A woman splashes water on her face.

Skin Care

Your Guide to Moisturizer, Sunscreen & Face Wash for Sensitive Skin

by Anubha Charan
April 30, 2024

Navigating the skincare aisle to find the perfect moisturizer, sunscreen or face wash for sensitive skin can feel like walking through a minefield. One wrong step (or product) and your skin might retaliate with stinging, burning or itching — all common characteristics of sensitive skin. That's why choosing products that soothe and protect your skin, support a healthy skin barrier and avoid causing further irritation is crucial.

So fear not, sensitive souls! We've curated a guide to gentle, effective skincare for sensitive skin. Read on and bookmark for your next shopping haul.

Cleansing Without Compromise: Face Wash for Sensitive Skin

A gentle cleansing routine is the first step to caring for sensitive skin. The goal is simple: Remove dirt, oil and makeup without irritation. So, where should you begin? Start with a cream or oil-based face wash to cleanse your skin without stripping its natural moisture. Next, look for products labeled "fragrance-free" (sensitive skin and fragrance allergies are linked) and "for sensitive skin." These formulas are designed to minimize the risk of irritation.

Finally, look for soothing ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile and moisturizing agents such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients work together to maintain healthy hydration and skin barrier health, which is key to your skin's natural defenses.

Creamy Cleanser

Start with a mild yet effective cleanser like Neutrogena® Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. This soap-free, fragrance-free cleanser is ideal for daily use and suitable for those with eczema or rosacea, as it has a minimal ingredient list to reduce the risk of irritation. The main ingredient glycerin moisturizes and protects the skin barrier for soft, clean, refreshed skin without residue.

Gel Cleanser

Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid is another great option. This hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, fragrance-free cleanser is clinically tested to be gentle on sensitive skin, suitable for use with conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis and acne. Its advanced technology forms a silky lather that purifies without drying, enhancing skin hydration with hyaluronic acid for a clean, hydrated complexion.

Balancing the Skin: Facial Toner for Sensitive Skin

The right toner can hydrate, soothe irritation and rebalance the skin's pH. It can also prime your complexion for the next steps in your routine, helping them do their jobs more effectively. Just avoid alcohol and astringents, which can dry out your skin and exacerbate sensitive skin concerns.

For example, Neutrogena® Alcohol-Free Daily Toner gently tones and refreshes skin without stripping its natural moisture, removing any last traces of dirt, oil and makeup to purify pores and help keep breakouts at bay. And by nixing alcohol and fragrance from the ingredients list, it minimizes symptoms of irritation like tightness, dryness and stinging.

Quenching Thirsty Skin: Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, you know all too well that keeping it moisturized can be a struggle. And when your skin is dehydrated, it's like rolling out the red carpet for sensitivity triggers like pollution and extreme temperatures to do their worst. That's where a trusty moisturizer comes into play. It's not just about hydrating your skin — it's about fortifying its defenses against those pesky irritants.

In your quest for the best moisturizer for sensitive skin, simplicity is key. Opt for products with a short and straightforward ingredient list to reduce the chance of irritation. And remember to avoid artificial fragrances, dyes and any known ingredients that disrupt your skin's balance.

Instead, seek out ingredients that are kind to sensitive skin. Hyaluronic acid is a standout, attracting and locking in moisture to deeply hydrate your skin. Ceramides also help strengthen your skin's protective barrier, improving its ability to retain moisture and fight against environmental stressors. Glycerin enhances these effects by drawing water into the skin, ensuring it stays soft and hydrated.

For Acne-Prone Skin

Neutrogena® Ultra Gentle Face Gel Hydrator for Acne-Prone Skin combats the dryness and sensitivity linked to acne treatments without clogging pores, which can cause further breakouts. This formula includes pro-vitamin B5 to enhance the skin's moisture barrier and niacinamide to even out and smooth skin tone, resulting in a healthier-looking complexion. Oh, and it's free of fragrances, dyes, parabens and phthalates. A win for sensitive, acne-prone skin!

For a Hyaluronic Acid Boost

A water-based, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer, Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Water Cream can be a game-changer for sensitive skin, supporting plump, glowy, more resilient skin. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and natural moisturizing factors like amino acids, electrolytes and essential lipids, this lightweight moisturizer is clinically proven to keep your skin hydrated for up to 72 hours. And it's free from dyes, parabens, phthalates and oils.

And then there's Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Water Gel with Hyaluronic Acid. This moisturizer has the light, airy feel of a gel with the hydration punch of a cream. It's clinically proven to help strengthen the skin barrier and absorbs quickly. Plus, it won't clog your pores, so you don't have to worry about irritation or breakouts.

Shielding Skin From the Sun: Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

Sun exposure can be a trigger for sensitive skin, leading to sensitivity issues and leaving the skin more vulnerable to sun damage (and thus visible signs of premature aging). Therefore, it's important to find a sunscreen you can wear comfortably every day.

But what are the key components of the best sunscreen for sensitive skin? As a general rule of thumb, opt for mineral formulas containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients form a protective layer on top of the skin, reflecting ultraviolet (UV) rays that can cause sun damage and irritation. Ensure the sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection — meaning it shields you from UVA and UVB rays — and has an SPF of 30 or higher. From there, look for a hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic formula free of fragrances and alcohol to help keep sensitive skin comfortable and protected.

For a Hydrating Mineral Formula

Awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance™ as a suitable sunscreen for people with sensitive skin conditions, Neutrogena® Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is a prime pick for sensitive skin. Made with zinc oxide, it offers broad-spectrum protection while its Dry-Touch technology ensures a lightweight, non-greasy feel that's perfect for daily use. Formulated for sensitive skin, it avoids fragrances, parabens, phthalates and dyes, and it's hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. As if that weren't enough, it's water resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it an excellent choice for outdoor activities.

Achieving Flawless Coverage: Makeup for Sensitive Skin

When you have sensitive skin, finding makeup isn't just about looking good — it's about feeling good, too. The trick? Choose makeup made with sensitive skin in mind. Here are some non-comedogenic picks that skip all the no-nos, like preservatives, fragrances and synthetic dyes.

Serum Foundation

Designed for sensitive skin, Neutrogena® Sensitive Skin Serum Foundation with Moisturizing Vitamin B5 boosts your natural glow and conceals blemishes and redness without irritation. Offering lightweight, buildable coverage, it blurs imperfections and minimizes the appearance of pores and fine lines. Beyond coverage, it also hydrates and soothes skin with pro-vitamin B5.

Lightweight Coverage With SPF

Neutrogena® PureScreen+™ Mineral UV Tint Face Liquid Sunscreen combines sun protection with the lightweight feel of a BB cream, providing sheer coverage for a natural glow. Its mineral-based, antioxidant-rich formula offers SPF 30 broad-spectrum protection and boosts your skin's defenses against environmental aggressors. The result? A gentle, easy-to-layer formula that leaves a soft, smooth finish with zero white cast.

Melting Away Makeup: Makeup Remover for Sensitive Skin

Taking off your makeup should be a calming way to wrap up your day — not a cause for concern. The key is to find a mild and effective makeup remover, ensuring a thorough cleanse without irritation. Beyond that, avoid rubbing your skin, which can further irritate sensitive skin.

Oil-based removers offer a gentle approach to melting the day away. You can also look for formulas with calming and soothing ingredients like aloe vera, allantoin and cucumber.

For Your Whole Face

Neutrogena® Makeup Remover Melting Balm is a luxurious balm-to-oil makeup remover that melts away even the most stubborn makeup, including waterproof mascara, without the need for harsh rubbing. Ideal for sensitive skin, this balm transforms into a silky oil upon contact, providing a nourishing experience that preserves the skin's natural moisture. Infused with vitamin E, this makeup remover doesn't merely cleanse — it leaves your skin feeling soft, supple and pampered.

For Your Eyes

Designed specifically for the delicate eye area, Neutrogena® Gentle Oil-Free Liquid Eye Makeup Remover for Waterproof Mascara offers a gentle yet efficient solution for removing waterproof mascara and eye makeup without leaving behind a greasy residue. Simply shake the bottle to activate the formula, enabling it to quickly dissolve long-wear eye makeup. It's also ophthalmologist-tested, so it's safe for contact lens wearers!


Why is my skin so sensitive all of a sudden?

Various factors, including environmental changes, stress, hormonal fluctuations and new skincare or makeup products, can trigger sudden skin sensitivity. Identifying and removing the irritant or stressor is key to managing flare-ups.

How do I know if I have sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin is characterized by symptoms like redness, itching, burning and dryness in response to sensitive skin triggers. If your skin gets irritated frequently, consult a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and tailored skincare advice.

Is hyaluronic acid good for sensitive skin?

Hyaluronic acid is generally well tolerated by all skin types. It can benefit sensitive skin by supporting the skin's natural barrier and helping it retain moisture, promoting a hydrated and more resilient complexion.

What should I know about how to treat sensitive skin?

Treating sensitive skin involves maintaining a gentle skincare routine. Opt for fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products designed for sensitive skin, and look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera and ceramides. Avoid over-washing and excessive exfoliation, and always patch-test new products. It's also important to protect your skin from extreme temperatures and harsh environmental conditions.

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