Dry Skin

Your skin type is inherited and remains the same throughout your entire life. Dry skin is caused by having a smaller number of oil-producing glands and hence reduced sebum production.

As a result, dry skin is less able to retain moisture and thus loses water. It also has a reduced protective barrier due to lack of natural moisturising factors and epidermal lipids. In addition to being born with dry skin, it is possible for skin to become drier as we age and may also be caused by environmental factors such as harsh weather conditions or chemicals. This need to be taken into account when choosing skincare for dry skin. A good dry skin routine will treat dry skin and protect it from getting worse.

The main focus of any skincare routine for dry skin is to restore moisture and reinforce the skin’s protective barrier. You can achieve this most readily with hydration in the form of humectants like glycerine or hyaluronic acid. This should be combined with emollient products which will soothe, hydrate and help create an effective barrier to seal in moisture. Since dry skin tends to appear dull and more readily show up wrinkles, you might be tempted to over exfoliate. This is not necessary and could even damage the skin by removing its already thin protective layer. It is possible to smooth, brighten and resurface dry skin by using gentle yet effective exfoliation with chemical products. You should ensure that you combine this with intense hydration afterwards in the form of a mask.

“Dry skin is characterised by reduced production of sebum. This skin type tends to appear dull, may feel rough, is less elastic and increases the visibility of lines or wrinkles. It also has a tendency to be more sensitive. However on a positive note, produces almost invisible pores. A good dry skin routine is necessary to boost the health and appearance of dry skin”

The Best Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

When putting together a dry skin routine, you should start by understanding your skin type and then select your key skin concerns as well as skincare goals. For example, your skin type might be dry but your major concern might be dull skin, melasma or wrinkles. Hence your skincare goal would be to achieve smoother and brighter skin. The reason it is important to do this is that it will help you create a skincare routine that is tailored to your concerns and goals.

Best Skincare Ingredients For Dry Skin

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): these help to remove dead skin cells and improve skin texture. They also brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Enzyme exfoliants: these are a gentler type of exfoliant than AHAs. They remove dead cells without irritating the skin. They are often made from fruit enzymes, such as papain and bromelain.
  • Retinoids: Vitamin A derivatives like Retinol and Tretinoin are the most powerful anti-ageing skincare ingredients. They improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and fade hyperpigmentation.
  • Vitamin C: this is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. It can also help to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots. Some common forms of vitamin C include ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.
  • Hyaluronic acid & Polyglutamic acid: these two humectants attract water to the skin. This can help to hydrate dry skin.
  • Ceramides: these lipids are naturally found in the skin. They help to keep the skin hydrated and protect it from damage. Ceramides are a good choice for dry skin because they can help to restore the skin’s natural barrier and seal in moisture.
  • Glycerin: this is another humectant that can help to hydrate dry skin. It is also a good moisturiser for people with sensitive skin.
  • Squalane: This oil is naturally produced by the skin and helps to keep it hydrated.
  • Shea butter: This butter is rich in fatty acids and vitamins that can help to hydrate and protect dry skin. It is a good choice for people with sensitive skin.

Daily Skincare Routine


  • Cleanser: use a moisturising cleanser such as a cleansing milk or lotion.
  • Toner: apply an exfoliating AHA toner such as glycolic acid. with a hydrating toner.
  • Actives: add a Vitamin C serum if you want to brighten dull skin. For additional hydration, try adding a polyglutamic acid or hyaluronic acid serum.
  • Moisturiser: use a hydrating cream-based product. This will seal in moisture and reinforce your skin’s protective barrier. Look for products with vitamin B5, hyaluronic acid, glycerine, butters (e.g. Shea or Cocoa butter) and oils (e.g. Avocado or grapeseed oil). These will also smooth your skin and help lock in moisture.
  • Sunscreen: protect your skin with sunscreen of at least SPF30 during the daytime (even on cloudy days). This will prevent photo-damage and slow down the development of wrinkles and sunspots.


  • Double Cleanser: in the evening use a cleansing oil or balm to remove makeup and any dirt or pollutants. follow up with the cleansing milk or lotion you used in the morning.
  • Actives: use a Retinol serum or cream or if you want something stronger then consider a prescription retinoid like Tretinoin or Tazarotene.
  • Moisturiser: apply a rich occlusive night cream or mask at night to seal hydration and repair your skin barrier. Finish by applying a hydrating under eye cream. Opt for one containing Retinol if you have under eye circles or smile lines. Alternatively, you can sandwich your pre-existing retinoid between two layers of your eye cream.

Weekly Skincare Routine

Once a week amplify your skincare efforts by following this two-step facial:

  • Active Mask: use an enzyme or exfoliating acid mask to resurface the skin.
  • Reparative Mask: repair and protect your skin with a hydrating and nourishing face mask. Look for products with a hydrating and occlusive base.
Infographic for best dry skincare routine and best dry skin ingredients.

Professional Treatments

With this skincare routine alone, you will notice a huge improvement in the appearance of your skin. If you want to amplify your efforts, consider adding in a prescription retinoid like Tretinoin cream.

If you want to boost or accelerate these results, then we recommend a professional treatment every 2-3 months. This will help you specifically target particular skin problems and work on your long-term skin goals. At City Skin Clinic, we offer a range of bespoke skin treatments for dry skin in London. We provide chemical peels either alone or as part of an advanced clinical facial. In addition to resurfacing chemical peels, we also offer collagen induction therapy using microneedling which will help stimulate collagen production to yield firmer and plumper skin.

Recommended Skincare Products for Dry Skin

These are some of our favourite products for dry skincare:


DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm, Youth to the People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm and Eadem Dew Dream Cleansing Balm are great options as the first step of your double cleansing.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser and CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser are excellent choices as your morning cleanser and for the second step in your evening double cleanse.


Great acid exfoliants for dry skin include PIXI Glow Tonic, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution and Obagi Exfoderm.


Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, Maelove Glow Maker, CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid and Obagi Professional-C serum are excellent Vitamin C options for dry skin.


For a day moisturiser for dry skin, we like Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief, Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Lightweight Face Moisturiser, EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturiser and Obagi Hydrate.

At night, CeraVe Moisturising Cream, Weleda Skin Food Original and Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream are excellent options to lock-in moisture and seal hydration.

Sun Screens

Great options for sunscreens for ageing skin include EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46, Cosrx Vitamin E Vitalizing Sunscreen SPF 50+ and La Roche-Posay Anthelios Light Fluid Sunscreen – SPF 60.


For your active mask, try Glo-therapeutics Gentle Enzyme Exfoliant, Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme and Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel will gently exfoliate dead cells and brighten dull skin. For less sensitive skin, REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is another great option for resurfacing dry skin.

Great options for intensely hydrating face masks include Laundry Hydrating Radiance Facial Treatment Mask and Charlotte Tilbury Multi-Miracle Glow Mask.

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