Trust Me—These Are the Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin

Diagnosing your skin type can be hard, especially when the lines between dry, combination, and oily are all so blurred. But when you have sensitive skin, you know. The main symptoms are redness, stinging, burning, tightness, and itching—so when your skin is feeling irritated, it’s not exactly subtle.

Most people think that sensitive skin is a skin type, but it’s actually a skin condition. This means that it can affect anyone, regardless of what your skin type is, so you could be experiencing sensitivity while also dealing with acne or dryness. "Your outer environment can increase skin sensitivity—so the majority of people have probably experienced sensitivity at one point or another,” says Daniel Isaacs, Director of Research at Medik8. "It can often fluctuate; different times of year and weather conditions can impact skin, changing hormones, or even the skincare routine you are using.”

cleansers-for-sensitive-skin-305139-1674564153911-main

(Image credit: @ALLLISONHO)

Experts recommend keeping things simple when you have sensitive skin—think cooling face mists, soothing serums, and calming moisturisers. But when it comes to cleansers for sensitive skin, things can be less obvious. Over-cleansing or using cleansers that are too harsh or that strip your skin’s moisture barrier can both trigger and exacerbate sensitivity. "When your skin barrier is damaged, your skin sensitivity can increase and you may experience visible redness and tingling when touching your skin or applying skincare products,” says Isaacs. "Your skin barrier is your skin’s natural armour to the outside world - it can become compromised easily if it's not taken care of.”

As a general rule, avoid irritating textures and cleansers formulated with exfoliating acids, and instead look out for cleansers that include ingredients like ceramides, chamomile, aloe vera, squalane, and cica.

To help you out, we’ve rounded up the very best cleansers for sensitive skin, with something for everyone, regardless of your budget, skin type, or formula preference. From balms to gels, these soothing formulas will help to remove makeup and cleanse your face without overly stripping or irritating your skin.

Shop the 13 Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin:

1. Best Gel Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser

2. Best Cleansing Balm for Sensitive Skin: Naturium Purple Ginseng Cleansing Balm

3. Best Multitasking Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: Stella McCartney Reset Cleanser

4. Best Cream Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: Skingredients Preprobiotic Cleanse

5. Best Cleansing Oil for Sensitive Skin: Dermalogica PreCleanse Oil

6. Best Cleansing Milk for Sensitive Skin: Susanne Kaufmann Soothing Cleansing Milk

7. Best Foam Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: Medik8 Calmwise Soothing Cleanser

8. Best Exfoliating Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: Cetaphil Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser

9. Best Micellar Water for Sensitive Skin: Bioderma Sensibio Cleansing Micellar Water

10. Best Affordable Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

11. Best Luxury Cleanser for Sensitive Skin: Elemis Pro-Collagen Naked Cleansing Balm

12. Best Cleanser for Sensitive Skin and Dryness: Kate Somerville DeliKate Soothing Cleanser

13. Best Cleanser for Sensitive Skin and Breakouts: Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Enzyme Foam Cleanser

14. Best Cleanser for Oily and Sensitive Skin: CeraVe SA Smoothing Cleanser

Next Up: Do You Think You Have Sensitive Skin? Here's What Experts Want You to Know

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines.

While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.