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Fact: I have the driest, most sensitive skin in the entire world. (That’s probably not an exaggeration, either.) My skin is so sensitive that sometimes, in the middle of the day, as I sit stationary at my desk, it develops a rash, or a hive, or a burning itching patch, completely unprovoked. And when it’s not staging a coup on my sanity, it’s flaking. That’s why I’m always trying the best moisturizers for sensitive skin. I have a strict, five-second window between washing my face and applying moisturizer before my skin tightens and shrivels into a dull, angry mess.
According to the brand Cetaphil, people with sensitive skin represent over half of the population (relying on data from 20 counties and five continents). That means the majority of us benefit from non-irritating products, which spurred Cetaphil to launch the first-ever Sensitive Skin Awareness Week, a week of programming aimed at educating us in the art of safeguarding skin. Yes, this week shall henceforth be remembered as the week we coddle our persnickety complexions, and I for one am beyond here for it.
“But use a moisturizer!” you say, and I laugh. My normal nighttime routine currently consists of a hydrating serum, a thick-as-hell cream, an occlusive moisturizer (occlusive formulas basically form a film on the skin to prevent water loss), and then, sometimes, a facial oil on top, just for funsies. And still, I frequently wake up with a dry face. (It’s actually miraculous; I might be an anomaly. Somebody call Guinness.)
Hope is not lost, though. Because throughout my many years of talking to derms, testing moisturizers, and combing the interwebs for advice, I have found hope and relief, mainly in the form of five very excellent, very magical moisturizers. Moisturizers that are specifically formulated to hydrate, soothe, and restore happiness to bedraggled skin, all with clogging pores. And you know it’s true, because not one of these bottles was created for the sole purpose of lookin’ pretty. Scroll down to see our favorites.
There’s a reason this lotion is the No. 1 best-seller in its category on Amazon. With ceramides and hyaluronic acid, the fragrance-free cream calms dry and sensitive skin.
Although it’s a fave for sensitive skin, this fragrance-free, daily hydrator is great for all skin types.
My only complaint about this lotion is that there isn’t enough of it so I can’t put it on my entire body. It calms even the most stressed-out skin and also keeps breakouts at bay. If you’re a fan of the brand, its cult-favorite Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is back in stock after having a waitlist of almost 5,000 shoppers. Stock up on both products to get the skin of your dreams.
It’s pricey, but this anti-aging cream truly does it all. It uses 2 percent pure ceramides, 4 percent natural cholesterol and 2 percent fatty acids to restore the skin’s barrier and nourish at the same time.
Not only does this oil-free face moisturizer hydrate with ceramides and Prebiotic Thermal Water, but it also uses niacinamide to strengthen the protective barrier of the skin.
This fragrance-free, light-as-air face cream uses mushroom and probiotics to heal and soothe skin.
When your skin is feeling dry and chapped and maybe even a little itchy, this moisturizer calms and heals with colloidal oatmeal.
With Glacial Glycoprotein derived from sea glaciers and squalane from the olive fruit, this fan-fave face cream hydrates all skin types and soothes sensitivity.
You already know Aveeno is made for the itchiest, sensitive skin. This gel face moisturizer is fragrance-free and made with prebiotic oat and feverfew to calm irritation.
Originally published November 2016. Updated June 2017.