For those with sensitive skin, finding the right moisturizer that won’t leave your face red or itchy is a battle all its own. Who wants their skin to suffer the consequences of endless amounts of trial and error? Luckily, there is now a variety of moisturizers formulated for those specifically with sensitive skin, with benefits that go beyond hydration.
What Is Sensitive Skin?
Skin sensitivity varies by person and can be triggered by something as simple as a beauty product, environmental factors or a bigger skin condition. “Sensitive skin describes a number of skin conditions, from irritation to dry skin to rosacea,” says Marina Peredo MD, FAAD. “What they all have in common is inflammation, which occurs when the skin’s outer barrier layer is damaged, often through a lack of hydration, overexposure to the sun, or contact with irritants such as harsh soaps, detergents or gels.” If you’re noticing redness on the skin, but are unsure if it classifies as sensitive, it’s best to see a dermatologist to pinpoint the condition.
Moisturizing Sensitive Skin
When it comes to taking care of sensitive skin, the right moisturizer goes a long way. “Moisturizing regularly is the best thing you can do to calm sensitive skin,” says Peredo, because it helps strengthen your skin’s protective moisture barrier. Typically your skin absorbs water, but when water passes through the skin’s surface (called transepidermal water loss), your moisture barrier gets compromised, making your skin more sensitive and dry. “Dehydrated skin has lost its barrier of protection,” says board-certified dermatologist Debra Jaliman. “It becomes irritated, red and inflamed because it lacks that barrier, making it more susceptible to irritants.”
Which is why when it comes to picking the right moisturizer, ingredients matter. Both Peredo and Jaliman suggest avoiding any moisturizer with fragrance or formaldehyde since they are allergens that can easily irritate sensitive skin. Instead, look for ingredients that contain anti-inflammatory properties like chamomile and aloe vera. Fatty acids like shea butter and hyaluronic acid, water molecules that bind the skin, are also great for hydration.
Now, if you’re unsure which moisturizers are best for sensitive skin, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we enlist the help of our shoppers to determine which moisturizers offer the most hydration without irritating sensitive skin.