Handle With Care: Find the Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Moisturizer for sensitive skin: Woman touches her face

When your skin seems to flare up at the mere whiff of a fragrance or upon first contact with a new face cream, it can be extremely frustrating trying to establish a regular skincare routine.

Part of the problem is that there isn't a single cause of sensitive skin — weather, environmental pollutants, sun damage, dehydration, and product ingredients are all potential culprits. However, there is one thing that will help remedy this delicate situation: properly hydrating your skin every day.

Daily moisturizing is essential for strengthening your skin's protective moisture barrier, which not only retains water and moisture, but also protects against bacteria and other unwanted elements, thus reducing the risk of red, irritated, itchy, clogged, or flaky skin.

So what's the best moisturizer for sensitive skin? We admit there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, but finding the right skincare products is not an impossible task. With a little guidance, patience, and perseverance, you can choose a moisturizer that will help you put your best face forward.

Top Tips for Sensitive Skin

Moisturizer for sensitive skin: a tall redheaded woman in front of a lush green background

When it comes to sensitive skin, less is more. Don't try a bunch of different moisturizing creams all at once as this can overwhelm your skin and further aggravate it. Take a look at the following tips and put them into practice. If you still find yourself struggling with irritated skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist to determine the best course of action.

Start From the Inside Out

You've heard it a million times before, but it bears repeating: You are what you eat. And drink. And stress about. And...you get the picture. Maintaining healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and minimizing stress are crucial to overall well-being, including the well-being of your skin.

Create a Clean Slate

Whether you have sensitive skin, dry skin, oily skin, or combination skin, cleaning your face is a must before applying any moisturizer. This prevents bacteria, dirt, and other potential irritants from building up and causing flare-ups.

Be Gentle

While it's important to keep skin clean, it's just as important to be gentle. Don't over wash your face or use physical scrubs because these can worsen sensitive skin conditions. Be sure to pat-dry skin since rubbing can be too abrasive and trigger an inflammatory response.

Pay Attention to Ingredients

Look for non-irritating, non-comedogenic, soothing ingredients, such as vegetable glycerin and aloe vera, which are natural humectants. Shea butter, squalane, and hyaluronic acid are rich in fatty acids that offer intense hydration while protecting your skin's barrier and fighting fine lines. Steer clear of sulfates, phthalates, dyes, and parabens, which can be a disastrous recipe for sensitive skin types.

Avoid Alcohol

No, we're not talking about your favorite rosé or mojito. (Although news flash: drinking does dehydrate your skin.) We're talking about skincare products that contain alcohol — specifically isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, ethyl alcohol, or denatured alcohol. While these are often found in toners, they strip away your skin's natural oils and can leave you with dry, irritated, and flaky patches.

Say Farewell to Fragrances

Fragrance-free face moisturizers are the way to go when you have sensitive skin. This includes both synthetic and natural fragrances. While it's common knowledge that artificial scents can be highly irritating, fragrance from natural essential oils can sometimes offend touchy skin too.

Keep It Light

Lightweight moisturizing lotions and gel creams tend to be the best face moisturizers for sensitive skin. Unless you suffer from eczema or severely dry skin, a rich cream can lead to clogged pores and possible breakouts, so it's generally a good idea to stay away from heavy formulations.

Stay Cool

Using hot water or steam on your face is a definite no-no for sensitive skin. Not only does intense heat agitate and dehydrate skin, which causes more pronounced fine lines, but it can also injure the skin barrier, making it harder to retain moisture in the long run. Use cool water when washing and rinsing your face to keep skin fresh and free of inflammation.

Sensitive Skincare: 6 Moisturizers to Try

Moisturizer for sensitive skin: A smiling African-American woman holds two bottles of Feel moisturizer

We've scoured the web to compile a list of highly-rated face moisturizers for sensitive skin types. While there's always a level of trial and error when testing a new skincare product, this is a good place to start.

Avène Skin Recovery Cream: The star ingredient of this lightweight, fragrance-free skin cream is thermal spring water, which is "clinically shown by over 150 studies to calm, soothe and soften the skin."

Eminence Organic Skin Care Calm Skin Chamomile Moisturizer: This calming balm in a jar is made with soothing chamomile and arnica, along with shea butter and calendula oil to retain moisture and relieve redness.

Feel Beauty Bright Daily Squalane + Facial Oil Blend: Made with all-natural ingredients, including plant-derived squalane, this smooth-as-silk facial treatment combines rosehip oil to reduce redness with vitamins C and E to plump up collagen and gently hydrate.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer: This oil-free repair moisturizer is noted for absorbing quickly into the skin and uses ingredients such as prebiotics, glycerin, and thermal spring water to nourish sensitive skin.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion: Strengthen your skin barrier while you sleep with this non-comedogenic night cream that uses niacinamide (vitamin B3) along with hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

Odacité Beautiful Day Moisturizer: Organic virgin coconut oil, jojoba seed oil, and antioxidant-rich tea extracts soothe sensitive skin in this face moisturizer, which also incorporates MSM and DMAE to reduce the appearance of loose and sagging skin.

Ready, Set, Glow

Moisturizer for sensitive skin: A radiant, happy woman plays the ukulele on the beach

Having sensitive skin can be a frustrating struggle, but don't get discouraged. Bookmark this page and take some time to learn a little more about how to choose a natural moisturizer that best addresses your skin type. Once you know what to look for — and what to avoid — you'll be on your way to finding the best moisturizer to leave your skin feeling soothed and ready to take on whatever the day brings.

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