Regardless of whether we blame genetics, old radiators, or the cold weather, the battle against dry skin can often feel like an insurmountable beast. From itchy, flaky skin to breakouts and more, figuring out the right skincare routine during unexpected skin shifts can feel overwhelming. The good news is, dry skin isn’t usually serious, and there are several reasons why it can occur. But if it is causing you extreme discomfort and you can’t seem to get a handle on it, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. Luckily, Dr. Y. Claire Chang is here to “save our skin”—literally—with the best dry skin skincare routine so you don’t have the play the guessing game any longer.

Dr. Chang tells us that dry skin is actually very common and can be a result of both external and internal factors. External factors include low humidity, cold weather, lack of moisturizer, drying skincare products, or long hot showers which can worsen dry skin. Those with a predisposition to certain skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis are also prone to dry skin. Other medical conditions, like diabetes and thyroid disease, as well as medications can also cause dry skin. And as if that weren’t enough, our skin tends to get drier with age as well.

Dr. Y. Claire Chang, MD
  • Dermatologist
  • Instagram

Dr. Chang is a board-certified and fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologist who provides comprehensive medical and cosmetic dermatologic care for her patients. She specializes in cutaneous laser treatments, facial and body contouring, and injectable treatments.

What is the ideal skincare routine for someone with dry skin?

Dr. Chang notes that those with dry skin should stick with a gentle skincare routine that includes multiple hydration-boosting steps. Skincare should focus on products that repair the skin while keeping moisture in.

  1. Choose cleansers that are soap-free and contain hydrating ingredients.
  2. Hydrating sheet masks, toners, and serums can be applied after cleansing to give a boost of hydration.
  3. It is always important to finish with a thick moisturizing cream or ointment to lock in the moisture. Even those who are acne-prone can use a thicker cream, just look for one that is “oil-free” and “non-comedogenic.”
  4. Everyone, including those with dry skin, should apply sunscreen every day and reapply every few hours. Sun exposure can actually worsen dry skin, so daily sun protection is key.

There are also a number of lifestyle changes that you can make to prevent dry skin, including using a humidifier to add moisture back into the skin, adapting your skincare routine as the seasons change, and switching out lighter lotions for thicker creams and ointments.

Keep your eyes peeled for hydrating ingredients

It is obvious that using moisturizers can relieve dry skin, Dr. Chang points out, but knowing which ingredients are most effective is important. She recommends using a combination of hydrating ingredients, including humectants to draw moisture into the skin, emollients to smooth and soften skin, and occlusives to lock moisture in.

Humectants

  • Glycerin
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Lactic acid

Emollients

  • Ceramides
  • Shea butter

Occlusives

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Silicones

What should those with dry skin avoid?

  • Avoid harsh, drying soaps or irritating skincare products.
  • Don’t overexfoliate.
  • Use gloves to protect your skin if exposed to harsh chemicals at home or at work.
  • Limit extended exposure to hot water. (Keep bathing time to 10 minutes or less using lukewarm water.)

Keep scrolling to shop Dr. Chang’s favorite products for a dry skin skincare routine.

Cleansers

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser

This dermatologist-loved product cleanses, hydrates, and restores the skin’s protective barrier. It removes dirt and oil without leaving the skin feeling tight.


Cerave Hydrating Cleanser, $11.59

Shiseido Senka Perfect Whip Foaming Facial Cleanser

It is formulated with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to hydrate the skin and Dr. Chang finds that it is typically well-tolerated although it is a foaming cleanser.


Shiseido Senka Perfect Whip Foaming Facial Cleanser, $17.90 for two

Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm

This lovely balm glides on and melts away oil-based impurities such as excess sebum, sunscreen, and stubborn makeup without leaving behind an oily residue. The star ingredient in the luxurious formula is antioxidant and fatty acid-rich seaberry (sea buckthorn) oil, which softens and protects skin, and gives the balm its distinctive bright yellow color.


Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm, $38

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

This ceramide-rich cleanser is gentle and nourishing, with a milky cream texture that leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, and supple.


La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, $14.99

Serums

SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator

Five types of hydrators work to replenish the skin’s hyaluronic acid. This hydrating serum balances moisture levels to smooth and soften rough texture, lines, and wrinkles. It is fragrance-free, boosts the overall health of your skin, and provides eight hours of continuous moisture. The humectants draw moisture from the air and deliver it straight to the areas of your skin that need it the most.


SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, $120

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

A rich dose of hyaluronic acid and tissue-repairing vitamin B5 restores and binds moisture to the skin for enhanced radiance, suppleness, and comfort. Ideal for use with vitamin C treatments, it maximizes the effects of your daily moisturizer.


SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, $83

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum

This serum combines low, medium, and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid, as well as a next-generation H.A. cross polymer at a combined concentration of two percent for multi-depth hydration. It is supported by B5 for enhanced hydration.


The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum, $6.80

PCA Skin Hydrating Serum

This serum nourishes and replenishes dull, lackluster skin to leave it looking healthy and refreshed. Sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid moisturize, condition, and stimulate circulation. Fructose boosts collagen production while wheat germ extract increases firmness. Aloe vera extract calms redness and inflammation for a glowing complexion.


PCA Skin Hydrating Serum, $92

Moisturizers

Cerave Moisturizing Cream

Ceramides give 24-hour hydration for dry skin while replenishing the skin’s barrier. The rich, velvety moisturizing cream formula features hyaluronic acid to leave dry skin feeling smooth and comfortable.


Cerave Moisturizing Cream, $18.99

Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore

 Infused with these essential lipids, this treatment’s fast-absorbing formula has antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients to fight free-radical damage and smooth skin texture. The result is an improvement in elasticity, moisture levels, and radiance, leaving your skin supple, healthy, and radiant.


Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore, $130

Avene Tolerance Extreme Cream

Enriched with its unique thermal spring water and glycerin, this lightweight moisturizer hydrates skin without leaving any greasy residue.


Avene Tolerance Extreme Cream, $38

Eye Cream

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel Cream

Hyaluronic acid boosts the skin’s hydration and locks it in all day. This gel eye cream is oil-free, dye-free, and fragrance-free, so it’s gentle to use on the delicate eye area. It features a unique water gel formula that absorbs quickly like a gel with the long last moisturizing power of a cream.


Neutrogena Hydro Boost Eye Gel Cream, $26.49

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

This moisturizing eye cream is formulated with avocado oil to hydrate, smooth, visibly de-puff, and brighten the look of the under-eye area.


Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, $32

Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream

This cooling gel-like cream glides on to give continuous moisture that lasts up to 30 hours. Enriched with nourishing rose oil, soothing rosewater, and antioxidant golden root extract, it instantly illuminates for perkier eyes.


Fresh Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream, $41

Neocutis Lumiere Bio-Restorative Eye Cream

This restorative, line-smoothing eye cream uses growth factors to target the delicate eye area and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, crow’s feet, puffiness, and under-eye darkness. It moisturizes under-eye skin with Sodium Hyaluronate.


Neocutis Lumiere Bio-Restorative Eye Cream, $97

Sunscreen

Cerave AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

This oil-free, daily face moisturizer with SPF 30 absorbs quickly with a non-greasy finish. Ceramides restore the protective skin barrier and hyaluronic acid deeply hydrates the skin.


Cerave AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, $10.99

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 30

This moisturizer includes broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen to help protect your skin from further sun damage. It is oil-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores


Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 30, $20

Lip Balm

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

This is perfect for chapped lips, dry hands and cuticles, cracked heels and feet, friction, and minor burns. It instantly restores moisture and creates a protective barrier on the skin. Once applied, seal it in with a vaseline-type cream. Watch this video to learn how you can create a moisture sandwich for dry lips!


Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $4.13

Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm

 Specially formulated for all types of chapped lips, Cortibalm helps heal mild to severely chapped lips due to harsh weather, allergies, cold sores, cosmetics, medications, eczema, lip licking, and more. This treatment contains 1% hydrocortisone which interrupts the inflammatory cycle, stops the pain, and allows the natural healing process to begin.


Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm, $7.75

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

This is a special intensive-care mask for lips. It is a hydrating lip mask that delivers intense moisture and antioxidants while you sleep.


Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, $22

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