Skincare simplified: The best skin care for dry skin

Sort your dry skin care routine in six to eight gentle, targeted steps

dry skin care

by Lucy Smith |

If you're a vetted member of the dry skin club, you probably won't be glad to see September rolling back around again. From redness to irritation, not to mention that God awful tight skin feeling, the colder months are any dry skin type's enemy.

Yep, with summer over, now is absolutely not the time to let your skincare fall by the wayside, in fact, it's actually the opposite. As Dr. Mariam Adegoke (of Adegoke Wellness Clinic) says, "Dry skin is thought to be genetically predetermined," so, in essence, just as the summer sun could fix all your flaking, tightness and dehydration concerns, neither will cooping yourself up inside as the winter chill sets in. It's time to crack out your potions and lotions, ladies and gents.

Thankfully, there are a whole hoard said miracle creams to keep your dry skin qualms at bay and, with the help of Dr. Mariam, we've pulled together all of the best ones.

In six to eight steps, you can achieve the same dewy glow as your oily skinned pals and, contrary to popular belief, you can do it on a budget.

So, without further ado, we present to you the best cleansers, toners and moisturisers (to name a few...) to splurge or save on for your best dry skin care routine yet.

CHECK OUT: The best skincare for dry skin

Just so you know, while we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.

First up...

1. First cleanse/make-up removal

Before you get stuck in with your rich creams and hydrating toners, it's really important to remove your make-up with an initial cleanse. You can probably skip this step in the morning, or if you don't wear make-up BUT, if you do wear SPF then you're going to want to do a primary cleanse regardless.

SPF can cling to pores like glue and, if you don't remove it, you could encourage an unwanted bout of acne. No, thank you.

Because dry skin can at times feel, as Dr. Marium puts it, "itchy, stingy and/or painful," you'll want to avoid 'stripping' cleansers at this stage, as they'll likely aggravate any of your existing flare ups.

So, one of the best picks to help soothe irritation and break down SPF is an oil-based cleanser.

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Cleanser for dry skin

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CREDIT: Amazon

Before you even LOOK at cleansers, you are going to need at least eight flannels in your arsenal (one for each day of the week + another for laundry day).This is a tip from skincare guru Caroline Hirons and it's one you should get on board with, stat.Washing away your make-up with a splash of water just won't do the job, and you'll be left with residue product. These cotton flannels will wash like a dream, they're soft to the touch and, most importantly, they'll wipe away all the day's make-up and grime no problem.This pack includes 12 flannels for less than a tenner - a bargain, if you ask us.

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CREDIT: All Beauty

Best high-end cleanser for dry skinThis silky cleansing balm brings a real sense of indulgence to your evening make-up removal. It melts into a smooth oil between your fingertips and, with antioxidant moringa seed oil and vitamin E, it'll leave your entire face - eyelashes, eyebrows, you name it - soothed and make-up free in under a minute. If you're anything like us, you'll want to keep massaging the essential oils into your skin for well over a minute ud83dude02. Seriously, it smells citrusy fresh and, at £37, you'll want to get your money's worth.

cleanser for dry skin
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CREDIT: The Body Shop

Best budget cleanser for dry skinAs mid-range/budget skincare goes, The Body Shop's camomile cleanser is somewhat of a hero product. It ticks all the boxes: It leaves skin soothed.It removes all traces of make-up (yes, even waterproof).And it even contains some of the essential fatty acids that are, well, essential for dry skin types.

2. Second cleanse

After removing your make-up and/or SPF, a second cleanse, or 'skin cleanse', is your first chance to really get in contact with the skin. Because of this, the ingredients in your second cleanser can be more tailored to your skin type.

According to Dr. Marium, these are some key nutrients to look out for in cleansers for dry skin:

  1. Ceramides (a type of fatty acid), to help restore the skins natural barrier and increase hydration.
  1. Triglycerides (another combination of fatty acids), to assist with skin replenishing, a.k.a its capacity to hold water and hydration.
  1. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid, to draw water in to the skin.
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Cleanser for dry skin

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CREDIT: Cult Beauty

Best high-end cleanser for dry skinIf skincare is something you struggle to keep up with, use ud83dudc4fthis ud83dudc4f cleanser ud83dudc4f. Rather than leaving skin tight and parched (any dry skin type's enemy), it'll leave it feeling relaxed and moisturised, almost as if you won't need to moisturise (though, of course, you should). With a mix of triglyceride, fatty acids and moisture retaining glycerin, this cleanser is a perfect answer to your flaky, dry skin qualms. Oh, and it smells fab.

cerave hydrating facial cleanser
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CREDIT: Feel Unique

Best budget cleanser for dry skinCeraVe are championing the budget skincare market right now, and for good reason. With three different ceramides, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, this non-foaming gel formula (emphasis on the NON-foaming) works to cleanse the skin, leaving it plump and ready to take on all your skincare lotions and potions.

3. Toner

Once you've cleansed, a toner is a really good point in your routine to try and work in some acids. The term 'acid' can sound scary but, essentially, acids are just liquids that can help with your skin's pH balance, exfoliation and/or hydration.

For Dr. Marium, the best dry skin toners include hyaluronic or lactic acids.

Lactic acid is arguably the most gentle of the exfoliating acids. Unlike its harsher cousin, salicylic acid, lactic acid exfoliates without stealing any of the skin's precious sebum (oil). It's derived from milk and also helps to hydrate the skin, so it's a win, win for dry skin care, really.

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Best dry skin toner

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CREDIT: Feel Unique

Best high-end toner for dry skinChocked full with lactic acid and glycerin, Pestle & Mortar's NMF toner is a safe bet for dry skin types in need of exfoliating. It's approved by the one and only Caroline Hirons, and it smoothes and brightens the skin in prep for your serum and moisturiser.If in doubt, try using it every other day until your skin adjusts.

best dry skin toner
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CREDIT: The Body Shop

Best budget toner for dry skinThe Body Shop's Vitamin E range is calming, nourishing and an all-round top performer. In this toner, glycerin and hydrogenated castor oil work to create a layer on the skin's surface to both absorb moisture and protect from moisture loss. Dreamy, right?

4. Spray hydrate

An optional step, but one that can help to boost hydration (a big tick for dry skin types) and, at the end of the day, feels a little luxurious - think spa, wellness retreat.

In any facial mist, according to Caroline Hirons, we want to see either rose water (to calm and rebalance) or glycerin. As we've already established, glycerin is a big hydration-boosting plus for dry skin types.

Also, as Dr. Marium points out, plant oils prevent moisture loss and are great for dry skin, so it's good to look out for these, too.

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Dry skin care

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CREDIT: Amazon

Best high-end face spray for dry skinFirst there was Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour lip cream (obsessed) and now, with the Miracle Hydrating mist, a calming mix of aloe, glycerin and antioxidant fruit extracts work to relieve irritated skin. Essentially, it's a boost of hydration that works both before your make-up, and as a nice spritz top-up throughout the day.

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CREDIT: Beauty Bay

Best budget face spray for dry skinNow THIS is budget. Facial mists are a bit of a skincare extra to begin with so, if you're tight on cash, we can't recommend this little number enough. With a mix of calming zinc, hydrating glycerin and resurfacing flower oil, Beauty Bay's bargain Make It Rain mist will leave your skin glooowing.

5. Eye cream

Yet another optional step, an eye cream is a luxury that sometimes time and money can't afford, but if signs of ageing are creeping up on you, it might be something to start considering.

Plus, if you, like most of us in lockdown, wake up looking a little worse for wear, your eye cream is one of the best ways to brighten up a dull, tired face (no offence). Try looking out for caffeine. Like a cup of coffee for your eyes, seriously.

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Dry skin care

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CREDIT: Beauty Bay

Best high-end eye cream for dry skinA cult classic, anyone who's used Clinique's All About Eyes knows that it feels like a literal plaster to tired, irritated under-eyes. It's creamy to the touch and, with a combination of brightening Mulberry root extract, caffeine and fatty acids, it'll leave your eyes feeling soothed and looking youthful (the goal, tbh).

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CREDIT: Feel Unique

Best budget eye cream for oily skinOooh, we love a French pharmaceutical brand, and Avène is no exception. With a no-fuss mix of hyaluronic acid and soothing alpha-bisabolol, Eau Thermale will be your parched eyes' saving grace. Plus, it costs less than a tenner. A win, win, if you ask us.

6. Serum

Now THIS is where the magic happens. Save all your money for this step because the serum stage is where you're going to target your skin's real problem areas. Whether it's extreme dryness (we feel you) or inflammation and redness, there will be a serum that's just the ticket.

If inflammation is your problem, Dr. Marium suggests looking for antioxidants like vitamin C to help soothe the area. For really dry skin (probably you, if you've landed on this page 😂), you'll want to look out for jojoba oil, which acts as an emollient to prevent moisture loss.

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Dry skin serum

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CREDIT: Feel Unique

Best high-end serum/oil for dry skinClarins is Queen of serums. From Advanced Night Repair (a cult classic) to SOS Skin Repair, this is a brand that knows what it's doing. The Santal facial oil is no exception and, as Caroline Hirons puts it, it's perrrfect for people with "Sahara" dry skin. With a mix of nourishing plant oils (hazel, lavender etc.), the Santal treatment oil "stimulates the epidermis to help prevent moisture loss." The much needed TLC your flaky skin is in need of.

skin care for dry skin
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CREDIT: Feel Unique

Best budget serum/oil for dry skinQ+A is the brand to watch right now. At supremely affordable prices, Q+A brings you concern-targeting ingredients in a vegan, cruelty-free formula and, trust us, their products won't let you down. The Super Food facial oil is a potent (but gentle) mix of vitamins A, C, E and F, and moisture-boosting jojoba oil. In our opinion, it's the perfect nighttime treatment.

7. Moisturiser

For you dry skin types, Dr. Marium advises "using a cream or ointment" at this stage.

"They are less irritating than lotions," she says.

Some key ingredients to look for in this penultimate step are nourishing shea butter and, of course, our plant oils, fatty acids, glycerin etc. This is where we want aaall the moisture and hydration boosting ingredients.

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Best moisturiser for dry skin

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CREDIT: Cult Beauty

Best high-end moisturiser for dry skinIt may be expensive, but if you've heard the hype, you'll know Charlotte's created a real good'un with her magic cream...With an oil-infused formula of rosehip and camellia, with added hyaluronic acid and shea butter, Magic Cream takes like a duck to water on dry skin. Oily skin types, err, steer clear.

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CREDIT: Amazon

Best budget moisturiser for dry skinThis face cream is very much loved by celebs and aestheticians alike. Caroline Hirons likes it, Molly-Mae Hague and Zara McDermott swear by it. Seriously, Skin Food is a good egg. Formulated for dry skin, it contains lanolin to prevent moisture loss and softening seed oils to help with any rough, dry patches. If your skin is screaming for a plaster (metaphorically), we'd recommend giving this a shot.

8. SPF

Last and definitely not least, sun protection factor.

Dry skin is the least anti-aging friendly of all the skin types, a.k.a. you need this bad boy, so use your SPF EVERY DAY, not just on holiday.

What's that old saying? SPF is for life not just for Christm- wait, I think we're confused.

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Dry skin care

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CREDIT: Amazon

Best mid-range SPF for dry skinAt just under £20, we wouldn't quite class this as high-end, but Caroline Hirons loves it, so it's high-end in our estimation ud83dude02. This, the thicker of the two formulations, boasts a nourishing mix of vitamin E and glycerin, as well as SPF 50, of course.

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CREDIT: Amazon

Best budget SPF for dry skinJust because it says it's a facial moisturiser, doesn't mean you can't use it on top of your moisturiser as an SPF. Slap ud83dudc4fit ud83dudc4f on ud83dudc4f. With hyaluronic acid (woo), this SPF from CeraVe comes in a surprisingly light formula that works to trap in moisture while providing your skin with that all-important UV protection. No white streaks, no sticky residue. Perfecto.

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Do dry skin types need toner?

Dry skin doesn't necessarily need toner in the sense that oily skin does (salicylic acid is an oily skin type's best friend), but that doesn't mean it won't still be beneficial to your skincare routine.

Nowadays, toners are much more versatile than the old days of Clinique's alcohol-laden number three clarifying lotion (the thought gives us shivers) and for dry skin, a toner can even help with hydration.

As Caroline Hirons puts it, "Think of a toner as the condiment part of your sandwich: yes, you can make a sandwich using just bread and ham/cheese – but how much better does that sandwich work with butter/mayo?

"It binds it all together and facilitates the process."

How to care for very dry skin

The key with particularly dry skin, is to avoid a large proportion of the ingredients that our oily-skinned friends would probably opt for. While they, with a little excess shine in the T-Zone, are probably seeking oil-free or water-based products, very dry skin types should, instead, opt for oil based moisturisers.

Along the same vein, those with very dry skin should steer clear of harsher exfoliants like salicylic acid - known for its ability to help break down excess oil on the skin - and opt rather for glycerin or hydration-boosting toners.

In terms of cleansers, a skin care routine for dry skin should hone in on those nourishing balm-type cleansers and moisturising gels, like the Emma Hardy Moringa cleanser. It shouldn't, on the flipside, involve anything with the word 'foaming' in the product descripton. No, no, steer clear, reader.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us
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