How To Build a Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

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Figuring out what works for your specific skin type, like dry skin, can feel like a struggle. But building a routine shouldn’t be confusing, that’s why I’m here to simplify things.

As a beauty writer with over 10 of experience, I’ve spent countless hours researching and testing hundreds of products to help you navigate the ever-growing beauty world.

To make things easier for you, I’m using my knowledge to create a series of simple skincare routines tailored to different skin types. Today’s focus is on dry skin.

This post won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a roadmap, or better yet, a mix-and-match guide to get you started with a personalized skincare routine.

Disclaimer: This post offers skincare suggestions based on my experience in the beauty industry and product testing. I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice.

Dry Skin Routine

Dry Skin Ingredients to Look For

When picking skincare products for your routine, here are some ingredients to look for:

Humectants:

  • Hyaluronic Acid (HA): This ingredient acts like a sponge, holding a massive amount of water to keep your skin plump and hydrated.
  • Glycerin: Glycerin attracts moisture from the air throughout the day, keeping your skin feeling refreshed and hydrated for longer.

Emollients:

  • Fatty Acids: These naturally occurring oils mimic your skin’s sebum, replenishing moisture and strengthening the barrier to prevent further dryness.
  • Panthenol (Vitamin B5): This multi-tasking ingredient offers a double dose of relief for dry skin. It acts as a humectant, attracting moisture from the air, and as an emollient, filling in the gaps between your skin cells for a smoother, softer texture.

Occlusives

  • Argan Oil: This lightweight oil is a natural source of vitamin E and fatty acids, providing a protective layer that traps moisture without clogging pores.
  • Mineral Oil: A lightweight oil that forms a protective barrier on the skin, helping lock in moisture and prevent dryness.

Ceramides

Including ceramides in your skincare routine helps strengthen and repair the barrier, keeping moisture in and irritants out, leading to improved hydration for your dry skin.

Remember, these are just a few examples! Many other ingredients are beneficial for dry skin.

Morning Routine for Dry Skin

This routine focuses on gentle cleansing, deep hydration, and essential sun protection, leaving your face feeling comfortable for the day ahead.

Cleanser

In the morning, people with dry skin should reach for gentle, non-stripping cleansers. This cleanser should remove dirt and oil built up overnight without stripping the skin barrier.

Top Recommendations: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser, Korres Greek Yogurt Cleanser

Toner

I’m going to let you in on a secret. You don’t have to use a toner. But if you want to use one, you can tackle a different number of skin issues.

For skin that is extra parched, look for a toner that will help balance the skin or give you added hydration.

Top Recommendations: Rhode Glazing Milk, Laneige Cream Skin Toner

Serum

Serums are like little powerhouses for your skin, packed with concentrated ingredients to address specific concerns. Please don’t be tempted to use a whole bunch of different serums at once – too many ingredients can do more harm than good.

Instead, pick one serum based on your needs.

I recommend a Vitamin C serum to help protect your skin from environmental damage throughout the day. But if your skin is super sensitive, I recommend opting for a serum to help soothe the skin.

Top Recommendations: Sunday Riley CEO, Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Dark Spot Serum, Dr Jart Cicapair Sensitive Skin Serum

Recommended reading: The Best Facial Serums

Moisturizer

With dry skin, make sure you pick a moisturizer that is rich enough for your skin. Your skin should feel comfortable after applying moisturizer. Not rough and tight, but also not overly greasy.

Top Recommendations: La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, Drunk Elephant Lala Retro™ Moisturizer, Summer Fridays Rich Cushion Cream

SPF

If you are serious about your skin, you need to wear SPF every day. Make sure to pick a formula with at least 30 SPF.

Top Recommendations: Supergoop Sheerscreen, EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40 Tinted Face Sunscreen, ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless Ultralight Tinted Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen

Shop Dry Skin Morning Routine

Evening Routine for Dry Skin

The morning routine focuses on gentle cleansing and protection. Evenings are the ideal time to treat dry skin. This is when you use powerful ingredients to deeply hydrate, repair, and transform your dry skin.

Cleansers

If you wear makeup, start with a gentle cleansing oil or balm to melt away makeup, sunscreen, and oil-based impurities. Follow with a hydrating cleanser to ensure your skin is thoroughly clean and ready for the rest of your routine.

If you don’t wear makeup, skip the first step and cleanse once with a hydrating cleanser.

Top Recommendations: DHC Cleansing Oil, Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm, Tatcha The Camellia Cleansing Oil

Serums

The nighttime routine is where your active serums and treatments come into play.

If you are looking to tackle aging, this is where you would use a retinol product. If you choose not to use retinol, there are still plenty of options for serums to add to your routine. You can go for retinol alternatives that help hydrate and plump the skin. Or you can pick an aha-based serum to help exfoliate.

Top Recommendations: First Aid Beauty 0.3% Retinol Complex Serum with Peptides, Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinol Serum, Shani Darden Retinol Reform

Moisturizers

While you can use your daytime moisturizer at night, I recommend using a heavier moisturizer in your evening routine.

your heavier moisturizer needs ingredients to hydrate and nourish the skin, as well as occlusive ingredients to lock everything in.

Top Recommendations: Drunk Elephant Bora Barrier Rich Repair Cream, Tatcha Indigo Overnight Repair Serum in Cream, SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore

Face Oils

If your skin is still lacking moisture, consider adding a facial oil to your evening routine.

If you decide to use a facial oil, do not skip the moisturizer. Apply the moisturizer first and then apply the face oil.

Top Recommendations: The Ordinary 100% Cold Pressed Marula Oil, Mara Algae + Moringa® Universal Hydrating Face Oil, Tru Botanicals Renew Pure Radiance Oil

Optional Products for Dry Skin

If you are looking for more ways to treat your skin, here are additional products that I recommend for dry skin.

Face Masks

Masks are an optional item for your skincare routine. While not necessary, there will be times when your skin feels like it needs something more. A mask is perfect for addressing nagging skin issues like dryness or congestion.

Top Recommendations: Dr. Jart Ceramidin™ Skin Barrier Moisturizing Mask, Caudalie Instant Detox Mask, Shani Darden Signature Nourishing Facial Mask

Eye Cream

There is a lot of debate about whether you need an eye cream in your routine. Since the skin under your eyes can be different than the rest of your skin, I always recommend an eye cream.

If you decide to use an eye cream, pick one based on your needs. Do you have issues with bags or dark circles? Or do you want to address dryness?

Top Recommendations: Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment, Sunday Riley Auto Correct Brightening + Depuffing Eye Cream, Youth To The People Dream Eye Cream

Shop Dry Skin Evening Routine

Final Thoughts

Remember, everyone’s skin is unique. These suggestions are a great starting point, but feel free to experiment and find what works best for you.

If you have persistent dryness or painfully dry skin, please consider consulting with a dermatologist. Their expertise can help tailor a personalized skincare plan to address your unique skincare needs.

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