If you have sensitive skin, particularly on your face, an excellent moisturizer is an absolute necessity. It’s the best defense against irritation, and it can hydrate dry skin.
In most cases, sensitive skin is associated with dry skin. However, those with combination, oily, and even normal skin can still have sensitivities. They might have no problems with maintaining hydration in the skin, but they’re still sensitive to things like fragrances, alcohol, and other ingredients.
How Do You Know You Have Sensitive Skin?
Understanding your sensitive skin is your first and best defense at treating it and preventing flare-ups. There’s plenty of information and even some quizzes out there that can offer in-depth information on what sensitive skin is and how to spot it. For now, we just wanted to go over a few signs that your skin might be sensitive.
Reactive: If your skin has had reactions to cleansers, lotions, makeup, and environmental factors, you likely have sensitive skin.
Redness: Whether you have small red patches or your entire face gets red without a good moisturizer, you probably have sensitive skin. You might even develop red bumps or a rash that disappears when you eliminate the irritant.
Breakout-Prone: Those with oily or combination skin might have sensitive skin, too, if they have breakouts regularly. Cystic acne and white pustules that appear even after using some acne cleansers and treatment might also indicate that you have sensitive skin. You might also have acne-prone skin or be sensitive to salicylic acid and astringents used to tackle those pesky breakouts.
Sunburns: If you require sunscreen to step foot in the sun, you probably have sensitive skin.
Itchiness or Irritation: Your skin might be itchy or irritated often. If you can trace this irritation back to the products you’re using or an environmental stressor, it likely indicates sensitive skin.
The Best Face Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin
Finding the right moisturizer for sensitive skin can feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. There are hundreds of viable options out there, but the trouble with sensitive skin is that it’s…well…sensitive. It requires specific protection and hydrating ingredients, and it can react to a variety of environmental factors and products.
We wanted to give you a head start on your research by offering a long list of face moisturizers that might be great for sensitive skin. Here are the 21 best face moisturizers for sensitive skin.
We recently discovered Blu Atlas products, and we can’t say enough good things about them. We love this facial moisturizer that’s gentle on skin and offers top-notch hydration to reduce irritants.
This moisturizing cream relies on the power of seaweed extract to exfoliate, hydrate, and regulate your skin. It’s incredibly gentle, so the exfoliant property shouldn’t irritate your skin; instead, it will remove flaky, dead skin cells without irritation. Seaweed is also an antioxidant, so it’s great for chasing away free radicals on your face from sun exposure or pollution.
Other ingredients like mango seed butter add vitamins to your skin to protect it from environmental stressors. Since things like sunlight and pollution often worsen issues with sensitive skin, this is invaluable.
2. Olay Moisturizing Face Lotion Sensitive Skin
Olay’s Moisturizing Face Lotion for Sensitive Skin doesn’t hold a candle to the quality of Blu Atlas’s natural formula. Still, it’s a good budget option from a trusted name in skincare. The benefits of this moisturizer include being lightweight, affordable, and fast-absorbing.
Glycerin and aloe are the primary ingredients used to attract and absorb moisture, and it offers 12-hour protection. However, several chemicals are used in this product, creating a pungent smell.
3. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream with SPF
Kiehl’s is a fantastic brand for sensitive and dry skin. Their Ultra Facial cream gives you 24-hour hydration without weighing down your skin or making it feel greasy. The result is healthier skin that uses glycoprotein to lock moisture into the skin cells.
This product also contains glycerin, squalene, and plant oils to hydrate and seal moisture into your complexion, which improves your skin’s protective barrier. There’s also SPF for sun protection and antioxidants to protect against environmental pollutants.
4. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizer
Sometimes sensitive skin responds better to a gel moisturizer than a cream one, and if you want to give that concept a try, check out Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream for Extra-Dry Skin. The texture is lovely, and it feels calm and soothing when it goes on.
There’s glycerin, dimethicone, and hyaluronic acid that help your skin barrier and fight signs of aging. Because it’s a water-based gel, it’s very lightweight, making it great for combination or oily sensitive skin. It’s non-comedogenic, and reviewers say it doesn’t cause breakouts even for acne-prone skin.
5. Alastin Ultra-Light Moisturizer
If you’re interested in a significant splurge, check out Alastin’s Ultra-Light Moisturizer. As advertised, it’s not heavy, and it won’t clog pores. It also has excellent anti-aging benefits.
Alastin uses TriHex technology to remove pollutants or damage and then repair skin layers. It also boosts collagen and elastin production to make skin plump and youthful again. It features calming ingredients like white tea leaf and ginger root, fighting age and making dull skin look vibrant.
It’s very pricey, but it’s gentle enough that you can use it on extremely sensitive skin or even post-procedure.
6. Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel
Aveeno has always been a trusted name for making some of the best face moisturizers for sensitive skin. The National Eczema Association trusts Aveeno as a drugstore brand for combatting dry, scaly skin and calming flare-ups.
It offers 24-hour protection without fragrance, paraben, alcohol, and dyes. Instead, it relies on prebiotic oats to add another layer of protection to your skin’s barrier and calm dry and itchy skin. It’s an excellent budget choice if that’s what you need.
7. CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with SPF 30
Those with sensitive skin can’t go wrong with CeraVe, a top dermatologist-recommended brand. Their daily facial moisturizing lotion is ideal for those who need lightweight coverage and skin protection. It offers SPF 30, so if you need deep hydration that’s no- comedogenic, try this one.
CeraVe relies on the skin essentials ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, restore the barrier, and prevent irritations throughout the day.
8. Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer
Vanicream is highly accessible and is available in just about any drugstore. They also don’t have synthetic fragrances or fragrance maskers that might irritate sensitive skin.
This facial moisturizer is suitable for daily use. It relies on the popular emollient squalene along with hyaluronic acid, ceramide, and glycerin to boost your skin’s health and restore the barrier. It’s more of a budget option, and it doesn’t work quite as effectively as some on this list. But it’s good when you’re in a pinch and need something easy to find that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
9. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer UV
If you have a little more melanin in your skin and you need sensitive-skin protection, check out La Roche-Posay’s double repair moisturizer. It has broad-spectrum SPF 30 for ultimate protection. But unlike some moisturizers with SPF, it won’t dull your skin tone or make it look ashen. Instead, it goes on clear and sinks into your skin cells for ultimate hydration.
It’s water-infused as well, so it goes on lightweight, and you won’t have to worry about makeup or other products sliding off and not fulfilling their purpose.
10. Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture SPF 15
Here’s another product from Neutrogena, which shouldn’t be a surprise since it’s a well-known, dermatologist-recommended brand. It’s also very affordable.
Because it’s oil-free, it’s excellent for combination or oily-sensitive skin that’s prone to acne. It hydrates, soothes, and restores without making your skin feel greasy or cakey. It’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and free of alcohol too.
11. EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
This therapeutic moisturizer is ideal for those with normal or oily skin prone to acne, flareups, or other irritation. It’s lightweight and relies more on your skin’s natural hydration than on added ingredients to keep you feeling smooth and oil-controlled all day.
It does have hyaluronic acid that attracts moisture and fights signs of aging. Because it’s oil-free, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, it’s ideal for anyone with sensitive skin.
12. Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Night Cream
Often, sensitive skin needs a good night cream to restore and replenish while you sleep. Cetaphil has a rich hydrating face cream loaded with vitamins E & C, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin to absorb moisture and restore the barrier.
It’s fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, so it’s unlikely to cause any reaction for your sensitive skin. However, it contains olive oil, which might be too heavy for oily skin or those with sensitivity to essential oils.
13. Burt’s Bees Daily Face Moisturizer Cream for Sensitive Skin
While beeswax doesn’t work for everyone, it might be what your skin craves. Burt’s Bees Daily Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive skin is clinically proven to hydrate and restore skin. Trials also showed that patients using this product had less redness and irritation after use, thanks to the rice extracts and aloe vera.
You know it’s an excellent product for eczema because it won the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. And because it’s 99% all-natural, it gets extra points in our book. All of this makes it a no-brainer for us to include it on our list of the best face moisturizers for sensitive skin.
14. Peach Slices Snail Rescue All-In-One Oil-Free Moisturizer
Here’s a brand you’re not likely to recognize, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of discussion. Peach Slices’ Snail Rescue moisturizer is ideal for sensitive skin prone to blemishes.
It’s actually 95% snail mucin concentrate, which makes it extremely unique on our list. This secret ingredient is a fantastic moisturizer. It helps with collagen production, heals skin, and even helps skin cells regenerate.
It’s a weightless formula made to hydrate while tackling excessive oil production. It reduces shine and mattifies to leave a smooth, supple complexion.
All skin types can use snail mucin, but it’s possible to be allergic to it, so spot test before you try it.
15. Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream
We love that Ursa Major’s products are natural and effective. This Golden Hour Recovery Cream wants to give you the elastic, bright, youthful skin of yesteryear. It uses clean, healthy ingredients including vitamins A, C, and E. Carotenoids, phytosterols, essential fatty acids, omega fatty oils, and antioxidants also help boost protection and magnify the cream’s ability to heal, smooth, and restore.
It relies on sea buckthorn and calendula to help retain moisture close to the skin cells. This gives the cream the ability to restore skin cells without suspect chemicals like parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, silicones, PEGs, or other items on the all-natural no-no list.
It helps calm and restores skin for both men and women of any skin type. And because there are no chemicals, it’s excellent for sensitive skin.
16. Simple Kind to Skin Replenishing Rich Moisturizer
Here’s another natural moisturizer that you can find pretty easily in drugstores. It’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, so it’s great for all types of sensitive skin, whether dry or oily.
Simple Kinds’ replenishing moisturizer offers a pH-balanced formula that can help normalize your skin. It’s rich in glycerin, allantoin, and bisabolol, which grab moisture and keep it close to your skin’s surface. As a result, you get bright, youthful-looking skin that doesn’t sting or irritate the skin.
Often, sensitive skin is the result of your pH levels being off. Most moisturizers help with this, but it’s always good to look for that keyword. The pH balance here is a perk, as it can help repair excessive oil production or uneven skin tones.
17. Herbivore Pink Cloud Soft Moisturizing Cream
Herbivore Pink Cloud moisturizing cream will do more than look pretty on your bathroom shelf. It’s a creamy, cloud-like product that feels lightweight and effortless as it boosts hydration and restores skin cells.
The key ingredients include natural rosewater, aloe water, and white tea extract, which is known to perk up droopy and wrinkled skin. Aspen bark is another component that works as a natural salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the skin. So if you have a hard time with exfoliants of any kind, this might not be for you. Otherwise, exfoliating away dead skin cells without beads is a great way to keep skin looking young and vibrant.
This slightly pricey product can also do double duty. It can be a primer underneath your makeup, meaning one less step and one less product in the morning.
18. The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer
Peptides are great for the skin. They’re essential amino acids that help bring together collagen, elastin, and keratin. Your skin naturally produces peptides, and using a moisturizer rich in peptides just gives your skin a little boost.
The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer has a potent peptide complex that makes up 1% of the formula. That might not seem like much, but it’s more than most moisturizers. It’s rich in shea butter and helps deeply nourish and moisturize your skin. Despite the heavy hydration, it feels exceptionally light on your face. And it won’t set you back much at $15 a pop.
19. Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide24 Moisturize
Olay Regenerist might be the most recognizable skincare line on this list. It’s well-advertised, and you can find it pretty much anywhere. For the most part, it lives up to the hype.
It contains 24 peptides to boost collagen production, giving your skin a new plump, healthy appearance. It also uses vitamin B3 (niacinamide) to smooth out skin and reduce the appearance of pores.
If you have red, irritable skin or your sebaceous glands are a little overactive, this peptide-heavy moisturizer will smooth and protect. It even won an Allure Magazine 2021 Best of Beauty Award for its effectiveness.
20. Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer
Go back to your all-natural roots with this daily moisturizer from Farmacy. It’s a lightweight gel that basically melts into your skin without sliding off or leaving a sticky residue.
It’s loaded with hyaluronic acid to restore collagen and help prevent signs of aging. It also contains papaya extract and moringa seed extract, exfoliators that remove impurities. It’s great for those with oily, sensitive skin, but if your skin is dry and sensitive, it might not react well to those ingredients.
We love that it’s filled with farm-sourced ingredients that are cruelty-free. The packaging is also made from recycled products and is recyclable.
21. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream seems to be a fan favorite. It won several awards for Allure magazine, including the 2016 Best of Beauty Award and three-time Reader’s Choice Award.
Enough about its accolades; let’s look at what it can do for your skin. It’s full of plant-derived ceramides and oils like soybean and green tea that boost hydration and perk up the skin for a brighter appearance. These oils also guard against water loss, but they’re not great for oily skin.
Things to Look for in Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin
While you research the different moisturizers on this list that are great for sensitive skin, you’ll want to consider a few key ingredients that you want to include or avoid. Use this information to help you decide which products might work best for you.
Humectants and Emollients
Humectants and emollients are essential ingredients in any moisturizer, particularly for dry and sensitive skin. These two ingredients hydrate skin and help smooth and soften it. They help to prevent signs of aging and reduce irritants.
Humectants are specific ingredients that attract moisture. They can draw it from the air, other products, or even your skin. They absorb it and let it sit on top of your skin to restore moisture to your skin’s protective barrier.
Then, emollients can come in and smooth out rough and bumpy skin that might be irritated, red, or even scaly. They use moisture from the humectants to rejuvenate dull skin and make it look brighter and healthier.
Look for products with humectants such as honey, glycol, glyceryl triacetate, lithium chloride, aloe vera, AHAs, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, sorbitols, lactic acids, and hydrolyzed grain proteins.
You’ll also want products that contain emollients like lanolin, petrolatum, dimethicone, mineral oil, coconut oil, fatty acids, shea butter, cocoa butter, plant oils, and lecithin.
Those with truly sensitive skin can’t handle heavily perfumed skincare products. Something about the scent, whether it’s natural or synthetic, can sting irritated skin and further dry it out.
This goes for any other skincare products you use. Try not to use any cleansers, toners, or other products with heavy fragrances to avoid further irritating the skin.
No Ethyl Alcohol or Drying Ingredients
While fatty alcohols like stearyl and Cetearyl alcohol can help to promote your skin’s protective barrier, ethyl alcohols are extremely drying. They draw moisture out of your skin, leaving them dry and prone to irritation and wrinkling.
You also want to avoid drying ingredients like benzoyl peroxide as well. This is a standard acne treatment that dries out the skin to help reduce bacteria growth and prevent acne.
Many facial cleansers, moisturizers, and treatments will contain drying ingredients like this to treat oily and acne-prone skin. If you have sensitive skin, even if yours is also acne-prone, it’s important to avoid ingredients that will dry you out.
A Good Price
As you research many moisturizing products, you’ll notice that some can be extremely pricey! In some cases, the cost is well-deserved, and in others, the price is inflated because of the brand.
Consider the cost and worth of your facial moisturizer. If you feel like it’s worth it to spend $100 on a facial moisturizer because it keeps your skin clear and smooth, feel free. But in reality, you can find a quality moisturizer that will protect your sensitive skin for less than $40. That’s still not cheap for the budget shopper, but it’s absolutely worth the expense for clearer, healthier skin.
Our Top Pick: Blu Atlas Facial Moisturizer
After reading through this long list of moisturizers designed for sensitive skin, you probably wonder which is our best overall pick. Based on the above criteria, we feel that Blu Atlas is the best overall facial moisturizer on this list.
It’s a natural product that uses the power of nature to restore moisture and balance to your sensitive skin. It’s also a great price, and you can subscribe to monthly shipments to save money and make it a product you don’t even have to think about.
Hopefully, the information we provided you today is exactly what you need to end your search for the perfect facial moisturizer. We hope that one of these products soothes your sensitive skin and helps you feel more confident in the health and appearance of your skin.