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CeraVe Skin Smarts Skincare Tips Advice Choose Best Dry Skin Face Wash Cleanser


Facial cleansers are not a one-size-fits-all skincare product. Each skin type has unique characteristics that can benefit from different types of cleansers. And this is certainly true of dry skin. When your skin lacks moisture, it may be more likely to feel tight, uncomfortable, or sensitive after cleansing. Using the wrong cleanser can make matters worse, since over-cleansing may disrupt the skin’s moisture barrier and contribute to dry, flaky, or scaly skin. The key to cleansing dry skin is understanding what it needs and choosing a formula that meets those needs. In this guide, we’re explaining how to find a face cleanser for dry skin that’s gentle but still removes impurities.

CeraVe’s Guide To Choosing a Facial Cleanser for Dry Skin

  • A mild, gentle formula
  • Developed with dermatologists
  • Labeled as being suitable for dry skin
  • Contains humectant ingredients that help attract moisture (such as hyaluronic acid)
  • Formulated with ceramides and other ingredients to help avoid disrupting the skin barrier when cleansing
  • Non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and allergy-tested

Understanding Dry Skin

What is dry skin?

Dry skin lacks moisture in its uppermost layer (also known as the skin barrier). This can cause the skin to feel itchy, uncomfortable, and sensitive. It may also appear dull, flaky, and visibly dehydrated, with more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles. Anyone can experience dry skin, but this skin concern becomes more common with age as the skin’s ability to retain moisture naturally decreases. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most people experience dry skin after age 60.1


What are some factors that can influence skin’s dryness?

There are many reasons why your skin might be feeling dry. These include factors such as low humidity, harsh soaps, or a genetic predisposition that results in the skin producing less sebum (oil). Additionally, dry skin can be linked to certain medications and chronic conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and diabetes. Regardless of the specific root cause, dry skin generally has one thing in common: a compromised skin barrier. The skin barrier (formally known as the stratum corneum) is responsible for keeping moisture in and irritants out, but when it doesn’t function as it should, it’s easier for moisture to evaporate and potential irritants to enter.


What does dry skin need when cleansing?

Before choosing a face wash for dry skin, it’s essential to understand your skin’s needs. Because dry skin lacks moisture, it requires a cleanser that effectively removes dirt and oil without further disrupting the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Cleansers for dry skin should generally focus on preserving and enhancing the skin’s moisture levels. It can also be helpful to look for beneficial ingredients that help hydrate and nourish your skin, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, squalane, or glycerin. (More on these ingredients ahead.)


Tips for Finding an Effective Cleanser for Dry Skin

With the right information, choosing a facial cleanser for dry skin should be simple and stress-free. Read on to discover CeraVe’s top tips for choosing a gentle, hydrating face wash.


Tip #1: Choose a cleanser that’s suitable for dry skin

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s important to choose products that are formulated with your skin type in mind.2 This can help ensure that you’re using a product that should work for your dry skin’s needs. Always read the label closely when choosing a cleanser to see if the formula is suitable for dry skin.


Tip #2: Look for a gentle, fragrance-free formula

If you have dry skin, it’s best to avoid cleansers with ingredients that can be irritating or drying (such as alcohol). Instead, we recommend looking for options that are gentle, allergy-tested, and fragrance-free. Some fragrances are known to cause skin irritation and allergic reactions, especially in those with dry, sensitive skin.


Tip #3: Explore cleansers that are developed with derms

Another factor to consider is whether or not your cleanser was developed with dermatologists. As the experts of the skincare world, dermatologists know a thing or two about caring for dry skin. Choosing a face wash that’s been developed with board-certified dermatologists can be helpful for this reason.


Tip #4: Try different cleanser types and textures

Dry skin cleansers come in many different forms, such as soap-free cleanser bars, cleansing balms, and hydrating micellar water, and toners. They are also available in various textures, including gel, cream, and oil-based cleansers. Which of these is right for you often comes down to personal preference. Many people with dry skin find cream cleansers and oil cleansers to be nourishing, hydrating options, but you aren’t limited to only those types. CeraVe offers a range of fragrance-free cleanser options for dry skin, so that you can find the one that works best for your texture preferences. Pick from cream-to-foam, oil-to-foam, and gel-to-foam cleansers. You can also explore other cleanser types, such as CeraVe’s cleanser bars and hydrating toner for dry skin.


Ingredients To Look for In a Face Wash for Dry Skin

In addition to the above cleanser tips, there are also a few beneficial ingredients to keep an eye out for when choosing a facial cleanser for dry skin. Read on to discover the key benefits of each ingredient.



Ceramides are a key component of your skin’s protective barrier. These lipids are often likened to a brick wall, where ceramides are the “mortar” between the skin’s cellular “bricks,” reinforcing the skin’s barrier and helping the skin retain moisture. The skin barrier helps protect against environmental aggressors like irritants and pollution. Without the proper ratio of ceramides, the skin’s barrier can become compromised, leading to skin issues such as dryness, itching, and irritation. CeraVe’s facial cleansers for dry skin are all formulated with three essential ceramides and do not disrupt the skin barrier.


Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar that is naturally produced by the body. Found within the skin, hyaluronic acid’s main function is to support your skin’s moisture balance. This humectant ingredient can help your skin attract and retain moisture, making it an excellent non-comedogenic hydrating ingredient. A facial cleanser for dry skin with hyaluronic acid can help improve the look of dry skin.


Jojoba oil

This plant-based oil is derived from the nut of the jojoba plant (pronounced ho-ho-ba). When applied topically, jojoba oil can help moisturize your skin and leave it feeling comfortable, soft, and nourished. It also contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals for dry skin, including vitamin E, fatty acids, and antioxidants. You can find this ingredient in CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleanser Balm, our hydrating, soap-free cleansing balm for all skin types, including dry, sensitive skin.


Squalane oil

Squalane oil is another ingredient that offers several benefits for dry, flaky skin. This saturated oil is often included in skincare products to help soothe dry skin and improve skin hydration. To include squalane oil in your skincare routine, try CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser, our oil-based cleanser for dry to very dry skin.



Glycerin is a popular moisturizing ingredient found in many cleansers for dry skin. It offers both humectant and emollient benefits, meaning it can help attract water to your skin’s surface while helping to soften and smooth your complexion. This ingredient can also improve the look of dry, rough skin with an uneven texture.


CeraVe Cleansers for Common Dry Skin Concerns

At CeraVe, we have different facial cleansers for dry skin to help address various dryness-related issues. Here are some cleanser options to consider based on your primary skin concerns.


For dry, sensitive skin: CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser

If you have very dry, sensitive skin, try CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser. Formulated with squalane oil, triglyceride, and hyaluronic acid, this lightweight oil-to-foam cleanser can be used to gently cleanse extremely dry skin on your face or body. It’s residue-free, non-comedogenic, and can even be used on eczema-prone skin and baby skin (3+ months).


For normal-to-dry skin with seasonal dryness: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

For many people, dryness can worsen during the winter months. The cold, dry weather can disrupt the skin barrier and strip moisture from the skin. One versatile cleanser option that can help support skin that feels dehydrated in the winter is CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. This hydrating face wash for normal-to-dry skin cleanses and refreshes without leaving your skin feeling tight and dry. It has a smooth, creamy, non-foaming texture and offers a gentle, non-irritating way to start off any daily regimen for dry skin.

CeraVe Tip: You can also try our soap-free Hydrating Cleanser Bar, which offers the same benefits in a convenient solid bar cleanser form.

For makeup wearers with dry skin: CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

Thoroughly removing makeup at the end of each day is essential for all skin types, including dry skin. However, it’s important for those with dry skin to choose a facial cleanser that effectively removes makeup and dirt without stripping the skin’s natural moisture. We recommend CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser, which is formulated with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, amino acids, and glycerin.

Ideal for makeup wearers with normal-to-dry skin, this creamy foaming face wash cleanses your skin without leaving it feeling tight or dry. It features a unique cream-to-foam texture that offers the best of both worlds: a foaming formula that provides a refreshing skin feel and a cream cleanser that hydrates.

For help choosing the right skincare products for your specific skin type and skin concerns, use our Find My Skincare Solution tool.

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