Skincare products for sensitive skin

Mark A. Carlson
Sensitive skin? These gentle beauty products are for you.

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If you have sensitive skin, finding beauty products that give your desired results without causing irritation feels like a major win. This is especially true if your complexion is easily disturbed by the active ingredients found in many skincare products. Knowing what to look for—and what to stay away from—is key, but sometimes it can be difficult navigating the cosmetic aisle with what can feel like a slew of red flags. We rounded up top-notch products to try if you have sensitive skin—ones that will calm, soothe and moisturize without contributing to irritation.

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1. For a cleanser that won’t strip the skin: Cetaphil Daily Face Wash

Cleanse your skin using the Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser.

This daily face wash from Cetaphil has earned its stripes among those with sensitive skin and dermatologists alike thanks to its gentle, non-irritating formula. It cleans without clogging pores, interrupting your skin’s barrier function or stripping your skin of its natural oils. It’s also made with hydrating ingredients such as glycerin and vitamins B5 and B3. This particular cleanser is a gel-to-foam formula and is best for sensitive skin that skews combination to oily, but the brand also has a non-foaming face wash, the Gentle Skin Cleanser, designed for normal to dry types.

2. For a toner that clears pores: Nuria Rescue Pore-Minimizing Toner

Minimize pores and calm redness with the Nuria Rescue Pore-Minimizing Toner.

Congested pores can lead to breakouts, but many toners that seek to deep-clean take moisture along with them. Cue this one from Nuria that combines calming witch hazel, redness-reducing horsetail, purifying tea tree oil and skin-protecting rosemary. The promised results are a radiant complexion and less-visible pores. To use, apply before your moisturizer in the morning and evening with your fingers or a cotton pad.

3. For a hydrating eye cream: Burt’s Bees Eye Cream for Sensitive Skin

Moisturize the delicate eye area with the Burt's Bees Calming Eye Cream.

The fragrance-free eye cream contains rice extracts and aloe vera, both touted for their ability to soothe and hydrate the delicate eye area. Plus, it has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, so those with eczema and dry skin can rest assured it won’t worsen a flare-up. Apply underneath your eyes in the morning to prepare for makeup or in the evening as part of your nighttime skincare routine.

Get the Sensitive Solutions Calming Eye Cream from Burt’s Bees for $14.99

4. For a moisturizer that protects: Pixi Rose Ceramide Cream

Moisturize and protect the skin with the Pixi Rose Ceramide Cream.

If you’re dealing with an inflammatory skin condition like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, it’s likely taken a toll on your skin’s moisture barrier, which is essential for keeping your skin hydrated, protected and healthy. This moisturizer from Pixi contains ceramides to lock in moisture and protect your skin against environmental damage, which it’s more susceptible to if your barrier is damaged.

Get the Pixi Rose Ceramide Cream from Ulta for $24

5. For a mask that soothes: Eminence Organic Skin Care Calm Skin Arnica Masque

Give your skin a boost of moisture with the Eminence Calm Skin Arnica Masque.

Whether you’re dealing with generally inflamed skin or residual irritation from a breakout, this Eminence mask can help your skin maintain a healthy complexion. It uses moisturizing shea butter, soothing linseed oil and antioxidant-rich ivy leaf. To use, mix a small amount of product with water into your hands and apply an even layer all over your face. Leave on for up to 10 minutes before rinsing off with lukewarm water.

Get the Eminence Organic Skin Care Calm Skin Arnica Masque from Dermstore for $56

6. For an anti-aging serum: Philosophy Nature In A Jar Skin Reset Serum 

Smooth your skin with the Philosophy Nature In A Jar Skin Reset Serum With Bakuchiol.

Retinol is an all-star ingredient touted for its anti-aging abilities, but it can come with irritating side effects including redness, dryness and flakiness. If your skin leans sensitive, opting for retinol alternative bakuchiol may be a better idea. This quick-absorbing serum from Philosophy allows you to reap the similar skin-smoothing benefits without the irritating side effects. To use, shake the bottle and apply a small amount onto clean skin in the morning and evening before moisturizer. Unlike retinol, there’s no ramp-up period and you can use it twice a day.

Get the Philosophy Nature In A Jar Skin Reset Serum With Bakuchiol from Ulta for $58

7. For a light exfoliator: Tatcha The Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder

Exfoliate the skin with the Tatcha The Rice Polish.

Physical exfoliators that use gentle skin-polishing ingredients like rice powder can be effective at buffing the skin without causing irritation. Japanese rice bran is the exfoliator in this powder formula from Tatcha, which effectively sloughs away dead skin cells to reveal a fresh, glowing complexion. It also contains Japanese wild rose that claims to refine oily skin and licorice root extract to ward off the dry, tight feeling that can occur post-exfoliating. To use, wet your hands, pour a pea-sized amount of powder into your palms and rub them together to create a foam. Massage onto skin for 15 seconds before rinsing off.

8. For a body wash that calms: Clean & Clear Aloe Vera Body Wash

Keep your body clear of breakouts with the Clean & Clear Aloe Vera Body Wash.

If body breakouts are the norm for you, a sensitive skin-friendly body wash, like this one from Clean & Clear, should be part of your shower routine. This foaming wash uses soothing aloe vera and offers a gentle cleanse without making your skin feel dry or tight afterward. It’s always a good idea to follow up your body wash routine with a moisturizer for an extra layer of protection on your skin. 

Get the Clean & Clear Aloe Vera Body Wash from Walmart for $6.27

9. For a multi-tasking makeup remover: Lilah B. Aglow Cleansing Butter

Remove makeup and cleanse the skin with the Lilah B Aglow Cleansing Butter.

Less is more when it comes to skincare for sensitive skin, which is why multi-tasking products remain on rotation for many people with this skin type. This cleansing butter from Lilah B. is a three-in-one item, serving as a gentle makeup remover, hydrating no-rinse cleanser and moisturizing mask all in one butter-to-oil formula. To use as a makeup remover, warm a small amount into your hands and massage onto skin using circular motions before rinsing off with lukewarm water. To use as a cleanser, massage a small amount onto clean skin, wipe off with a cloth and proceed with the rest of your skincare routine without rinsing off. To use as a mask, apply a small amount onto clean, dry skin and let it work its magic for 10 minutes before rinsing off.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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