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How Do I Choose the Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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Individuals with sensitive skin often have a hard time finding a face wash that will not be irritating. Many facial cleansers, even some formulated for sensitive skin, contain harsh chemicals. Face wash for sensitive skin is often clearly labeled, but people with sensitive skin should avoid those that contain fragrances, dyes, or exfoliants.

Harsh chemicals are some of the most irritating ingredients in most face washes, and dyes and fragrances are particularly hard on sensitive skin. Even if a particular face wash is marked for use on your skin type, check to make sure that the wash is dye and fragrance free. If it not indicated on the front of the container, be sure to read the ingredients carefully.

Exfoliants should usually be avoided when choosing a face wash for sensitive skin. These abrasive particles work by sloughing off dead skin cells, and this abrasive action can be very irritating for many people with sensitive skin. Also, try to avoid scrubbing your face when washing it, since this action can cause irritation as well.

You'll also likely want to avoid cleansers that contain sodium laureth sulfate. This surfactant, often added to cleansers and soaps, causes these products to foam. This chemical has been proved to be very irritating to certain skin types.

Many dermatologists recommend that people with sensitive skin use a creamy facial cleanser. These thicker cleansers typically do not have ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate. Choosing a face wash that contains vitamin E can is also recommended, since this vitamin can help nourish and rehydrate sensitive and dry skin.

Finding the right face wash may involve some trial and error. Because of this, price should be a big consideration when first searching for the best cleanser for your face. It may be best to start out with the least expensive face washes that meet the above criteria. If these further irritate your sensitive skin, you can then start trying more expensive brands.

After finding the perfect face wash for your skin type, even if it is not irritating at all, you should still try to avoid washing your face too frequently. Washing your face more than once or twice a day can strip your skin of necessary oils. To avoid needing to use a face wash frequently, women should not apply heavy make-up, which can also irritate sensitive skin.

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Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Sep 16, 2012

@alisha-- You should use one with glycerin in it. It's a moisturizer so it won't dry out your skin.

By serenesurface — On Sep 15, 2012

I usually buy whatever I find at the store that says "face wash for dry, sensitive skin" on the label. Of course, I prefer one that's more affordable. I've been satisfied with most of what I've used.

I just avoid face washes that don't specify for sensitive skin. Some products say "for all skin types" on the label. Those never work for me. Something that works for someone with oily skin is not going to work for someone with dry skin. So I stick to "sensitive skin" products.

By discographer — On Sep 14, 2012

I have really dry and sensitive skin. It's such a challenge to find a face wash that will not irritate my face and I have tried many.

I almost always know if a product is not right for me immediately after I have rinsed my face. Face washes with any harsh ingredients cause my skin to feel extremely tight when I use them. I'm sure people with dry skin know what I mean. I just hate that feeling.

Why isn't there a daily face wash that won't make my skin feel that way?

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