No matter your cleanser choice, look for mild options with added oils and fats (also referred to as ceramides on labels). While looking for ingredients you want, avoid added scents, deodorants, antibacterial detergents, salicylic acid and alcohols.
Now that you know some skin cleanser basics, let's focus on the liquid variety, since that will be your best bet for managing dry skin. When it comes to liquids, you can outfit your shower stall with a different cleanser for every region: body, face and even hair. If this suits your daily regimen or if you feel different parts of your body need gentler care, have at it. However, also note that if your body cleanser proves gentle enough for your face, you can let it do double-duty. In that same vein, if while shopping, you find an all-in-one -- body, face and hair -- cleanser that does the trick for your skin, this could be the way to go to keep your shower footprint small.
Don't think you need a padded wallet to purchase the dry skin cleanser that's perfect for you. Look for cost-effective options at your local drugstore. For example, the Aveeno and Cetaphil lines are both widely available and offer products that often come recommended for sensitive skin [sources: MedlinePlus, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics].
If you have to go with a bar no matter what, opt for a beauty bar formulated for sensitive skin. Basis, Dove and Neutrogena product lines offer options for this. Still look for varieties with added fats and oils [source: Mayo Clinic].
Other ingredients that may be helpful for your dry skin -- whether you're sticking to your guns and opting for a bar or going the liquid route -- are:
- Lactic acid
- Hyaluronic acid
- Natural oils, such as sweet almond oil, jojoba or argan oil
Now that you know how to navigate the skin cleanser aisle, you can get your skin in tip-top condition. Still curious about dry skin? There's lots more information below.
- AgingSkinNet. "Dermatologists'' Top 10 Tips for Relieving Dry skin." (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/winter_skin.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts and Your Skin." 2009. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/general_cosmeceutical.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Saving Face 101: How to Customize Your Skin Care Routine With Your Skin Type." Nov. 10, 2009. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.aad.org/media/background/news/Releases/Saving_Face_101_How_to_Customize_Your_Skin_Care_Ro/
- ConsumerReports.org. "Facial cleansers." Sept. 2007. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/beauty-personal-care/skincare/facial-cleansers-9-07/overview/0709_cleanser_ov.htm
- ConsumerSearch, Inc. "Facial Cleansers: Full Report." July 2010. (Jan. 6, 2011) http://www.consumersearch.com/facial-cleansers/cleansers-for-sensitive-skin
- Fordyce, Moira, MB ChB, MD, FRCPE, AGSF. "Patient Education Forum. Dry skin." The AGS Foundation for Health in Aging." (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.healthinaging.org/public_education/pef/dry_skin.php
- KidsHealth. "Taking Care of Your Skin." Sept. 2007. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/skin_care.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Dry skin. Lifestyle and home remedies." Nov. 23, 2010. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-skin/DS00560/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies
- MedlinePlus. "Dry skin." Aug. 8, 2009. (Jan. 4, 2010) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003250.htm
- Men's Health Books. "The Complete Book of Men's Health: The Definitive, Illustrated Guide to Health Living, Exercise, and Sex." 2000. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=RZ39Lrw_4GQC&pg=PA24&dq=male+skin+cleansers&hl=en&ei=8mciTZqBAsOblgeT0_m9DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Monte, Tom. "The complete guide to natural healing." 1997. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://books.google.com/books?id=aQOupA1tR3kC&pg=PA574&dq=male+skin+cleansers&hl=en&ei=8mciTZqBAsOblgeT0_m9DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CF4Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=male%20skin%20cleansers&f=false
- Oakley, Amanda. "Soaps & cleansers." DermNet NZ. Sept. 2010. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.dermnetnz.org/treatments/cleansers.html
- RealAge. "Go Cheap on Skin Care." Sept. 26, 2008. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.realage.com/tips/go-cheap-on-skin-care
- RealAge. "Skin Care Products -- Cleanser." July 2009. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.realage.com/look-young-stay-sharp/simply-beautiful-skin/skin-care-products-choosing-a-good-cleanser
- University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. "Winter Dry skin." 2005. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/skinhealth/winterskin.html
- Vann, Madeline, MPH. "Body Wash, Shower Gel, or Bar Soap?" Everyday Health. Oct. 5, 2010. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-and-beauty/which-way-to-wash.aspx
- WebMD. "Fighting Back Against Dry skin." Sept. 9, 20201. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/dry-skin-10/slideshow-cleaning-dry-skin
- Wright, Suzanne. "Beyond First Blush: An Up-Close Look at Natural Skin Products." March 17, 2009. (Jan. 4, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/beyond-first-blush-an-upclose-look-at-natural-skin-care-products