The 13 Best Face Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin of 2022

Our best overall pick is CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

Creating an effective skincare routine is challenging enough, but for those with sensitive skin, the already tough task is even more daunting. It requires being extra picky with the products you choose since a misstep has the potential to lead to all kinds of irritation, redness, and more. Despite the potential hassle, a good moisturizer is an absolute must for all skin types—even more so for the sensitive set.

The right moisturizer can go a long way in helping to create a strong skin barrier—the secret to warding off both dryness and sensitivity. The key is to seek out simple formulas: the more basic, the better, advises Lucy Chen, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Our best overall pick is CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, a drugstore staple that's fragrance-free and dermatologist-recommended for its potent blend of ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid. We also love Olay Moisturizing Face Lotion for Sensitive Skin, a lightweight moisturizer that absorbs super easily and contains aloe leaf and chamomile to gently soothe skin. We also love that you can pick this option up in the drugstore aisle.


Chen also advises that people with sensitive skin steer clear of certain ingredients like alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic, lactic, as well as salicylic acids. “While acids can be a bonus for those without sensitive skin because they exfoliate, they can have an opposite effect on those with sensitive skin and cause skin barrier disruption,” she says. Fragrance is another ingredient to avoid, a very common irritant, Dr. Chen says. Instead, look for ingredients that soothe and hydrate the skin. Hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, soy, and colloidal oatmeal are some of her favorites.

We conducted hours of research on the best moisturizers for sensitive skin, evaluating each formula on active ingredients, as well as what the ingredient list does not contain—like fragrance, dyes, or potential irritants. We also looked for formulas that contain SPF or sun protection and how well they deliver hydrating results without irritating skin or causing breakouts. To help narrow down our selections, we consulted two board-certified dermatologists to offer product recommendations and advise on what types of ingredients to look out for.

Read on for the best face moisturizers for sensitive skin that hydrate without leaving you irritated.

Best Overall

CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion

5
Cerave Daily Moisturizing Lotion

Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Approved by the National Eczema Association

  • Works for face and body

  • Comes in a pump bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Need to reapply often

Who else recommends it? Medical News Today also picked the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

What do buyers say? 94% of 72,500+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

A true classic, there’s a good reason why people sing the praises of this cream over and over. This fragrance-free lotion touts three types of ceramides coupled with hydrating hyaluronic acid in a formula gentle enough to be accepted by the National Eczema Association. Plus, it works equally well on both your face and body.

Price at time of publish: $11

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, three essential ceramides | Skin Type: Balanced, dry | Size: 8, 12, or 16 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

Olay Moisturizing Face Lotion Sensitive Skin

Olay Moisturizing Face Lotion Sensitive Skin

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Fragrance-free

  • Lightweight

  • Affordable

  • Absorbs fast

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

This is an ideal all-around option for those seeking a lotion that checks all the sensitive skin boxes but won’t break the bank. It's also approved by board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, MD, FAAD, founder of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, Maryland. Dr. Rodney points out that the aloe leaf and chamomile in the formula help soothe sensitive skin while added glycerin attracts and locks in moisture. (More specifically, it delivers 12 hours' worth of moisture, though it still feels super lightweight.)

Price at time of publish: $17

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide | Skin Type: All | Size: 6 fluid ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore

SheaMoisture Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil & Witch Hazel Skin Rescue Moisturizer

SheaMoisture Cannabis & Witch Hazel Skin Rescue Moisturizer
What We Like
  • Soothes inflammation

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic packaging

Hemp seed oil, known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, is the star of the show here (though no, this doesn’t contain CBD or THC). It also has vitamin E and skin-balancing witch hazel, all in a fragrance-free formula that rings it at a super affordable price.

Price at time of publish: $13

Active Ingredients: Cannabis sativa (hemp) seed oil, witch hazel, vitamin E | Skin Type: Dry | Size: 2 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Splurge

Alastin Sensitive Skin Ultra Light Moisturizer With TriHex Technology

Alastin Ultra Light Moisturizer

Courtesy of Alastin

What We Like
  • Great anti-aging benefits

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Fragrance-free

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Is this pick super pricey? Yes. Is it well worth the money? Also yes. The newbie comes from one of our favorite, derm-beloved brands. It's noteworthy because it not only delivers gentle hydration (so gentle that you can even use this on post-procedure skin) but also touts the company’s unique TriHex Technology. Why does that matter? It helps boost collagen and elastin production, key proteins that are needed for strong, youthful, healthy skin. Calming ginger root and white tea leaf extracts are in the mix, too.

Price at time of publish: $72

Active Ingredients: TriHex Technology | Skin Type: All | Size: 2 fluid ounces | SPF: No Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Gel

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer For Sensitive Skin

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Absorbs fast

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Unhygienic packaging

Byrdie Associate Editorial Director, Holly Rhue recommends this gel pick, a choice option for those who prefer lighter hydration. Despite its fast-absorbing texture, it still delivers plenty of moisture—and continues to moisturize for up to 24 hours. It’s free from parabens, fragrances, alcohols, and dyes. Also noteworthy is the addition of prebiotic oat, which is known to improve the skin barrier function and calm dry or itchy skin. Rodney also likes this option, lauding it for the addition of feverfew, which can help reduce redness.

Price at time of publish: $17

Active Ingredients: Prebiotic oat, feverfew | Skin Type: Sensitive | Size: 1.7 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Heavy Duty Cream

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

4.9
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

Amazon

What We Like
  • Reduces itch and irritation

  • Works for face and body

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

If your skin needs seriously intense moisture, this ultrarich, ultrathick cream is tops. Shea butter is the moisturizing hero, while allantoin and colloidal oats relieve both itch and irritation. (FYI, the latter is even FDA-designated as a skin protectant.) To that point, it earns rave reviews not only for how well it moisturizes but also for relieving issues like eczema and psoriasis.

The Ultra Repair Cream is another one of Dr. Rodney's favorites. “It also contains both feverfew and licorice extracts, which are great at soothing irritating skin,” she notes. On top of all of that, it can be used from head to toe on pretty much everyone, including babies.

Price at time of publish: $38

Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, allantoin, FAB antioxidant booster | Skin Type: Balanced, dry | Size: 2, 6, 8, or 14 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Face and Body

EltaMD Intense Moisturizer

3.5
eltaMD intense moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Works for face and body

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Leaves a greasy feeling

EltaMD may be more often associated with sunscreen, but it does more than just great SPF. Case in point: this guy. The rich consistency truly melts into the skin, and, according to the brand, it can help skin retain up to 90% of its moisture for 12 hours. It’s great not only for sensitive skin but for post-procedure skin, too, a true sign that it’s mega-gentle.

Price at time of publish: $15

Active Ingredients: Petrolatum | Skin Type: Sensitive, dry, post-procedure | Size: 2.8 or 3.8 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

A little goes a long way, so you only need to use a pearl-size amount for your whole face.

Best With SPF

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer With SPF

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer With SPF

Walgreens

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Oil-free

  • Non-comedogenic

What We Don't Like
  • Chemical sunscreen ingredients can be irritating

When it comes to streamlining and speeding up your a.m. routine, opting for a moisturizer with built-in SPF is the way to go. Unlike many formulas that cap it at SPF 15 (technically not enough for daily use, according to the American Academy of Dermatology), this one contains SPF 30. Plus, “Ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin help with hydration and skin repair, and the brand’s proprietary thermal water has antioxidant properties,” says Dr. Rodney.

Price at time of publish: $16

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, oxybenzone | Skin Type: All | Size: 2.5 fluid ounces | SPF: Yes, 30 | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Soothing

BeautyStat Cosmetics Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream

Beauty Stat Universal Pro-Bio Moisture Boost Cream
What We Like
  • Fights environmental agressors

  • Lightweight

  • Reduces irritation

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Fragrance-free and dermatologist-tested, this formula touts two unique soothers. One is a ferment derived from a rare mushroom; the other is a probiotic that also helps fight environmental aggressors. Combined with ceramides and pomegranate sterols that work to restore the skin barrier, this is ideal for calming irritation and has a lovely, cloud-like texture, to boot.

Price at time of publish: $45

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, pomegranate sterols, Ganoderma, bifida extract | Skin Type: All | Size: 1 or 1.7 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Eczematic Skin

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Ap+M Triple Repair Body Moisturizer For Dry Skin

La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+M Triple Repair Body Moisturizing Cream for Dry Skin

Ulta Beauty

What We Like
  • Approved by the National Eczema Association

  • Works for face and body

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it absorbs slowly

For those who don’t just have sensitive skin but are also battling full-on eczema flares, this is a true skin-saver. Accepted by the National Eczema Association, it is tested by both dermatologists and pediatricians and can be used on babies as young as two weeks old. This moisturizer is also suitable for both face and body. Credit a combo of niacinamide, shea butter, glycerin, and the brand’s prebiotic-rich thermal water. Dr. Rodney, who is also a fan, says these ingredients help hydrate and protect the skin.

Price at time of publish: $20

Active Ingredients: Prebiotic thermal water, Aqua Posae Filiformis post-biotic, shea butter | Skin Type: Dry, sensitive | Size: 6.7 or 13.5 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Very Irritated Skin

Avène Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream

Avène Tolerance Control Skin Recovery Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Helps skin both look and feel better

  • Minimal ingredient list

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it leaves a greasy feeling

When your sensitive skin has had enough and is starting to look (and feel) irritated, reach for this guy. Yes, it does the standard duties of helping to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier and all that good stuff, but it’s also unique because it contains D-sensinose. The post-biotic ingredient is found in the mineral-rich thermal spring water in the formula, which the brand says can help quickly calm all kinds of feelings and signs of skin discomfort—think tingling, burning, and tightness.

Price at time of publish: $25

Active Ingredients: D-sensinose | Skin Type: Dry, irritated | Size: 1.3 fluid ounces | SPF: No Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Anti-Aging

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

4.6
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

Dermstore

What We Like
  • Absorbs fast

  • Smooths fine lines and wrinkles

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

This just may be the creamiest cream we’ve ever used. The name refers to the ratio of hydrating, anti-aging, sensitivity-preventing lipids it contains—2% ceramides to 4% cholesterol to 2% fatty acids. Imparting mega moisture, the formula also claims to help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and add back elasticity and fullness. The product also boasts antioxidants and vitamins.

Price at time of publish: $136

Active Ingredients: Ceramides, natural cholesterol, and fatty acids | Skin Type: Dry, mature | Size: 1.6 fluid ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

"It delivers instant and long-term results and the texture is a dream." — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester

Best Natural

Doctor Rogers RESTORE Face Lotion

Doctor Rogers Restore Face Lotion
What We Like
  • Minimal ingredient list

  • Has lightweight and thicker varieties

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

While ingredients both natural and chemical can be irritating for many skin types, you may find relief in this gentle formula. It has a minimal ingredient list loaded with hydrating and calming plant-based ingredients. The product has repeatedly earns rave reviews, and we like that it comes in both this lightweight lotion and a thicker cream variant. Conduct a patch test on a small area ahead of application to rule out allergic reactions.

Price at time of publish: $72

Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, Centella asiatica extract | Skin Type: Balanced, oily, acne-prone | Size: 1.7 fluid ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

People with sensitive skin needs a good moisturizer more than anyone—so make sure that moisturizer is free of irritating ingredients and is filled with hydrating and soothing ones. Dermatologists love CeraVe's Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which touts the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, so you can feel confident knowing the formula is extra gentle and effective. For those who prefer more lightweight hydration, a gel formula, like Aveeno's Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer, is the way to go. If you want heavy hydration, try SkinCeuticals' Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2, which also delivers anti-aging benefits.

Meet the Expert


  • Ife J. Rodney, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist, as well as the founder of Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, Maryland. She specializes in all areas of cosmetic, surgical, and medical dermatology for all skin types. She practices medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology and has a special interest in skin cancer and Mohs surgery.

She practices medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology and has a special interest in skin cancer and Mohs surgery.

What to Look for in a Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin

Fragrance-Free

According to Dr. Chen, this is a non-negotiable if you have sensitive skin. The fragrance is an “extra” and will not positively affect how well your moisturizer functions—but it is a common cause of allergies and skin irritation, she says. 

A Short Ingredient List

The fewer ingredients, the less likely there is to be something in there that can irritate your skin. Dr. Chen says it’s a good idea to aim for 10 ingredients or fewer. 

Soothing Ingredients

They’re your stressed and irritated skin’s BFF. Good ones to look for include colloidal oats, soy, and aloe vera. Ceramides are also soothing, while they bring moisture to restore the skin-barrier. Try The Ultra Repair Cream, from this roundup, which contains colloidal oatmeal. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore and CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, also mentioned are both rich in ceramides.

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of face moisturizers for sensitive skin?

    “Moisturizing, in general, restores your skin barrier, protecting you from environmental irritants and damage,” says Dr. Rodney. Those with sensitive skin tend to have a compromised skin barrier; the right moisturizer can help strengthen it and soothe the skin while also providing much-needed hydration.

  • How do you apply face moisturizers for sensitive skin?

    “When applying a face moisturizer for sensitive skin, you should first do a patch test,” Dr. Rodney advises. Apply it to a small area either behind your ear or on your inner arm, and look for signs of irritation. If all seems okay after 24 to 48 hours, you can proceed to your face. Apply a dime-size amount onto each cheek, chin, and forehead, then gently massage in an upward motion. Once the moisturizer is fully absorbed, you can put on other products, such as sunscreen or makeup, she says.

  • How often should you use face moisturizers for sensitive skin?

    Dr. Rodney suggests using them twice daily after washing your face. (The one exception: Formulas with SPF only need to be used in the morning.)

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She has super sensitive skin and is well-practiced when it comes to finding the best moisturizers—and other products—for sensitive skin.

Updated by Jill DiDonato
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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