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Dermatologists agree: The best dry-skin routine is a simple routine — and you can grab their top picks at Amazon

With skin-loving products from brands like CeraVe to La Roche-Posay, dermatologists agree on this simple, hydrating routine.

Think of using these products like gentle parenting for irritated and dry skin — except there are no screaming children and your skin is dry and happy! (Amazon)
Think of using these products like gentle parenting for irritated and dry skin — except there are no screaming children and your skin is dry and happy! (Amazon)

As someone who's had sensitive, dry, acne-prone skin for basically my entire existence, I trust my dermatologist with my life. She's seen me through the greasy whitehead and blackhead phase in middle school, the cystic acne in high school and many, many bouts of dry and irritated skin. While my skin — like most people's — has fluctuated throughout the years, one thing that's never changed has been her tried-and-true mantra: There is no need for a complex, 10-step ritual. That's why I've been sticking to the same routine for years.

"The best way to get healthy and hydrated skin is to stick to a minimal routine filled with gentle and hydrating products," says Mona Gohara, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine. "Ultimately, your skin is healthiest if you use the right ingredients and avoid the wrong ingredients," adds New York-based board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD.

So, what kind of formulas are best? "Look for no-frills products that are free of alcohol, and fragrance," explains New Jersey-based dermatologist Margarita Lolis. "Also, look for ingredients such as ceramides, glycerin and hyaluronic acid."

Luckily for all of us, you can snag so many of these products — and your entire dry-skin routine — at Amazon. From CeraVe to La Roche-Posay, this derm-approved routine is a surefire way to get your best skin ever — besides, obviously, seeing a dermatologist of your own.

The first thing you need to do is toss those grapefruit-scented cleansers filled with brightly colored microbeads and any harsh scrubs. Next, get yourself a gentle hydrating cleanser that's fragrance-free to clean your face of any makeup, sweat and grime from your face. "You want something that doesn't disrupt the natural pH of skin, is non-foaming and are pure cleansers" explains Dr. Nazarian.

The key thing about this fan-favorite cleanser is that it's exactly that — a cleanser and not a soap. "It finds the perfect balance between cleaning the skin without stripping too much of the natural oils," says Dr. Nazarian.

This is all thanks to skin-loving ingredients like ceramides, which are lipids that are actually already hiding in your skin. "They are essential for protecting the skin by locking in moisture and preventing permeability of the skin," explains Dr. Lollis. All of this keeps moisture locked tight in your skin, even while the cleanser does the cleaning job.

$12 at Amazon
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$18 at Ulta Beauty$16 at CVS Pharmacy

Specifically formulated for sensitive skin and accepted by the National Eczema Association, this cleanser has been reviewed under strict guidelines to make sure it's free from fragrance, soap, dyes, gluten and more ingredients that may exacerbate the condition.

One hero ingredient in the formula that Dr. Lolis loves? Ultra-hydrating glycerin. "Glycerin has a cooling effect on the skin, which can help to soothe irritation and calm inflamed or sensitive skin" explains Dr. Lollis. 

$9 at Amazon
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$9 at Walmart$13 at Ulta Beauty

This gentle cleanser from the beloved French pharmacy brand also features a variety of ceramides along with glycerin and niacinamide — per Dr. Lolis, these ingredients work together to relieve dry and irritated skin. 

However, this cleanser features the brand’s famed prebiotic thermal spring water from the town of La Roche-Posay in France. The water contains minerals and selenium, a natural antioxidant, to further soothe the skin. 

$17 at Amazon
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$20 at Ulta Beauty$18 at CVS Pharmacy

While they're excellent when it comes to fighting fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, acne scarring and signs of aging, retinols are not at all a requirement in your skin-care routine — in fact, they may do more harm than good when it comes to dry skin, because they're so harsh.

If you really want to, there is a way to get the wrinkle-blasting benefits without burning off your skin. "Using a moisturizer before applying the retinoid is a more tolerable method that offers the same benefits and curbs irritation," suggests Dr. Nazarian. "Additionally, there are so many newer-generation retinoids that are available that offer equivalent benefits for acne and anti-aging, but without the unnecessary dryness and irritation.

Note: Since retinol is a very strong active ingredient, you should always consider consulting with a dermatologist before diving in.

Great for mature skin, this CeraVe formula features encapsulated retinol to reduce the appearance of fine lines. While you do need to be careful while using retinol on dry skin, this guy comes with a little extra cushioning in the way of niacinamide and glycerin.

"The niacinamide here has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties," explains Dr. Lolis. "It improves the skin barrier, reduces redness, and regulates oil production." Basically, this retinol does everything a retinol is supposed to do — but without going overboard. 

$14 at Amazon
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$27 at Ulta Beauty$21 at CVS Pharmacy

If you're dealing with dry skin, fine lines, wrinkles, acne, acne-scarring and a lot of sensitivity, Differin is your best bet thanks to the less-intense adapalene. 

"It's a good choice for more sensitive skin because it is amongst the least strong of this class of actives," explains Dr. Gohara. "However, it used to be prescription-only, so you still get that prescription strength benefit but over the counter."

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$15 at Walmart$18 at Ulta Beauty

While all skin can benefit from fragrance-free moisturizers packed with hydrating and restorative ingredients, this is especially true for dry, acne-prone and sensitive types. Just like with the cleansers, look for simple but powerful ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid and avoid moisturizers that use any exfoliating ingredients like lactic acid, salicylic acid or glycolic acid (unless your dermatologist says so!).

This moisturizer went viral on social media, thanks to the extremely hydrating and creamy formula. It contains three essential ceramides for strengthening the skin and superstar hyaluronic acid. 

"The hyaluronic acid here is an important component when it comes to enhancing the skin barrier's function. This can help to protect sensitive skin from irritants" explains Dr. Lolis. "Additionally, because it is non-irritating and does not trigger acne or allergens, it’s suitable for all skin types, including very sensitive and breakout-prone skin."

Psst: This 2-for-1 set also comes with a mini version of the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. 

$22 at Amazon

Another affordable formula that features hyaluronic acid and ceramides, this Vanicream moisturizer boasts the same National Eczema Association seal of approval as the brand's cleanser. 

While it's heavily packed with expert-approved moisturizing agents like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramides for soft and bouncy skin, it's still super lightweight without feeling watery. Pro tip: Use it in the morning under makeup. 

$13 at Amazon
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$13 at Walmart$19 at Ulta Beauty

If you prefer the texture of a lighter gel cream, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost will be your new go-to, which sinks in super fast and is filled with hyaluronic acid. “This formula draws water into the skin and holds on to it like a sponge,” explains Dr. Lolis. The result? Seriously hydrated and bouncy skin. 

For a double whammy of moisture, Dr. Nazarian suggests layering this Neutrogena formula underneath the CeraVe and Vanicream moisturizers above. The first layer draws in the moisture using hyaluronic acid while ceramides in your second layer lock everything in.

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$27 at Amazon$20 at Newegg

While the experts I talked to may be more picky when it comes to other parts of your dry-skin routine like retinols, there's one non-negotiable: sunscreen. You are wasting your money if you're not following up your morning skin-care routine with sunscreen. To prevent dangerous sun damage to your skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of at least 30. And no, the SPF in your moisturizer or foundation is not enough. Sun damage is also the top culprit when it comes to visible skin aging and dryness.

"Any and every sunscreen is better than no sunscreen," explains Dr. Gohara. Since there are a ton of options out there to parse through, scroll below for some picks beloved by Amazon shoppers to top off your routine.

Beloved by dermatologists and celebrities, this SPF is exceptionally good for dry, sensitive or mature skin — which is why it's worth the higher price tag. It's packed with a ton of the recommended ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to keep the face dewy and protected.

"I have really sensitive eyes, and pretty much every other sunscreen causes very painful burning," explains an Amazon shopper who gave the EltaMD sunscreen a five-star rating. "This one does not! I can rub it all over my eyelids and eye area and I've never had any irritation. I also have pretty sensitive skin, and this makes it feel glowy and moisturized."

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$43 at Amazon$45 at Groupon

Tinted sunscreen is ideal for those no-makeup makeup days, and this La Roche-Posay formula is considered top-tier between derms and Amazon customers. It contains a mix of titanium dioxide and iron oxides for SPF protection, plus the La Roche-Posay prebiotic thermal water (the same one that the cleanser has!) to soothe, hydrate and protect the skin. 

"I have used this tinted moisturizer for a little over a year now," explains a devoted Amazon customer. "I love how hydrating it its and how it glides on so effortlessly ... it's just sheer coverage that magically blends your skin tone to be even and look like you're not wearing anything at all. I'm a mom of four so sometimes I'm last to get ready. On those days, this gem works by itself and paired with a little blush or bronzer it's a finished look."

$27 at Walmart
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$38 at Amazon$39 at Ulta Beauty

Sheer and lightweight, this hybrid formula blends seamlessly into the skin and is great for layering under makeup. It also contains essential ceramides and niacinamide to help your skin retain moisture — even when in the sun. 

"I’ve done lots of research and have tried lots of sunscreens, and this one has been my favorite," explains a happy Amazon shopper. "Great for everyday use and soaks right into the skin. Doesn’t leave a film, feels truly weightless, isn’t drying, and leaves my skin feeling dewy and fresh. Great to wear under makeup as well. Five stars for scent because it’s not strong-smelling and hardly noticeable."

$14 at Amazon
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$18 at Ulta Beauty$18 at CVS Pharmacy

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The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.