Updated 10/12/22. If you have a dry skin type (like a Skin Type 7, 8, or 9), chances are you know what it’s like to feel an uncomfortable sensation of tightness, experience a rough and flaky texture, and see more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles. It’s not fun, but what you should know is if you use the right ingredients for dry skin, you can minimize (or even completely reverse) these effects! Keep reading to learn the best ingredients to use and avoid on dry skin.
How to Tell if You Have Dry Skin
The first thing you should know is that dry skin is different than dehydrated skin in that it lacks oil—not water. Since the skin relies on oil to retain moisture, lacking it means you have a compromised skin barrier. Translation? Your skin starts to exhibit all the negative characteristics of dry skin you’re already familiar with, including texture issues and advanced signs of aging. Dry skin can also act more sensitive due to the disruption in your skin barrier. When healthy, this barrier acts as a shield to keep irritants out.
It’s fairly easy to tell if you have dry skin based on how it looks and feels. Generally speaking, dry skin will have a rough texture, minimal breakout activity, small-to-medium pore size, and increased sensitivity and redness. Often, people who have dry skin struggle with a dull complexion, which is why I recommend using energizing products to boost circulation (such as the Energy Boosting Toner).
If you’re still unsure of whether or not you have dry skin, I encourage you to take the Skin Type Quiz. It’s the easiest way to learn about your skin type. Just answer a few simple questions, and it will give you an accurate result, along with personalized product recommendations.
Ingredients to Use for Dry Skin
Let’s talk about the specific ingredients you should use to care for your dry skin. There are many that I could recommend. Here are a few of my tried-and-true favorites.
Ceramides are lipids that play a large role in supporting the moisture barrier. They act as a skin protectant and moisturizer, which is why you’ll often find them in restorative products formulated for sensitive skin types.
You can find ceramides in the Pure Radiance Creme Masque. I formulated this mask with a combination of moisturizing plant oils to leave dry skin smooth, supple, and comfortable.
This ingredient is a botanical extract that acts as an emollient, meaning it softens the skin and seals in moisture. It’s barrier-repairing and skin-protecting, and it’s considered safe for sensitive skin types since it’s known to soothe irritation.
You can find shea butter in multiple Renée Rouleau moisturizers.
Peptides are formed when two or more amino acids are linked together in a chain. They’re the building block of proteins, like collagen, which is why many types of peptides are known to smooth wrinkles and reduce the visible signs of aging over time. Since dry skin types are more likely to show signs of aging, peptides are a powerful ingredient to use!
Remember how I said dry skin lacks oil? An easy way to give it what it needs is to use skincare products that contain certain plant oils. Personally, I love jojoba oil, rosehip seed oil, and borage seed oil. They’re full of fatty acids that can help support and repair the lipids in the moisture barrier.
I’ve formulated many products with these plant oils, including the Pro Remedy Oil.
Dry skin needs exfoliation, so expired surface cells don’t accumulate and contribute to a dull, tired complexion. One ingredient I love for that is glycolic acid. This is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that has a small molecule size and can absorb deep into the skin. It dissolves the bonds between expired cells so they can detach from the skin’s surface (and newer, fresher cells can take their place). If you use it properly and consistently, it can actually encourage a stronger, more intact skin barrier.
You can find this ingredient in multiple Renée Rouleau exfoliating acid serums.
Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) are another category of exfoliating acids. They’re more readily available in skincare formulations now than they used to be, so keep your eyes peeled. PHAs have a larger molecule size than their AHA counterparts, which means they’re extra gentle on skin thanks to slower penetration. They’re also known to be hydrating—a huge plus for drier skin types. The two types of PHAs you’ll see in skincare products are lactobionic acid and gluconolactone.
You can find gluconolactone in the Triple Berry Smoothing Peel.
Ingredients to Avoid for Dry Skin
It’s just as important to know which ingredients to avoid when caring for dry skin. Here are a few I suggest staying away from…
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I dislike drying alcohol ingredients, like SD Alcohol 40, Denatured Alcohol, Ethanol, and Isopropyl Alcohol. These are found in many skincare products, but I can’t stand to see them in toners. That’s because toners are meant to hydrate the skin, and these ingredients can strip moisture and cause excess dryness. It doesn’t make much sense, does it? That’s why all Renée Rouleau toners are alcohol-free!
The only exception to this rule is acne spot treatments. Sometimes, these drying ingredients can be beneficial for drying out blemish-causing bacteria. Since dry skin types have minimal breakout activity in the first place, I’d recommend avoiding them.
Sulfates are used as cleansing agents, which is why they’re commonly found in cleansers. Like the aforementioned alcohols, sulfates can strip too much moisture from the skin, causing dryness. That’s why I recommend avoiding skincare products that list ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate on their labels.
All Renée Rouleau cleansers are sulfate-free so you can rest assured they won’t strip moisture from your skin!
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”