The 5 Best Face Washes for Dry Skin, According to Dermatologists

LIVESTRONG.com may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
The best face washes for dry skin are fragrance-free and made with gentle cleansing ingredients.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

For many people, the middle of winter unfortunately means itchy, flaky (and parched) skin.

Advertisement

"The lack of humidity in the air during these cold months can contribute to dry skin," says Mara C. Weinstein Velez, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Video of the Day

But, the crisp air isn't always to blame, she says. Genetics, lack of proper moisturizing and too many hot showers all play a role in overall dryness.

Advertisement

Not surprisingly, a harsh face wash can be a big factor, too.

"If you're using a face wash with alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids or any sort of foaming or exfoliating components, this is only going to make your dry skin worse," Dr. Weinstein Velez says.

It's also important to find a face wash that uses gentle ingredients to remove makeup, buildup and dirt, which nourishes the skin and supports the skin barrier, says Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

Advertisement

With that in mind, here are the best dry skin face washes to add to your skin-care routine.

Best Face Washes for Dry Skin

How We Chose

We tapped Dr. Weinsten Velez and Dr. Garshick to gather their recommendations on the best face washes for dry skin based on their professional experience. In addition, the following criteria were used to form this list:

Advertisement

  • Price
  • Specific type of dry skin (i.e. eczema, sensitive skin, acne-prone skin)
  • Ingredients

1. Best Overall: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Pros

Cons

  • Higher price point than others on the list
  • May not completely cleanse, according to some Amazon reviews

When it comes to non-irritating, hydrating moisturizer and cleanser recommendations, Dr. Garshick says CeraVe is pretty much the gold standard among dermatologists — and that's especially true for the brand's Hydrating Facial Cleanser.

Advertisement

Advertisement

"This tried-and-true cleanser gets rid of dirt and buildup without leaving the skin feeling dry," Dr. Garshick says. "It contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin as well as ceramides to support and strengthen the skin barrier."

It's also fragrance-free, which is ideal for those with sensitive skin.

Buy it:Amazon ($14.57); Ulta Beauty ($14.99)

2. Best on a Budget: Dove Beauty Bar

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Can be used for face and body
  • Portable

Cons

  • Might not cleanse as thoroughly as a gel, liquid or foam

While the Dove Beauty Bar isn't ‌technically‌ a traditional face wash, it performs all of the same functions, Dr. Garshick says.

Advertisement

"It cleanses and washes away dirt without drying out the skin or stripping it of its natural oils," she adds. And it's good for all skin types.

An added bonus: The Dove Beauty Bar can also be used on the body, making it an ideal multipurpose (and money-saving) product.

Buy it:Walmart ($6.20 for 4 bars); Amazon ($32.96 for 16 bars); Amazon ($4.99 for 1 bar)

3. Best for Acne and Dry Skin: Eucerin Hydrating Cleansing Gel

Pros

  • Has hyaluronic acid, which moisturizes acne-prone skin
  • Free of fragrances, alcohol, oils and parabens
  • Can remove makeup

Cons

For acne-prone skin, Dr. Weinstein Velez is a big fan of the Eucerin Hydrating Cleansing Gel. That's because it has hyaluronic acid, which is naturally found in the body and is considered a humectant, or substance that retains moisture, per Harvard Health Publishing.

Advertisement

Advertisement

So when it comes to acne, hyaluronic acid in foam or gel form can give skin an extra dose of moisture, Dr. Wesintein Velez says.

Buy it:Amazon ($9.74); CVS ($10.99)

4. Best for Eczema and Dry Skin: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Moisturizing Body and Face

Pros

  • Accepted by the National Eczema Association
  • Can be used on face and body

Cons

  • Expensive compared to other products on this list

This moisturizing face and body wash by La Roche-Posay is a favorite of both Dr. Garshick and Dr. Weinstein Velez.

Advertisement

"[This moisturizing wash] is designed for those with extra dry or sensitive skin, making it a great cream for those with eczema," Dr. Garshick says. "It incorporates prebiotic thermal water and shea butter to help support the skin barrier, glycerin to draw moisture in and niacinamide, which is soothing on the skin."

Dr. Weinstein Velez adds that it's also oil-free and doesn't strip away the skin's natural moisture. "It's very soothing," she adds.

Buy it:Ulta Beauty ($16.99); LaRoche-Posay ($15.99)

5. Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

Pros

  • Accepted by the National Eczema Association
  • Non-comedogenic, oil-free and free of cleansing agents and sulfates
  • Can remove makeup

Cons

  • For facial use only

Dr. Garshick says those who already reach for body washes for sensitive skin should try the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser.

"This cleanser helps to get rid of makeup, dirt and excess oil, but is free of common irritants found in other cleansers such as fragrance, dyes, parabens, formaldehyde and other preservatives," she adds.

Advertisement

Bonus: It's gentle enough to use every day and can remove makeup and excess oil without drying out the skin.

Buy it:Target ($9); Walmart ($8.86)

4 Tips for Buying a Face Wash for Dry Skin

1. Don’t Make 'Squeaky Clean' the Goal

If your skin has blemishes, it can be tempting to grab a face wash that feels super potent. But that's a sensation best to avoid, Dr. Garshick says.

"It's important to avoid a face wash that will leave the skin feeling stripped of its natural oils, which may result in the skin feeling tight," she adds. This means avoiding harsh soaps and looking for gentle surfactants (foaming ingredients) designed to eliminate buildup, dirt and debris without harming skin.

2. Skip Scrubs

Similarly, Dr. Garshick says facial scrubs are a big no-no when it comes to dry skin.

"Abrasive scrubs have large, irregularly shaped granules that can actually damage the skin barrier and lead to moisture loss," she notes.

3. Scan the Label for Key Moisturizing Ingredients

Dr. Weinstein Velez says taking note of the ingredient list is important when choosing a facial cleanser for dry skin. "Glycerin is a great ingredient to look out for," she adds.

Dr. Garshick also emphasizes the importance of hyaluronic acid and ceramides to support the skin barrier and boost moisture.

When in doubt, reach for products that have the National Eczema Association's "seal of acceptance" on the label. (You can also verify a brand's affiliation on its website.)

4. Find a Fragrance-Free Wash

Both Dr. Garshick and Dr. Weinstein Velez agree that fragrances are better suited for candles and perfumes, not your face.

"Added fragrance can lead to irritation or sensitivity of the skin," Dr. Garshick warns.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...