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Anyone with dry skin knows the painful truth; the sheer variety of products that claim to hydrate and moisturise your dull skin is beyond daunting.

While you struggle to decide which might be best for you, your skin feels tight, dehydrated, and honestly looks a little tired. But there’s a routine for every skin type, and every person. You just need to know where to look.

As it happens, we’ve done the digging for you. So, here’s the way forward to get hydrated, gorgeous, and glowing skin – even when you’re prone to dryness.


Daytime Routine

1. Cleanse

When your skin is dry, choosing the right cleanser is essential. This is because many use drying ingredients that strip away the natural oils in your skin.

Dry skin needs a hydrating cleanser that can remove dirt and oil without causing disruption to the outer layer of your skin. One simple way to narrow down the search is to choose cleansers that aren’t foaming, and are instead labelled as gentle.

If it contains hyaluronic acid, all the better!


2. Exfoliate

There are pros and cons to exfoliating dry skin. On the one hand, it can seem like a terrible idea if your skin is already tight and sensitive. The idea of scrubbing your skin (a definite no-no) or wiping chemicals or acid on it can seem like the last thing you want to do.

However, while the wrong exfoliants can cause irritation, there are plenty light enough for dry skin to handle. Since dry skin tends to be flaky and patchy in places, sloughing away the dead cells on the surface can actually be a good thing; effectively, you’re letting the skin beneath breathe.

We recommend exfoliating at night, though; chemical exfoliants can leave your exposed skin vulnerable throughout the day. Read on for our recommendations.


3. Tone

Toners can be divisive, it’s true. But an alcohol-free toner can be a great way to keep your skin’s pH nice and balanced. And without drying out your skin even further.

Look for toners that include ingredients like aloe vera or coconut water for extra hydration.


person taking care of skin, looking in mirror and applying skincare products

4. Serums & Targeted Treatments

If you have specific skin concerns on top of dry skin, this is the part of your routine where you pop those on.

If you’re more interested in general hydration, then now is the time to invest in a good hyaluronic acid serum. This fantastic ingredient can be used across the face to help your skin retain moisture.


5. Moisturise

The part you’ve been waiting for is here! Yes, moisturiser is a crucial part of your routine if you’re prone to dry skin. Finding the right moisturiser for you doesn’t only lock in the benefits of a serum, it nourishes and hydrates your face.

Many people with dry skin opt for the heaviest cream they can find. This is not ideal, as it’s far more important to consider the purpose of moisturiser when you’re hunting down products. Moisturiser not actually adding moisture to your skin – it’s locking in the moisture that’s already there.

This means that some of the heavier moisturisers out there are actually stopping your skin from breathing, and not doing as much good as you think.

Ideally, look for a non-comedogenic moisturiser that doesn’t block or clog your pores.


6. Sunscreen

Finally, whether or not you’re leaving the house, you should be using sunscreen as the last part of your daily routine. Not only will it prevent sun damage, but it’ll add an extra barrier (and often hydration too) to your skin.


Night-time Routine

As the end of the day rolls around, the last thing you want to do is spend hours on a lengthy skincare routine. However, if you get your products down, then you’ll speed up the process in no time.

1. Cleanse

A couple of things to remember in the evening for dry skin: first, always remove your make-up. (But you knew that, right?). And second, even if you’re tempted to climb into a scalding hot shower to relax before bed, don’t! Or if you must, turn down the heat.

Hot showers are the last thing you want if you have dry skin. They’re not doing you any favours. In fact, they actually dehydrate your skin and remove the natural oils your body produces.

Similarly, cleansers that contain soap-based chemicals will strip your skin just as efficiently. They’ll leave your face tight, dry and worse off than when you started.

When choosing a cleanser, opt for soap-free products that are gentle, and contain hydrating ingredients (hello, hyaluronic acid!).


2. Chemical Exfoliant

We mentioned earlier that it’s better to exfoliate at night, and we stand by our words.

This is because some of the best exfoliants for dry skin are leave-on acids called AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids). There are a fair few AHAs available, but we’re going to stick to our two favourites, glycolic acid and lactic acid.


Glycolic Acid

As you science-y types might have worked out from the name, glycolic acid occurs naturally in sugar canes, and is backed up by all kinds of weird and wonderful science.

Glycolic is an impressive little acid because it’s great for all skin types, not just dry skin. This is thanks in large part to its small molecules, which makes it easier for the exfoliant to penetrate our skin. And, for the dry types out there, it has an added bonus – it can actually “teach” your skin how to retain its own moisture.

Look for glycolic acids in concentrations of 5% or above for the best results.


Lactic Acid

Again, the name gives this one away a little bit, but lactic acid is derived from milk. It works much like glycolic acid does. However, its slightly bigger molecules mean it takes longer to penetrate the skin.

If you’re looking for serious exfoliation, go for concentrates between 5 and 10%. If you’re more fussed about the hydrating properties, then 2 to 5% will do.


person sitting on bed applying skincare products to dry skin

3. Tone

If you’re a fan of toner (which some aren’t), then the best options for dry skin are those that include:

  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Squalene
  • Aloe vera
  • Glycerin
  • Chamomile


4. Face Masks

If a face mask is one of the ways you relax, then you’ll love this one; hydrating face masks are a lifesaver for dry skin.

However, where you fit a face mask into your routine is up to you. You can:

  • Use one earlier in the evening (though please cleanse your face beforehand),
  • Include one midway through your routine,
  • Or you can apply a night mask just before you go to sleep.

When buying face masks, you’ve probably already worked out that hyaluronic acid, glycerin and aloe vera are choice ingredients. This is because they’re humectants, which means they retain water, and can boost the hydration in your dry skin. You can also find some lovely skin-boosting properties in things like vitamin E, ceramides and urea.

If you choose to go for a mask mid-routine, don’t forget to use your other products too. Just because a mask makes your skin feel soft and nourished, doesn’t mean you can skip off straight to bed!


5. Serums & Targeted Treatments

Be sure to select the serums that target your specific skin concerns, as well as those aimed at dry skin.

But if you’re just looking to hydrate, then we’d recommend:

  • hyaluronic acid (for the aforementioned reasons),
  • or vitamin C for hydration, elasticity, and the power of antioxidants.


7. Moisturise

If you have dry skin, you’ve probably had enough of hearing about moisturisers by now. But when it comes to your night-time routine, you can go a bit mad with it.

As we sleep, our skin works a little harder to heal and restore itself, so it’s the perfect time to take advantage and give it a little boost.

Plus, you’re not exactly going anywhere fancy in your sleep, are you? Night is when you can opt for the thickest, creamiest, gooiest goop you can find (within reason, of course). Just make sure you’re checking the ingredients!

Ideally, you want a good balance of emollients, like ceramides – which help your skin to repair its natural barrier – and humectants, such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin. These draw moisture into your skin and seal it there, helping your skin stay hydrated.

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