Best Sensitive Skin Products That Work
Your Drugstore likely has no shortage of cleansers and lotions that claim to be for sensitive skin but how do you know if you should use these products? And if you do have sensitive skin, will they really help? We’ve done some research, this is what we found.
Common Ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin
- Watch out for alcohols that dry out skin, like SD and denatured
- Preservatives, like parabens, formaldehyde, and methylisothiazolinone, and other additives like propylene glycol and phthalates are all skin irritants
- Even natural essential oils like peppermint or derivatives like menthol can cause a reaction–if they tingle, avoid them no matter how nice they smell or feel
- Coal tar, used to treat dandruff and dry skin, banned in the EU as a carcinogen
- TEA, MEA, DEA make lather but may also be linked to cancer
- Ingredients with “-eth” like ethoxylated surfactants and sulfates that create lather, like sodium laureth sulfate (SLS and SLES), they are allergens that are made with carcinogenic chemicals
Natural Ingredients that can soothe sensitive skin
You’ve seen the bad, now let’s look at the good. If you want to soothe and moisturize sensitive skin, these ingredients can help. And wash with lukewarm water instead of cold or hot.
- Coconut oil won’t clog pores, it’s antibacterial, and it nourishes skin
- Tea tree oil is a natural anti-inflammatory that fights acne
- Honey is anti-microbial and moisturizes skin
- Sea salt is loaded with minerals to heal skin
- Avocado is packed with vitamins to renew skin
- Argan oil heals eczema and moisturizes skin
- Aloe vera fights itching and heals skin
- Chamomile can be very soothing to skin
- Jojoba oil is a plant oil very similar to sebum and it moisturizes skin
- Almond oil clears up rashes and soothes dry spots
- Shea butter is very moisturizing
The best sunscreens for sensitive skin give you broad spectrum protection from sunburn without causing you to breakout in acne or a rash. The gentlest ones rely on zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead of chemicals in their formulas. There are many different brands on the market so it can be difficult to choose one. Some are designed to last while you swim, others won’t hold up in water. Others are great for wearing under makeup as a daily moisturizer. Some have a very high SPF rating, but is that even necessary?
What is SPF and how much do you need?
“Sun Protection Factor” is a measurement that reveals how well a sunscreen blocks UVB rays. UVB (also known as Ultraviolet-B) is what makes your skin burn and/or tan. Too much of it causes certain kinds of skin cancer.
Weirdly enough, sunscreens aren’t rated for how well they protect against UVA rays, but those are dangerous, too. Ultraviolet-A rays penetrate deeper into skin than UVB. They can cause different kinds of skin cancer and sun damage like wrinkles.
Let’s do the math to show you what SPF measurements mean. SPF 15 is a common rating found in a lot of face moisturizers, and it’s the minimum most dermatologists recommend wearing. Take the 15 and multiply how long (in minutes) it usually takes for you to get sunburned. We’ll say half an hour, since that’s average for most people. 15 x 30 minutes = 450 minutes, or 7.5 hours
This means that a sunscreen with SPF 15 should protect your skin for up to 7-1/2-hours outdoors. Of course, this doesn’t factor in things like if you’re perspiring or if you’re in water. But you can see why many daytime face creams have this as their default protection level.
The highest protection sunscreen you can buy is SPF 100. What does that mean? If you’re pale and burn in as little as 15 minutes, SPF 100 would protect you from UVB rays for up to 1500 minutes, or 25 hours. Most likely, the most you’ll ever need is SPF 50 for a long day on the beach.
The top sunscreens for sensitive skin
It’s time to look at the best sunscreens that will protect your skin from sun damage without harming it with adverse reactions.
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive SPF 30+
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen is very popular with users who have sensitive skin. It depends on natural sunblockers like 10% micronized zinc oxide and 5% titanium dioxide to give broad spectrum coverage against UVA and UVB rays. The SPF 30 rating means it’s good enough for all-day protection for fair skin.
The formula doesn’t contain the usual skin irritants like fragrances or dye or even parabens. Users say the formula comes out of the bottle a little thick, but rubs in well. It doesn’t seem to turn their skin whiter after it’s been applied.
Vanicream Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30
Vanicream’s SPF 30 broad spectrum protection comes from 5% titanium dioxide and 5% zinc oxide and no chemical sunblockers. The formula also contains ingredients to neutralize free radicals that form with overexposure to sunlight. There are no fragrances or parabens because this sunscreen was specifically made to not irritate skin.
Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
Banana Boat’s Baby Natural Reflect is based on titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to block UVA and UVB rays naturally. It does not contain parabens or oils so it’s gentle to sensitive skin. It’s also tear-free should you get it in your eyes. It’s good for swimming but will need to be reapplied after 80 minutes in the water, or if you towel-dry it off your skin.
Body Wash Products
What’s on a label matters for sensitive skin. It’s tempting to buy a new body wash based on its delicious scent, but that’s exactly what people with sensitive skin can’t do. Avoid synthetic fragrances because those are one of the top irritants and allergens for skin.
“Unscented” is not the same as “fragrance-free.” Unscented may simply mean it doesn’t have a strong odor, but that’s because another ingredient is masking the smell. Free of fragrances altogether is much better and safer. We included some “unscented” products because lots of people with sensitive skin have said they’ve had success using them, but that doesn’t mean every one of them will be safe for you.
“Hypoallergenic” is another one of those terms that doesn’t mean what you think it should. There is no FDA standard that defines what is required for a cosmetic or skin care product to be hypoallergenic. Companies can label a product with this term although it contains exactly the same formula as another one. The only difference is packaging for the targeted demographic.
While companies may say their “hypoallergenic” product was tested to show it caused fewer adverse reactions, that means they did their own testing and it wasn’t regulated by any outside agency. The only way to protect yourself is to read ingredient labels.
Puracy Natural Body Wash, Sulfate-Free Shower Gel and Daily Cleanser, Citrus and Sea Salt scent
Puracy’s Natural Body Wash cleans and softens skin with the power of coconut, Himalayan Pink Salt, and pink grapefruit essential oil plus vegetable glycerin. The coconut-based surfactant makes for a nice lather without the risk of irritated or dry skin. The Himalayan Pink Salt exfoliates dead cells and helps hydrate skin. The glycerin is a natural humectant that draws in moisture. There is no residue left after rinsing, just soft skin.
Puracy points out that their formula was designed by doctors to be safe on any skin type, on men or women. It doesn’t contain the usual irritants like sulfates, parabens, petroleum derivatives, dyes, caustics, formaldehyde, MEA, DEA, TEA, triclosan, animal by-products, phosphates, or artificial perfumes. The citrus and sea salt scent comes from natural ingredients, not synthetic chemicals.
The manufacturer offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee—if you don’t love it, you’ll get a refund. The price makes this a good deal for the value it offers. Users are overwhelmingly positive in their reviews online, maintaining this body wash as a best-selling product. We chose this as our top pick to care for sensitive skin.
Kiss My Face Fragrance Free Shower Gel for Sensitive Skin
Kiss My Face’s Fragrance-Free Shower Gel doesn’t contain gluten, parabens, phthalates, or artificial fragrances. Users enjoy that it’s gentle to the skin, leaving it soft and clean. They say it smells a little like pine, but the scent fades.
The formula has olive oil and aloe vera as well as Vitamin E to heal and soothe skin. The rest of the ingredients are not rated as hazardous by the EWG with the exception of Potassium Sorbate and Phenoxyethanol, rated 3 and 4, moderate hazards. Overall, this seems to be a rather safe product to choose if you’re looking for something that’s unlikely to irritate or dry out skin.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
EWG rates Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Lavender Liquid Soap as a 1 overall, the lowest hazard rating they have. The ingredients, besides soothing lavender, are hemp seed oil, glycerin, coconut oil, citric acid, olive oil, Vitamin E, and water. It’s a very simple product. There are none of the usual allergens or hazards.
Some users love Dr. Bronner’s soaps and use them for everything, from body wash to doing the wash. One caution: it’s best to use this formula diluted at first to see how you react. Many users place half a teaspoon size portion, full strength, on a loofah or washcloth and use it like that.
If you have a sensitive scalp your skin may react badly to some shampoos and conditioners. You might be struggling with dandruff. A new product may cause stinging or make your skin red. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the best shampoos for sensitive skin, we hope this helps you find the right product for you.
Signs of sensitive skin
Your skin may be sensitized or sensitive. An example of sensitized skin would be if you’re taking a medication that causes sensitive skin, have a sunburn, become dehydrated, or in some way damaged your skin’s protective barrier. This is usually a temporary condition, but it still means you’ll get along better with gentle hair care products.
Sensitive skin is part of your genetic makeup, like the color of your hair or eyes. If your skin tends to sting or turn red when you apply skin care products, you probably have sensitive skin. Another test is to look in the mirror while you press your fingers against the side of your face. Don’t press too hard, just use a medium amount of force. If your skin turns red from that, you have sensitive skin.
Protect your scalp, face, and neck with gentle products that clean hair without causing problematic reactions.
Cleure Hypoallergenic Shampoo for Sensitive Skin
The Cleure Hypoallergenic Shampoo doesn’t have an artificial fragrance, and it’s free of other irritants like parabens, sulfates, and formaldehyde. It’s safe for all skin types and all hair types, as well as color-treated hair. It’s cruelty-free, too.
This shampoo is on the allergen-free safe product list at SkinSafe. The full list of ingredients that Cleure provides is this: Purified Water, Decyl Glucoside, Lauramidopropyl, Betaine Cocamide, MIPA, Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl, Guar, Caprylyl Glycol, Vitamin E, and Potassium Sorbate.
Users report mixed results, many are very pleased with the shampoo while others say it leaves their hair flat and greasy or too dry. Besides washing hair, it can be used as a body wash.
Pharmaceutical Specialties Free & Clear Hair Shampoo for Sensitive Skin
Pharmaceutical Specialties’ Free & Clear Shampoo goes a step farther than Cleure and excludes cocamidopropyl betaine and gluten as well as dyes, fragrances, parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates, phosphates, and preservatives. As one user comments, hypo-allergenic doesn’t mean that a formula will include only natural and organic ingredients.
Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo and Wash Oatmilk Calendula
Babo Botanicals says they achieved a #1 rating for safety on EWG’s Skin Deep Database. We confirmed this and saw that the only reason for concern was potassium sorbate, a preservative. The ingredients label lists it as the final component.
Although this is a baby shampoo, adults find it soothing for their irritated, dry scalps. The formula has aloe and calendula oil plus vitamins and anti-oxidants from organic chamomile, watercress, and kudzu. There are no sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, nut oils, synthetic fragrances or dyes. The packaging is BPA-free and every part is Vegan.
Face Wash Products
What’s the best way to wash your face if you have sensitive skin? This is a question many people want answered. They’ve tried scrubs, soaps, oils, plain water, and even not washing at all. What works for you might not work for the next person. But there are some face washes that are safe for sensitive skin for almost everyone.
The best face wash for you may depend on a few factors, like whether you have oily skin, dry skin, combination skin, or a skin disorder. It may depend on whether you wear makeup or take acne medications. To find the perfect face wash, you have to consider its ingredients.
When you select a new face cleanser, avoid alcohols because they will dry out your face. Choose something light and water-based that you can rinse away. Foaming washes are a good choice for acne-prone skin. If you have problems with clogged pores and blackheads, look for cleansers that contain salicylic or glycolic acid to exfoliate dead cells.
Don’t try to strip away all the excess oil by scrubbing your face with harsh products. It will only speed up oil production if you irritate your skin. Instead, be patient for a new product to do its work. Wash twice a day to keep excess oil under control.
When you hold a bottle in your hand, it looks like regular water. But when you soak a cotton pad and press it to your skin, it’s very soothing. Even after just one application, you’ll see a visible difference in the texture of your face.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Water
Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 Water is a Micellar formula designed for users with sensitive skin. It’s not the drugstore variety—this particular non-prescription brand is sold in pharmacies in Europe, not in places like Target or Walmart.
If you plan to remove water-resistant makeup, soak a pad and press it to the area you want to clean for 20 to 30 seconds to help dissolve the makeup. Otherwise, you can simply wipe your face with the cotton pad and you’re done. Some users don’t even bother with moisturizer afterward because their skin is that soft.
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is safe to use on your eyes and lips, as well as the rest of your face. It has no fragrance and no alcohol.
Garnier says the method for using it is, “Pour, Press, Proof.” That translates into putting it on a cotton pad, pressing it against your skin, then wiping gently. They say the Micelle technology attracts dirt and makeup like a magnet, lifting it from your skin. You’ll see the proof on the cotton pad. Since it’s water-based, your skin will feel refreshed and light after using it.
CLINIQUE Take The Day Off Micellar Cleansing Towelettes for Face & Eyes
Forget soaking cotton pads with Micellar water, use these pre-moistened wipes from Clinique instead. They aren’t designed to replace a regular face care regimen, but are super handy for using on the go.
Sensitive skin means you’re prone to adverse reactions every time you try a new makeup, lotion, or personal care product. Reddened, itchy, dry, acne-covered, and irritated skin gets old really fast. You need one of the best moisturizers for your sensitive skin so you can take back control.
It’s not too hard these days to find top quality moisturizers that protect your face and body and heal your skin. The challenge lies in narrowing down the competition. We researched best-selling moisturizers so we could help you decide which ones will work best for you.
Ingredients that help heal and protect sensitive skin
Petroleum-derived products like Vaseline may seem to soothe rough spots, but they aren’t the best solution for sensitive skin. In fact, thick creams and greases will probably wreck your complexion in no time flat. So instead of trying to tackle dry, irritated skin with heavy oils, look for these ingredients instead:
- Water-based lotions are lightweight and generally non-comedogenic
- Vitamin E, aka tocopheryl acetate, heals and Vitamin B3, aka Niacinamide, strengthens skin’s defenses
- Jojoba oil is a plant derivative that mimics sebum, skin’s natural oil
- Coconut oil is naturally anti-bacterial and heals skin
- Aloe vera soothes and heals
- Glycerin is a humectant that draws moisture into skin, and so is grape seed oil and hyaluronic acid
- Emollients like shea butter, cocoa butter, and beeswax seal in moisture, but might be too thick for use on sensitive faces—they’re better for bodies
Stay away from lotions and creams with synthetic fragrance and dyes since those are among the top five allergens. Isopropyl, SD, and denatured alcohols may make a lotion feel like it sinks in faster, but they can dry out your skin. Parabens have been linked to endocrine problems and cancer. And you may have heard someone say that if you can’t pronounce all those ingredients on the label, put the bottle down. That’s not entirely bad advice if you have sensitive skin.
Brickell Men’s Daily Essential Face Moisturizer for Men
While guys could use any of the lotions or creams we’ve covered this far, they may appreciate Brickell’s Daily Essential Face Moisturizer. It’s non-comedogenic and made for any skin type. It doesn’t have petroleum derivatives, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, or color, DEA, glycols, silicones, gluten, or PEGs, and it wasn’t tested on animals.
Instead, this formula is based on mostly certified organic materials like aloe, rooibos (red) and green tea, jojoba oil, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, white willow bark extract, and Vitamins B3 and E. It also contains peppermint, lemongrass, and eucalyptus oils. (If you have very sensitive skin, test it before using it over a large area.) Users say they love this lotion, and it works exactly as described, leaving their skin soft and hydrated.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin
Well-known brand Neutrogena sells this Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin. It has a built-in broad spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin. While it doesn’t have synthetic fragrances, oils, or drying alcohols, it does contain petrolatum, ethylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.
Why did we include it in our review of the best moisturizers? It’s a popular product often recommended by dermatologists. It softens skin without feeling oily. And you can wear makeup on top of it, no problem. Just be aware of its ingredients, and consider mixing it up with an all-natural face cream on days when you aren’t out in the sun.
Lavo Daily Moisturizer Cream
The Lavo Daily Moisturizer Cream is a hot product. It advertises itself as ideal for any skin type, especially acne-prone skin because it calms inflammation and protects pores against bacteria and pollutants. It works well for both men and women, plus it’s fragrance-free and paraben-free, and it was never tested on animals.
The ingredients list includes hyaluronic acid, hops, sage, ginseng, rosemary, allantoin, aloe vera, azulene, wheat germ, hazelnut, safflower and avocado oils, and Vitamin A, B, C, and D. Lavo explains that all these natural components add moisture to skin, soothe and tone it, and shrink pores. It absorbs quickly and leaves a matte finish for wearing under makeup. You can apply it day and night.
We hope we gave you a hand in selecting the right skin care products for you today. Routine hygiene is a personal decision because one product never suits everyone or every skin type. Come visit us again soon to see more reviews of the best in skin care products.