When you have sensitive skin, finding the best face wash can be a huge pain in the you know what. You need a cleanser that will do a thorough job of cleaning your skin with turning it into a dry, red, irritated mess. And that careful balance can be hard to come by.
“Sensitive skin refers to burning and stinging of the skin when you use personal care products,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “The wrong skincare products easily disrupt the skin barrier in people with sensitive skin, leading to microscopic cracks, loss of hydration, and inflammation.”
So what’s the best way to avoid irritating your sensitive skin? In general, Dr. Zeichner recommends sticking to gentle, soap-free cleansers if you have sensitive skin (since true soap can be harsh AF). He also recommends you steer clear of exfoliating products (i.e. anything that says brightening or has active ingredients like glycolic acid is a no-go for you). These “can cause more harm than good,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Instead, try any one of these 10 best face washes for sensitive skin.
Simple Micellar Cleansing Water
“Micellar water is among the most gentle cleansing technology available,” Zeichner says. “Tiny droplets of oil known as micelles trap dirt and oil to help remove it from the skin.”
Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser
Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
This sensitive skin face wash is so mild it’s recommended for people with acne, eczema, and rosacea, to name a few. “This cleanser is specially formulated with hydrophobically modified polymers that prevent the cleansing ingredients from penetrating past the outer skin layer. So you can enjoy the lathering cleanser without experiencing dryness,” Zeichner says.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser
“Formulated with selenium- and strontium-rich thermal spring water, this cleanser hydrates and helps support a healthy microbiome,” Zeichner says.
L’Occitane Cleansing Milk
Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser