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If You Have Dry Skin, These 7 Basic Habits Are Big No-Nos

Plus, the best products for your routine.

Skincare advice is typically shared according to the type of concerns you experience most.  Some have to keep an eye out for moisturizers that won’t make the face oily than it already is. My sister, on the other hand, loves asking me to send spot treatments made with plant-derived ingredients that won’t irritate her sensitive skin. And if your skin is anything like mine and tends to flake regardless of what Mother Nature is cooking up, dry skin don’ts are probably at the top of your list.

I mean, come on. People with those other skin types aren’t even the ones with real problems. For those of us with skin that sometimes feels like sandpaper, many traditional regimens can actually do a number and make matter worse. If your face ever feels tight and flaky, you know that there are a few very important skincare rules to keep in mind—and some things that you should always skip. Here are 7 of the things you should never, ever do if you have dry skin.

1. Forget to moisturize

If you have normal or oily skin, it’s probably fine to skip a day of moisturizing here and there. Not so if you’re dry. If you have dry skin, you need to break out the big guns.

To begin with, you’ll probably want to consider using two moisturizers. Use a rich moisturizer in the evening after washing your face, and a lighter moisturizer with SPF of at least 30 in the morning before applying makeup. Be sure to apply moisturizer on your neck and hands as well.

Now Solutions Almond Oil
Now Solutions.

You can also amp up the hydration with natural oils on top of your evening moisturizer. Argan oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil are all great for dry skin and can be found online or in health food stores (just be sure to avoid buying anything with synthetic fragrance).

2. Over-exfoliate

Dry skin often leads to flakiness, and the first impulse is often to scrub the flakes away. When you have dry skin, this is the worst thing that you can do, especially if you’re using an exfoliant every day. Over-exfoliating is only going to irritate (and therefore dry out) your skin more. Limit your exfoliation to one to three times a week, and avoid any products that have beads or grains that tear at your skin.

Soap & Glory Scrub of Your Life
Soap & Glory.

For physical exfoliating, a gentle scrub or a warm, wet washcloth will get the job done. You could also try chemical exfoliating with the use of BHAs or AHAs, which help to get rid of dead skin without any rough scrubbing. Just be sure to use those sparingly because they can dry out your skin even more if you overdo it.

Shower Tips

3. Take long, hot showers

Long, hot showers might save your sanity in the winter, but they’re definitely not helping your dry skin. If you’re taking a hot shower every day then it’s time to make a change (but we’re not saying you have to switch to cold showers; we aren’t monsters).


Instead, reduce the length of your showers (ten minutes max) or slowly lowering the temperature until you’ve switched from hot to warm showers. Avoid washing your face in very hot shower water (save that for the sink afterward). You can also apply coconut oil or Vaseline before a shower to help keep skin from drying out.

4. Use products with high amounts of alcohol

A small amount of alcohol in your products isn’t always a bad thing, contrary to popular opinion. Used properly, alcohol can help increase a product’s efficacy. However, if a product—like a toner—has high amounts of alcohol, it is very likely that it will dry out your skin.

Neutrogena Alcohol Free Toner

The takeaway here is to always research the ingredients before buying a new product, and do a patch test beforehand to ensure it doesn’t dry you out.

5. Use powerful facial cleansers

It is imperative for people with dry skin to avoid stripping their skin with overly harsh cleansers. Yes, you absolutely need to do a good job of removing your makeup at night, but that doesn’t mean your skin needs to feel tight and itchy afterward.

VMV Hypoallergenics Red Better Cleansing Cream
VMV Hypoallergenics.

There a lot of gentle cleansers out there, and some of them are even hydrating. Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk actually softens skin while deeply cleansing and VMV Hypoallergenics Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream is great for sensitive, irritated, and dry skin.

model skin

6. Use a million face masks

Face masks can be a lot of fun, and sometimes you just want to post a scream-inducing mask selfie on Instagram. If you have dry skin, however, you need to be very choosy about which masks you put on your face. Many masks that promise to purify, shrink pores and remove blackheads are extremely drying.

Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask

Instead, look for masks that offer hydration, soothing, or added moisture, like the Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask (even if you lose out on the fun of peeling dried-out clay off your face). Also, if you do have a few spots on your chin or blackheads on your nose, try using that face mask that’s too harsh on the rest of your face as a spot treatment.

7. Use powder or matte makeup

First, a disclaimer: we’re not saying that if you have dry skin, there is no powder or matte makeup out there that will work for you. It’s definitely possible, but as a general rule, however, you should try to stick to cream or liquid makeup that promises a dewy finish. Most matte and powder makeup will only emphasize dry skin and can easily look caked-on.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

If your dry skin is making it difficult to wear makeup, try a routine of light moisturizer, BB cream or foundation with a dewy finish, and a creamy concealer (such as NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer). If your T-zone gets shiny, use blotting papers instead of layering powder (e.l.f. Shine Eraser Blotting Papers are amazing) to banish oil without removing your makeup or drying out your skin.

Ahead, more dry skin-friendly skin and makeup must-haves.


bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream

An oil-free tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 sun protection.


belif The True Cream-Aqua Bomb

This Sephora best-seller feels like the most refreshing splash of water on and under the skin.


Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil

Squalane delivers and locks in hydration while rose extract and vitamin C brighten.


beautyblender blotterazzi pro

A reusable blotting sponge for soaking up excess oil without completely drying out the skin.


Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer

A little goes a long way with this two-in-one coverage that feels like a second skin.


Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream

Glycoprotein sourced from actual sea glaciers and squalane help lock in hydration for over a day.

MAC Cosmetics.

MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation

You don’t have to worry about sacrificing a dewy glow when you use this hydrating foundation with 24-hour staying power (though I don’t recommend wearing it that long).

Mario Badescu.

Mario Badescu Seaweed Cleansing Lotion

Use this alcohol-free toner after your cleanser and moisturizer to create a dewy canvas for your moisturizer.


Proactiv Renewing Cleanser

Unlike other acne-fighting formulas, this cleanser takes a gentler approach with micronized benzoyl peroxide and smooth exfoliating beads so you don’t have to worry about drying out.

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