How can I cleanse my skin without drying it out?

Choosing a Cleanser that Works for You

Are you ready to buy a new cleanser? First, ask yourself some basic questions.

  • Is your skin oily, normal, dry or a combination?
  • Are you adolescent, menopausal or somewhere in between?
  • Are you a man or a woman?
  • Is it currently summer or winter where you live?
  • Are you buying a cleanser for your face, body or hands?

Whew! Seems like quite an exhaustive checklist for something so seemingly simple. Why not just go pick up any bar of soap that happens to be on sale? Well, you could, but if your goal is also to avoid drying out your skin, soap isn't going to be a good option. Most soaps have detergents that are harsh on the skin and are more likely to remove moisture than replenish it [source: Curél® Skincare]. Cleansers without soap can get your skin cleaner with less chance of dryness. These will be your best bets if you hope to retain moisture in your skin.

You'll want to consider other factors as well. If your skin is more mature or already naturally dry, you might want to look into a cleanser that contains moisturizing ingredients. You should also probably avoid products with exfoliants, as they can irritate and exacerbate dry skin. If your skin is normal or oily, you might still want a moisturizing cleanser on hand for the winter months when skin is likely to get drier. If you're a woman, you can also get a cleanser that does double-duty and helps remove makeup.

Finally, you should consider where you're using the cleanser. Remember that the skin on your face is more delicate than skin on the rest of your body, so you'll want to use a separate cleanser there. Also, make note that the combination of dry air and frequent hand-washing during the winter months can create the need for a moisturizing hand soap.

Now that you know what kind of cleanser you'll need, read our next section to find out the best ways to use it.