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The Absolute Best Moisturizers for Every Type of Sensitive Skin

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If you have sensitive skin, trying to find the right daily moisturizer can be frustrating. The right product has to be effective but not too greasy, hydrating but not pore-clogging, and packed with ingredients that nourish rather than irritate. On top of all that, if you suffer from sensitive skin, your skin barrier may already be compromised, leaving you more prone to dryness. “Sensitive skin is less resilient to challenges to the skin barrier, and when the pH is off balance or chemicals leak through, cytokines are released, which results in inflammation (like red, dry, itchy skin),” says Jessie Cheung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Cheung Aesthetics and Wellness in Chicago.

Although it can be frustrating to slather on skincare products your friends swear by only to be left with harsh side effects, it doesn’t mean your skin situation is hopeless. In order to restore hydration without redness, stinging, or irritation, Cheung recommends reaching for moisturizers that use ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids to repair your skin’s moisture barrier. She also says that you’ll also want to steer clear of face creams that contain fragrances, preservatives, and sodium lauryl sulfate, since irritants will further “dry out your skin.”

The good news? There are a plethora of moisturizers designed specifically for sensitive skin. If you don’t know where to start, you’re in luck. We rounded up 14 of the best of the best face moisturizers–most of which are highly praised by our trusted Ipster community who received these moisturizers in past Glam Bags.


About the Expert:

Dr. Jessie Cheung, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Cheung Aesthetics and Wellness in Chicago.

MURAD Nutrient-Charged Water Gel
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MURAD Nutrient-Charged Water Gel

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Best Gel Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

This lightweight water gel moisturizer is a major savior for sensitive skin. The oil-free formula delivers an ample dose of hydration along with five essential minerals, five vitamins, and five peptides–all of which help to improve your skin's ability to lock in moisture. It's also free of common irritants like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

“This moisturizing cream leaves my face soft and very fresh, I recommend it 100%,” raves one Ipster. Another says, “This moisturizer really helped my dry skin!”

IT COSMETICS Confidence in a Gel Lotion Moisturizer
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IT COSMETICS Confidence in a Gel Lotion Moisturizer

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Best Priming Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Clinically-tested and proven to deliver much-needed hydration for even the most sensitive of skin types, this lightweight moisturizer is as light as water and serves up a major dose of nourishing ingredients sensitive skin types crave like ceramides and cactus flower extract. Because the formula absorbs into the skin almost instantly, it makes a perfect base for makeup.

“It does well on my dry skin,” says one Ipster. “It didn’t disappoint. Feels light and clean while totally moisturizing,” says another.

AHAVA Essential Day Moisturizer
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AHAVA Essential Day Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin

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Best Vegan Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

This vegan, oil-free moisturizer is packed with nourishing ingredients like amino acids, vitamin E, and vitamin B5, all of which work together to strengthen your skin’s barrier and lock in hydration. The skin is left feeling soft, smooth, and irritation-free. It's a great daily go-to for days with or without makeup.

“This is my absolute favorite facial moisturizer! I use it every morning after my shower and under my makeup. Best ever," one Ipster raves.

IT COSMETICS Bye Bye Redness Sensitive Skin Moisturizer
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IT COSMETICS Bye Bye Redness Sensitive Skin Moisturizer

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Best Redness-Reducing Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

This ultra-repair cream was specifically crafted to keep sensitive skin expertly hydrated while also toning down any redness. It serves up a dose of soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera, turmeric, peptides, and collagen for your skin to soak up. “Colloidal oatmeal decreases redness and inflammation by boosting the gene expression for skin barrier repair and pH balance,” Cheung explains.

The result? A moisturized, balanced complexion Ipsters can’t get enough of. “Very impressed with this—great moisturizer and indeed did make the redness in certain spots of my face less noticeable,” one Ipster writes.

GLOSSIER Priming Moisturizer Rich
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GLOSSIER Priming Moisturizer Rich

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Best Face Moisturizer for Dry, Sensitive Skin

If flaky dry patches are your problem, this moisturizer is the solution. This decadent skin cream delivers the building blocks your skin needs to strengthen the outer barrier and retain moisture. It serves up ceramides, fatty acids, murumuru, and shea butter to relieve dryness without irritating the skin.

“I have patchy skin, where my T-zone is oily but the rest of my face is dry. This worked wonders for my skin, I love it,” says one Ipster. Another raves, “My face is very dry and sometimes it's hard to find a true cream. This is it! Perfect!”

APTO SKINCARE Moisture Retaining Day Lotion
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APTO SKINCARE Moisture Retaining Day Lotion

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Best Morning Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

This lightweight day cream is packed with ingredients that treat skin without setting off sensitivities. Calendula calms and soothes, vitamin E conditions dry skin, arnica depuffs, and green tea extract fights off free radicals and provides anti-aging benefits. Apply this moisturizer first thing in the a.m. to instantly wake up the skin.

"This moisturizer is the best I’ve ever used," one Ipster writes. "My skin looks and feels the best after using it." Another says this is her new favorite. She says, "I have tried a million lotions and this is the ONLY one that has left my face feeling super plump all day long!"

DERMELECT Rapid Repair Facial Moisturizer
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DERMELECT Rapid Repair Facial Moisturizer

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Best Soothing Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

You'll be feeling anything but blue after using this unique, sensitive-skin approved moisturizer. Don't be intimidated by the blue-tinted formula, it's unique color comes from azulene, a naturally dark blue organic compound that can work wonders to reduce inflammation and irritation. Soothing chamomile also steps in here to calm sensitive skin. Finally, avocado oil and grapeseed oil hydrate and plump while marine collagen firms skin.

"I loved this! I have very sensitive skin and this didn't give me a reaction," one Ipster writes. "My skin feels amazing and soft almost immediately after using this," another adds.

SKIN&LAB B Plus Calming Cream
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SKIN & LAB B Plus Calming Cream

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Best Acne-Fighting Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Having combination skin or acne-prone skin that's also sensitive can feel like a double-edged sword, but this formula makes it extremely easy to care for both skin types. This lightweight cream absorbs quickly into the skin, infusing it with nourishing ingredients like vitamin B, Centella Asiatica, and tea tree oil. Together these ingredients can purify pores, tame active breakouts, control oily skin, and boost cell turnover to help skin recover faster.

"Makes my skin feel amazing and ZERO breakouts," says Ipster dsouthard1702. "Saw so much improvement and brightness in my skin," adds another Ipster.

/SKIN REGIMEN/ Night Detox
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/SKIN REGIMEN/ Night Detox

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Best Nighttime Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Beauty sleep is real, people. At night, your skin goes into supercharge mode, working extra hard to recoup and repair, meaning it's the perfect time to apply a nourishing night cream that will amplify the results. This moisturizer does just that. Powerful antioxidants protect and strengthen skin while AHAs gently exfoliate to reveal a smoother, brighter complexion by morning.

"I use this when my skin is going through a rough patch. It clears me up right away," says Ipster adrijsayala.

FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Cream
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FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Cream

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Best Repairing Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

If you’re in need of some serious skin recovery, this repair cream might be your savior. It offers long-lasting hydration for sensitive, flaky, and even eczema-prone skin. Free of alcohol and harsh chemicals, this rich cream instead uses soothing shea butter, oatmeal, and ceramides (which help promote a healthy skin barrier) to immediately relieve irritation.

"By far the best thing I have ever gotten from Ipsy," says one Ipster. "This lotion has saved my skin. I have eczema and within a few days of using this product, it was gone. It’s a miracle for my dry itchy skin. I could not recommend it more highly."

SKYN ICELAND Pure Cloud Cream
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SKYN ICELAND Pure Cloud Cream

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Best Whipped Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

When your sensitive skin is feeling particularly parched or irritated during the winter months, you don't always need to turn to a thick moisturizing lotion to restore hydration. This ultra-light, whipped moisturizer provides the same results without any greasy, heavy residues. It also ticks all the boxes for keeping sensitive skin irritation-free: It's free of parabens, petroleum, mineral oil, chemical sulfates, and phthalates. Plus it's 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and dermatologist-tested. Check, check, and check.

"Great cream! Very moisturizing, yet very light and not sticky at all," one Ipster says. "It absorbs seemingly immediately and makes your skin look clean and fresh. It is also great for sensitive skin. Some creams make my skin turn red for a few minutes, but not this one!"

HEY HONEY Relax! Propolis & Honey Soothing Moisturizer
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HEY HONEY Relax! Propolis & Honey Soothing Moisturizer

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Best Moisturizer for Skin Irritations

If you're prone to skin sensitivities like rosacea, seborrhea, or eczema this facial cream contains a secret ingredient that could work wonders for irritated skin. Enter: propolis, a resin-derived from beehives that has strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Propolis is paired with aloe and honey to naturally hydrate, soothe, and heal.

"I have patchy skin and this helped balance everything out," says Ipster hstevens82_hs. "My skin felt so soft and supple. The honey scent is a very happy bonus."

KNOURS. Skin Meditation Gel Cream
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KNOURS. Skin Meditation Gel Cream

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Best Moisturizer for Hormonal Skin

Does your skin tend to go rogue right before your period arrives? KNOURS' products are designed specifically to cater to the fluctuating hormones in women's skin. Created using clean ingredients and input from top dermatologists, this facial moisturizing lotion combines peppermint oil, ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin and help it chill out.

"If you get acne during your cycle, invest in this," one Ipster says. "I have gone through three cycles with no pimples."

LANEIGE Water Bank Moisture Cream
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LANEIGE Water Bank Moisture Cream

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Best Rich Cream Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Whether your face is prone to dryness or feeling extra rough from winter weather, a rich, emollient cream can sometimes be exactly what your skin needs. This formula uses clean ingredients like zinc, potassium, and calcium to nourish sensitive skin types while non-comedogenic, plant-derived squalane deeply moisturizes without leaving a greasy residue behind. 

"I love how the product left my skin. It was smooth and hydrated," writes Ipster charinaespinal. Another says, "Just as high quality as you'd expect–super hydrating and not greasy at all."

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About the author
cortney-clift-headshot
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated January 14, 2021 12:00 AM