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7 Hydrating Cleansers That Won’t Dry Out Your Skin

Plus the ingredients to watch out for in your existing products.

The battle against dry skin is a never-ending one in winter. The corners of your nose, the delicate under-eye area, your wind-chapped cheeks—theyre all crying out for moisture. Every step of your skin-care routine should be adding a dose of hydration at this point—even your cleanser. It might seem counterintuitive to use a product you wash down the drain to moisturize your skin, but there is science that supports the use of hydrating cleanser, especially when it comes to keeping your pH in balance.

Dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe stresses that the squeaky-clean feeling you might get from a stronger cleanser in the summer is actually disrupting the balance of healthy microorganisms that make up your microbiome. That can lead to irritation and dryness. “I cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain the health of your skin’s barrier by using gentle, pH-balanced products. Your skin should feel hydrated, smooth, and nourished after cleansing, not tight and dry. I like gentle, milky cleansers that include nourishing ingredients like prebiotics.”

To quickly check if a cleanser is going to keep your skin adequately hydrated or leave it stripped and dry, you can do a label check for sulfates, specifically SLS and SLES. Says Dr. Bowe, “[They] are a type of surfactant, which is basically a detergent [that] creates a rich, foamy lather.  Some come from petroleum, while others come from natural sources like palm oil or coconut oil, [but] no matter where they come from, in high enough concentrations, they can damage the outer layers of your skin, resulting in itchy, cracked, dry, or inflamed skin.”

To keep your skin supple and soft and avoid skin irritation and dryness, use one of our seven favorite hydrating cleansers.

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CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin, $15

This CeraVe cleanser is a classic and has won numerous industry awards for the sheer reason that it works. It’s packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid so your skin never feels stripped after cleansing, and the gel-ish consistency is ideal for massaging your skin to bring some circulation back into your face. Once you pat dry, there’s no urgent feeling to slather yourself in moisturizer. Plus, the price is super accessible and a great entry point if you’ve never tried a hydrating cleanser before.
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