Best Drugstore Cleansers for Dry Skin

I know building a beauty routine can feel overwhelming for most of us. With such busy schedules, delegating time in between house chores, running errands and appointments — skincare can feel like a luxury that you just don’t have time for. In today’s article, we have rounded up some of the best drugstore cleansers for dry skin. And if you have oily skin, check out our top picks from a range of drugstore brands here.

Best drug store cleansers for dry skin /

General tips:

  • Always use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser
  • Apply enough cleanser to remove dirt and oil, but avoid using so much that you see a thick lather
  • Apply moisturizer immediately after drying your skin
  • Choose an ointment or cream rather than a lotion
  • Look for a cream or ointment that contains an oil such as shea butter.
  • Other ingredients that help to soothe dry skin include lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, dimethicone, glycerin and lanolin
  • Look for cleansers with neutral or acidic pH, that is overall close to stratum corneum normal pH of 5.5

If a cleanser, used alone or as part of a double cleansing ritual, leaves your skin feeling dry it is removing too much of your skin’s natural oils.

How Do Foaming Cleansers Work?

The goal of an ideal cleanser is to throughly remove dirt, makeup, pollution from the skin by inducing as little damage to the intercellular lipids as possible. However, according to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, many surfactants used in foaming cleansers cannot distinguish between oily skin soils and intercellular lipids required for healthy barrier function.

What are Lipid-free Cleansers?

These lotions contain fatty alcohols and are suitable for people with sensitive and/or dry skin. Unlike foaming cleansers, these can be used without water and leaves little facial residue. From the formulation aspect: such cleansers typically include a combination of both an emollient and a humectant. Apart from this, other cleansing systems suitable for dry skin are: balms, creams, milks and lotions.

Cleansing milks are gaining popularity and with good reasons. These water-based emulsions effectively remove dirt and makeup — but does little on your waterproof mascara or foundation.

Cleansing milks are ideally better suited for younger skin, while the cream-based cleansing formulations are safer options for mature skin.

Disclaimer: Each of the products listed below are independently selected. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission from Amazon Associates and this helps to keep the blog running.

Here are six of the best drugstore cleansers for dry skin that we love.

Best Drugstore Cleansers for Dry Skin

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

[Category: lipid-free cleanser/cleansing milk]

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

Why we love it?

This hydrating cleanser from CeraVe works great for both dry and sensitive skin types. It contains three essential ceramides as well as hyaluronic acid, glycerin (moisture locking ingredients) and phytosphingosine (a phospholipid with skin restoring properties). Together, these ingredients work to restore your skin’s natural barrier. Overall, good quality/price/quantity.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Amazon

Aquanil Cleanser

[Category: lipid-free cleanser/cleansing milk]

Aquanil Cleanser

Why we love it?

This is another lipid-free cleanser with a texture similar to Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser. This is an excellent choice for both dry and sensitive skin. While it does remove light everyday makeup, you might need a separate cleansing oil for the waterproof mascara. Overall, this would be a good choice for your A.M. skin cleansing routine or as part of your double cleanse for the evening. The only downside would be the limited geographic availability of the product.

Aquanil Cleanser, Amazon

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

[Category: lipid-free cleanser/cleansing milk]

Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser Oily Skin

Why we love it?

This cleanser has a creamy, non-foaming consistency that effectively removes debris from the face. Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic formula makes it an excellent choice for those with dry, sensitive skin. Overall, good quality/price/quantity ratio.

Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, Amazon

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Cleanser

[Category: lipid-free cleanser/cleansing milk]

Why we love it?

This cleansing milk has a creamy texture and doesn’t foam up, again making it suitable for dry skin. It is formulated with ceramide, niacinamide, and glycerin. Additionally, it is also sulfate, paraben, oil and fragrance free. While it works efficiently as a gentle cleanser, you might need a separate cleansing oil or a balm for removing water proof makeup.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, Amazon

Derma-E Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser 

[Category: foaming cleanser]

DermaE Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Why we love it?

This is the only exception for foaming cleansers: Derma-E hydrating cleanser is formulated with combination to dry skin in mind, and is infused with hyaluronic acid and botanical extracts including chamomile and papaya to soothe irritation. Their range is cruelty-free, 100% vegan and free from parabens, sulfates and mineral oil. I believe it does have a faint scent to it (I’m looking at you, natural fragrance oil). So you might want to avoid this if you have sensitive/reactive skin.

Derma-E Hydrating Cleanser, Amazon

Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm

[Category: cleansing balm]

Farmacy Cleansing Balm

Why we love it?

This green waxy balm efficiently melts away grime and waterproof makeup without stripping the skin or disrupting its lipid barrier. It rinses off cleanly with muslin cloth and ticks all the right boxes for us. This is used as part of my double cleanse routine.

Farmacy Green Clean, Amazon

Are you using any of these cleansers? Let me know in the comments below. Additionally, you could also click here to read some of the most common skincare mistakes we all make in our routines.

Sahar x


  1. Melissa
    11th June 2020 / 3:16 pm

    Thanks for these excellent tips!

    • Sahar Reviews
      20th June 2020 / 3:00 pm

      Thank you Melissa. I’m glad you found them helpful. 🙂

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