Individuals with dry skin should use cleansers containing ingredients rich in moisturizing properties. These ingredients create a barrier that holds in moisture and phospholipids and prevent dryness. "For best results, recommended cleansers should contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and barrier-repair moisturizing ingredients," says Dr. Fox. [source: Dr. Fox]
Look for products containing alpha hydroxy acids, which will help exfoliate dull skin and allow moisturizers to absorb better. Liquid or foaming cleansers clean the skin gently without removing natural oils, says Dr. Hooper. She says that Gly Derm Gentle Cleanser and Aqua Glycolic Facial Cleanser are nice choices for this type of skin. [source: Dr. Hooper]
You can also try to amp up the moisture quotient by using a "milky" cleanser like Clinique 'Take The Day Off' Cleansing Milk. [source: YouBeauty.com] Oil-based cleansers that contain vitamin E, cocoa or Shea butter, and olive or jojoba oil are good for people with dry skin but should not be used by those who acne prone, says Dr. Sanchez. Avoid cleansers with surfactants, such as olefin sulfonate, that dissolve oily molecules and can further dry the skin.
Though high alcohol concentration should usually be avoided, one of the most recommended washes for people with dry and sensitive skin is Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. It contains the fatty alcohols cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, which may actually help lock moisture in. This product, however, should be avoided by someone who is allergic to parabens, a group of chemicals used as preservative to prolong shelf life. Gentle cleansers with humectants, such as glycerin or urea, retain water on the skin and can be beneficial for someone who has naturally dry skin. [Dr. Sanchez]