Best skincare for sensitive skin from cheap to luxury moisturisers

The best skincare for sensitive skin – and what to avoid when buying moisturisers and more

21st November 2022 | Author: Katherine O'Shea

We’ve handpicked the best skincare for sensitive skin and detail which ingredients to look out for, and which to avoid when shopping for moisturisers and more

Maybe you’ve always had sensitive skin, or maybe it’s become more sensitive the older you’ve got. Either way, you’re going to want to use specific products you know won’t irritate your skin.

Sensitive skin is largely genetic, but it can also be caused by stress, and/or hormones. It can also be caused by using a product that isn’t right for your skin, which is why it’s vital you choose skincare with the best ingredients for your skin type. If you’re not sure what skin type you have, take our skin type quiz.

As always, when it comes to how we look, aging also plays a significant role. That’s because our skin barrier gets weaker the older we get and, over time, this can cause increased sensitivity.

This may also explain why skincare products you could have been using for years can start to make your skin react badly. Especially when you reach menopause.

To help navigate this minefield, we put together a list of tried-and-tested skincare for sensitive skin that hopefully suits most budgets.

FURTHER READING: How your skin changes in each decade of your life – and what to do about it

Best skincare for sensitive skin

  1. Editor’s Pick: Liz Earle Probiotic Balancing Day Cream | Buy now – £33
  2. Bargain Buy: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser | Buy now £7.50
  3. Luxury Buy: Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask | Buy now£124
  4. Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Moisturiser | Buy now – £14.50
  5. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Argan Oil | Buy now£5.90
  6. The Body Shop Aloe Vera Soothing Day Cream | Buy now£16
  7. Face Theory Relaxing Night Cream | Buy now£12.99


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1. Editor’s Pick: Liz Earle Probiotic Balancing Day Cream

£33 | Buy now

Liz Earle Pro Biotic Day Cream for sensitive skinLiz Earle

Why we love it: This Liz Earle day cream has microbiome-balancing skincare ingredients making it great for sensitive skin.

It’s rich with nutrients including pre, pro, and postbiotics, which all help to protect your skin’s barrier throughout the day.

There’s also the sensitive skin ingredient jojoba oil, as well as chicory, and lunaria oil, which will all help to moisturise your skin without irritation.

This Liz Earle day cream for sensitive skin is also fragrance-fee to limit the risk of any inflammation.

The smell of the product is quite oat-like, but that’s the natural smell of the ingredients inside.

You need to apply it after you’ve cleansed your skin by massaging it into your face, neck, and décolletage and it’s designed to leave your reactive skin much more balanced, clearer and healthier.

FURTHER READING: What is SPF and why is it so important?

Buy now from Boots

2. Budget Buy: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

£7.50 | Buy now

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser good for sensitive skinCeraVe

Why we love it: You don’t just need to look for the best moisturiser for sensitive skin, you also need a cleanser for sensitive skin, too and you can’t get much better, especially for the price, than this hydrating cleanser from CeraVe.

All CeraVe products are developed by dermatologists to work effectively for the specific skin type they’re targeted at. This sensitive skin cleanser will cleanse and refresh your skin without over-stripping it or leaving your skin feeling tight or dry.

External elements, such as dirt, makeup, and oil can contribute to your skin’s sensitivity, so this cleanser will also help remove all of that from your face in a non-irritating way.

We mentioned that hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient to look out for if you have sensitive skin and that’s because it has antioxidant properties that can help protect and shield your skin against the outside world. Essentially it helps boost your skin barrier, which is definitely what you want to help your sensitive skin, and what you’ll find in this cleanser.

FURTHER READING: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser review: A superb cleanser that fixes the skin as it cleans

Buy now from Amazon

 3. Best luxury moisturiser: Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask

£124 | Buy now

Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask for sensitive skinSisley

Why we love it: This Sisley cream mask is great skincare for sensitive skin and is hailed in the beauty world for its ability to soothe irritated sensitive skin.

Celebrities Jennifer Lawrence and Salma Hayek are just two of the long list of Hollywood actresses that praise Sisley Black Rose cream mask for improving their skin complexion and after your first application, your skin will feel immediately and noticeably softer.

That’s because it has Vitamin E and chlorella, which are both known in the skincare industry to have revitalising effects.

However, the black rose is the main element that helps to soothe, moisturise and nourish your sensitive skin.

If you feel your skin is looking dull and lacklustre then this cream mask for sensitive skin will be your new best friend.

Unlike other skincare masks on application, this one won’t feel like it’s tightening your face and will instead just give you a slight tingle. This is usually a no-no for sensitive skin but on this occasion, you can be assured it’s working as it should.

Plus it also smells divine!

FURTHER READING: Estée Lauder Double Wear review: Does the iconic foundation still reign supreme?

Buy now from Sisley

4. Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Moisturiser

£14.50 | Buy now

Cetaphil good skincare for sensitive skinCetaphil

Why we love it: This cream-based moisturiser contains the key ingredient hyauronic acid, along with other moisturising ingredients, that help to lock in moisture and protect your skin all day.

Another bonus is it’s fragrance-free, so it shouldn’t irritate your skin and it’s lightweight, which stops it from blocking your pores.

You should apply this to your face after you’ve just cleansed your skin. You can also apply throughout the day if you wish to.

FURTHER READING: We’ve ranked Boots No7 foundations from worst to best, from Stay Perfect to Beautifully Matte

Buy now from Boots

5. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Argan Oil

£5.90 | Buy now

The Ordinary Cold-Pressed Argan Oil for sensitive skinThe Ordinary

Why we love it: The Vitamin E in the argan oil in this The Ordinary wonder works as an anti-inflammatory for red, reactive skin, making it great in skincare for sensitive skin.

The argan oil also helps to control your skin’s oil production by balancing out your sebum levels, meaning you’ll have fewer outbreaks and less irritation.

This argan oil product for sensitive skin is a fantastic option for both your skin and your hair.

It’s rich in fatty acids, vitamins, and carotenes, which help to nourish and hydrate your skin and hair. It’ll also help your lips and nails too, so it ticks so many boxes for your sensitive skin.

All you need to do is add a few drops to your whole face, or you could instead opt to mix it in the palm of your hand with the moisturiser you use daily. For your hair, you’ll want to work it into your damp hair following a wash.

FURTHER READING: The best The Ordinary products for all your skincare concerns – from large pores to redness, wrinkles and acne

Buy now from Sephora

6. The Body Shop Aloe Vera Soothing Day Cream

£16 | Buy now

The body SHop Aloe Vera Day Cream for sensitive skinThe Body Shop

Why we love it: Described by The Body Shop as ‘a little hug for sensitive skin,’ this Aloe Vera day cream will help leave your sensitive skin calmer, softer, and more hydrated.

Aloe Vera has cooling properties that help soothes any redness, irritation, rash, or sunburn, therefore making it a super ingredient in skincare for sensitive skin.

It’s also a great skincare ingredient if you suffer from acne, eczema, and rosacea.

FURTHER READING: Best rosacea cream: Our fave creams that reduce redness, inflammation and acne caused by rosacea

Buy now from The Body Shop

7. Face Theory Relaxing Night Cream

£12.99 | Buy now 

Face Theory Relaxing Night Cream for sensitive skinFace Theory

Why we love it: If you’re looking for a night cream for sensitive skin then we’d highly recommend the Relaxing Night Cream from Face Theory.

It has a few of the key ingredients that are good in skincare for sensitive skin, including hyaluronic acid, argan oil, and shea butter.

There’s also Vitamin C. In larger doses, Vitamin C can cause irritation to sensitive skin, but the amount in this particular night cream should work well for your sensitive skin.

This Face Theory night cream is free of parabens, silicones, and other ingredients that would usually cause your skin to be irritated.

Using this cream overnight will help to moisturise and brighten your skin, so that it looks healthier and more radiant when you wake up. You should apply this by massaging it into your skin before going to bed.

FURTHER READING: What is Vitamin C good for and how does it improve your skin?

Buy now from Face Theory

Best skincare for sensitive skin: What to look out for

Sensitive skin is more prone to inflammation and adverse reactions, such as itching and redness than any other skin type. It can also become dry when it loses too much water and oil.

Much like our gut, our skin has its own unique ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and viruses that impact how it functions. Therefore, it’s vital you get the balance right, so your skin is glowing and hydrated.

A healthy skin microbiome means your skin barrier will help keep moisture in and keep irritants out. That’s why it’s essential to use the right skincare products for sensitive skin.

FURTHER READING: Best moisturisers: Discover which moisturiser best suits your skin

Best ingredients for sensitive skin

When it comes to choosing the best ingredients for sensitive skin, you need to look for:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Argan Oil
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Jojoba
  • Rose water
  • Chamomile
  • Shea Butter

When shopping you’ll also want to look out for skincare products labelled, ‘fragrance-free,’ or, ‘unscented.’ These products should still smell nice, but they’ll have used a different ingredient to cover the natural smell of the product.

Another good thing to look out for when buying skincare for sensitive skin is microbiome-balancing ingredients, such as ceramides, probiotics and prebiotics. These help to restore the ideal ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria on your skin because an imbalance of bacteria can be another cause of skin redness and sensitivity.

FURTHER READING: Stem cells for skin: Is stem cell skincare really a ‘cure’ for fine lines and wrinkles?

Worst skincare ingredients for sensitive skin

The skincare ingredients you should avoid when looking for skincare for sensitive skin include:

  • Alcohol (particularly SD alcohol, denatured alcohol and isopropyl alcohol)
  • Sulfates
  • Exfoliants (minimal use is ok but don’t scrub too hard and opt for gentle chemical exfoliants rather than physical ones
  • Preservatives
  • Ammonia

These ingredients can dry out the skin, weaken the skin barrier and cause your skin to flare up, and potentially react badly.

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