The Best Cleansers For Dry & Irritated Skin

Mia Maguire
The Best Cleansers For Dry & Irritated Skin
Photo: Courtesy of Drobot Dean/Adobe.

Cleansing the skin thoroughly is an integral step in most skincare routines, but if you’ve been cursed with super sensitive skin, it can be a major challenge to get a good deep clean without leaving the skin chapped, irritated, dry and as red as a ripe tomato. Finding the best cleanser for sensitive skin is no easy feat, and if you suffer from either skin condition, you already know that it can be a downright painful game of trial and error (and plenty of irritation, to be sure) before finding the one. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable, over-the-counter face washes approved by dermatologists that are gentle enough for highly-reactive and extra-dry skin types. These hydrating formulas are free of some of the most common triggers for flare-ups and overall inflammation, including a slew of chemicals, harsh preservatives, and irritating fragrances, like lanolin, parabens, synthetic dyes and yes, even formaldehyde (sadly, some skincare products actually really do contain the toxic stuff).

In addition to being gentle enough to not cause a reaction, these nourishing cleansers are also infused with a slew of calming ingredients that can actually help soothe irritation, calm redness and restore proper pH and moisture levels in the skin rather than leaving you dry, tight and flaky. Stripping your skin when you wash your face at night is one of the easiest ways to cause dryness, flakes and the formation of premature fine lines, so it’s  important to choose a formula that isn’t harsh and laden with things you can’t even begin to pronounce.

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1. VaniCream Gentle Face Wash

VaniCream gentle cleanser


This gentle cleanser is completely free of all of the common eczema-triggering and irritating ingredients and preservatives, including lanolin, parabens, or fragrance.

2. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

La Roche Posay.

La Roche Posay.

This extra-gentle gel face wash soothes and cleanses the skin without stripping it of natural oil. This face wash is excellent for normal, dry, and sensitive skin types.

3. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Courtesy of Cetaphil.

This soothing cleanser is tailor-made for all skin types, but works especially well with dry and sensitive skin. It’s hypoallergenic, pH-balanced and fragrance-free, meaning that it won’t be upsetting your skin’s delicate ecosystem. The dermatologist-recommended cleanser doesn’t leave behind any clogging residue, but still hydrates your skin while getting rid of dirt and makeup. It won’t leave you with dry, flaky and irritated skin like other harsh cleansers.

4. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lightweight Hydrating Facial Cleansing Gel

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lightweight Hydrating Facial Cleansing Gel

Courtesy of Neutrogena.

If you want your skin to feel clean and elastic all-day long, you should check out this cleansing gel. Boasting no soap, oil or parabens, this hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic cleanser has the powerhouse hyaluronic acid for hydrating your skin. Although it lands in your hand as gel, it becomes a silky lather that works hard to remove dirt, oil and make-up. This is made for all skin types.

5. Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser and Makeup Remover

If you struggle with your easily irritated and dry skin, this ultra-calming cleanser might be the pick for you. The cleanser is designed to be used for both day and night. It’s free of soap, fragrance and is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. Made with Feverfew extract, which is similar to Chamomile, the cleanser actively works to reduce redness. When you use the cleanser, it’ll foam up and remove dirt, oil and makeup from your skin.

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser and Makeup Remover

Courtesy of Aveeno.