Sensitive skin reacts to almost any product – especially when you don’t know which ingredients are suitable for it.
What really makes sensitive skin, well, sensitive? According to NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, it's a broad term that can mean any of the following:
- Having sensitivities to skincare products
- Having skin conditions, like acne, eczema, or rosacea
- Being exposed to the sun, wind, or pollution
That said, you should stick to hydrating, fragrance-free cleansers if you relate to any of the effects listed above, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, an NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist.
Read on to learn about the best facial cleansers for sensitive skin, with guidance from our two dermatologist experts, thorough research, and some testing notes, too.
Good sensitive kit for You
If you’re looking for a beauty tool for thorough, gentle cleansing, look no further, face cleanser brush for sensitive skin. The LumiSpa, Nu Skin’s rechargeable, waterproof beauty device, provides exactly that and is incredibly easy to use and maintain.
Your cleansing kit consists of:
- ageLOC LumiSpa Device
- ageLOC LumiSpa Silicone Head – Normal
- ageLOC LumiSpa Activating Cleanser – Sensitive Skin
Order Lumispa Online Quickly
Cleansing is important for both men and women, and the ageLOC LumiSpa is great at it. It’ll remove makeup, dirt, oil and debris. That helps to slow the appearance of the visible signs of ageing in your skin. You’ll see that youthful glow in no time. Our hi-tech patents are great for a start, but it’s the replaceable Silicone Head you’ll love. It’s softer, more hygienic and easier to clean than the bristle brush heads you’ll often find on facial cleansing brushes.
9 Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin
LumiSpa Cleanser – Sensitive Skin
Finding a face wash for sensitive skin can be tough, but we’ve got you covered. The ageLOC LumiSpa Activating Cleanser for Sensitive Skin creates a mild facial cleansing system designed to thoroughly cleanse your skin while keeping dryness, itchiness, and tightness in check. Alongside the unique ageLOC ingredients which guarantee your 7-in-1 solution for youthful looking skin, this mild facial cleanser, formulated fragrance-free, contains extracts from Oat and Chinese Pine to soften and soothe the skin for that extra feeling of comfort. The perfect partner to your LumiSpa, the face cleanser works to create the comfortable grip and precise cushioning that the device needs to work its magic on your skin and deliver the 7 amazing benefits of the LumiSpa experience.
Read more: lumispa benefits
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
CeraVe's Hydrating Cleanser is a 2019 Best of Beauty Award-winner and recommended by just about every dermatologist we've spoken to. That's because it's gentle while still extremely effective at removing debris, dirt, pollutants, and light makeup without stripping skin. Board-certified, New York City-based dermatologist Melissa Levin says it's one of her favorites for sensitive skin types because it's chock full of ceramides. "They're critical for maintaining the skin barrier and water retention," she explains, adding that this is especially crucial for those with reactive, easily irritated complexions.
$15 (Shop Now)
Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin white tube of Sent Daily Soothing Cleanser
Senté Daily Soothing Cleanser
Another one of Levin's go-to cleansers for sensitive skin is Senté's Daily Soothing Cleanser, which is featherlight, hydrating, and comforting on inflamed complexions. Calling it both effective and gentle, Levin appreciates the balance of humectants and water-trapping ingredients like glycerin and dimethicone. "I always prefer a creamy cleanser for sensitive skin, and this one is really nice," she tells Allure.
$34 (Shop Now)
Related: Best neck and chest creams
Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser Face Body
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Here, we have another derm-favorite cleanser for finicky complexions: Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser, which also happens to be adored by beauty editors and Allure readers alike. "This fragrance-free, non comedogenic face wash is super-gentle, and you can use it with or without water," says board-certified, New York City-based dermatologist Joyce Park. She adds that she also loves how it leaves the skin super-moisturized and helps to soothe redness.
$14 (Shop Now)
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
Park also highly recommends Fresh's Soy Face Cleanser, a satisfyingly frothy formula that contains cucumber extract and aloe vera to calm and hydrate dry, irritated skin. "I especially love using this face wash when I travel because it helps a lot with the irritation that inevitably occurs after a flight," she says. Additionally, it's infused with nourishing rosewater, which is well known for its calming and balancing properties.
$38 (Shop Now)
Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser
Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser — both an Allure Best of Beauty and Reader's Choice award winner — is another glycerin-packed formula that pulls moisture into the skin and soothes irritation on contact. Formulated specifically for sensitive skin types, it's non comedogenic, fragrance-free, soap-free, and still manages to remove dirt, oil, and light makeup like it's nothing. It's always about 10 bucks and available at just about every drugstore, making it one of the most accessible options on the market.
$11 (Shop Now)
Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin Pond's Cold Cream Cleansing Balm
Pond's Cold Cream Cleansing Balm
If you prefer an oil cleanser, board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchebin says you have to try Pond's Cold Cream Cleansing Balm. "It melts away makeup — even waterproof mascara — and cleanses skin so well, yet is super-hydrating and noncomedogenic, so even acne-prone skin can use it," she explains. Instead of leaving skin with a squeaky-clean feel, it adds moisture, ultimately contributing to glowing, soft, balanced skin.
$10 (Shop Now)
Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Wipes
While you should never use face wipes without a follow-up cleansing, Marchbein says Simple's Micellar Make-Up Remover Wipes, a Best of Beauty winner, are ideal for a first pass to remove makeup and any grime lingering on the surface of the skin. They're extra-gentle, fragrance- and dye-free, and contain hydrating glycerin and panthenol — a form of vitamin B5 that contains skin-nourishing properties.
$5 (Shop now)
VMV Hypoallergenics Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream
VMV Hypoallergenics Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream
Board-certified dermatologist Sejah Shah is a fan of VMV Hypoallergenics Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream for sensitive skin because it's free of fragrance, dyes, parabens, and phthalates, as well as common allergens that are known to irritate fragile epidermises. "It also contains green tea leaf extract, which helps to reduce inflammation, while coconut oil moisturizes and nourishes the skin," she explains.
$30 (Shop Now)
Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin La RochePosay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
Another face wash Shah recommends to her patients is La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, which is a creamy, soap-free formula that gently whisks away makeup and impurities without stripping the skin. Additionally, it's loaded with soothing ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin, and prebiotic thermal water, which, she says, helps to moisturize the skin and restore its barrier. Like all of these cleansers, it's also free of your common irritation inducers, such as fragrance, dyes, and sulfates.
$15 (Shop Now)
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Hydrating Gel Cleanser
Aveeno is known for its sensitivity-friendly products, and its Ultra-Calming Hydrating Gel Cleanser is no exception. It won't disrupt the outer skin layer, says Joshua Zeichne, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical research director at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. That’s because it’s enriched with feverfew, a botanical extract with anti-inflammatory properties. "It also contains colloidal oatmeal, one of the most effective skin protectants available over the counter," he explains.
$9 (Shop Now)
Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar
Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar
Dove's Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar is another foolproof option Zeichner says you can't go wrong with — especially if you're not a fan of traditional foam, gel, or cream cleansers. "This soap-free bar cleanser is ultra-gentle on the skin and can be used on the face or the body," he says, adding that it features the same type of ingredients found in traditional moisturizers.
An FAQ on facial cleansers for sensitive skin
Can I use cleansers with fragrances?
"Fragrances offer consumers a senatorial effect, but oftentimes leads to allergies or irritation," Dr. Zeichner said. "I'm cautious about recommending exfoliating cleansers to people with sensitive skin because ingredients like glycolic acid may be too harsh for some people." Dr. Peredo advises against strong fragrances and exfoliants, too, as well as sulfates, salicylic acid, retinoids, alcohols, and dyes.
What do products claiming to be "for sensitive skin" actually contain?
"These products will probably avoid fragrances and dyes," Dr. Peredo said. "They will also have a creamy, milky consistency for sensitive skin." Dr. Zeichner added that some products may be fit for sensitive skin based on some of our key ingredients mentioned that don't have "for sensitive skin" labeled on the product.
What other tips should I follow when cleansing?
Interestingly, Dr. Peredo recommends rotating your cleansers because your skin's needs are always changing due to aging, hormones, and the environment. It's a good way to prevent any plateauing and, for extra guidance, can always check in with your dermatologist to find specific products that suit your needs and skin type.