Skincare tips & advice
9 CeraVe Skincare Ingredients for Dry Skin
Dry skin can have a big impact on the way your skin looks and feels. This can range anywhere from a dull, lackluster complexion to flaky, tight, and itchy-feeling skin. If you've been wondering how to get rid of dry skin, the truth is, you can't snap your fingers and get rid of every dry patch. However, a consistent skincare routine with the right ingredients for dry skin can help. Ahead, we’re sharing our list of gentle, yet effective moisturizing ingredients, their key benefits, and which CeraVe products you can find them in.
Dry skin is caused by moisture loss that can result from internal or external factors (such as age, climate, or certain skin conditions). And, when your skin is lacking moisture, it can lead to various skin concerns—like rough, dehydrated, and flaky-looking skin. Dry skin might also feel uncomfortable, itchy, tight, or sensitive. Fortunately, a daily skincare routine with gentle, hydrating ingredients can help prevent moisture loss and relieve dry skin. Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe products include carefully-selected ingredients—including three essential ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. Keep reading for a breakdown of some of our top skincare ingredients for dry skin, as well as important facts to help you better understand your dry skin and restore a smooth, hydrated, and healthy-looking complexion.
Skincare 101: Understanding Your Dry Skin
Understanding your dry skin’s unique needs is an important first step in caring for it. So, before we can dive into our list of ingredients, we’re going to cover a few dry skin basics—beginning with what dry skin looks like and some of the possible causes of skin dryness.
Why is my skin so dry?
Dry skin is caused by a weakened skin barrier, which is the protective layer of your skin that keeps moisture in and harmful elements out. This protective barrier is your body’s first line of defense against the external environment. And, when it becomes damaged, it can allow important moisture to escape—potentially causing dryness and other skin issues.
According to research, there are many factors that can influence the skin’s moisture barrier. Some include low humidity, cold temperatures, age, pre-existing skin conditions, and certain prescription medications.3 Your daily habits can also play a role in skin barrier function, and therefore, potential skin dryness. For example, using harsh, drying skincare products or taking long, hot showers have both been shown to worsen dryness, per the Mayo Clinic.1
What are some signs of dry skin?
Dry skin can affect the way your skin looks and feels in a number of ways. As mentioned above, dry skin can feel tight, itchy, and uncomfortable—and may appear dull, flaky, or rough-textured. It might also feel more sensitive and sting or burn after applying skincare products. Skin dryness can also cause fine lines and wrinkles on your face to appear more pronounced
What do dermatologists recommend for dry skin?
Everyone’s dry skin is unique, so it’s important to find what works best for your individual skin’s needs. Working with a board-certified dermatologist is the best way to get one-on-one advice and treatment options for relieving dry skin. However, there are certain best practices that are often recommended by experts.
The Mayo Clinic, for example, recommends choosing fragrance-free and non-comedogenic skincare products. They also recommend keeping showers short (5-10 minutes) and using lukewarm (not hot) water when bathing.1.2 A daily skincare regimen that includes ceramides may also be beneficial for dry skin, such as CeraVe’s range of products, which are formulated with three essential ceramides to lock in moisture and help maintain your skin’s protective barrier. Keep reading to learn more about ceramides below.
What Are the Main Types of Moisturizing Ingredients?
There are three main types of moisturizing ingredients found in skincare products: humectants, occlusives, and emollients. Humectants (such as hyaluronic acid) work by attracting water into the skin. Occlusive ingredients (such as petrolatum) work by creating a physical barrier on the skin’s surface that seals in moisture. And lastly, emollients are moisturizing ingredients that help improve skin’s smoothness, hydration, and flexibility.
It’s important to note that many skincare products for dry skin contain all three types of ingredients. Additionally, some ingredients naturally contain both humectant and emollient properties when used in skincare formulations.
CeraVe Moisturizing Ingredients for Dry Skin
For many, it can be challenging to find gentle, yet effective products for dry skin. But choosing dermatologist-formulated products with beneficial hydrating ingredients can help. Below, discover nine moisturizing ingredients you can consider adding to your CeraVe skincare routine.
Research shows that, when applied topically, skincare products with ceramides can help hydrate your skin, lock in moisture, and support a strong, healthy skin barrier.4 You can find ceramides in all CeraVe products, including our facial cleansers for dry skin, serums, makeup removers, moisturizers, and more. Learn more about our unique blend of three essential ceramides by visiting The Ceramides Difference.
Find It In: All CeraVe Products
Hyaluronic acid (also known as a glycosaminoglycan) is a sugar that’s naturally produced by your body. As a humectant, it helps keep your skin looking plump and hydrated by attracting and retaining essential moisture. However, since hyaluronic acid naturally decreases with age, it can be beneficial to include this ingredient in your daily dry skin routine. Besides delivering hydration to your skin’s surface, hyaluronic acid can also help give your skin an appearance that’s firmer, plumper, and smoother.
Find It In: CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Niacinamide has many potential benefits for dry skin. When used as part of a consistent skincare routine, this water-soluble B vitamin can help calm and hydrate your skin. It also helps support a complexion that appears firm, smooth, and even-textured texture. Niacinamide works by helping to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL). According to recent research, niacinamide may also play a role in supporting your skin’s natural moisture barrier.5
Often found in face creams, eye creams, and body moisturizers, glycerin is another beneficial moisturizing ingredient for dry skin. Similar to hyaluronic acid, glycerin is also a natural humectant, so it attracts moisture into the skin. Those with dry and/or cracked skin can use moisturizers with glycerin to help lock in moisture for more hydrated, comfortable-feeling skin.
Find It In: Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion
According to the Cleveland Clinic, dimethicone is the second most popular ingredient used in moisturizers for dry skin—such as body lotions, hand and foot creams, and ointments.6 This silicone-based ingredient, which is often used as a skin protectant, can help reduce skin dryness (especially during the harsh, dry winter months). It also helps create the silky, smooth texture that allows your moisturizers to glide easily over your skin. All in all, applying products with dimethicone regularly can also help leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.
Find It In: CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream
Shea butter is another ingredient that is often recommended for those with dry skin, especially when it comes to hydrating dry skin below your neck. This creamy emollient ingredient comes from the nuts of the shea tree. When applied topically, shea butter can have skin-softening and soothing effects for dry, itchy, and flaky skin.
Find It In: CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Cream
As a part of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), urea (also known as carbamide) can help support your skin’s moisture barrier. This ingredient is both an emollient (skin-softening) and humectant (moisture-attracting) component of many skincare formulas for dry skin. However, urea is also a keratolytic agent at higher concentrations, meaning it can help remove dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. These exfoliating benefits can make urea especially helpful for those with flaky or scaly skin.
Petrolatum is one of the most widely-used occlusive ingredients for dry skin. Also known as petroleum jelly, petrolatum is a rich-textured skin protectant that creates a physical barrier on top of your skin—effectively sealing in moisture. This ingredient, which can be found in many ointments, helps protect skin as it recovers from cracking, chafing, and extreme dryness. It’s often used for very dry hands, feet, elbows, and knees, as well as for slugging (which can be a useful face moisturizing technique for people with dry skin).
Find It In: CeraVe Healing Ointment
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are popular chemical exfoliants that are used to help promote the shedding of dead skin cells. These ingredients, including lactic acid and glycolic acid, can help smooth and soften your skin for visibly improved skin texture.
Lactic acid is often considered an ideal AHA for dry skin, as it’s generally viewed as one of the most gentle chemical exfoliants. Plus, it includes additional hydrating benefits. AHAs may also help your moisturizer to work more effectively, because they remove dead skin cells that may get in the way of product absorption.
Find It In: SA Cream for Rough & Bumpy Skin
If you have additional questions—or if you experience dry skin that is painful, cracks, or bleeds—schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. They can assess your skin and recommend personalized options, including over-the-counter products, lifestyle tips, and prescription dry skin treatments (if needed).
For help choosing the right products for your specific skin type and skin concerns, use our Find My Skincare Solution tool.
“Dry Skin - Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, 25 Jan. 2022.
“Dry Skin - Diagnosis and Treatment.” Mayo Clinic. 25 Jan. 2022.
Purnamawati S, Indrastuti N, Danarti R, Saefudin T. “The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review.” Clin Med Res. 2017 Dec;15(3-4):75-87. doi: 10.3121/cmr.2017.1363. Epub 2017 Dec 11. PMID: 29229630; PMCID: PMC5849435.
Spada F, Barnes TM, Greive KA. “Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin's own natural moisturizing systems.” Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 Oct 15;11:491-497. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S177697. PMID: 30410378; PMCID: PMC6197824.
Gehring, W. “Nicotinic acid/niacinamide and the skin.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology vol. 3,2 (2004): 88-93. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2130.2004.00115.x
“Understanding Popular Skincare Ingredients.” Cleveland Clinic, 2 Aug. 2022.
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