What Are the Best Products for Sensitive Skin?

Key Points

  • Sensitive skin reacts to harsh chemicals in many skincare products and worsens skin conditions.

  • The best skincare products for sensitive skin use clean, natural ingredients.

  • Reduce your skincare routine to a few steps for the best results.

  • Using the best products for sensitive skin results in clean, healthy skin.

Finding the best skincare products for sensitive skin can feel irritating — for both your face and your peace of mind. Sensitive skin typically can’t handle harsh makeup, soaps, and other skin products. This results in rashes, acne breakouts, or excessive drying. If this describes your skincare dilemma, there’s hope for you and your skin.

The best skincare products for sensitive skin soothe and repair while providing beautiful, clear skin. There are many products available for sensitive skin and quite a few to avoid. Knowing the difference allows you to achieve glowing skin and save you the frustration of damaged, irritated skin.

Woman with sensitive skin receives a facial

Do You Have Sensitive Skin?

How do you tell if you have sensitive skin? There are a few common symptoms or signs that prove your skin is sensitive. Knowing these signs allows you to decipher which skincare products are the most beneficial.

If you have sensitive skin, redness or rashes develop easily and your skin is extremely reactive to harsh skincare products. Detergents, soaps, and other household products also cause this reaction on sensitive skin. Other symptoms include itching, dryness, being prone to acne breakouts, and sunburning easily.

Dry skin and sensitive skin often go hand-in-hand. If your skin is typically dry, it may also be sensitive. This means your skin develops dry patches in certain areas on your face or it feels dry and tight overall.

If you experience any or all of these symptoms then you probably have sensitive skin and need to change your skincare products and routine.

What to Avoid

If you have sensitive skin, it’s important to avoid certain skincare product ingredients to reduce the possibility of skin irritation, acne breakouts, and damage to your skin barrier.

The skin barrier is the outermost layer that protects the skin from pollution, dirt, and the sun’s UV rays. It is easily damaged by these harmful natural elements; by harsh detergents, soaps, and skincare products; and from overwashing or over-exfoliating your face. 

To protect or repair your skin barrier and prevent further skin irritation, avoid cleansers or other skincare products with harsh ingredients such as sulfates, sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic fragrance, harsh exfoliants and scrubs, and alcohol.

Woman with sensitive skin holds sides of face

Clean, Natural Skincare

Look for products advertised as clean.

A clean label means the product has no harmful chemicals like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances. Using these types of products reduces the chances of your sensitive skin reacting to the skincare product. It also increases the chances of the product helping your skin instead of hurting it. The clean designation is noted on the packaging, so it is easy to spot them in stores and online.

In short, choose fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products with no harsh ingredients. 

Skincare Routine for Sensitive Skin

When it comes to sensitive skin, the simpler the skincare routine, the better. Overloading your skin with products that are meant to help your skin sometimes has the opposite effect. Your skin may be irritated from too many skincare products or products that include dual-purpose products. 

Dual-purpose products may overload your skin by spreading a large amount of a strong ingredient during application. This just creates more problems.

Dermatologist Andrea McLin, who practices in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area, cautions consumers to be aware of the possible effects of dual-purpose products on sensitive skin. 

“Many of our cosmetics have dual uses,” McLin said. “There are lotions that moisturize and help prevent aging. There are face washes that cleanse and fight acne. Maybe use a lotion that contains anti-aging serum and a foundation that prevents wrinkles.

“It sounds like a great idea, but you’re likely applying too much of one ingredient without realizing it,” McLin continues. “Now, instead of fighting the wrinkles, you’re fighting a dry, blotchy complexion.”

Woman applies lotion to her sensitive skin

Begin your skincare routine with a gentle cleanser, specifically made for sensitive skin. Cleansers that aid sensitive skin calm irritation and redness while gently removing makeup, dirt, and other harmful elements from your skin. Many cleansers for sensitive skin include barrier-repairing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and shea butter. 

Similar to a facial cleanser, a facial moisturizer for sensitive skin is the most effective. Moisturizers with oatmeal, shea butter, and ceramides are both soothing and repairing. Since moisturizer not only restores hydration in the skin but also repairs the skin barrier, it’s an extremely important step in your skincare routine. 

Since sensitive skin is prone to sunburn from UV rays, SPF sunscreen is an important part of a morning skincare routine. After you’ve applied a moisturizer, follow with sunscreen for an added layer of protection.

A mineral sunscreen made with zinc oxide is much more agreeable for sensitive skin, instead of a chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens may trigger an allergic reaction or cause skin irritation. 

What Are Serums?

Adding the right skincare products to your skincare routine is beneficial to your skin, but adding too many steps may further provoke skin irritation, redness, and excessive drying. 

It is possible to add an additional step to your routine if your skin still needs a little extra love. Adding a serum into your routine is better than using dual-purpose products because you can control how much of an ingredient is going on your skin. 

Serums like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide are popular products in a skincare routine. Having sensitive skin doesn’t mean you can’t use these products, but it does mean you need to be pickier about their ingredients.

For example, use a vitamin C serum in the morning between cleansing and moisturizing, but it should have a pH level of 3.5 or less to avoid irritating your skin’s natural pH.

Sensitive skin care products displayed against yellow backdrop

Hyaluronic acid is a great serum to use after cleansing, especially if you struggle with dry skin. Apply the serum while your skin is still damp to lock moisture into your skin. Be sure to follow this with an application of vitamin C serum, not the other way around. This ensures the products are being properly absorbed.

Avoid niacinamide serums that have a high percentage of 10 percent. A high level of niacinamide may do more harm than good, but a low percentage assists with acne breakouts and minimizes pores and skin discoloration. 

Keep in mind, using one or more new products won’t repair your skin overnight and may even damage your skin barrier. Introduce a new product every 30 days or so to help your skin adjust. If that product causes any irritation, ditch it and go back to basics. 

Best Skincare Products for Sensitive Skin

Finding a skincare routine that works for you is half the battle. The other half is finding products that work for you. Knowing your skin type takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process.

It’s best to start with dermatologist-recommended products. This tells you what dermatologists believe works best for sensitive skin, which is a good source to rely on for decisions on skincare products. Eliminating products that aren’t specifically dermatologist-recommended for sensitive skin and that aren’t clean leaves you with products that are going to be gentle on your skin. 

Woman touches her sensitive skin

Garnier Micellar Water is a great product for removing makeup and dirt before washing your face. It is beneficial for all skin types, including sensitive skin, because it uses hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to soothe the skin. 

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11/30/2023 01:52 pm GMT

Fresh’s Soy Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser is a clean option for a gentle facial cleanser. This is a great hydrating cleanser for dry skin, dullness, and uneven texture. 

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11/28/2023 09:52 pm GMT

The La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermallergo Moisturizing Cream is the perfect moisturizer for sensitive skin. It is tested on allergy-prone, ultra-sensitive skin, not only soothing your skin but also calming redness, irritation, and drying. 

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11/28/2023 09:53 pm GMT

Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 is a great gentle sunscreen for sensitive skin on the face, with the added bonus of light coverage. 

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11/28/2023 09:58 pm GMT

Jack Black’s Dry Erase Ultra-Calming Face Cream is a non-greasy cream that not only reduces redness but also calms sensitive skin and irritation.

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11/28/2023 10:08 pm GMT

Korean skincare brands are also a great choice to find products for sensitive skin. Korean skincare is known for using gentle and natural ingredients that are less likely to irritate your skin.

Sensitive skin care products laid out on table with leaves

Sensitive Skin Is Beautiful Skin

You don’t have to feel hopeless about your sensitive skin and the products you’re using. The skincare industry has many products that benefit your skin; it just takes a bit of extra time to read the ingredients.

Understanding your skin type and the kind of ingredients that benefit your skin gives you a good head start on finding the products that you need. Finding effective skincare products takes some trial and error.

For more information on sensitive skin, see additional articles on the topic at CosmeticsCenter.org.

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