Cleansing is the number one step in every skincare routine and should gently take off the day without stripping the skin of its natural oils. You want to steer clear from that squeaky clean feeling as this tends to mean you've disrupted the skin barrier. It's especially important for dry and sensitive skins to have a nourishing cleanser that won't irritate or exacerbate the problem further.
Let us help you regain some balance with our edit of the very best cleansers for dry and sensitive skin. We spoke to skin specialist and Re:lax Skin Studio founder, Katie White, for her product recommendations and top tips to cleanse effectively. She says:
1. Use a nourishing and non-stripping cleanser
'Choose a nourishing cleanser with natural ingredients that work to moisturise and reduce redness. Cleansers should absolutely clean the skin removing dirt and grime, but be careful not to use any that are too harsh for dry/sensitive skin. Remember, powerful ingredients don’t always mean great skin results if your skin is reactive and sensitive; using active ingredients can cause more irritation and redness.'
'Check what ingredients are in your cleanser. Jasmine oil works to increase moisture levels, while blue chamomile is a powerful anti-inflammatory that works to reduce redness and soothe any irritation. If you opt for a cleanser that requires the use of a hot cloth, make sure you regularly wash the cloth to avoid germs being spread to the face which can cause breakouts, and don’t rub too hard.'
Try to exfoliate a maximum of two to three times a week
2. Don’t over-exfoliate
'We all like our skin to feel squeaky clean and soft but a common mistake is to exfoliate the skin too much which causes dryness. Try to exfoliate a maximum of 2-3 times a week and when washing your cleanser off, use tepid water as hot water can cause a heightened level of skin sensitivity after cleansing. After washing your cleanser off, pat lightly with a towel; abrasive rubbing will cause irritation to the skin.'
3. The 360 approach
'As a holistic and nutritional therapist, I believe in the 360 approach to great skin. What we put into our bodies is just as important as what we put on them. To keep dry, sensitive skin hydrated, drink lots of water to detox the body and eat water-rich foods to keep the body hydrated. When we eat more water-rich foods, we absorb water more slowly because it is contained within the structure of these foods. Absorbing the water slowly means that water in food stays in our bodies longer giving added hydration benefits.'
'Leafy greens such as broccoli, spinach and celery gives us healthy doses of vitamins A, C and E and picked fruits like watermelon and strawberries that are around 90% water giving skin optimum hydration. Limit your screen time before bed and make sure you get restful sleep.'
'Lack of sleep affects the pH levels in our skin. When your skin's pH levels drop, they create an imbalance, causing your skin to not be able to produce the moisture it needs, making it drier. It can also create unnecessary redness, leaving your skin uneven and even trigger breakouts. Lifestyle choices really show on our skin, so it’s important to set strict self-care routines to make sure we’re giving our skin the support it needs from the inside out.'
4. Create a weekly mask ritual
'Pick a day of the week to take some time to show your skin a little TLC. I recommend giving yourself a hydrating face mask every Sunday. I love Orgaid Hydrating sheet masks, they have antioxidant-packed ingredients helping with irritation, and dryness. They’re specially formulated with Ecoderma fabric technology to allow the serum to absorb deeper into the skin for optimum hydration.'
'You could create your own mask too. Ingredients like honey which is a humectant, works to draw moisture from deep down up to the surface of the skin revealing that glow. Avocado contains natural fats and minerals that not only hydrate but act as an anti-inflammatory.'
5. Seal the deal
After you’ve cleansed, make sure you seal your newly cleansed skin in with a light moisturiser. Applying a moisturiser after cleansing seals in moisture and helps maintain a healthy skin barrier. I love Skin & Tonic Calm Balm made from a blend of natural butters and oils including nourishing Shea butter and calendula, as well as lavender and chamomile, great for calming sensitive skin after a cleanse. For added hydration, finish off with a spray of hydration mist.
SHOP: The Best Cleansers For Dry Skin
Best Cleansers For Dry Skin
'This is a gorgeous everyday cleansing oil to help regulate oil production. It contains organic cold-pressed passionfruit oil which is an exceptionally lightweight oil that helps soothe irritation and treats dry skin.'
'I love the unique gummy texture that sticks to the skin to lift dirt and makeup whilst gently stimulating circulation. It transforms into a silky milk and rinses off clean. It's rich in phenolic acid which is great for gently exfoliating the skin without causing any irritation. The macadamia oil and eucalyptus oil, leaves skin feeling clean yet nourished.'
'One of my faves! A deeply soothing balm-to-oil cleanser formulated to nourish super sensitive and dry skins. It uses 7 organic ingredients that work together to gently remove make-up and daily grime while reducing redness and irritation. Vitamin A tones and nourishes dry skin, jasmine oil heals and increases moisture levels and blue chamomile reduces redness and irritation.'
A gel-to-oil, makeup-removing cleanser that nourishes with prebiotics to balance skin's microbiome for healthier-looking skin. This 4-in-1, non-drying formula features an ultra-cleansing peptide to melt makeup, dirt and excess oil, while moisturising emollients deeply hydrate.
Wage war on dryness with this velvety milk cleanser that melts away make-up while injecting your skin with the brand's famous Thermal Spring Water. Skin will feel soothed, softened and fresh. Hurrah!
Dry skin will benefit greatly from a daily dose of this. It lathers like a dream, comes with a handy pump, and is laced with marshmallow and myrrh to leave skin happy and hydrated.
This award winning formula combines beeswax, shea butter, eucalyptus, rosemary and chamomile essential oils and gets the go ahead from beauty editors worldwide. Especially good for younger skins.
Seriously affordable and soap, paraben, alcohol and colourant free, this hypoallergenic cleanser gently slays away makeup and impurities with some impressive speed.
It kind of costs the earth, but if you're feeling flush we beg you to try this hydrating black algae infused beauty. Expect smooth, plump skin and makeup that glides on with ease.
This cleanser contains soothing botanical extracts of Aloe Vera & Chamomile to calm & soothe the skin, reducing redness & dehydration. It's also pH balanced to prevent any angriness from the skin, and the formula is gentle & SLS free.
Affordable? Deliciously scented? Lightweight? Check, check and check. Slather on liberally for marvellous make-up removal and a welcome hit of hydration, thanks to its potent macadamia formula.
The clever types at Garnier found that as much as Micellar waters are great at removing make-up, they don't always completely cleanse the face. Enter the gel form, which ticks both those boxes.
Designed especially with particularly dry and sensitive skin types in mind, this scrumptious smelling Vitamin B5 boosted wash softens, smooths and soothes.
Face feeling sensitised and sore already? Then we suggest you make this redness and skin–balancing milky lotion your go to. Wave au revoir to tightness and dry bits in a couple of days or less.
The stunning formula is designed to remove every trace of make-up, pollution and grime whilst completely nourishing your skin and beautifying it's texture. It's packed with essential oils to avoid over-drying and is a must-have in your beauty arsenal. £14 from Feel Unique
For an indulgent pre bed ritual try this. Rub a tiny amount between the palms of your hands to warm it up, breathe in its mind-altering essential oil blend and massage onto the face. Makeup will melt away, stress levels will plummet and skin will be left feeling very well fed.