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The Best Skincare to Treat Even the Most-Sensitive Skin

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Sensitive skin requires extra care and attention when it comes to skincare. From redness and irritation to flare-ups and discomfort, those with sensitive skin know all too well the adverse reactions that can come with the struggle of finding products that work for their unique skin. But fear not, we have all the tips from experts that will make crafting your sensitive skincare routine a breeze. You’ll understand ingredients and types of products to stray away from as well as what sensitive skin often craves.

It’s a good idea to check in with your dermatologist if you suspect you have any sensitized skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis. Your dermatologist can help you understand if your skin is needing a specific medication, if you’re reacting to environmental triggers, or if you’re coming into contact with unnecessary irritants in your day-to-day routine. Nevertheless, we have you covered when it comes to product recommendations that are tried and tested by our editors, as well as recommended by experts. Read on for how to build the perfect routine and the best skincare products for sensitive skin.


About the Experts: 
Joshua Zeichner, MD, is the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and an associate professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Dendy Engelman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City.

What Is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin is characterized by its heightened response to various stimuli, such as environmental factors, harsh ingredients, or even stress.

“Skin sensitivity is an intolerance to personal care products. This means that when you apply products to the skin, it leads to redness, burning, or stinging,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.

Do You Have Sensitive Skin?

Having sensitive skin is actually determined by genetics. However, your skin can become sensitized due to exposure to something it didn’t quite like. “This means that you develop temporary sensitivity because of disruption of your skin barrier. For example, harsh cleansers or over-scrubbing can sensitize the skin. When your skin is in that state, it may not be able to tolerate your regular skincare products,” adds Dr. Zeichner.

Skin sensitivity can occur across all skin types. but people with more fair skin tones tend to be more sensitive. 

The Best Skincare Products for Sensitive Skin

A general rule of thumb if you have sensitive skin? Choose products that are fragrance free and dye free, as fragrances can lead to skin allergies and irritation. Instead you’ll want to keep your eyes out for skin-soothing ingredients like natural lipids, ceramides, glycerin, colloidal oatmeal, or soothing botanicals.  

1. Best Cleanser for Sensitive Skin:

PREQUEL Gleanser Non-Drying Glycerin Cleanser

PREQUEL Gleanser Non-Drying Glycerin Cleanser
Courtesy of PREQUEL

A non-stripping cleanser that has the most unique texture ever? Yes, please! This “gleanser” from PREQUEL is taking the internet by storm. Most notably, everyone on TikTok is calling out its extra-slippery texture and amazing hydrating benefits. It’s humectant-rich in glycerin and can remove makeup, excess sebum, and impurities while maintaining your skin's natural moisture barrier and pH. It also features oat and aloe to soothe as you wash your skin. Plus, you can use it on your body too!

2. Best Makeup Remover for Sensitive Skin:

BIODERMA Atoderm Shower Oil for Very Dry Sensitive Skin

BIODERMA Atoderm Shower Oil for Very Dry Sensitive Skin
Courtesy of BIODERMA

Perhaps the best cleansers come in jumbo sizes? Like the PREQUEL Gleanser, this cleansing oil from BIODERMA comes in the perfect jumbo size with a pump to remove anything that steps in its way. It’s skin-softening, full of ceramides, and perfect if you struggle with eczema or dry patches. You can use it as your first cleanse to remove makeup and follow up with a water-based cleanser, or you can use it on its own on your bare face.

3. Best Hydrating Mask for Sensitive Skin:

VERSO SKINCARE Nourishing Cream Mask

VERSO SKINCARE Nourishing Cream Mask

If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to stray away from grabbing a purifying or detoxifying mask that can potentially strip your skin of necessary moisture and cause irritation. Enter: this mask from VERSO SKINCARE, which has a cream-like texture and doesn’t dry and harden on skin. Instead, it hydrates by encapsulating skin with a thick moisture barrier. After applying it, you can wipe or rinse off and finish your routine. When your skin is exposed to harsh winds or cold weather, this mask is a total skin savior!

4. Best Calming Facial Spray for Sensitive Skin:

TOWER 28 SOS Rescue Spray

TOWER 28 SOS Rescue Spray

If you struggle with eczema, you probably know a thing or two about TOWER 28! They specifically make cosmetics for those with sensitive skin, and their hero product is their rescue facial spray called SOS, which helps to hydrate and heal skin with hypochlorous acid. It’s dermatologist-tested and can calm reactive skin thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. We think it’s a must-have to have on hand.

5. Best Multipurpose Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin:

FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Cream

FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Cream

FIRST AID BEAUTY is dedicated to creating simplistic skincare products that work for all skin types—especially sensitive skin—and this moisturizer is no exception. In addition to hydrating skin with a mix of nourishing and soothing ingredients like meadowfoam seed oil, colloidal oatmeal, avocado oil, and ceramides, this lightweight moisturizer helps leave your skin feeling oh-so smooth. You can use this tried-and-true product on both your face and your body to soothe, comfort, and hydrate.

6. Best Facial Oil for Sensitive Skin:

HERBIVORE BOTANICALS Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil

HERBIVORE BOTANICALS Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil

Facial oils can sometimes feel heavy on the skin, almost like they’re just sitting on top or creating a barrier or film over your skin. This is the exact reason why we love the Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil from HERBIVORE BOTANICALS; it’s lightweight with an almost water-like texture that instantly hydrates skin on contact. You won’t be left feeling greasy or like you have a film over top of your skin. Use it to spot-treat dry patches or all over to deeply hydrate and soothe.

7. Best Brightening Serum for Sensitive Skin:

MEDIK8 Oxy-R-Peptides

MEDIK8 Oxy-R-Peptides
Courtesy of MEDIK8

Anti-aging products aren’t always the most gentle—they can be heavy and contain a lot of actives that may stir up some irritation or redness if your skin is particularly sensitive. But this peptide serum from MEDIK8 is not only effective but extremely gentle in hydrating and offering anti-aging benefits like the reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

"For my patients with sensitive skin, I like to recommend incorporating MEDIK8's Oxy-R Peptides following treatments—this formula is created with a unique encapsulation system that helps to stabilize the resveratrol, which is notoriously an unstable ingredient. This also helps make the formula less abrasive on the skin and can be better tolerated by those who have sensitivity. Peptides help to soothe skin and inflammation while also improving texture and tone." says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City.

8. Best Eye Cream for Puffy Eyes:

ELEMIS Peptide4 Eye Recovery Cream

ELEMIS Peptide4 Eye Recovery Cream

If you have allergies, you might suffer from itchy or red eyes. And if you have sensitive skin on top of allergies, you’re no stranger to how certain skincare products can affect the skin around your eyes, sometimes causing puffiness, redness, or even miniature hives. 

Choosing an eye cream that has basic hydrating ingredients and avoiding strong retinols or brightening acids is in your best interest. You can still take care of your dark under-eye circles and protect the delicate skin around your eyes with eye cream. We love this one from ELEMIS as it uses peptides, coconut oil, and natural botanicals to soothe and help you appear more awake.

9. Best Anti-Aging Serum for Sensitive Skin:

DERMALOGICA Pro-Collagen Banking Serum

DERMALOGICA Pro-Collagen Banking Serum
Courtesy of DERMALOGICA

Your serum is typically the most supercharged product within your skincare routine due to its active ingredients. It’s your strongest product and one that carries potency. With sensitive skin, you’ll want to be careful you’re not using a serum that is too strong with exfoliation or skin-cell turnover, like a serum high in retinol might be. Opting for a hydrating serum with ingredients like peptides and hyaluronic acid is a safer bet. This serum helps skin feel like a cloud and has a soothing, almost cold feeling when applying, and it even helps preserve collagen and plump areas with stubborn fine lines.

10. Best Hydrating Serum for Sensitive Skin:

FACE GYM Hydrobound Daily Serum

FACE GYM Hydrobound Daily Serum
Courtesy of FACE GYM

Want the clearest skin you’ve ever experienced? How about with plumpness and extra bounce in your cheeks? This hydrating serum blends the powers of PGA and multiple weights of hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid, making it a great layer in any skincare routine, especially for dry skin. Plus, it has niacinamide to strengthen skin and leave it more even toned, too.

11. Best Lip Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin:

TOWER 28 LipSoftie Lip Treatment

TOWER 28 LipSoftie Lip Treatment
Courtesy of TOWER 28

Does everyone have a bedside table lip balm or is that just us? Because this product has certainly earned that coveted spot! You know how your lips look after a facial? Glistening with hydration after your esthetician swiped some magical lip product onto them? Well, LipSoftie from Tower28 can have you sporting those soft and glistening hydrated lips all day and night long. Owning the clear shade is a must but of course, we think you need to have your favorite tint too!

12. Best Moisturizer for for Sensitive Skin:

DRUNK ELEPHANT Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer

DRUNK ELEPHANT Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
Courtesy of DRUNK ELEPHANT

This moisturizer is as caring as can be for your complexion, and it's a staple in many of our editors' routines. It can be used day or night, as the creamy texture is hydrating enough to help skin repair itself while you sleep, yet it’s also light enough to wear under your makeup. It layers well with SPF and feels smooth across the skin like a primer.

13. Best Drugstore Product for Sensitive Skin:

CERAVE Moisturizing Cream For Normal to Dry Skin

CERAVE Moisturizing Cream For Normal to Dry Skin
Courtesy of CERAVE

Don't want to spend a ton of money on a moisturizer? Look no further than CERAVE's tried-and-true moisturizing cream. Formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin barrier–strengthening ceramides, it instantly seals in moisture, which is key for preventing irritating flare-ups. The best part? It can be used on the face and body, essentially making it a one-stop shop for fixing all of your dry skin blues.

14. Best Product for Sensitive Acne-Prone Skin:

HERO COSMETICS Gentle Milky Cleanser

HERO COSMETICS Gentle Milky Cleanser
Courtesy of HERO COSMETICS

Having sensitive skin that is also acne-prone can be a tough combination. You’re wanting to be gentle to your complexion but you need strong actives to prevent new breakouts from coming. But one thing we forget if we have acne-prone skin is that acne needs hydration too! Acne gets further irritated the more it becomes dried out, making the healing process painstakingly long. Instead, you’re better off reaching for a gentle and hydrating milk cleanser like this one from HERO COSMETICS. It has a PHA to gently exfoliate and help your pores clear, but it also contains oat, ceramides, and jojoba oils to hydrate and nourish.

15. Best SPF for Sensitive Skin:

BYOMA Moisturizing Gel Cream SPF 30

BYOMA Moisturizing Gel Cream SPF 30
Courtesy of BYOMA

A gel SPF? Count us in. This gel cream moisturizer doubles as SPF 30 and is ideal for sensitive skin types who struggle with layering too many products within their routine. Sometimes, the less we touch our face, the better—and this can cut down an additional step for you. It’s packed with beta-glucan, hyaluronic acid, and multiple ceramides to soothe and protect skin while filtering out UVA/UVB rays too.

Looking for more product recommendations for your skin type? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY beauty subscription. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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Article Last Updated May 6, 2024 12:00 AM