10 Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin That Go Beyond Hydrating

BY Bianca Mendez · June 25, 2019

Moisturizers for sensitive skin

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.

If you have sensitive skin, the fewer ingredients in your products, the better. Fragrances, drying alcohol and preservatives can all be common irritants for sensitive types. This moisturizer—made with healing thermal spring water—is a lightweight yet deeply hydrating formula with a minimal ingredient list. Its unique airtight packaging allows it to be formulated with zero potentially irritating preservatives.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “I have very sensitive reactive skin, and this moisturizer has made a huge difference for me,” says one shopper. “This is my go-to product morning and night! Helps my dryness but doesn’t over-moisturize. Love the packaging too!”

This waterless, silicone-based moisturizer contains Dermalogica’s signature UltraCalming Complex (made from oats and other active botanicals), formulated to target exactly what’s causing your skin to get irritated. It also contains an anti-ozonate complex that’s composed of evening primrose oil and emollient silicones to help strengthen your skin’s lipid barrier and withstand irritation in the future.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “My skin is very easily irritated and this stuff is great!” says one reviewer. “Redness instantly goes away after application.”

This gentle cream deeply hydrates while providing instant relief to inflamed, environmentally damaged skin—thanks to its prime ingredient, thermal spring water. This bacteriologically pure water has a low mineral content, a large variety of skin-soothing trace elements, and has been proven by more than 150 clinical studies as an effective treatment for skin conditions including atopic dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “This moisturizer does not aggravate my highly sensitive skin or cause me to break out,” says one reviewer. “The formula has a light, creamy consistency, layers well and sinks in without a problem.”

Aside from quenching thirsty skin with shea and mango seed butters, this rich cream helps repair and strengthen your skin barrier with Pro-Niacin, a form of vitamin B-3 that helps stimulate your body’s natural repair system. By helping to create a stronger skin barrier, this moisturizer helps protect your skin from the elements (aka your sensitive skin triggers) while locking in much-needed moisture longer.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “I got this as a sample and it was a lifesaver,” raves one reviewer. “I got a large burn on my leg and used this cream. It healed and soothed my skin very quickly and left no scar!”

This moisturizer is a blend of gentle, all-natural ingredients that not only work to hydrate skin but also to improve its texture. First, the anti-inflammatory properties in meadow-foam and flaxseed soothe the skin from redness irritation. Then the hydration elements of rosehip, safflower and avocado—all rich in fatty acids—work together to improve your skin’s moisture levels and add extra protection against environmental stressors.

Why Dermstore readers love it: “I love how it melts into my skin leaving it soft, smooth, firm and hydrated,” says one reader. “My fine lines look more plump. No breakouts or irritation.”

A multitasker, this rich face cream brightens, hydrates and provides anti-aging benefits for your skin. It’s all thanks to a combination of botanicals, vitamins and pure molecular oxygen—a key ingredient for collagen production. Studies have shown that it improves the skin’s surface and reduces the number of fine lines and wrinkles.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “In love with this cream!” writes one reviewer. “It sinks into the skin flawlessly leaving my face looking like I’ve just come from a facial.”

This multitasking face cream is a lifesaver for your skin, with two ingredients that help get to the root of your irritation, further preventing sensitivity in the future. The signature CalmPlex has been clinically proven to minimize redness on your skin, plus its B3 ingredient restores your skin’s barrier from environmental stressors.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “I have rosacea with lots of redness to my skin,” says one shopper. “This takes out a lot of red and softens my skin without causing breakouts.”

With the word “calm” literally in the name, you can expect that this moisturizer will help get rid of redness and irritation. “Chamomile has very strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which are particularly soothing for sensitive skin,” says Peredo. Its blend of chamomile tea and aloe vera juice soothes irritated skin, while shea butter locks in the moisture, bringing back that calm, soft face you’ve been missing.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: I have super sensitive skin which is prone to adult acne. This moisturizer keeps my skin feeling soft and hydrated.”

This face cream from Peter Thomas Roth offers hydration for up to 72 hours and it’s all because of this key ingredient: hyaluronic acid. Great for sensitive skin, this gentle, natural substance restores and retains your skin’s moisture levels, providing plumpness and hydration.

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “It is so light, it really feels like [a] cloud,” writes one shopper. “It applies well on your face and [absorbs] into the skin immediately—no oily [feeling] or heavy [feeling] at all.”

It’s the powerful cocktail of ingredients in this moisturizer that helps Sunday Riley maintain its reputation as a cult status brand. Aside from THD, the most stable form of vitamin C, this moisturizer also features another anti-pollution agent, exopolysaccharides. Together, these two ingredients help protect your skin against environmental aggressors that trigger inflammation. On top of that, this moisturizer also features a cocktail of skin-soothing ingredients, such as turmeric and chamomile-derived bisabolol. 

Why Dermstore shoppers love it: “Only a small amount is needed so a jar lasts a really long time,” says one reviewer. “The cream is absorbed fast, never greasy, while reducing any redness I might have.”

Bianca Mendez

Bianca Mendez is a writer and editor living in New York City. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Health, Bustle, Latina, Refinery29, and many other publications. When she’s not writing, you can find her tryin... Read More >

Related Products

You Might Also Like