Beauty tips for dry, sensitive skin?

(24yo) When I was around 13, I would use the harshest cleansers, and aggressively exfoliate my face, and I never used moisturizer. Surprise surprise, my face kept breaking out... but it never really felt tight or irritated. Eventually I added moisturizer to my daily routine, but now one of the ONLY moisturizers that doesn’t irritate my skin is ponds for “dry to severely dry skin”. I’ve been using it for a couple of years. Previously I could use almost any product with zero irritation. Now, I can try almost any moisturizer that’s specifically made for people with dry, sensitive skin... and a minute after applying, my skin feels super tight, to the point of being itchy. There isn’t any redness though. Ponds does have mineral oil in it, and I know that’s not great for your face. And I’ve had the same skin problems (dry, sensitive, breakouts, itchy) for a long time, so I want to find something better. Months ago I quit all harsh cleansers (benzoyl / salicylic / anything that foams) and switched to the ones that are essentially lotion. 

I’m not necessarily looking for product recommendations. I’ve wasted so much money on products that are for dry skin. (Even straight hyaluronic acid serums make my face tight!) I suspect I damaged my skin barrier at some point. I want to end my dependence on my moisturizer and repair my skin. Even carefully washing my face with just my hands and cold water leaves my skin super super tight. Send help pls. 

Update:

It’s like when your lips are super dry and cracked, lib balm helps for about 5min, then your applying more, and your body becomes dependent. But when you leave it alone for a while, it gets better. 

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