What to Look for In a Cleanser If You Have Sensitive Skin

July 19, 2022

If you have sensitive skin, finding a face wash that won't cause irritation can be a real challenge -- but it's not impossible! The key to navigating your sensitive skin challenge is to identify the ingredients you should seek out -- and those you should avoid -- to ensure happy, healthy skin. We've gathered info straight from the experts to help guide your search.

The Best Ingredients for Sensitive Skin

Those with sensitive skin should look for cleansers containing as few chemicals as possible, to reduce the risk of introducing a harsh or drying substance into your skincare routine. Ultimately, products with more natural ingredients will prove to be a sensitive skin sufferer's best friend. When reading labels and ingredients lists, give bonus points to products containing any of the following:

  • Emollient-rich ingredients, such as natural plant butters, oils, lipids, and fatty acids. These will help to support and strengthen skin's natural barrier, which will help to trap moisture.
  • Green tea extract, chamomile extract, and aloe vera, all of which are potent hydrators and soothers that will reduce inflammation and calm and heal sensitive skin.
  • Hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. This ingredient will help skin to maintain hydration levels, which is essential for those with sensitive skin.
  • Lactic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that gently exfoliates dead skin cells and unclogs pores, while also hydrating and nourishing skin.


The Worst Ingredients for Sensitive Skin

Just as important as what ingredients to seek out when you have sensitive skin are the ingredients you want to avoid due to their tendencies to cause irritation, dryness, or other skin problems. If your ingredients list contains any of the following, you might want to give your cleanser a second look:

  • Harsh detergents like SLS or SLES, which can negatively affect the skin barrier by stripping it of its natural oils. Instead, look for the much gentler lactic acid.  
  • Salicylic or glycolic acids, which can cause irritation, dryness, and redness. If you're looking for an exfoliating face wash, opt for a product containing -- you guessed it! -- lactic acid instead.
  • Sulfates, which are a type of surfactant -- a substance that helps remove dirt and oil from your skin. However, sulfates can also be harsh and drying, which is why they're not recommended for those with sensitive skin.
  • Alcohols like ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, which can dry out and irritate skin.
  • FRAGRANCE. Yes, that's all caps -- and for good reason. Many fragrances, even natural ones, can be irritating to sensitive skin. When in doubt, go fragrance-free!

The Takeaway

When you have sensitive skin, face wash shopping can feel like a minefield. But armed with the right information, you can find a product that will work for you -- and your sensitive skin! Just remember to look for natural ingredients that will soothe and calm your skin, while avoiding harsh detergents, sulfates, and other potential irritants.

One to try is our own Rose Glow Purifying Cleanser. It's Byrdie Beauty Reviewed as one of the best face washes for dry skin, and contains powerhouse all-natural ingredients like burdock root extract, a vegetable native to Northern Asia that protects the skin's barrier against inflammation; green tea extract, which soothes skin to calm irritation and evens out skin discoloration; and plaintain extract, which possesses anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. And what's not inside? No parabens, no hormone-disrupters, no nasties! Trust us, your skin will thank you!



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