Image of woman with dark hair in blue shirt holding several skincare products in arms

The ideal skincare routine for dry skin.

Last Updated: July 19, 2021

“You look amazing! How did you get your skin so dry?” said no one ever. The struggle of finding the right routine for dry skin is real. We're here for you.

Dry skin is about more than just how you look. It's majorly uncomfortable, and you deserve to look and feel your best.

Pinpointing a skincare routine that targets the cause of dry skin can calm your urge to try all the skin products and instead find the right ones for your skin type that actually work year round.

Why is my skin dry?

Yellow skull illustration

It's easy to forget that the weather really does impact our skin. As the seasons and weather change, so should our skincare routine. If you're already prone to dry skin or you have a skin condition like eczema, a drop in humidity can wreak havoc on your skin.

Dry air, be it from the weather or from the indoor climates you spend your time in, can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable and cause dry, itchy skin that flakes, cracks, and might even bleed.

None of this sounds fun. So what can you do about it?

How can I treat and prevent dry skin?

These tips from dermatologists can help soothe, treat, and prevent dry skin.

  • Follow a bathing routine that prevents loss of skin moisture.
  • Slap moisturizer on within seconds of cleansing or drying your skin.
  • Use ointments and creams with jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, or shea butter.
  • Wear lip balm that feels good. If it stings or tingles, it isn't good for dry lips.
  • Use gentle, fragrance-free skincare products. Remember that “unscented” is not fragrance-free.
  • Wear gloves when it's cold and when you're handling water or chemicals.
  • Choose hypoallergenic laundry detergent and wear cotton or silk under wool.
  • Don't sit too close to direct heat sources.
  • Add moisture to the air by using a humidifier.


Check yo-self before you wreck yo-self!

Stop using skincare products that contain alcohol (except for hand sanitizer), alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), fragrances (and anything deodorizing), and retinoids.

They might work great for others, but if you suffer from dry skin they'll only make it worse.

Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and Grove Co. cleaning caddy

Become a Grove member

Wondering who Grove is, what types of products we offer, and how to get a free gift set when you sign up? Learn more about flexible monthly shipments, customizing your shipment, and joining millions of happy households — no monthly fees or commitments required.

What’s the best skincare routine for dry skin

The basics of any skincare routine, including oily skin—no matter your skin concerns—revolve around three dermatologist recommended steps: Cleanse, treat, and moisturize.

So how does that break down for a dry skincare routine?

Step 1: Cleanse

The purpose of cleansing your skin is to remove debris, unnecessary oils, and dead skin cells. That doesn't mean you have to whip out the scrubbers though.

Washing gently twice a day with your fingers, a facial cleanser, and lukewarm water is all you need to do.

For super sensitive, dry skin, save your face wash for nighttime only and just rinse with water in the morning. The best facial cleansers for dry skin are oil and cream cleansers that cleanse without stripping the skin of its protective oils.

If washing your face with oil sounds counterintuitive, don't worry—we tried it for you!

Step 2: Treat

What you use—toner, serum, or another skin treatment—doesn't matter so much as identifying some key ingredients that will best treat dry skin. Toners and serums add hydration back to the skin after cleansing, and they can contain active ingredients that target specific skin concerns.

Ingredients that specifically treat dry skin include, but are not limited to: hyaluronic acid, rose water, goat milk, lactic acid, aloe vera, ceramides, squalane, hemp oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and tea tree oil.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, how you choose your products may be based on the type of hydrating and soothing ingredients used in the product and whether or not the product is made from animal byproducts.

Skin hydration illustration

Step 3: Moisturize

Moisturizing is essential to every skincare routine, no matter who you are or what time of day it is. Ideally, every time your skin gets wet, you should be moisturizing to avoid dry skin.

For dry skin, use moisturizers with hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides to keep your skin feeling soft and hydrated all day long.

Since climate and season also impact your skin, you might want to switch to a thicker moisturizer cream during the winter weather.


Step #4 to every skincare routine—protect!

Make sure you apply a broad spectrum SPF sunscreen every day to protect your skin from the sun and prevent skin damage.

What's the difference between morning skincare and nighttime skincare?

Skin is skin, but morning is not night. Obviously! The difference in your routine is that you’re prepping your skin for a different part of the day and the conditions it will be in during the day vs. the night.

If you have the luxury of time and energy to spend on some extra skincare steps, there are dermatologist recommended steps you can add to your morning and evening skincare routine that will further benefit dry skin.

The best morning skincare routine for dry skin

Sun illustration
  1. Cleanse with an oil or cream-based hydrating cleanser. If your skin is really dry, try skipping the cleanser and just use lukewarm water.
  2. Treat your skin with a toner that uses ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration (see step 2 of the dry skin routine above).
  3. Use a day serum that focuses on hydrating and protecting your skin. Day serums often use acids like hyaluronic, salicylic, and L-ascorbic (vitamin C).
  4. Moisturize with a thick hydrating cream.
  5. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen every day. Dry skin with UV damage is the perfect recipe for prematurely aged skin.


Skip the face oil during the day

Face oils are an effective part of a nighttime routine for dry skin, but they should not be used in the morning because they break down your sunscreen and prevent it from working properly.

The best nighttime skincare routine for dry skin

Illustration of two people wearing face masks
  1. Cleanse with an oil or cream-based hydrating cleanser. If you wear makeup, you can also use an oil-based makeup remover.
  2. Treat your skin with a hydrating toner that uses ingredients listed in step 2 of the basic dry skin routine.
  3. Use a night serum that focuses on repairing and resurfacing skin cells with antioxidants or acids. If you choose to use retinol, be very careful and start gradually with dry skin — 0.3% retinol is plenty strong for dry, sensitive skin.
  4. Don't skip the moisturizer! A moisturizing ointment is perfect for dry skin.
  5. Face oil helps with moisture retention and protecting the natural skin barrier. Look for oils with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties like squalane, jojoba, marula, argan, and rosehip.
  6. Finish with night cream—a super rich moisturizer that’s too heavy for the day but goes a long way for extra hydration and repair overnight.

Now find the 15 best face creams for dry skin and anti-aging that are top-rated by actual Grove members.


Add a hydrating facial mask

An extra step in your nighttime skincare routine that’s great for dry skin is using a hydrating mask one to three times a week.

Hydrating masks come in creams or sheets and use ingredients that hydrate, lock in moisture, and give your skin cells that extra oomph they're thirsty for.

What’s the best skincare routine if you have acne and dry skin?

The trouble with a lot of acne treatments is that they’re designed to dry out the skin. We feel itchy just thinking about it.

The key to managing acne when you have dry skin is to resist the urge to go nuts with cleansing and exfoliating, which will just irritate and dry out your skin and lead to more acne.

When treating acne as part of your dry skin routine:

  • Maintain a regular skincare routine that works for your skin type.
  • Cleanse twice daily with gentle cleansers that won't strip your skin's natural oils.
  • Apply retinol, which unclogs pores, but don't overuse it as it can also dry out your skin.
  • Don't go overboard on strong, acne-fighting active ingredients. Try each new product one at a time and let your skin get used to it before adding another.
  • Don't skip the moisturizer and don't be afraid of oils! All skin needs moisture, and face oils actually help reduce inflammation and fight acne. Tea tree oil is especially good at this.
  • Avoid stripping or over-exfoliating your skin. Scrubbers, mechanical washers, and astringent products will irritate and dry out your skin and make it more sensitive to even gentler acne treatments.
  • Spot treat breakouts with active ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to avoid drying out the rest of your skin.
  • Consider asking a dermatologist about oral medication for acne so you don't have to apply topical treatments.

Read more from Grove