Here’s an annoying little fact about a lot of hydrating face washes: Even though they claim to be good at moisturizing dry skin, they’re often filled with sulfates and ingredients that strip the hell out of your skin barrier (i.e., the protective armor that shields your face from acne, irritation, redness, and dryness). And as someone who spent the majority of her teenage years unknowingly using these questionable formulas, and then spent her adult years attempting to undo the damage, I’ve basically become the unofficial expert on the best face washes for dry skin.
The key is to find a face wash with absolutely no sulfates or harsh cleansers and absolutely tons of gentle hydrators, like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. But what if you have dry skin and rosacea? Or dry skin and acne? Oooor dry skin that’s sensitive and sometimes breaks out, but not always, oh, and also, your face only likes natural products, sry. Welp, that’s where I come in. Because I handpicked the 13 best dry-skin face washes, below, read their entire ingredients list (really, I did), and separated them for every single preference and concern. So please, go pick your new formula and never feel that tight, itchy, uh-oh feeling again.
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Serum Face Wash for Dry Skin
Shani Darden Cleansing Serum
Ever wonder what it’s like to basically bathe in hyaluronic acid? No, just me and my incredibly dry skin? Fine. Welp, this serum-based face wash is as close to that dream as we’ll get: It’s filled with hyaluronic acid, skin-soothing plant extracts, and a few gentle cleansers that’ll break down oils while leaving your skin barrier plump and moisturized. Which, FYI, is exactly what you want.
Gentle Vegan Face Wash for Dry Skin
Nolaskinsentials Hyaluronic Aloe Cleanser
Uh, please tell me where else you can get a cute, minimalist, glass-bottled face wash for only $7? Exactly. Not only is this dry-skin cleanser cruelty-free, paraben-free, and vegan, but it’s also filled with your face’s favorite two hydrators: hyaluronic acid and aloe vera that work to gently moisturize skin while washing away the day’s grime and oils.
Milky Face Wash for Dry Skin
Laneige Cream Skin Milk Oil Cleanser
Don’t let the name confuse you—this dry-skin face wash has the gentle feel of a cream, the consistency of a milk, and the makeup-removing, skin-moisturizing effect of a face oil (jojoba and meadowfoam seed oils, to be exact). Just massage a pump over your dry skin morning and/or night—it’s that gentle.
Face Wash for Sensitive Dry Skin
Aquation Gentle Moisturizing Cleanser
This clinical-looking cleanser is the face wash I personally use/swear by/make blood sacrifices for twice a day, because it is that damn good. It has basically nothing in the formula except gentle, hydrating hugs in the form of glycerin, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid (all ingredients that pull water into your skin and keep your skin barrier moisturized). It ain’t fancy, but it doesn’t matter—your dry, sensitive skin will thank you.
Drugstore Face Wash for Dry Skin
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
You really can’t go wrong with this drugstore face wash (and 1,600 people on Amazon clearly agree). It’s incredibly mild (basically only glycerin, water, and some fatty alcohols) and lightly hydrating, meaning it’ll do exactly what it’s supposed to do without any funny business: gently cleanse and moisturize your dry skin. Oh, and it’s only $8. I mean…yes, please.
Face Wash for Dry, Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin
Earth to Skin Honey Manuka Calming Face Cleanser
If your dry skin isn’t always acne-prone but you’re currently in the depths of a hellish breakout, try this moisturizing face wash. It’s filled with two magical ingredients, honey and castor oil—which are both naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory—so they can help reduce redness and swelling while also helping boost moisture levels.
Face Wash for Dry, Irritated Skin
Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser
If most cleansers tend to leave your dry skin feeling tight, try this oil-spiked cleanser from Mad Hippie. It’s filled with lightweight oils like jojoba, macadamia, and sesame (all of which help moisturize and strengthen your skin barrier) and hyaluronic acid (which sucks water into your skin to plump it up) to basically wrap your face in hydration each time you cleanse.
Face Wash for Dry Skin and Acne
Garnier SkinActive Gentle Sulfate-Free Cleanser
Here’s the thing about acne: It gets worse the meaner you are to it. So if you’re attacking your already-dry skin with a foaming, sulfate-filled face wash or an exfoliating cleanser or some burn-y, sting-y, ouch-y formula, you’re going to piss off your skin barrier and create more breakouts. So the best acne face wash is a gentle, hydrating formula, like this one from Garnier. It’s lightweight (no pore-clogging oils or residue) yet still hydrating enough to coddle your dry skin.
Cleansing Cream Face Wash for Dry Skin
Acure Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream
This creamy face wash is filled with all the yummy moisturizing botanicals: plant and fruit extracts (like soothing chamomile, calendula, and rose hip), along with hydrating aloe leaf juice, argan oil, and coconut oil. Basically, it’s hydration station in a tube, leaving your dry skin softer and smoother each time you rinse. Just be aware: If you’re super sensitive or super acne-prone, your skin may not love this formula (botanicals can be slightly irritating to some skin types).
Face Wash for Combination Dry Skin
Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Cleanser
If your dry skin flips between dehydrated and oily, you want to use a face wash that actually hydrates your combination skin rather than dries it out. Why? Because skin is a fickle, fickle beast, and when you strip it of its natural oils, it overproduces extra oils to compensate, leaving you even shinier. So try a lightly moisturizing cleanser, like this one from Dermalogica. It has slight astringent properties, thanks to its citrus oils and surfactants, and gentle hydrators (like almond oil and shea butter) to help keep your skin balanced.
Face Wash for Dry Skin and Rosacea
Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion
Ah, “extremely gentle”—music to my rosacea-hating ears. As someone with a lil bit of rosacea mixed with my already dry, sensitive skin, I know how truly difficult it is to find a cleanser that doesn’t irritate my face. But this gentle face wash from Avène is hypoallergenic and completely bland (in the best of ways), so it’s totally safe for even the most hypersensitive of skin types.
Face Wash and Makeup Remover for Dry Skin
Dhc Deep Cleansing Oil
Okay, okay: Technically, this isn’t really a face wash—it’s a cleansing oil, which is basically a makeup remover and a face wash in one. As someone with crazy-dry, sensitive skin, I always tell people to toss their wipes or cotton swabs (both which can irritate your face) and switch to a cleansing oil, which gently dissolves all of your makeup, grime, and excess oils without stripping your face. Just massage it over your dry, dirty face (yes, really) for 20 seconds and rinse. Boom—ya done.
Natural Face Wash for Dry Skin
Erin’s Faces Gentle Milk Cleanser
What do you get when you combine aloe leaf juice, coconut oil, and goat milk (YUP)? This incredibly moisturizing face wash for your dry skin. It’s cruelty-free, fragrance-free, and paraben-free and filled with mostly natural ingredients (like chamomile, lavender, and green tea extract). So not only does it smell really freakin’ good, but it also feels really freakin’ good on your dry skin.
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