull skin, and accelerated aging. Equally important is choosing the right cleanser for your skin type and washing correctly. 

If you have a dry skin type, harsh soaps or the wrong cleanser will only dry your skin out further — possibly leading to a more severe condition such as dermatitis. Still, no matter how dehydrated or flaky your skin may be, it’s vital that you’re washing it. The key is using the best cleanser for dry skin. 

If you have dry skin, opt for a cleanser with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides, natural oils (think jojoba and avocado) that hydrate and moisturize your skin. While not all foaming cleansers are off the table, cream, oil, or balm formulas can be more gentle on dry skin. If your skin feels tight and dry within a few minutes after washing, you need to try a different cleanser.

Sources:
National Study Reveals Up to 80 Percent of Americans Wash Their Face Incorrectly,” PR Newswire.
Dry Skin,” American Skin Association.

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