9 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid for Dry Skin

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Dealing with dry skin can be a constant struggle, especially when the very products you use to alleviate dryness may be making it worse. Many skincare ingredients can strip away moisture, exacerbate flakiness, and cause irritation. To help you navigate the skincare aisle more effectively, we’ve compiled a list of ingredients to avoid if you have dry skin. Avoiding these culprits can help you achieve a hydrated, glowing complexion.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol, particularly denatured alcohol (often listed as SD alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or ethanol), is a common ingredient in many skincare products. While it can help products dry quickly and give a matte finish, it can also strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to increased dryness and irritation.

What to Use Instead:

  • Opt for a hydrating serum which is designed to lock in moisture and nourish the skin.

2. Fragrances

Artificial fragrances can be harsh on dry skin, often causing irritation and further dryness. They add nothing to the skincare benefits and can trigger allergic reactions or sensitivities.

What to Use Instead:

  • Look for fragrance-free options or those with natural, soothing scents derived from essential oils. A good overnight treatment can provide a gentle, calming effect without harsh chemicals.

3. Sulfates

Sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are foaming agents found in many cleansers and shampoos. They can strip the skin of essential moisture and protective oils, leaving it feeling tight and dry.

What to Use Instead:

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4. Retinoids

While retinoids are powerful anti-aging ingredients, they can be too harsh for dry skin, causing peeling, redness, and further dryness.

What to Use Instead:

  • Consider alternative anti-aging ingredients like bakuchiol, found in products such as Moonlight Serum, which offers similar benefits without the harsh side effects.

5. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) known for its exfoliating properties and ability to treat acne. However, it can be quite drying, especially for those with already parched skin.

What to Use Instead:

  • Look for milder exfoliants or hydrating products that won’t strip your skin. A rich moisturiser can provide deep hydration and nourishment, making it ideal for dry skin.

6. Benzoyl Peroxide

Commonly used in acne treatments, benzoyl peroxide is effective at killing bacteria but can be very drying and irritating for those with dry skin. It can strip the skin of moisture, causing flakiness and redness.

What to Use Instead:

  • Seek out acne treatments with gentler ingredients like niacinamide or tea tree oil, which are less likely to cause dryness.

7. Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is often included in toners for its astringent properties. While it can help control oil, it can also be too drying for already dry skin, leading to irritation and dehydration.

What to Use Instead:

  • Opt for alcohol-free toners or hydrating mists that soothe and replenish the skin. Consider using natural moisturisers designed to provide lasting hydration.

8. Essential Oils

While some essential oils can be beneficial, others, like peppermint or eucalyptus, can be overly harsh and irritating for dry skin. They can cause dryness and exacerbate sensitivity.

What to Use Instead:

  • Stick to products formulated with skin-friendly oils, such as jojoba or grapeseed oil, which nourish without causing dryness.

9. Charcoal

Charcoal is often used in masks and cleansers for its detoxifying properties. However, it can be too drying for those with dry skin, as it may absorb natural oils that are essential for maintaining skin hydration.

What to Use Instead:

  • Choose hydrating masks and cleansers that provide moisture while purifying the skin.


Navigating skincare for dry skin requires careful consideration of the ingredients in your products. By avoiding harsh, drying components and opting for hydrating, soothing alternatives, you can keep your skin soft, supple, and well-moisturised. Explore our curated selection of serums and moisturisers to find the perfect match for your skincare needs. Here's to achieving a radiant, hydrated complexion that feels as good as it looks!

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