Best Dermatologist Recommended Face Wash for Sensitive Skin (2018)

Updated a year ago

What’s the best way to wash your face if you have sensitive skin? This is a question many people want answered. They’ve tried scrubs, soaps, oils, plain water, and even not washing at all. What works for you might not work for the next person. But there are some face washes that are safe for sensitive skin for almost everyone.

The best face wash for you may depend on a few factors, like whether you have oily skin, dry skin, combination skin, or a skin disorder. It may depend on whether you wear makeup or take acne medications. To find the perfect face wash, you have to consider its ingredients.

When you select a new face cleanser, avoid alcohols because they will dry out your face. Choose something light and water-based that you can rinse away. Foaming washes are a good choice for acne-prone skin. If you have problems with clogged pores and blackheads, look for cleansers that contain salicylic or glycolic acid to exfoliate dead cells.

Don’t try to strip away all the excess oil by scrubbing your face with harsh products. It will only speed up oil production if you irritate your skin. Instead, be patient for a new product to do its work. Wash twice a day to keep excess oil under control.

The real causes of acne and skin problems can’t be solved with only one cleanser or face wash. But you can reduce inflammation, kill off bacteria that causes acne, and moisturize your skin. To help you with taking good care of your face, we researched to discover the best face washes for sensitive skin. Check out our reviews below.

The top face washes for sensitive skin

Our favorite wash for sensitive skin is Micellar water. There are a few well-known companies that offer similar versions, so we’ll list some of the best ones here.

What is Micellar water? It’s a miracle solution for people who have problems using other kinds of face cleansers. People with dry and combination skin find it especially soothing. Over the course of a few uses, they see their dry spots transform into hydrated, happy, younger-looking skin.

Micellar water was reportedly invented in France because the tap water was too harsh for washing skin. Microscopic particles of special oils called micelles are suspended in a solution of purified water. These little particles bond with dirt and oils on skin so it’s easy to wipe off makeup and grime. The process doesn’t dry out skin at all—it hydrates it. And you don’t need to rinse it off afterward.

When you hold a bottle in your hand, it looks like regular water. But when you soak a cotton pad and press it to your skin, it’s very soothing. Even after just one application, you’ll see a visible difference in the texture of your face.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Water

Bioderma’s Sensibio H20 Water is a Micellar formula designed for users with sensitive skin. It’s not the drugstore variety—this particular non-prescription brand is sold in pharmacies in Europe, not in places like Target or Walmart.

If you plan to remove water-resistant makeup, soak a pad and press it to the area you want to clean for 20 to 30 seconds to help dissolve the makeup. Otherwise, you can simply wipe your face with the cotton pad and you’re done. Some users don’t even bother with moisturizer afterward because their skin is that soft.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is safe to use on your eyes and lips, as well as the rest of your face. It has no fragrance and no alcohol.

Garnier says the method for using it is, “Pour, Press, Proof.” That translates into putting it on a cotton pad, pressing it against your skin, then wiping gently. They say the Micelle technology attracts dirt and makeup like a magnet, lifting it from your skin. You’ll see the proof on the cotton pad. Since it’s water-based, your skin will feel refreshed and light after using it.

CLINIQUE Take The Day Off Micellar Cleansing Towelettes for Face & Eyes

Forget soaking cotton pads with Micellar water, use these pre-moistened wipes from Clinique instead. They aren’t designed to replace a regular face care regimen, but are super handy for using on the go.

Bioderma Sebium Foaming Gel Pump

From the same company that makes the Sensibio H20 Water comes this Foaming Gel face wash. While you may love Micellar water, it may not be enough for you if you have oily skin. So combine it with this product to control the production of sebum, the “oil” on your face. Sebium Gel has two uncommon ingredients: zinc sulfate and copper sulphate. These purify skin and may be linked to skin healing faster. (These are not the infamous sulfates you should be avoiding in personal care products. Those are SLS, or Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, a known skin irritant found in shampoos, etc.)

Another unique feature of Bioderma’s Sebium Gel is that you can use it as a foam for shaving. That’s really convenient when you’re traveling.

Vichy Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel Cleanser with Salicylic Acid

Vichy Normaderm Daily Deep Cleansing Gel Cleanser has a small amount of just 0.5% salicylic acid so it’s very gentle on sensitive skin. It also contains glycolic acid and LHA to help it exfoliate dead skin. There are no parabens nor alcohol in the formula. You can wash with Normaderm twice a day.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

Beauty sites like it and dermatologists recommend it. Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash uses the power of salicylic acid to clear up acne, clear out pores, and get rid of dead skin. It also includes aloe and chamomile soothe skin.

Although Neutrogena says you can use it morning and night, it may be too drying if you already have dry, irritated skin or use acne medications. Consider using it only at night, or every other day.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser is made for all skin types and people of all ages. It’s hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic, and has no scent. In other words, buy this in the bulk so the whole family can enjoy it.

Besides acne, people suffering with psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema have reported success using the Gentle Skin Cleanser. It moisturizes, but doesn’t strip off all the skin’s natural oil. It can remove makeup and dirt. And one last thing—you can use it without water. It doesn’t have to be rinsed.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

The National Eczema Association recommends CeraVe Foaming Face Cleanser to people suffering with skin disorders. It contains hyaluronic acid to moisturize, niacinamide (Vitamin B3) to reduce redness, and ceramides to help your skin protect itself.

Since it moisturizes as it cleans, your skin won’t feel the need to overproduce oil. Many users report that their skin feels very clean, but a little stiff, after they use it. It’s not a bad idea to apply moisturizer after you rinse and dry your skin.

Mustela Gentle Cleansing Body Gel

Yes, it’s a body wash—for babies. Which means it’s safe for your face, too. Mustela’s formula is free of parabens, phthalates, and Phenoxyethanol so it’s non-irritating to skin. Ninety percent of the ingredients are derived from plants, and it’s enriched with Vitamin B5.

SAL3 Cleansing Bar - 3% Salicylic Acid, 10% Sulfur from Braunfels Labs

Who knew you could use sulfur to wash your face? The SAL3 Cleansing Bar from Braunfels Labs contains 3% salicylic acid, the strongest concentration you can buy in a cleanser. It also contains 10% sulfur which is a strong weapon against the bacteria that causes acne.

While sulfur may bring to mind the smell of rotten eggs, don’t turn up your nose at this soap yet. It doesn’t actually stink, plus sulfur doesn’t dry skin like benzoyl peroxide, which makes it safer for sensitive faces.

You can use this cleanser bar on just your face or any part of your body to attack acne. Use a washcloth for extra exfoliating action. Rinse well afterward. Then definitely use a moisturizer after drying off your skin.

AHAVA Dead Sea Purifying Mud Soap

Dead Sea mud is good at removing impurities from skin. If you’re not a fan of face washes in pump-top bottles or the slight scent of sulfur, try this bar of Purifying Mud Soap. Users report that it clears up their face and body acne and leaves their skin feeling soft, but not dried-out or stiff.

Amara Organics Facial Cleanser with 15% Vitamin C

Amara Organics Facial Cleanser with 15% Vitamin C removes waterproof mascara. That’s what satisfied customers users are saying. They say it makes their skin feel soft, too.

If you choose the Amara Organics cleanser, you’ll notice that it doesn’t lather up much because it doesn’t have sulfates in its formula. (Yes, those sulfates—SLS, the skin irritant.) It doesn’t have parabens, dyes, or artificial fragrances either. It’s vegan and cruelty-free.

The main ingredients are aloe, rosehip oil, and the tea tree (Melalueca) oil that gives it a little tingle. If you have especially sensitive skin, it might be a bit much for you. Amara Organics offers a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not delighted.

Era Organics Natural Face Wash Moisturizing Facial Cleanser with Organic Aloe Vera & Manuka Honey for Dry, Oily, Damaged, Sensitive Skin

Era Organic’s Natural Face Wash doesn’t disrupt your skin’s pH balance like some cleansers do. Instead, the vitamin-packed formula lifts away oil and grime to leave skin soft and toned. It’s enriched with aloe vera and Manuka honey to soothe and heal irritated skin.

The ingredient list does not include parabens, sulfates, or fragrances so it’s safe for most people with sensitive skin. Individuals who say they suffer from acne have reported positive results with clearer skin and fewer breakouts.

Simple Kind to Skin Facial Cleanser

Simple is a brand from the United Kingdom that’s been around since the 1960s. Their Kind to Skin Facial Cleanser is designed to remove makeup and grime while moisturizing your face. It contains Vitamin B5, chamomile, glycerin, and geranium, all nutrients to that end. There are no synthetic perfumes or dyes, but it does contain Methylisothiazolinone, which can be an irritant to sensitive skin. On the bright side, it’s the last in the list, so it’s probably a small portion of the entire formula.

Christina Moss Naturals Organic Facial Wash

Users have noticed that using the Christina Moss Naturals Organic Facial Wash makes their skin feel very clean and soft. Some have commented that their pores seem smaller and they have fewer breakouts.

The formula avoids all the irritants like SLS, SLES, parabens, petroleum derivatives, sulfates, dyes, and synthetic fragrances. Instead, it contains coconut oil, olive fruit oil, sunflower seed oil, aloe vera juice, shea butter, and rosemary.

Oils in my face wash?

You may have noticed that some of these face washes include oils. How can oils be beneficial for skin if you’re suffering from clogged pores or too much sebum already?

Plant-derived oils like coconut, olive, sunflower, and jojoba are beneficial to skin. They can help dissolve makeup, grime, and oils on your face so your cleanser can lift all that away out of your pores and off your skin.

There’s been a rash of so-called health websites recommending a method of cleaning your face with actual oils that you rub on, then wipe off. This isn’t the best idea for sensitive skin because it can cause more acne. The best face washes may include natural oils, but they also contain ingredients that let you rinse off the oil.


We hope we gave you a hand in selecting the perfect face wash today. Choosing skin care products is a personal decision because one product never suits everyone and every skin type.

Come visit us again soon to see more reviews of the best in beauty and skin care products.