No matter what the rest of your routine entails, cleansing your face will always be the first step. But if you're experiencing redness or irritation after cleansing, you're probably washing with the wrong product. The good news is, the best face washes for sensitive skin are designed to leave your skin fresh and clean — without all those irritating ingredients.
When choosing the right face wash for sensitive, there are a few ingredients you should know about. For starters, you'll want to avoid formulas with pore-clogging petroleum and mineral oil, artificial fragrances, skin-stripping sulfates, and alcohol, which breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier.
Using a cleanser that's free of common irritants is great, but using one that's also formulated with sensitive skin-friendly, soothing ingredients is even better. Products with anti-inflammatory ingredients like calendula and centella asiatica can help combat redness and irritation. And nourishing, natural oils like jojoba, olive, and calendula do a great job of removing makeup and protect your skin while you cleanse, without clogging your pores.
Whether you opt for a balm, oil, foam, or milk, you've got to treat your skin gently while you cleanse. Be sure to rinse your face with tepid water — never very hot or cold — because extreme temperatures can cause redness, irritation, and dryness. After cleansing, gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel, without using any harsh rubbing motions.
Using a gentle face wash can help give sensitive skin a fighting chance against irritation — and these nine are some of the gentlest out there.
1. A Travel-Friendly Cleanser That Gently Exfoliates
This travel-friendly cleansing stick relies on nourishing rice bran oil to deep clean and pomegranate enzymes to gently dissolve dead skin cells so your skin is glowing and free from impurities. To use, simply apply the stick directly to your wet face or hands. Work it into a lather and rinse.
2. A Hydrating Foaming Cleanser Made With Hyaluronic Acid
Unlike many other foaming washes on the market that can strip the skin of vital moisture, this formula contains hyaluronic acid and aloe vera leaf extract to hydrate and assist with cell tissue repair. Free from alcohol, parabens, and color, this hypoallergenic face wash is a great choice for a sensitive skin type who loves lather.
3. An Oil-Based Sherbet Cleanser That Removes Every Last Trace Of Makeup & Sunscreen
This K-beauty favorite — a balm cleanser with a sherbet-like consistency — effortlessly removes all trace of makeup, dirt, and oil while leaving skin feeling moisturized and nourished. It melts into an oily texture upon contact with the skin and has a subtle botanical scent.
4. A Gentle Cleanser That Protects Skin From Environmental Stress
While kale, green tea, spinach, and vitamins may be a dead giveaway that this cleanser is as good for your skin as eating a salad, it’s also paraben and fragrance-free to boot. This non-drying gentle cleanser removes dirt and toxins while protecting the skin from environmental stressors such as the sun, pollution, and climate change.
5. A Powder Cleanser That Gently Exfoliates
The packaging for this hypoallergenic cleanser may look simple, but the contents inside are anything but. While rice water has been used for centuries in Asia to care for the skin, this modern-day version contains ten times the amount of rice extract found in traditional rice water. Good news for sensitive skin — rice contains natural anti-inflammatory agents known for their healing properties. The addition of papain (derived from papaya) gently dissolves dead skin cells during the cleansing process.
6. A Micellar Water That Leaves Skin Refreshed
This gentle micellar water is a must for anyone on the go because you don’t even need to rinse it off. All you have to do is apply the product to a cotton pad and gently swipe it across your face to remove dirt, makeup, and oil. It's dermatologist-recommended and formulated with glycerin to ensure that skin retains a healthy moisture balance long after makeup, dirt, and oil are swept away.
7. A 3-In-One Wash That Nourishes & Hydrates
While it’s never a bad idea to take off your makeup prior to cleansing, this pH-balanced cleanser has proven itself as a one-stop shop for removal, cleansing, and toning — but without stripping the skin of vital moisture. Thanks to nourishing cleansing oils, shea butter extract, and Vichy’s proprietary thermal water, impurities melt away without any irritation. The alcohol-, soap-, and paraben-free formula is aqueous, so it can be used with our without water.
8. A Gentle Milky Cleanser With Anti-Inflammatory Properties
This ultra-gentle cleanser reduces inflammation and heals irritated skin through a mix of nutrient-rich ingredients like arctic blackcurrant seed oil, sea buckthorn berry oil, and calendula. It's loaded with restorative omega acids and contains fennel seed extract, which protects skin from pollution damage and other environmental aggressors. The consistency is milky, the scent barely-there, and it contains no fragrances, parabens, or sulfates.
9. A No-Rinse Cleanser That Removes Makeup & Soothes
Sometimes water can further irritate and dry out a sensitized complexion, so that’s where this soap-free, non-rinse wash comes in. It’s formulated with vitamin E and thermal spring water to remove makeup, dirt, and oil while leaving skin soft and hydrated. To use, apply to the face in a gentle, circular motion. Remove with cotton pads (add more cleanser if necessary) until you can no longer see any traces of makeup or impurities.
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