The skin care routine that will make you glow is the one that matches your skin’s unique needs. For those with dry and sensitive skin types, finding the right products to use (and those to avoid) can make the difference between a rough, scaly texture and luscious, buttery-soft skin. Read on to learn about dry and sensitive skin types and how to keep them happy and healthy.

What Causes Dry and Sensitive Skin?

Two very different conditions, dry skin and sensitive skin can both be caused by a range of genetic and environmental factors. Let’s look at each one in turn:

Dry Skin

Also known as “xerosis cutis,” dry skin occurs when your skin produces less sebum than needed and/or struggles to retain moisture. This is especially common among mature-aged women and men. An article about dry skin from the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology explains that dry skin can also be caused (or aggravated) by the winter season and the use of central heating and air conditioners.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is a widespread phenomenon that is not clearly defined and is thought to affect 50-70% of women and 40-50% of men. People with sensitive skin typically experience sensations of itching, burning, stinging, tingling, tightness, and/or dryness after using certains products — often without any visual evidence of irritation.

While different people can tend to react to different ingredients, there are certain ingredients that have a reputation for being problematic. According to, these include:

  • Fragrance
  • Dyes
  • Preservatives
  • Botanical extracts (especially citrus and mint)
  • Sulfates
  • Harsh exfoliants

If you know that a certain product or ingredient causes irritation, you should definitely remove it from your skin care routine. A good rule of thumb is to perform a patch test by placing a small amount of any new product on your wrist or neck and waiting for 24 hours to see if the product causes a reaction before applying it to your face and/or entire body.

There are also experimental treatments with skin products containing bacteria and microalgae that have been shown to reduce skin sensitivity. However, if you don’t have access to these products, looking for dermatologically tested creams and lotions with low rates of reactivity is probably your best bet.

Skin Care Routines for Dry and Sensitive Skin

Coconut Oil

Now that we’ve covered the basics of dry and sensitive skin types, let’s dive into some skin care routine ideas tips for helping them glow!

Skin Care Routine Suggestions for Dry Skin

To care for dry skin, your main focus should be locking in as much moisture as possible. Here is a suggested routine for dry skin:

  • Morning
  1. Rinse your face with water and gently pat dry.
  2. Apply a toner for dry skin, an oil-based cream moisturizer, and nourishing makeup (if desired) with SPF 25+.
  • Daytime
  1. Reapply your cream moisturizer and SPF 25+ as needed.
  • Evening
  1. Before bed, remove all makeup gently with a moisturizing cream remover.
  2. Cleanse with water and an appropriate face wash and gently pat dry.
  3. Apply a luxurious night cream moisturizer or overnight face mask.
  • Occasionally
  1. Exfoliate using a gentle formula that is not too harsh or drying.
  2. Consider visiting a functional dermatology center for a facial, face massage, or skin care therapy session that is customized to your specific skin type.

Caring for Dry Skin When Bathing

Caring for Dry Skin While Bathing

If your skin is especially dry, consider taking shorter, cooler showers or baths and using a moisturizing soap only in the areas that tend to smell. Taking cooler showers and using less soap will help to protect your skin’s natural oil barrier rather than drying it out even more!

After showering, gently pat your whole body dry and slather yourself with a natural oil such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or argan oil. Body oils that contain a quality, plant-derived Vitamin E are especially helpful for dry and sensitive skin types.

Skin Care Routine Suggestions for Sensitive Skin

For sensitive skin, you can follow a similar routine to the one above with the following adjustments:

  1. Ensure that any products you use are free from harsh or irritating ingredients.
  2. Do a patch test with any new product before using it on your face or entire body.
  3. Wear clothing that is soft and smooth, and avoid scratchy materials like wool.

Lifestyle Tips to Support Healthy, Hydrated Skin


You can minimize environmental factors that could be making your skin dry and sensitive by using a humidifier at home in central heating season and protecting your skin from harsh weather and the hot sun with appropriate clothing. Staying hydrated and eating a diet rich in Omega-3s can also help to keep dry and sensitive skin types healthy and moisturized from the inside out.

As you develop a simple skin care routine that focuses on gentle, moisturizing ingredients and make a few diet and lifestyle adjustments, you should soon be on your way to enjoying smooth, radiant skin!