Skincare Routine for Dry Skin
My clients with dry skin often come to me frustrated. They’ve tried every ceramide-filled, heavy face oil and lotion only to still feel like their skin is dry.
“If you have dry skin, a nourishing and moisturizing skincare routine can make all the difference.”
Shani Darden, Esthetician
The problem with most of the skincare products they’ve used is that they fail to address dry skin as a skin type and not a condition. Dry skin, as a type, can’t be “fixed,” but you can use products that help your skin balance its moisture levels naturally.Skincare Routine for Dry Skin | Shani Darden Skin Care
What Is Dry Skin?
Dry skin is a skin type. Dry skin is skin that may feel tight, stretchy, and continually parched. It usually isn’t prone to breakouts, but it can be prone to sensitivity and irritation, which is why you should always look for fragrance-free products.
Your skin becomes dry when it doesn't produce enough of its own oil, called sebum. Sebum acts as a lubricant and moisturizer for your skin and also helps protect the skin barrier.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Skin?
Dry skin has obvious symptoms:
- Rough patches
- Uneven skin texture
- Dull skin tone
- More prominent fine lines and wrinkles
Severely dry skin can chap, peel, and even crack. It may turn red and look irritated.
How Are Dehydrated and Dry Skin Different?
My clients sometimes mistake dehydrated skin for dry skin or vice versa. Again, while dry skin is a skin type, dehydrated skin is a skin condition. In other words, any skin type (even oily) can have dehydrated skin, which means your skin isn’t getting enough moisture within the deepest layers of your skin.
This can be due to water intake, living in a dry climate, the use of products that pull moisture out of the skin (usually found in blemish-fighting products), or from overexfoliation. Dehydrated skin can be fixed and eliminated. Dry skin can be managed, but you can’t change your skin type. Instead, you can use products that help support your skin’s natural moisture balance.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Truly dry skin is usually due to your genetic makeup. Although seasonal dry skin can happen, it’s not permanent and not necessarily a skin type as much as it is a seasonal skin condition.
Take a look at your pores. If they’re barely visible, it might mean you have drier skin. Smaller pores usually go hand in hand with drier skin types, just like larger pores are a characteristic of oily skin and acne-prone skin types.
The skin changes as we age. We begin to lose collagen, a vital protein that supports the skin and keeps it looking youthful, at a rate of 1% per year after age 20. In addition, skin cell turnover slows down, which means your skin isn’t renewing itself as fast as it used to. This can lead to a dull-looking skin tone and the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Older skin is also drier skin. By age 60, almost everyone has dry skin. By the time you turn 40, the amount of sebum your skin produces begins to decline and continues to decline as you get older. This can leave you wondering why the same products you’ve always used aren’t nourishing your skin any longer.
Medications or Existing Health Conditions
Sometimes, the dry skin you’re dealing with is a side effect of something else. Certain diseases, health conditions, and medications can make your skin dry. You can always ask your doctor if your dry skin could be related.
Regardless of what is causing your dry skin, the solution is caring for it with products that help hydrate it deeply and restore its ability to regulate its own moisture. Instead of gopping on lotion several times a day, I’ll show you how to use a few dry-skin targeting products that contain ultra-hydrating ingredients.
What Is a Good Morning Skincare Routine for Dry Skin?
Your morning routine has two main purposes: preparing your skin for your cosmetics and protecting it for the day. Don’t make it complicated; a gentle cleanser, toner, and moisturizer will keep your skin cleansed and prepped, while a combination broad spectrumsunscreen and foundation cream (CC cream) protects your skin from sun exposure and gives you the perfect amount of lightweight coverage.
Cleansing is essential (obviously), but it’s also tricky. You need a face wash that will remove impurities and oil but do so without disturbing your skin’s microbiome.
The skin microbiome refers to healthy, living bacteria that inhabit your skin. Just like your gut flora, the role of the skin flora is to support your skin barrier (the outermost layer of your skin) and keep your skin protected.
That also means the skin barrier plays a big role in keeping your skin hydrated. If your skin barrier is compromised, your skin will lose moisture. My Cleansing Serum is an ultra-concentrated facial cleanser packed with hyaluronic acid, my favorite way to ramp up moisture in any skin type. This foamingcleanser helps eliminate impurities below the surface of the skin without stripping the skin of natural moisture.
Hyaluronic acid is a natural ingredient found in your body and in plants. It can hold up to 1,000 times its molecular weight in moisture, which means it’s great for dry skin types. It naturally binds to water and holds it inside your skin to keep it hydrated.
If you have dry skin, my guess is you probably gave up using a toner. They can be drying, especially if they contain alcohol. However, toners are excellent vehicles for deeply penetrating pores, gently exfoliating away dead skin cells, and balancing oil production.
My Sake Toning Essence doesn’t contain alcohol or any skin-stripping ingredients. It does contain fermented rice water, which is rich in active ingredients like probiotics that help support your skin’s microbiome and strengthen the skin barrier.
It also contains vitamin B3 (niacinamide), which helps smooth rough patches on the skin and even your skin’s texture. Using this toner will leave your skin feeling smooth, refreshed, and ready for your moisturizing cream.
You might be surprised, but I still recommend an oil-free moisturizer for dry skin types. The reason is simple: Your skin’s natural oil, sebum, is the best moisturizer for your skin.
The goal of your skincare products should be to help rebalance your skin so that it makes the right amount of sebum to keep it hydrated. You don’t need a product with oil in it to do that.
Additionally, I don’t recommend an oil-based moisturizer because dry skin can be sensitive skin. If you use a moisturizer that contains an oil, there’s a potential for it to clog your pores, cause irritation, and make matters worse.
The bottom line: it just isn’t necessary. Numerous other ingredients work better to keep your skin deeply moisturized other than oil. That’s why you won’t find oil in my Weightless, Oil-Free Moisturizer. Instead, you’ll find hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed collagen, and antioxidant protection against free radicals.
Hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that has been broken down into smaller molecules, called peptides, that are more bioavailable (usable) by your skin. This helps support your skin’s structure, stimulates your own collagen production, and has an intensive anti-aging effect.
When choosing a moisturizer, make sure you look for humectant ingredients. These are ingredients that can help pull moisture to your skin. Some common examples of humectants include hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
My go-to CC cream is Supergoop CC Screen. It’s a mineral-based sunscreen with SPF 50 and available in four pigments that easily blend into your skin to give you the perfect amount of coverage. This product protects you from both UV rays (both UVA and UVB) and keeps skin soft while evening out skin tone.
For an added layer of protection, include a vitamin C serum in your daytime routine. Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants that can help support your skin’s natural defenses against sun damage.
What Is a Good Nighttime Skincare Routine for Dry Skin?
The skin naturally repairs itself while you sleep. Your nighttime skincare routine should remove the dirt, oil, and pollution from your skin that it’s been exposed to during your day and also give your skin some fighting power to help it correct and rebalance during the night.
For your nighttime routine, you’ll use the same cleanser and toner you used in the morning, but we’ll add in two products for skin treatment and swap out the moisturizer with something a little weightier.
After cleansing and toning, my go-to solution for combating everything from skin dryness to dark spots is retinol. This over-the-counter retinoid is a simply phenomenal ingredient that provides real results. My Retinol Reform delivers retinol gradually throughout the night, minimizing irritation.
Start out by using Retinol Reform one night per week, building up to nightly use as tolerated.
For brightening dull skin tones and clarifying congested skin, my Lactic Acid Serum is the solution. It’s a hydrating serum formulated with four molecular weights of hyaluronic acid (more than a standard hyaluronic acid serum) to flood your skin with deep hydration and help your skin rebalance while you sleep.
You can use Lactic Acid Serum every other night, using Retinol Reform in between. It’s the perfect combination of ingredients to hydrate and restore your skin.
For nighttime moisturizing, I like to recommend iS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion. This moisturizer is just slightly weightier than the morning moisturizer and includes some anti-aging ingredients to help your skin renew overnight.
While my Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer is great for daytime use, your skin’s nighttime needs are a bit different from your daytime needs. For instance, since you’re probably not wearing sunscreen or makeup, you can apply a thicker moisturizer like this reparative emulsion to deeply soothe your skin.
One reason I love this heavier moisturizer for dry skin is that it contains both hyaluronic acid and glycerin to attract moisture to the skin, as well as squalane and vitamin E to create a seal against the skin. This helps preserve your skin’s lipid barrier and support its natural ability to stay hydrated.
As a bonus step, you can use a restorative eye cream to infuse deep hydration into your under-eye area. This is the first area that starts showing signs of aging, so it’s important to show it some extra attention with an area-specific night cream.
Dry Skin? Hydrate It!
The best skincare routine for dry skin doesn’t include mounds of lotions and creams. It just includes uncomplicated, powerful products with plant-based ingredients that help your skin relearn how to keep its natural moisture level balanced.
Keep your skin thriving with plant-based ingredients that protect it and support its ability to work as nature intended.