Foam cleansers have a reputation for being inherently drying thanks to the fact that many of them are made with sulfates (aka the lathering agent that makes them foam in the first place). At a time when cold, dry air is stripping away moisture, this isn't going to do your skin any favors. "Foam cleansers typically provide a deeper clean, but may be too drying for some people as the temperature and humidity drops," says Dr. Zeichner. While people with oily skin may be okay hanging onto their favorite sudsy cleanser all winter (these skin types make excess sebum, so are less prone to dryness), he suggests making a switch if you've got combination, normal, sensitive, or dry skin.
- Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital
As a general rule of thumb, if you start to feel any sort of dryness or irritation from the changing temperatures, swap out your foaming cleanser for the sake of your skin's health. "If the skin barrier is experiencing any disruption from the environment, you want to do whatever you can to repair the barrier and maintain skin hydration," says Dr. Zeichner. In lieu of a foam, he suggests looking for creamy cleansers, cleansing lotions, oils, or micellar water to wash your face while keeping your skin barrier intact.
Keep scrolling for four non-foaming facial cleanser for dry skin products that will keep your complexion hydrated and healthy from now until beach selfie season.
Cleansing oils are great for removing makeup, dirt, and debris from your skin, and this one is made with cica, an ingredient that's renowned for squelching redness and calming sensitive skin. "This cleanser also contains skin-repairing ceramides, and the formula is enriched with natural emollient oils," says Dr. Zeichner. This means it'll leave your skin clean without any stripping involved.
Shop now: Neogen Dermalogy Cica Micellar Oil, $28
"This cleansing oil contains ultra gentle cleansing ingredients along with a prebiotic extracts to help restore a healthy skin microbiome," says Dr. Zeichner, who calls it an A-plus facial cleanser for dry skin. The combo of shea butter, skin-soothing niacinamide, and glycerin make it gentle and hydrating on even the driest of complexions.
Shop now: La Roche Posay Lipikar AP+ Cleansing Oil, $15
Made with skin-nourishing sweet almond oil, this cleansing balm melts from a butter to an oil as you massage it into your skin. It whisks away dirt and impurities, leaving your skin feeling nourished and clear.
Shop now: Nyakio Sweet Almond Oil Cleansing Balm, $25
Though it's technically a body wash, Dr. Zeichner loves this product for head-to-toe cleansing. "It's gentle enough for the face, and contains the same types of ingredients found in traditional moisturizers," says he says. It's sulfate free and made with glycerin and lipids, both of which are meant to cleanse and hydrate your skin barrier as you lather.
Shop now: Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash, $9
Dealing with ultra-dry skin now that the weather's changed? Check out the video below for even more derm-approved tips on how to deal.
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