Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist

Lawrence A. Schiffman, D.O., FAOCD - Board Certified Dermatologist


How to Follow a Skin Care Routine for Dry Skin

Published September 22nd, 2020 by Thepracticeagency

Dry skin is one of the most common skin conditions—but that doesn’t always make it easier to treat.

Flaky, tight skin can leave you feeling frustrated or uncomfortable, but it’s important to note that dry skin poses a health risk as well. When your skin is dry, it means your natural layers of protection aren’t working as they should, leaving the skin unable to maintain its natural level of hydration. This, in turn, can make it harder for your skin to protect itself from the natural damage caused by your environment.

If you have dry skin, you already know that finding the right skincare routine is incredibly important. Here are some skin care tips to keep in mind, as well as a daily routine that will keep your skin looking clear, healthy, and hydrated for the long term.

The Ingredients to Look For—And to Avoid

With dry skin, the key is to look for products that hydrate instead of exfoliating. Here are a few ingredients that will make a difference:

  • Occlusive agents create an additional layer of oil atop the skin to help keep water from escaping. Look for petrolatum, waxes, oils, and silicones.
  • Humectants trap moisture in the skin while also helping to repair the skin’s protective barrier. Common ones include hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or urea.

As you search, remember to avoid anything with particularly harsh chemicals. In particular, you should use exfoliants with great care. Physical and chemical exfoliants work in different ways, and though your gut reaction may be to exfoliate often to clear away dead skin cells and dry flakes, any kind of exfoliation may only cause more irritation and flaking.

If you really want to exfoliate, opt for a product that includes lighter exfoliant, depending on the dryness of your skin. You should also use it no more than once a week.

Morning Skincare Routine

As you start your day, it’s important to put your best face forward, and the right morning skincare routine is the key to doing just that. Here’s what you’ll need to use:


Choose a gentle cleanser that will nourish your skin without stripping your skin’s protective barrier. Opt for the non-foaming variety, which will help remove any dirt or oil without affecting your outer layer of skin. Most gentle drugstore cleansers can help; don’t forget to look for options with hyaluronic acid where possible.


Moisturizing is a critical step for dry skin, as hydration is key to avoiding flakes and tightness.

If you also have periodic oiliness or acne, your gut instinct might be to avoid additional moisture, especially in the oil-inducing summer months. However, oil and moisture are actually two separate factors that affect your skin, and no matter how oily your face appears, it should still be properly hydrated and moisturized.

To care for dry skin, opt for a light and creamy moisturizer in the warmer months and a heavier gel formula in the winter. Most popular brands will offer hyaluronic acid, purified petroleum, or hydrating oils to keep your face lightly moisturized without weighing your skin down.


If you haven’t already incorporated sunscreen into your skincare routine, don’t forget that it’s the single biggest thing you can do to protect your skin from an increased risk of skin cancer as well as premature aging. You should be using a daily sunscreen, even on days when it’s overcast, as a morning habit.

For dry skin, you can opt for a moisturizer/sunscreen combo with a high SPF—we recommend at least 15 for indoor days and 30 if you’ll be outside at all—to soothe dry skin while providing protection against damaging UV rays that lead to premature aging.

Nighttime Skincare Routine

In the morning, your skincare is designed to help protect your skin from the damaging factors it comes into contact with throughout the day, including UV rays and environmental pollutants. At night, the goal is to once again clean your face, moisturize, and repair the damage.

Makeup Remover

Before you start your routine, you’ll need to take off any makeup you’ve worn during the day. We recommend staying away from makeup wipes, which tend to include alcohol or other drying products. Instead, opt for an oil-based cleanser or a cleansing oil, both of which will help clear the makeup from your face and refresh your dry skin.


If you do any exfoliation, it should be at this time—and it should happen no more than once a week. Opt for light sugar scrubs and naturally derived blends, and massage it gently into your face. Follow up with a deep moisturizing cream or a moisturizing face mask.


Again, proceed by cleansing your face as you did in the morning. A double cleanse with a gentle cleanser can be helpful if you’ve worn a significant amount of makeup, but if it dries your face out, you can skip the second cleanse at night.

Nightly Extras

Last but not least are any extras you’d like to include in your routine. These products, including hydrating toners, sheet masks, eye creams, and spot treatments, can help you tackle any issues that plague you, or offer a little extra luxury to your nightly habit.


Follow everything up with a moisturizer (applied before a face mask, if you used one in the last step). You can use the same product you used with your morning routine, or you can opt for something that offers slightly deeper moisturization for a refreshing feel when you wake in the morning.

Creating the Perfect Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

Every face is different, and the skin products that work for your dry skin might not work on someone else’s. Be sure to experiment with different products to find the perfect skincare routine for your face, or come in to tell us about your skin concerns. We’d be happy to help you find a routine that works for you! 

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