If you have naturally dry skin, whether it's genetic or influenced by environmental factors, you've got to be extra careful about the products you use on your face and in the shower. Because labels can be misleading and ingredients are tricky to decipher, Bustle turned to an expert to help narrow down the best soaps for dry skin.
Dr. Loretta Ciraldo M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skin Care, there are a few crucial things to keep in mind when searching for a face or body soap that won't exacerbate dry skin. "It’s best to use a sulfate-free liquid cleanser," she says. "Moisture-trapping cleansers work well, and creamy milks are more moisture-trapping." She also recommends looking for cleansers that contain ceramides, which help reinforce your skin's barrier and prevent moisture loss.
As for which ingredients dry skin types should avoid? Most importantly, "Avoid sulfate-based foaming cleansers since they can dry and irritate skin. Look at the ingredients and don’t use anything with sodium-/ammonium-laurel or laureth sulfate." Additionally, try and avoid formulas that contain ethyl or denatured alcohol.
Dr. Loretta also has a few other tips for helping combat dry skin. "Bath with tepid (room temperature, not hot) water. Stay in the shower or tub until your fingertips wrinkle, a sign that you’ve loaded up your surface skin with water." After washing your body with a
moisturizing soap or cleanser, "come out and pat dry. Then, apply a barrier cream, like Aveeno, Lubriderm, or CeraVe cream to trap in moisture."
Now that you know how to properly treat your dry skin, scroll on to discover five of the best moisturizing soaps on the market.
1 Best Body Wash For Dry Skin
CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash is a good drugstore brand that features moisture-trapping ceramides and is free of sulfates," Dr. Loretta says about her top pick. This is one of those creamy milks she talked about, which will prevent skin from feeling tight or dry. The formula is free of fragrance and soap, which can both cause irritation on reaction-prone skin, and is accepted by the National Eczema Association. Meanwhile, it contains those handy ceramides that will help strengthen your skin's natural barrier, which tends to be compromised in dry, sensitive skin types. Relevant review: “I have horrible dryskin, and I've tried a TON of body washes but none of them truly moisturized my skin. A little goes a long way for me, and I still get that super clean feeling, but I no longer itch when I hop out of the shower. This is truly a no frills simple body wash and it really works!” 2 Best Body Wash For Dry, Sensitive Skin
If you have very sensitive, dry skin, you need a
basic body wash like this one from Vanicream, aka the sensitive skin experts. It doesn’t contain anything that might set your skin off (like fragrance, sulfates, and other common allergens), but instead has a very simple formula that’s rich in gentle moisturizers, like glycerin. It even boasts the seal of approval from the National Eczema Association. Relevant review: “When you are allergic to most body washes sold at the store, this Vanicream is a welcome find. It's gentle, it's pH balanced, doesn't dry out my skin, doesn't irritate my skin, everyone in my family can use it, and a bottle last 2 months because only a little is needed.” 3 Best Body Wash For Itchy Or Eczema-Prone Skin
To help relieve the uncomfortable symptoms associated with dry skin, like itching, try this
Eucerin body wash. The star ingredient in here is colloidal oatmeal, which has long been used as a remedy to soothe and treat itchy, irritated skin, though it’s also made with ceramides to promote a strong skin barrier. It has a creamy, nourishing consistency, and doesn’t contain any fragrance or SLS. Relevant review: “I suffer from moderately bad eczema, and this helped a lot. Some areas were red, itchy and extremely dried out. I used this stuff in the shower, left it on for 5-10 mins, rinsed it off and the areas feel much better. [...]” 4 Best Shower Oil For Dry Skin
Oil-based cleansers are another great choice for dry skin, since they're packed with nourishing, skin-softening oils — and this one from French pharmacy brand Bioderma is one of the best options out there. Packed with vegetal biolipids, which soothe and moisturize skin, and a patented Barrier Skin Therapy complex that helps prevent irritation, this
shower oil provides 24 hour hydration and instantly relieves skin that's been feeling dry, itchy, or otherwise uncomfortable. The hypoallergenic formula is free of parabens, soap, and preservatives, and it's also noncomedogenic, making it a safe choice if you're prone to body acne. It can also be used to help relieve eczema symptoms like itching, irritation, and flaky skin.
What's more, it comes in a massive 33-ounce bottle, so you'll be stocked for ages. And though it's formulated for use on your body, some reviewers have had luck using it on their face.
Relevant review: “This is the best cleansing oil I have ever used on my skin. Everyone in the family uses it. You only need a pump or two to do your whole body, maybe three or four if you’re being extra indulgent. We squirt it right into the bath water, or use it last after shampoo and washing to make sure it’s the last thing to hit the skin. You will feel soft, supple, moisturized (not oily or greasy) and renewed. My skin feels rejuvenated and supple. No more dry, itchy skin after bathing. [...]” 5 Best Hand Soap For Dry Skin
Hand soaps that
don’t contain sulfates are a rare breed, which is what makes this soap from Tom’s of Maine such a unique find. The sulfate-free formula is rich in prebiotics, which can help keep your skin strong, healthy, and balanced, and it also contains glycerin and a couple of plant-derived oils to nourish and soften your skin. Choose from five scents: rose, peppermint, green apple, lavender, and orange. Relevant review: “As claimed, it does smell great (as in natural) and it has a truly high-end feel to it. Definitely not the type to dry out your skin. I also like this idea of prebiotic soap (just as I like prebiotic food); nothing like trying to grow back your microbiome after years of destroying it with harsh airport (and other public places) anti-bacterial soaps.” 6 Best Face Soap For Dry Skin
If you prefer to use bar soap, this is the one Dr. Loretta recommends. "Most bar soaps are very drying, so I recommend Dove for a bar. For budget-conscious consumers (as most of us are!)
Dove's Beauty Bar is great since it’s a cold cream in a bar and not soap." Enriched with Dove's signature moisturizing cream, this bar leaves skin soft instead of feeling stripped. You can use it on your face, body, and hands — though note that this formula does contain parfum, if your skin tends to react negatively to added fragrance. Relevant review: “This is the only soap my husband can use with his severe eczema and psoriasis. It’s gentle on severely inflamed skin and doesn’t cause flare ups or infections. It also has a pleasant scent and is moisturizing without causing oil build up for my more oily skin and is gently enough for our youngster’s bath times. In a word, this is our go to soap because it’s a winner for all skin types.” 7 Best Face Wash For Dry Skin
For a creamy face wash that will replenish moisture in dry skin,
La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Cleanser is one of the best formulas you can buy. This French pharmacy pick, which was created with dry and/or sensitive skin in mind, is packed with skin-soothing prebiotic thermal spring water, barrier-strengthening ceramides, and glycerin, a humectant that attracts moisture. It also contains niacinamide, an ingredient that's become popular over the years for its ability to do everything from brighten and even out skin to soothe inflammation. The noncomedogenic formula is free of soap, sulfates, parabens, oil, and fragrance, making it a safe choice for just about every skin type, whether it's dry, sensitive, combination, or acne-prone Relevant review: “I waited for a couple months after using to write a review. It’s official - I’m obsessed with this cleanser. It’s not over drying or agitating in any way. I had hormonal acne & occasional eczema on my eyelids prior to use. It removes makeup completely & leaves my skin feeling so soft with an even complexion. The price is also phenomenal for the size of the bottle.” 8 Best Facial Cleansing Oil For Dry Skin
If you love how effective oil-rich cleansers are at removing makeup,
Olivarrier’s All Barrier Relief face wash is a great choice for dry skin. In addition to being packed with soothing rose water and nourishing, botanically derived oils (like avocado, olive, and jojoba), it also contains ceramides to promote strong, healthy skin. It’s free of common irritants like sulfates, fragrance, and drying alcohols, so it’s a safe choice for people with sensitive skin. Relevant review: “I really love this product. It's gentle and makes my skin feel soft and moisturized. Very soothing to sensitive skin.” 9 Best Face & Body Wash (For Babies, Too)
You — or your baby — can use this
creamy, silky cleanser from head to toe. It’s from Mustela’s Stelatopia line, which is made with eczema-prone skin in mind, so it’s naturally a great choice for anyone with dry, sensitive skin. The ultra-gentle, tear-free formula is made without sulfates, steroids, and fragrance, and instead, is rich in moisturizing avocado perseose and sunflower oil. Relevant review: “My toddler has had super dry skin from birth. Especially rough patches on his legs and arms. Our doctor recommended a couple of lotions, but they didn't really work for him. After the first time that we used Mustela cleansing cream the dry patches were completely gone! I couldn't believe it. This is the only soap we will use on his skin from now on. Highly recommended.” 10 Best Multi-Use Soap For Dry Skin
Made of USDA certified-organic ingredients — and just a handful at that —
Dr. Bronner's multi-use soaps are a cult-favorite among clean beauty enthusiasts. The formula is packed with oils (like coconut, hemp, jojoba, and olive) that leave skin nourished and soft, and though it comes in lots of scented versions, this baby-safe formula has zero fragrance. Free of detergents, sulfates, preservatives, and other common irritants, you can use this soap as a body wash, shampoo, hand soap, and even as a general cleaning product. Relevant review: “I've tried LOTS of different soaps and body washes over the years to combat severely dry skin. Some have smelled really nice but dried my skin, and one left me feeling moisturized but not clean. Dr. Bonner's is nearly perfect. It doesn't dry my skin at all and leaves me feeling clean. It also works very well as a shampoo for my dog with hyper-sensitive skin. Plus it's natural and cruelty free. [...]” Expert: Dr. Loretta Ciraldo M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skin Care