Hi! Welcome! I understand the lurking/being overwhelmed as a fellow lurker who spent a year being overwhelmed and taking it in slowly before taking the plunge and joining.
I also have dry, dehydrated skin and always have. I find that the thing that helps me most is lots of hydrating layers and a good, thick moisturizer with an occlusive at night.
You can find the AB Routine 101 in the sidebar, which should walk you through the basics of building your routine. I would say that with starting out, the products aren’t as important as having the basics and being diligent with patch testing and usage.
A sample routine with a focus on hydration:
- start off with a gentle oil cleanser. I like Kose Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil. Another option is a Banila Co. balm.
- choose a second cleanser that doesn’t give your skin that tight feeling. I like the Hado Labo HA Cleansing Foam. Another option is the Cosrx Low Ph Cleanser.
- fte/toners/“lotions”. there are a million. I like the Klairs unscented supple preparation toner. Other favorites are the Missha FTE, Kikumasamune High Moist lotion, and the Hado Labo premium lotion (esp this last one for hydration). try doing 3-7 layers (patting in one layer, letting it absorb, adding another. you can mix and match your products).
- serums/essences. The Cosrx 96 Snail Mucin is super popular and a great carrier for oils and other products. I mix mine with TO Niacinamide. You can also try the Scinic AIOs. There’s a honey and snail you might like.
- eye cream. essentially just a very thick face cream. whichever one you prefer. I use a western one.
- face cream. I use the Cosrx honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream. If you can splurge on one product, i recommend the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream. There’s also a liquid. You can get them at Sephora. The Holika Holika Good Cera Cream is a much cheaper dupe.
- for daytime: sunscreen. super important. my favorite by far is the biore uv aqua rich watery essence.
- for nighttime: sleeping pack + occlusive. popular options include Cosrx honey overnight mask and etude house moistful collagen sleeping pack. you can mix it 1:1 with an occlusive like Vaseline, Aquaphor, Cerave Healing Ointment, etc. to “seal” in the hydration overnight.
This is just a sample routine!! I am not telling you to buy any/all of these products, but rather giving you a (very small) sample of the options you have when it comes to building a routine. Everything I listed aside from the Dr. Jarts is under $20. You don’t and shouldn’t spend a lot of money to build your routine at first. I would say if the products mentioned above, I personally found almost all of them to be beneficial to my hydration-focused routine. But YMMV! Do your research. The sidebar and the search function are your friend!
I always recommend the Whamisa by Glow Studio Green Tea Cleanser. It has HA in it, which keeps your skin hydrated and moisturized even after cleansing.
I'm currently also using the Asiatica Calming Ampoule after the cleanser as well as sometimes mixed into P:rem Safe Relief Cream.
I also have sensitive skin so I understand where you're coming from. I would test the cleanser first for a week or two, and then patch test the ampoule or cream for another week or two. See how your skin reacts to it.