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The Best Face Washes for Sensitive Skin

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Written by Jenna Cartusciello
Reflection in a mirror beautiful woman washing her face

If you’ve come to find a face wash for sensitive skin, you’ve stumbled upon the right place. We know what it feels like to ogle people who can rigorously wash their faces with walnut scrubs and experience no repercussions. We too have watched, skeptically, as influencers massage strong, chemical exfoliating cleansers into their cheeks. While these remedies work for some, they certainly don’t work for all. If you feel as though your skin is turning red and flaking at the mere thought of either scenario, don’t worry — we’ve got you.

As it turns out, you don’t have to try every trendy new skincare cleanser to achieve healthy, soft and glowing skin. A simple, gentle cleanser may be all you need to reduce inflammation, nix breakouts and clear your pores. We’ve created a list of the best face washes for sensitive skin, from brands you already know and love to the newest and most exciting products on the market. Each item has been vetted based on reviews, testing, ingredients and value, so that you’ll be happy with whatever option you pick.

The 16 Best Face Washes for Sensitive Skin

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Finding the Best Face Washes for Sensitive Skin

Whether you’re just getting started on your skincare journey or you’re a seasoned pro, finding the right products for sensitive skin is a tricky business. You might be suffering from irritation, flaking or breakouts and don’t know what’s causing your problems or where to begin. In this case, starting with a gentle cleanser is the right move, according to Andrea Suarez, MD, FAAD.

“If your skin is acting up and you don’t know why — you think it may be a new product you’re coming into contact with or you’re not entirely sure — I recommend that you take a break from all their cosmetics and skincare products and minimize as much as possible what you’re putting on your face,” Suarez says. She also recommends finding one or two tried-and-true cleansers you can rely on whenever your skin starts to act up. To help you find the best face wash for these instances, consider following important factors before making a purchase.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Face Washes for Sensitive Skin

Before buying a face wash marketed toward people with sensitive skin, make sure you think about the product type, your skin type, the product’s ingredients, your overall skincare routine and the price.

Formula Type

There are three main types of facial cleansers: gels, foams and creams. Gel cleansers are typically a great pick for people with oily skin because they absorb excess oil and extract dirt from pores. However, people with dry skin usually fare better with a cream-based cleanser. Foam cleansers are generally good for combination skin or those who need a deeper clean than what a cream-based cleanser provides. Foams can also be drying though, so a hybrid cream-foam may be the right solution.

Skin Type

Do you have dry, normal or oily skin? It’s important to know, because most cleansers for sensitive skin cater to a specific skin type. Cream-based cleansers, for instance, are ideal for dry skin while foam and gel-based ones are good for normal and oily skin. Our list of products includes cleansers for every skin type so you can find one that suits you best.


It’s important to check out a product’s ingredients before buying, and it’s also important to know that synthetic ingredients aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, some may make your skin far less reactive than natural ingredients. For example: Essential oils, while soothing and aromatic, often irritate sensitive skin.

It’s also important to know that fragrance is a known aggravator. Nearly all of our recommendations are fragrance free, except for a few that have very mild fragrance.


Your skincare routine and daily activities will help you determine what type of sensitive-skin cleanser works best for you. For instance: If you wear sunscreen or makeup, you’ll need a face wash with a little “oomph” — one that has gentle cleansing ingredients like sodium methyl cocoyl taurate or coco-betaine. These will help remove makeup and dirt without causing irritation. If you wash your face more than twice per day (because you exercise, for example), you may need a non-foaming, hydrating cleanser that will sweep away sweat and debris while keeping your skin supple.


What’s the maximum amount you want to spend on your cleanser? If the top of your budget is $20, you’re in luck — you can easily find a high-quality face wash for under $20. Fair warning: The most expensive cleansers in our list are a little under $40, but the majority cost between $8 and $30.

What Are the Different Types of Face Washes for Sensitive Skin?


Gel-based cleansers have a jelly-like feel and tend to be transparent. These formulas are excellent if you have oily skin, clogged pores or acne because they draw out dirt, sebum and oil very well. They aren’t always the best option for people with dry skin, though there are a few gel cleansers with hydrating ingredients that could work for dryness.


Foam cleansers range from thin and runny to thick and creamy, but they all have one trait in common: They create a nice lather. A lather is ideal if you want to clean your skin very well and remove oil and dirt. However, foam cleansers can strip your skin if you aren’t careful. We generally recommend foam-cream cleansers for sensitive skin.


Dermatologists always recommend cream-based cleansers for sensitive skin because they usually don’t contain foaming agents or soaps. That means they are far less likely to irritate skin and cause redness, tingling or flaking. However, these cleansers aren’t the best at removing oil, makeup and dirt, so you may need to use them with other cleansing or makeup-removing products.


Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser


  • Great to use with retinol and chemical exfoliators
  • Niacinamide helps reduce redness
  • No foaming agents


  • Some buyers found it drying
  • Doesn’t leave a “deep clean” feeling
  • Not great for removing makeup

We love a multipurpose face wash, and the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is one such do-it-all product. This cleanser hydrates dry skin, remains gentle on fine lines and wrinkles and doesn’t exacerbate sensitivity from chemical or physical exfoliation. It also contains niacinamide which helps reduce redness and ceramides which may, in cleanser form, help improve the skin barrier.

While most reviewers enjoy this product no matter their skin type (oily, normal or dry), a few found the formula a bit drying. Others worry that the lack of foaming agents means this formula doesn’t properly cleanse the skin. You may also have a difficult time removing makeup with just this cleanser.


Best Budget: Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Facial Cleanser


  • Affordable
  • Doesn’t strip skin
  • Great for dry and mature skin


  • Doesn’t remove makeup
  • Doesn’t leave a “deep clean” feeling
  • Amazon shipping issues

Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean your skin has to suffer. If you need a gentle, inexpensive product, look no further than Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Hydrating Facial Cleanser. This non-foaming formula removes dirt and oil without stripping the skin, making it a great pick for dry to normal skin types and mature skin.

However, this product doesn’t perform well when it comes to makeup removal, and a few buyers wish it cleansed the skin more deeply. Some customers have also experienced shipping issues when buying this cleanser on Amazon.


Best Drugstore: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser


  • Recommended by many dermatologists
  • Removes light makeup
  • Ceramides may help restore skin barrier


  • Formula change in recent years
  • Not great for removing makeup
  • Amazon and Walmart shipping issues

For a tried and true cleanser recommended by many dermatologists for sensitive skin, try the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. This fan-favorite has a lotion-like feel, and the lack of foaming cleansers mean it doesn’t strip or irritate skin. We also like that it removes light makeup.

However, some customers have noted that the product had a formula change in recent years which altered the unscented “scent” and left the texture a bit thinner. Other buyers wish the product removed makeup better than it does, and some have experienced shipping issues when buying through Amazon or Walmart online.


Best Splurge: Avène Eau Thermale XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil


  • Great for eczema and atopic dermatitis
  • Soothes itchy skin
  • May improve skin microbiome


  • Expensive
  • May be drying
  • Amazon shipping issues

We’ve all been taught that oil is the worst thing you can put on your skin, but maybe not — the Avène Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil may be just what you need to soothe sensitive skin. It contains I-modulia, a compound derived from “good” bacteria in thermal spring water that may calm itching and improve the skin microbiome. Other ingredients like fatty acids, glycerin and primrose oil help hydrate the skin.

However, this cleansing oil is one of our most expensive product recommendations. Some buyers also found it to be somewhat drying, and a few experienced shipping issues when purchasing from Amazon.


Best Gentle Physical Exfoliator: Hear Me Raw Gentle Scrubbing Cleansing Balm


  • Can buy less-expensive, sustainable refill pods
  • Great for oily skin
  • May stimulate collagen


  • Not sold at most retailers
  • Expensive
  • Smell isn’t for everyone

Need to slough off dead skin cells but struggle with irritation? The Hear Me Raw Gentle Scrubbing Cleansing Balm is the only physical exfoliator we’d recommend. This jelly-like, soothing formula contains four different types of mushrooms — oyster, reishi, chaga and tremella — which help absorb oil, hydrate skin and stimulate collagen production. It also contains jojoba beads which gently exfoliate and cleanse.

The downsides: This gentle scrubbing balm is on the pricey side, and it isn’t sold at most retailers. In addition, the bright, natural smell may be off-putting.


Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser


  • Soothes irritation
  • Gently removes dirt and oil
  • Hydrating


  • May be too hydrating for oily skin
  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t remove makeup well

If you like CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser but want a thicker formula that won’t cause breakouts, try the Paula’s Choice Hydrating Cleanser. This silky-smooth product softens skin and gently removes dirt and oil. Ingredients like green tea and chamomile help soothe irritation, which is important if you frequently use acne treatments like salicylic acid.

Bear in mind that this cleanser is on the moisturizing side, so it may be too hydrating for oily skin. It’s also pricey and doesn’t remove makeup well (use a makeup remover first before applying this cleanser).


Best for Inflammation: First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser


  • Lathers without stripping skin
  • pH balanced
  • Soothing ingredients


  • Expensive
  • Some buyers had bad reactions
  • Other Amazon sellers may sell expired product

Struggle with redness, bumps, flaking skin and other signs of inflammation? We recommend the First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser. This product is pH balanced to help maintain the skin’s natural acidity and reduce flare-ups. The creamy, lathering formula doesn’t strip the skin, either, and ingredients like glycerin and aloe help soothe irritation.

The downsides: At $24 for just five ounces, this product is one of our most expensive recommendations. In addition, a few buyers experienced bad reactions. If purchasing on Amazon, we recommend buying from First Aid Beauty (and no other seller).


Best Foaming: Honest Beauty Calm On Foaming Cream Cleanser


  • Cleanses more deeply than non-foaming washes
  • Recognized by National Eczema Association
  • Gentle, hydrating ingredients


  • Smell may be off-putting
  • Only 4 ounces in a bottle
  • May be too hydrating for oily skin

If you enjoy a foaming facial cleanser but struggle to find one that doesn’t strip your sensitive skin, try the Honest Beauty Calmon On Foaming Cream Cleanser. Its simple formula contains gentle foaming agents like sodium cocoyl glycinate and cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, which are derived from amino acids and coconut oil, respectively.

While most buyers enjoy using this cleanser, some argue that the natural smell is off-putting. Others would like to see a bigger bottle for the price.


Best for Normal to Oily Skin: Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser


  • Absorbs oil
  • Gentle foaming agents
  • Rich in nutrients


  • Contains fragrance
  • Expensive
  • May be drying on dry skin

Oily and sensitive skin is arguably one of the hardest skin combinations to shop for. (Usually, face washes that remove oil are stripping and irritating.) To the rescue: Youth to the People’s Superfood Cleanser. The gel formula is pH balanced, and ingredients like green tea, kale and spinach provide beneficial nutrients without causing irritation.

The biggest downside? This product contains fragrance (beyond the masking fragrances many products include) to give it a “clean, herbaceous scent.” Most buyers don’t find it irritating, but it may be worth doing a patch test beforehand to make sure. In addition, this product is expensive.


Best Budget for Oily Skin: Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser for Combination to Oily, Sensitive Skin


  • Removes oil
  • Restores natural moisture
  • Contains brightening niacinamide


  • Amazon shipping issues
  • May sting or tingle if used after chemical exfoliant
  • Price increased recently

Looking for an alternative to Youth to the People’s Superfood Cleanser? We recommend Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Cleanser. The gentle, foaming formula helps draw out oil and deeply cleanse pores, while hydrators like glycerin help restore the skin’s natural moisture. We also like that it contains niacinamide, which brightens skin, improves texture and helps reduce acne.

However, some buyers have received damaged bottles when purchasing from Amazon. A few have found that the formula burns slightly if they’ve used chemical exfoliants beforehand, and a handful of customers are disappointed that the price has increased in the past few years.


Best for Combination Skin: Selfless by Hyram Centella & Green Tea Hydrating Gel Face Cleanser


  • Reduces inflammation
  • Maintains moisture throughout the day
  • Gel cleans more deeply than lotion-based formulas


  • Small bottle for price (5 ounces)
  • Bottle cap breaks easily
  • Amazon shipping issues

If every face wash you try feels too hydrating or too stripping and nothing seems to work for your combination skin, try this game changer: the Selfless by Hyram Centella & Green Tea Hydrating Gel Face Cleanser. The gel formula clears pores without causing irritation, thanks to gentle cleansers like cocamidopropyl betaine. Green tea and centella help ease inflammation and prevent the skin from losing moisture throughout the day.

The downsides: Unfortunately, the cap on the bottle breaks frequently, and some buyers wish they received more product for the price. A few customers have also received damaged packages when purchasing from Amazon.


Best for Mature Skin: Avène Eau Thermale Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion


  • Formulated to minimize allergic reaction risk
  • Reduces skin irritability over time
  • Hydrating


  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t remove water-resistant makeup well
  • Shipping may take a while

If you want to maintain great skin as you age, the trick to your cleanser is simplicity. This is where the Avène Eau Thermale Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion comes in — it hydrates and gently removes dirt, oil and excess skin cells so that your other skincare products will perform even better. We love that it’s soap free, fragrance free and dye free so it won’t cause irritation or clog pores.

However, this product is expensive at $24 for a little under seven ounces, though it has some of the highest review ratings of any of our product recommendations. Also, shipping may take some time because it is shipped from Europe. Some buyers wish it were better at removing water-resistant mascara and lipstick.


Best for Dry Skin: Aveeno Calm + Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser


  • Affordable
  • No foaming agents
  • Hydrating ingredients


  • May need to double cleanse
  • Doesn’t remove makeup
  • Gel texture may be off-putting

If your skin is easily dried out, the foaming agents in most cleansers will be your worst enemy. Thankfully, the Aveeno Calm + Restore Nourishing Oat Cleanser doesn’t froth or bubble as you rub it into your skin. It gently lifts away dirt and oil while ingredients like oat and glycerin help preserve the skin’s natural moisture.

What some buyers didn’t like: You may need to double cleanse (wash your face twice) so it truly feels clean. The formula also doesn’t remove makeup well and some customers find the gooey gel texture off-putting.


Best for Eczema: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser


  • Recommended by dermatologists
  • Slight lather to help fully clean skin
  • Simple ingredients


  • May dry out skin
  • Doesn’t remove makeup well
  • May strip extremely dry skin

Dermatologists have long recommended the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser for eczema. Why? It has a short and simple ingredient list that gets the job done without causing irritation. We’ll admit that we were skeptical at first — this product looks like silvery space goop! However, it performs beautifully. The creamy formula feels luxurious on the skin and it lathers ever so slightly, leaving the skin feeling much cleaner than other non-foaming cleansers.

The downsides: This product is a little more cleansing than products like the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser or the Aveeno Oat Cleanser, so it may dry out your skin. You can avoid this by cleansing with a non-foaming cleanser in the morning, and then using the Vanicream cleanser in the evening. Also, it doesn’t remove makeup well and some buyers found that it stripped their dry skin.


Best for Rosacea: Paula’s Choice CALM Ultra-Gentle Cleanser for Sensitive Skin


  • Soothes rosacea
  • Supports skin microbiome
  • Restores nutrients to skin


  • Drying
  • Expensive
  • Pump makes it hard to get out last drops of product

If you struggle with sensitive skin and rosacea, we recommend the CALM Ultra-Gentle Cleanser from Paula’s Choice. It’s designed to soothe rosacea and eczema-prone skin with the inclusion of prebiotic sugars, which also help support the skin’s microbiome. Glycerin and triglyceride also help restore nutrients and moisture.

However, this formula does lather, so it could dry out overly-dry skin. It’s also somewhat pricey, and we don’t like that the pump makes it difficult to get out every last drop of product.


Best for Makeup: Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, Gentle Face Wash and Makeup Remover


  • Removes makeup
  • Gentle ingredients
  • Cantaloupe fruit extract provides nutrients


  • Expensive
  • Drying
  • May leave skin feeling tight

Need a cleanser that can remove makeup without causing a breakout? Try Drunk Elephant’s Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser. With one to two washes, this face wash should remove all makeup, dirt and oil on your face, thanks to gentle cleansers like cocamidopropyl betaine. We also like that it contains cantaloupe fruit extract, which may help soothe and hydrate skin.

Still, the high price point may be a deterrent. A few buyers also found the formula overly drying and noticed that it left their skin feeling tight.

People Also Ask

  • Q: What is the best face cleanser for sensitive skin?

    A:We recommend the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser.

  • Q: Is CeraVe good for very sensitive skin?

    A:All CeraVe cleansers are excellent for sensitive skin, but our favorite is the Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser. It doesn’t contain foaming agents, which can sometimes cause irritation.

  • Q: What is the best face wash for an allergic reaction on the face?

    A:If you’ve had an allergic reaction on your face, we strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor before cleansing. However, you will likely be safe with a very mild formula, such as the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser.

  • Q: How much should I expect to spend on a face wash for sensitive skin?

    A:Most cleansers cost anywhere between $8 and $40, though you don’t have to spend more than $20 for a good product.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

Author photo

By Jenna Cartusciello

Affiliate Commerce Writer Jenna loves recommending great products to her friends and family, so helping the rest of the internet on their quest to find the best stuff makes tremendous sense! Though she mainly writes in-depth buyer’s guides these days, Jenna still enjoys crafting the occasional health article. In her spare time, she loves immersing herself in creative writing. Her favorite authors (for anyone who is willing to geek out with her) include Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, and Jennifer Egan.

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