9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (2023)

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Dermatologists break down everything you need to know about cleansing your sensitive skin.


Lindsay Tigar

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (1)

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar is a freelance travel and lifestyle journalist for Real Simple and the owner of Tigar Types, LLC., a digital content agency. She's been a writer and editor for more than 10 years and covered a plethora of topics—from love and marriage to fitness, wellness, psychology, and entrepreneurism. You can find her work in such publications as National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, Vogue, Fast Company, CNN, and many more.

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Updated on August 2, 2022

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Emily Peterson

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Emily Peterson is an experienced fact-checker and editor. Highlights: * Graduate student at Queens College studying Library and Information Science * Public library worker * Served as a Graduate Intern at the Advertising Research Foundation in New York * Bachelor's degrees in English Literature and French

(Video) Best Face Cleansers For All Skin Types | Dr. Shereene Idriss

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9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (2)

While some people wake up Instagram-ready, blemish-free, and fresh-faced, others have trouble predicting the mood of their pores. Whether you're prone to acne or suffer from skin conditions like eczema, sensitive skin can be difficult to manage. Though it may be frustrating at times, dermatologists say there is a silver lining, and it is often found in selecting the right types of products that suit your unique chemical makeup.

Focus on What You Need

If you haven't given much thought to your routine, start by taking a long hard look at the ingredients in the face wash you turn to every single day. What you use to cleanse your pores makes a difference in the vitality and condition of your skin, making it essential to only choose a facial cleanser that suits your needs.

From what to avoid to recommended products, consider this your guide to finding the best face wash for sensitive skin.

Be Mindful of Face Wash Ingredients

When your pores are susceptible to flare-ups, harsh chemicals can wreak havoc, according to Kim Nichols, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in New York City. Instead of products that will dry out skin or potentially cause a breakout, Dr. Nichols suggests looking for nourishing, non-irritating ingredients that will soothe while they cleanse. You'll also want to avoid any exfoliant that isn't hypersensitive or gentle. "Always steer clear from harsh physical scrubs, such as beads with rough edges, as they can cause micro-tears on the skin, making the skin prone to irritation or inflammation," she says.

Ingredients to Avoid for Sensitive Skin

When you're seeking the best face wash for sensitive skin, you can't head to your local drugstore and pick up the first product you see. Be sure to check labels for potentially harmful ingredients.

What should you keep an eye out for? Jeannel Astarita, a medical aesthetician and founder of Just Ageless in New York City, recommends avoiding parabens, phthalates, and fragrances since they can cause an imbalance in your skin's pH and lead to rashes, overdrying, breakouts, and redness. Astarita also urges those with sensitive skin to refrain from any cleansers or washes that claim to leave skin "tingly." These often include menthol or eucalyptol and will strip your skin of its natural sebum, which leads to extreme irritation and dryness.

Dr. Nichols also says to exercise caution when using a facial cleansing brush, like a Clarisonic, because the bristles can be too harsh for unpredictable skin. "Sometimes these devices can also over strip the skin of its natural oils, which can lead to more sensitivity or acne," she says. When in doubt, speak with a trusted dermatologist who can recommend the best regimen for your skin.

9 Best Face Washes for Sensitive Skin

Free of damaging chemicals and full of soothing vitamins and mindful ingredients, try one of these recommended face washes for sensitive skin.

DefenAge 1-Step Multi-Cleanse

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (3)

This cleanser can bust through even the thickest foundations or waterproof mascaras. It's a top pick for Astarita, who says it contains natural prebiotics that balances your skin's delicate ecology. It supports your skin's barrier, too, which is important for those with sensitive skin, since it won't allow potentially damaging irritants to penetrate the surface.

To buy: $62; defenage.com

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OMI Skin Nutrition Renew Fresh-Faced Cleanser

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (5)

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board-certified and nationally-acclaimed dermatologic surgeon, says this is the best face wash for sensitive skin since it helps to restore and fortify your skin's delicate microbiome. Thanks to effective ingredients like prebiotics, probiotics, antioxidants, and even Japanese lychee, it promotes a natural and healthy protective barrier against free radicals. For those who have chronic inflammation—from acne, eczema, or rosacea—Dr. Engleman says this cleanser pulls double-duty for cellular rejuvenation, eliminating toxins and giving sufferers smooth, glowing skin.

To buy: $32; ominutrition.com

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (7)

If you've ever visited your dermatologist to complain about breakouts, they've probably given you a sample (or three) of Cetaphil. It's recommended by experts because it's incredibly gentle and versatile, and appropriate for your face or body. As Dr. Engelman explains, it works by one molecule binding to the oil and the other binding to the water, so it removes impurities but does not strip your skin of oils. As a bonus? It's also lipid-, soap-, and fragrance-free.

To buy: $8; target.com

La Roche-Posay Micellar Foaming Water Face Cleanser

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (9)

For those who don't wear too much makeup yet suffer from finicky skin, this is the right facial cleanser to have on hand. It gently removes dirt, oil, and other grime easily. Because it doesn't contain any ingredients that could disrupt your skin's natural pH, it's safe to use a few times a day, leaving your face smooth, refreshed, and clean.

To buy: $18; ulta.com

(Video) 10 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin 2021

Repêchage Red-Out Cleanser

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (11)

For when your sensitive skin results in red patches on your cheeks and forehead, turn to this uber gentle buy. It's made of a blend of seaweeds, oranges, water, and aloe, making it an all-natural warrior against redness that decreases inflammation and softens your skin.

To buy: $52; amazon.com

Eleni & Chris Cleansing Foam

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (13)

Produced in Scandinavia with its patented Glacier Water, this ultra-light and fresh cleansing foam receives rave reviews for its ability to remove grime and makeup, without causing breakouts. You can expect your face to appear smoother and more supple with regular use.

To buy: $49; eleniandchris.com

Derma-E Sensitive Skin Cleanser

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (15)

Budget-friendly and effective, Derma-E uses natural ingredients to keep skin fresh and healthy. This product is formulated with sensitive skin in mind, using anti-aging antioxidants like pycnogenol and green tea to protect your pores from free radicals. Additionally, botanical extracts, including chamomile and lemongrass, soothe irritation.

To buy: $15; amazon.com

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SkinMedica Sensitive Skin Cleanser

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (17)

If you need something a little more intense or if you prefer a lather, this face wash for sensitive skin is for you. While still keeping your skin protected, it'll break through thick makeup, sweat, and sunscreen—you name it. A unique formula made of vitamin E, safflower oil, cucumber extract, and other goodies leaves you clean, calm, and ready for the day—or bedtime.

To buy: $38; dermstore.com

Algenist Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser

9 Best Cleansers and Face Washes for Sensitive Skin (19)

Another best facial cleanser for sensitive skin is this lathering goody from Algenist. If you tend to break out, you should consider this smart formula that fights against acne without drying out your already-unpredictable pores. Thanks to witch hazel, oat amino acids, and alguronic acid, you can easily wash away your makeup and buildup, leaving your skin refreshed and protected.

To buy: $28; sephora.com

Related: The Best Face Wash for Your Skin Type, According to Customer Reviews

(Video) 10 Best Gentle Face Washes and Cleansers


What iS the number 1 best face wash? ›

  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. ...
  • La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser. ...
  • Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne-Fighting Facial Cleanser With Salicylic Acid. ...
  • Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser. ...
  • iS Clinical Cleansing Complex. ...
  • Fresh Soy Face Cleanser. ...
  • Aveeno Calm + Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser.
3 Aug 2022

What do dermatologists recommend for very sensitive skin? ›

Dr. Fassett likes drugstore brands, like Eucerin, Aveeno, Cerave, Cetaphil, and Vanicream: “Those are all excellent for people that have eczema and sensitive skin in general.” (To be certain, scan the ingredient list every time, or ask your dermatologist for specific recommendations.)

Which is better CeraVe or Cetaphil? ›

If you have normal to oily skin and prefer a gel-based foaming cleanser, CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser will be the best choice. If you have dry acne-prone skin or sensitive acne-prone skin, Cetaphil Gentle Clear Clarifying Acne Cream Cleanser will most likely be the better choice.

What are the 3 most important skincare products? ›

Three Essential Elements in a Basic Skincare Routine
  1. Step 1: Cleanser. Choosing a cleanser that's specifically formulated for the face (rather than the body) is the first essential step in a basic skincare routine. ...
  2. Step 2: Moisturizer. ...
  3. Step 3: Sunscreen. ...
  4. 3 (or 5) simple steps to beautiful skin.

What is the number 1 dermatologist recommended skin care brand? ›

Neutrogena. The brand: You don't need to spend tons of money for effective products that derms love; Neutrogena is touted as the number one dermatologist-recommend skincare product and you can find it at the drugstore.

What is the #1 dermatologist skincare brand? ›

What you need to know. Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe is the #1 dermatologist recommended skincare brand1.

Is Neutrogena better than CeraVe? ›

Verdict: Neutrogena and CeraVe Daily Lotions

If you have normal/dry skin, then go for the CeraVe daily moisturizer. The Neutrogena, on the other hand, is suitable for sensitive skin. In addition, Neutrogena is designed for the face and neck area while the CeraVe can be used on the body.

Which company's face wash is best? ›

Ans: The best face wash products available in the market are:
  • Neutrogena Deep Clean Facial Cleanser.
  • MCaffeine Neem Face Wash.
  • Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.
  • Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash.
  • Clean & Clear Foaming Face Wash.
  • Lakmé Blush and Glow Strawberry Gel Face Wash.
  • Pond's Pure White Anti-Pollution + Purity Face Wash.

Do Dermatologists recommend Cetaphil cleanser? ›

Cetaphil is a gentle skincare brand that has been recommended and trusted by doctors and dermatologists for over 70 years, and is used by millions with sensitive skin around the world to improve the resilience of their skin.

Which brand is best for sensitive skin? ›

Best of Beauty Awards 2022: Sensitive
  • Bodewell Daily Eczema Calming Cream.
  • CeraVe Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm.
  • The Outset Firming Vegan Collagen Prep Serum.
  • Vichy Laboratories Aqualia Thermal Fragrance-Free.
  • Eucerin Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50.
  • Cetaphil Moisturizing Relief Body Wash.
13 Sept 2022

What should I avoid if I have sensitive skin? ›

Exfoliants, fragrances, alcohol, sulfates, and preservatives can be some of the most triggering skincare ingredients for sensitive skin. If you suspect any of these may be irritating your skin, consult with your dermatologist.

What are 7 things should your client avoid if they have sensitive or sensitized skin? ›

Sensitive Skin? Avoid These 8 Common Irritants in Products You Use Daily
  • Sulfates.
  • Petroleum.
  • Fragrance.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)
  • Glycolic Acid.
  • Lactic Acid.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide.
  • Alcohol (or Ethanol)
20 Nov 2018

Which is better for sensitive skin CeraVe or Cetaphil? ›

If you experience dry skin, oily skin, acne-prone skin then CeraVe might be the clear choice. However, if you experience sensitive skin the Cetaphil is the better option. Read more about the products of both CeraVe and Cetaphil on their websites to see which one is right for you.

What is better than Cetaphil? ›

With CeraVe, you'll find the best ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides, which really help to keep the skin glowing and hydrated. While Cetaphil does offer ingredients such as plant oils and vitamin complexes, it can't compare to the powerful ingredients of CeraVe.

What is as good as CeraVe? ›

The closest cruelty-free alternative to CeraVe's Moisturizing Cream is Ceramedx. Their Ultra Moisturizing Cream ($17.99) is marketed towards dry skin, though it's suitable for all skin types. It contains both ceramides (which are plant-based) as well as the same humectants as CeraVe (glycerin and hyaluronic acid).

What is the simplest skin care routine? ›

Think of your skin-care routine as consisting of three main steps: Cleansing — Washing your face. Toning — Balancing the skin. Moisturizing — Hydrating and softening the skin.

What are the 5 skin care routine? ›

  • Step 1: Cleanse. During the day, your skin goes through a lot. ...
  • Step 2: Exfoliate. ...
  • Step 3: Hydrate. ...
  • Step 4a:Treat. ...
  • Step 4b: Moisturize. ...
  • Step 5: Protect.
31 May 2021

What are the top 3 brands that come to mind in beauty or personal care? ›

With that, we have enlisted 7 Indian beauty brands that deserve to be on your radar, and eventually in your beauty cabinet.
  • Khadi Essentials. Image Courtesy: Khadi Essentials. ...
  • Shae. Image Courtesy: Medium. ...
  • Plum. Image Courtesy: Plum Goodness. ...
  • Seer Secrets. ...
  • Disguise Cosmetics. ...
  • Biotique. ...
  • Mamaearth. ...
  • Paul Penders.
2 Aug 2021

What iS the world's best skin care? ›

23 Of The Best Skincare Brands To Know In 2022
  • SkinCeuticals. SkinCeuticals has been a leader in skin care for over two decades thanks to its science-backed approach. ...
  • Emma Lewisham. ...
  • The Secret. ...
  • CeraVe. ...
  • esmi Skin Minerals. ...
  • La Roche Posay. ...
  • Kiehl's. ...
  • The Ordinary.

What dermatologist does Kim Kardashian use? ›

Camille Howard, a New York-based dermatologist who has tried all nine of Kardashian's products, expensive skin care isn't abnormal: A hyaluronic acid serum "can cost over $150," and brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm and La Mer have been praised for their even more expensive yet high-quality effects.

What is the number 1 skincare in the US? ›

According to research from Dermstore—the e-tailer also compiled Google searches from the past 12 months—there's one skin-care brand that America calls a clear favorite, and it's dermatologist approved. Taking the number-one spot is SkinCeuticals, which topped online searches in a whopping 30 states in 2021.

Why do dermatologists like CeraVe? ›

What pros say: The fact that it is so gentle, and doesn't have active ingredients, is exactly why dermatologists love this stuff. “It's a basic gentle cleanser, so it's not necessarily going to clear acne or target signs of aging, but dermatologists often recommend it for this exact reason,” Shah says.

What is the best face wash for over 60? ›

Gentle is the name of the game when you're shopping for cleansers in your 60s, and Shah couldn't help but rave about Biossance's jelly cleanser that removes both makeup, dirt and oil. "It's formulated with elderberry extract, which provides antioxidant benefits, and squalane to maintain skin moisture.

What is a good for skin over 60? ›

Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free, moisturizing bar soap, cleanser, or body wash. Doing so will help soothe rather than dry your skin. Moisturizing ingredients that can help reduce dryness include glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and lanolin. Use warm (not hot) water.

How often should an older woman wash her face? ›

Experts agree that two is the magic number: wash once in the morning, and once at night.

Why La Roche Posay is better than CeraVe? ›

Again, it comes down to intricacies regarding skin type: if you are prone to redness and irritation, you will probably prefer La Roche Posay, whereas if you are mainly struggling with congested skin, you will most likely see better results with CeraVe.

Why is CeraVe so popular right now? ›

So why is it so popular out of the blue? Not only is it blowing up on social media thanks to the beauty community on TikTok, but it's an extremely accessible brand. “CeraVe contains quality ingredients at a very reasonable price point,” says Dr. Chiu, “and has widespread availability at your local drugstore.”

Do dermatologists recommend CeraVe face wash? ›

"CeraVe is a commonly recommended brand in my practice, especially for acne patients and patients with eczema," says Juliya Fisher, MD, a double board-certified dermatologist in Manhattan, New York.

Which one is best face wash or cleanser? ›

“Face washes are more suitable for oily skin than cleansers because cleansers are generally hydrating.”
Face Wash Vs Cleanser: Basic Function.
Face washCleanser
FoamingUsually well foamingNon-foaming
GentlenessGentler than a soap barGentler than a face wash
6 more rows
17 Nov 2021

Which is best between face wash and cleanser? ›

A cleanser dissolves away excess oil, makeup and grime from your face. These are oil-soluble impurities. They can be removed by a face wash too, but that might be not be 100% effective. A face wash's job is to remove deeper seated debris and also cleanse pores, thanks to its foaming action.

Which Facewash is best for female? ›

Best face wash for women
  • Best face wash for women. Aug 25, 2022. ...
  • Top Pick. Himalaya Herbals Purifying Neem Face Wash, 200ml. ...
  • Provides nourishment. Lakme Strawberry Creme Face Wash 100 g. ...
  • Popular Pick. Biotique Honey Gel Soothe & Nourish Foaming Face wash For All Skin Types 150 ml. ...
  • Must Have. ...
  • Also Consider.

Is CeraVe OK for sensitive skin? ›

(All CeraVe sunscreens, whether they contain mineral- or chemical-based sunscreen filters are developed by dermatologists and suitable for sensitive skin.)

What can I use instead of Cetaphil Gentle cleanser? ›

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Like the Cetaphil cleanser, it is formulated to remove makeup on all skin types, without overly drying out the skin. Made with soy proteins and other hydrating ingredients, the cleanser ensures the skin is left moisturized and hydrated.

What face wash do dermatologists use? ›

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

CeraVe's Hydrating Cleanser is a 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.

Should you use cleanser on sensitive skin? ›

Gentle cleansers are important for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Madfes. While other skin types can use more stringent formulas to lift oil off the skin's surface, your sensitive skin does not benefit from these types of cleansers. There are gentle yet effective cleansers that are formulated for sensitive skin types.

How many times should I cleanse face if I have sensitive skin? ›

How often should you wash it if you have dry or sensitive skin? Washing the face twice a day may prove to be irritating for sensitive or dry skin types. If you tick that box, cleanse properly at night using a gentle formula and simply rinse with warm water in the morning.

What should sensitive skin avoid? ›

Exfoliants, fragrances, alcohol, sulfates, and preservatives can be some of the most triggering skincare ingredients for sensitive skin. If you suspect any of these may be irritating your skin, consult with your dermatologist.

What should people with sensitive skin avoid? ›

Sensitive Skin? Avoid These 8 Common Irritants in Products You Use Daily
  • Sulfates.
  • Petroleum.
  • Fragrance.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA)
  • Glycolic Acid.
  • Lactic Acid.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide.
  • Alcohol (or Ethanol)
20 Nov 2018

Why you shouldn't wash your face in the morning? ›

By washing your skin well at night and removing all impurities and makeup, you eliminate the need to wash your face in the morning. Your skin repairs itself at night, producing an acid mantle that can serve as a protective barrier during the day.

Is it better to wash your face at night or morning? ›

Both Emer and Zeichner agree that if you're only going to wash your face once a day, nighttime is the best time to do it. "Most dermatologists recommend face-washing twice daily, once in the morning and once before bed," says Zeichner.

Should you wash your face with hot or cold water? ›

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing your face in lukewarm water. It's the perfect middle ground for all skin types, as Beal explains that hot water strips your skin of the protective oils that help hold in moisture.


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