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Those with sensitive skin know that it doesn’t take much for your complexion to turn red and irritated. That even goes for skincare products. There’s a good chance you may have slathered on a serum or a moisturizer with too many active ingredients and paid the price with angry skin. That’s why opting for products that are formulated to be extra gentle is key. A skincare routine starts with a cleanser, so finding the right face wash for sensitive skin is a must.
Cleansers tend to get overlooked in the skincare category, but they’re actually a pretty big deal, particularly during times of more extreme weather. For example, during the winter, your skin is subjected to harsh weather outside and then dry heat indoors. And in the summer, the sun can take a toll on your skin, while air conditioning also wreaks havoc.
Both scenarios leave your skin super thirsty, so adding in a cleanser that is anything but soothing will worsen the situation.
Obviously, face washes are meant to cleanse the skin by drawing out dirt, oil, pollution and other impurities, but ones that have harsh surfactants overdo it, stripping skin of its natural oils — and sometimes depleting the natural moisture barrier — leaving it parched, red and irritated, with flaky patches. Not to mention, a dry complexion can cause fine lines and wrinkles to look more pronounced.
When your skin feels squeaky clean — we’re talking dry and tight — that’s actually not a good thing. On the flip side, the best face washes for sensitive skin actually hydrate while gently cleansing.
So how can you find a formula that fits the bill?
What to Look For in the Best Face Wash For Sensitive Skin
First, consider the type. A creamy or lotion formula is best (look for those words on the bottle) because they feel like a moisturizer while cleansing skin, ensuring you’re infusing your complexion with hydration — not taking it away.
Second, always avoid scented products, which are one of the most common irritants, so look for “fragrance-free” on the bottle. The best face washes for sensitive skin are also spiked with moisturizing ingredients, so scan for ones like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramides, which are all healthy hydrators.
Extra sensitive skin will also get a boost from soothing, calming ingredients like aloe vera and soy. While anti-aging ingredients are great for turning back the clock, some can be too harsh for sensitive skin, so you’ll want to steer clear of lactic and glycolic acids, which often strip oils.
If your skin is extra dry and sensitive, it’s best to only wash once a day, before bedtime. Be sure to immediately follow up while skin is still damp with a moisturizer designed for sensitive skin to lock in hydration. Get started on soothing your skin with these best face washes for sensitive skin.
1. Caldera + Lab The Clean Slate
The best face wash money can buy doubles as the best face wash for sensitive skin, thanks to Caldera + Lab’s The Clean Slate face wash.
This natural cleanser chooses to go without any harsh chemicals or alcohol in its ingredients to keep it safe for sensitive skin types. It’s made using a combination of goodies including probiotics, clarifying plant extracts, hydrating amino acids, and mineral-rich glacial ocean silt extracts in order to cleanse and rejuvenate the skin with a lightweight yet refreshing consistency.
To top it all off, The Clean Slate is pH-balanced for an extra gentle approach. This is one of our favorite face washes of all time, so much so that we named it one of the best products of the year in the 2021 Man, SPY’s end-of-year product awards.
2. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
The name sums it up — this face wash for sensitive skin is designed to be ultra-gentle. Loaded with glycerin to hydrate, it’ll remove dirt, bacteria and oil in the most delicate way possible, leaving skin incredibly soft.
It’s so gentle that it’s even safe for those who have acne, eczema or rosacea. It ticks off all the boxes for sensitive skin types: it’s noncomedogenic, fragrance-free and soap-free.
3. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
All about maintaining the skin’s natural protective barrier and keeping skin pH balanced, this super creamy face wash for sensitive skin will never strip away the good stuff. The impressive ingredient list is all about nourishing the skin, with ceramides, niacinamide, glycerin and prebiotic thermal water.
The soap-free formula is free of all the things you need to avoid to prevent irritation, including fragrance, dyes, and sulfates.
4. Geologie Essential 2-Step Acne Treatment
It goes without saying that we’re a little bit obsessed with Geologie, so if you’re looking for a two-step treatment for sensitive skin, you’ve found it. This treatment includes Geologie’s Everyday Face Wash and their Repairing Night Cream. So, sure, it might not be just a sensitive face wash, but hey, it’s a two-for-one we’re happy to tell you about.
This treatment is used to control acne, keep your skin smooth, control your oil and reduce blemishes for a clearer look. Yeah, it’s one more step, but you should absolutely be using one of the best face moisturizers, to begin with. Consider this just a push in the right direction.
That said, we love Geologie so much, that we named them the best skincare subscription of the year in the 2021 Man, our end-of-year product awards.
5. Bull Dog Sensitive Face Wash
We’re big fans of Bull Dog skincare products for men, and we’ve written about their positive effects on your skin before. But for men with especially sensitive skin, it’s important to find a face wash that will gently wash and soothe your skin. That’s why we like Bull Dog Sensitive Face Wash, which contains essential oils and green tea to retain high moisture levels and leave skin feeling refreshed and looking good. This non-drying formula is especially great for men with dry skin.
We love the Bull Dog brand so much that we even named their face scrub (the Sensitive Face Wash’s fraternal twin brother) the best face scrub of the year two years running in the 2021 Man.
6. CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash
The CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash boasts a unique formula filled with three essential ceramides, which work to cleanse, hydrate and restore your skin’s protective barrier all without clogging your pores.
The wash is non-comedogenic, non-drying, fragrance-free and includes hyaluronic acid to retain your skin’s moisture. After removing the dirt, excess oil and impurities, your skin will be left looking healthy.
7. Baxter of California Daily Face Wash
Baxter of California’s Daily Face Wash is a paraben-free, fragrance-free face wash made for any kind of skin. So, that means yes, it’s ideal for sensitive skin. Using coconut-derived cleansing ingredients, this wash has the ability to rid of dirt and grime without ever drying your skin out. It’s got an ideally refreshing post-wash feel to it that never feels like anything has been left behind or taken away.
In addition to coconut, this face wash is also made with Aloe Vera and Allantoin, two key ingredients for ditching redness. To keep your face feeling fresh and alive, Baxter of California also includes caffeine to boost energy on your face.
8. Aveeno Calm + Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser
Aveeno is known for formulating especially for sensitive skin, so this gentle cleanser is a top option. Oat is fantastic at nourishing and soothing skin, which is the hero ingredient. It’s also spiked with feverfew, which works to calm irritated, dry skin while boosting the skin’s moisture barrier, helping skin become more resilient over time.
The milky gel formula will deeply cleanse while treating skin. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, alcohol-free, dye-free, phthalate-free and non-comedogenic.
9. Dove Beauty Bar for Sensitive Skin
Typically bar soap is a major no-no for sensitive skin, since it’ll strip your complexion of necessary oils, but the Dove Beauty Bar is different. For starters, it technically isn’t soap and can be used all over the body, making it a great face wash for sensitive skin.
This version of the beauty bar is unscented, hypoallergenic, and one-quarter of it is made from moisturizing cream to give sensitive skin the care it needs.
10. Avène Antirougeurs Clean Refreshing Cleansing Lotion
This face wash for sensitive skin is infused with Avène’s signature thermal spring water that is famous for its healing powers.
In this case, the formula soothes any tightness, irritation or redness, preventing any reactions with the incredibly gentle formula. Yet, it still manages to unclog pores without any side effects for sensitive skin.
11. Olay Sensitive Facial Cleanser with Hungarian Water Essence
For centuries, people flocked from near and far to Hungary for its healing natural spas. This face wash for sensitive skin was inspired by Hungarian water, infused with essences of aloe and cucumber to soothe.
The cleanser works into a foamy lather to wash away impurities without leaving skin feeling tight or irritated — just plump and clean.
12. First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser
A key to keeping sensitive skin happy is using a pH-balanced formula and this face wash for sensitive skin does the trick. Sulfate-free and fragrance-free, this cleanser is tough on dirt, oil and grime but gentle on your complexion, so there’s no need to worry about it being left tight or dry.
For an extra nourishing boost, the formula is infused with First Aid Beauty’s botanical antioxidant blend, which also helps to fight irritation and inflammation.
13. Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel
What’s so special about this cleansing gel? Its extra gentle formula, of course, and the fact that it’s designed to maintain the skin’s natural hydration barrier. As you massage it into your skin, it transforms into a creamy lather that leaves it refreshed and moisturized. Meanwhile, mint and lavender team up to soothe skin.
14. KORRES Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser
You may be more used to eating it, but in this KORRES Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser, the Greek yogurt ingredient nourishes and moisturizes your skin. The additional proteins, minerals and vitamins in the yogurt give your skin more of what it needs, while the other ingredients fight against redness and dryness.
The cleanser also includes honeysuckle and amaranth seed extract to add a soothing treatment for your skin.
15. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
The Fresh Soy Face Cleanser boasts almost 250,000 “loves” from users who adore this product on the Sephora website. The lightweight gel is great for all types of skin, including those with sensitive and oily tendencies, and comes backed by clinical results supporting its effectiveness.
You’ll find the powerful soy protein formula cleanses your skin of all dirt, excess oils and residual skin products. It also works to fight against dryness, loss of firmness and dullness, all without losing the essential moisture from your skin.
16. NIVEA Men Sensitive Face Wash
The NIVEA Men Sensitive Face Wash is a popular and budget-friendly answer to keeping your sensitive skin clean on a daily basis. The alcohol-free formula won’t dry out your skin and gently cleanses, removing impurities, excess oils and dirt as you go.
In addition to cleaning your skin, this effective wash also softens beards for a more comfortable shaving experience. Regular use leaves skin feeling fresher and more comfortable as well as looking healthier, too.
17. InstaNatural Vitamin C Facial Cleanser
This InstaNatural Vitamin C Facial Cleanser is made in the USA and filled with high-quality ingredients. The formula includes aloe vera, coconut water, sugar cane extract and green tea extract to give an antioxidant-filled treatment to your skin that cleanses and rejuvenates. The vitamin C in the mix works to unclog pores, reduce blemishes and prevent breakouts.
In addition, this cleanser is ideal for use in combination with an exfoliating face wash to maximize its anti-aging benefits.
18. TruSkin Naturals Daily Facial Cleanser
The TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C Daily Facial Cleanser boasts almost 4,000 five-star reviews from Amazon users. This multi-action cleanser deep cleans, protects and refreshes your skin using an advanced blend made up of vitamins, antioxidants and more.
Ingredients include aloe vera, rosehip oil, orange peel and tea tree which combine to clean pores, moisturize and deliver a healthier skin tone. The cleanser is also made from only the highest quality ingredients and free from sulfates, parabens and alcohol.
19. TATCHA Pure One Step Camellia Oil Cleanser
The TATCHA Pure One Step Camellia Oil Cleanser is another option that is ideal for use on all types of skin. It works to treat dryness, minimize wrinkles and fine lines and balance the skin’s texture. This is an effective answer to removing other skincare products and further solves the problem by cleansing the skin underneath, too.
The formula is rich in skin-boosting vitamins and also free from mineral oils, sulfate detergents and synthetic fragrances.