Skin Care

Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin that’s Either Oily or Dry



by Lydia


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Any credible dermatologist would know the importance of cleansing. Besides wearing sunscreen every day, it's also one of the most critical steps in your skin care routine that could either work it or break it for you, especially if you have sensitive skin. For this reason, you must identify the best face wash for sensitive skin.

Ideally, the best face wash should cleanse away dirt and excess sebum while it rehydrates the skin at the same time to help wholesomely protect the skin. Frustratingly though, if you have sensitive skin, it's not as easy. If anything, most of the many face washes in the market are either too harsh, over stripping, or consist of too many chemicals and fragrances that cause sensitive skin to react adversely.

The reactions could either result in flaking, redness, breakouts, or sometimes full-on fledged allergic rashes. So the first step to getting the best face wash for you is determining your particular skin type and working with ingredients that are best for your skin. Sensitive skin could either be oily, dry, or a combination of both.

What Shouldn't It Contain?

If you have sensitive skin, you know you can’t just head to the drugstore and pick up the first product you can grab. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work like that. Before you know exactly what to pick, it's easier to note the harmful ingredients that you should steer clear away from.

Always take a minute to check labels for the potentially harmful ingredients. For starters, look out for sulfate-free and fragrance-free face washes. Also, avoid parabens and phthalates.

According to dermatologists, These ingredients can cause an imbalance in the skin’s pH and cause overdrying, redness, or breakouts. Also, generally refrain from using face cleansers or washes that leave your skin tingly since they often consist of menthol or eucalyptol, which strips your skin of its natural sebum, leading to extreme dryness and irritation. 

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 Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin


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Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin - Reviews

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If you are new to skincare, you are allowed not to have heard of The Ordinary brand before. If not, this really doesn't apply. The Ordinary brand has a major cult following and is popular for its affordable and minimalist approach to great skin care.

The Ordinary’s Squalane cleanser mainly contains squalane. Squalane is essentially a lipid that's found in sebum.

Yes, that is right. The oily stuff gives you clogged pores causing acne. But stay with us on this,

You might have seen squalane spelled in 2 different ways; squalane or squalene. Technically, these are 2 different variations of the same compound. Squalene is a lipid similar in structure to the fats and doesn’t readily dissolve in water, and we naturally produce it as part of sebum.

On the other hand, squalane in The Ordinary’s Squalane cleanser is sustainably sourced from olive oil. However, squalene can be quite unstable, so instead, the brand uses squalane.

Primarily, squalane is a great moisturizer that helps give you smooth and soft skin. It’s also a great treatment for fine lines and improves skin firmness and elasticity.

Being an oil, this skincare product by The Ordinary deeply cleanses and efficiently dissolves makeup without stripping your skin off its vital moisture. Moreover, the brand knows its stuff, so this cleanser is free of a lot.

Its water-free, soap-free, alcohol-free, oil-free, nut-free, silicone-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and fully vegan. Lastly, note that you have to apply it on a dry face, which may feel a little counterproductive for something meant to wash your face. However, the cleanser washes off pretty well, leaving your face feeling moisturized and hydrated with no irritation.


  • Water-free, soap-free alcohol-free, oil-free, nut-free, silicone-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and also fully vegan
  • It offers an affordable and minimalist approach to great and effective skin care
  • Safe and sustainably sourced ingredients from plants
  • A moisturizing cleanser that helps give smooth and soft skin
  • Great treatment for fine lines and improves skin firmness and elasticity
  • Best used on dry, sensitive skin
  • No irritation or over-drying effect


  • The smell can be a bit off-putting, especially if you haven't used lipid or oil-based cleansers before

Korean skin care is taking the skin care world by storm. Compared to regular skin care brands elsewhere, Asian, more specifically Korean skin care, is popularly known to include multiple age-old secrets in their products.

The Some By Mi brand has recently been trending. As a brand, they largely believe that great ingredients are the key to clearing up your skin. Their AHA BHA PHA 30-days Miracle line comprises cleanser, toner, and serum.

The cleanser comes either as bar soap or acne clearing foam. They all contain AHA, BHA, and PHA, which gently exfoliates the skin without stripping it off moisture or irritating it. It is gentle enough for every day and safely used on all skin types, even sensitive skin.

AHA (Alpha-hydroxy acid) and BHA (Beta-hydroxy acid) are exfoliants that work great for people with either oily, sensitive, or acne-prone skin. Generally, AHA and BHA also remove dirt and excess sebum while effectively ungluing the dead skin cells. On the other hand, PHA (Poly-hydroxy acid) is a hydroxy acid that dissolves dead skin while preventing moisture loss. 

The Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA Miracle acne clear foam has quite a lengthy ingredient list, but all of them are categorized either as EWG 1 or 2. This means that they're highly unlikely to cause any irritation to your skin. What stands out, though, is the 2% Niacinamide, 14.5 % Centella Asiatica extract, 10,000 ppm of Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea tree) extract, and others that not only stabilize your skin cell turnover for clear, smooth skin but also soothes irritated skin.

On top of all of that, it's also affordable. The Some By Mi AHA BHA PHA Miracle acne clear foam lathers pretty well and deeply cleanses your pores. Overall, it works great as both an AM and PM cleanser for all skin types.


  • Gently exfoliates dead skin cells to stabilize skin cell turnover for clear, smooth skin
  • Soothes irritated or inflamed skin
  • Works on all skin types, including oily or dry sensitive skin
  • Greatly improves skin tone
  • A great mix of natural and safe extracts and ingredients such as tea tree extract and Houttuynia extract for anti-bacterial properties
  • Organic argan oil and olive oil that contains Vitamin E and keeps skin moisturized
  • No artificial additives, artificial dye; or chemical detergent
  • No allergenic ingredients
  • Green EWG grade product
  • Edelweiss extracts for thicker skin and brighter skin tone
  • Houttuynia extracts for clearer skin
  • Asiatic pennywort extracts that soothe the skin and faster absorption
  • Affordable


  • Still not as widely available

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Cerave is widely known and available. It's ideal for all skin types, even by people who have sensitive, dry, oily, or acne-prone skin. Cerave has ingredients such as ceramides, dimethicones, hyaluronic acid, etc., that qualifies it as a great facial product that actually cleanses and moisturizes your face.

It's also known to keep your face smooth and supple for that fresh, dewy look. In addition, CeraVe Hydrating facial cleanser helps keep your skin moisturized and hydrated.

It's a gentle cleanser suitable for people with sensitive skin because it penetrates deep into the skin to nourish and moisturize. In addition, the ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it contains help keep your skin moisturized and soft.


  • It's non-comedogenic
  • Accepted by the National Eczema Association and developed by dermatologists
  • Fragrance-free
  • Prevents water loss, moisturizes, and hydrates
  • Great for all skin types
  • Relieves conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis
  • Helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines


  • Contains cetyl alcohol which may cause some people to react badly
  • Contains parabens

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This is mainly meant for normal to dry skin, but it's also used to treat patients with sensitive and rosacea-prone skin. It also contains great soothing ingredients that remove dirt, oil, and makeup from your skin while easing redness and promoting healthy skin.

Paula's Choice Skincare's Calm cleanser effectively gives dehydrated, sensitive skin the gentle treatment it needs. It doesn't have harsh ingredients such as sensitizing fragrance, drying agents, sodium c14-16 olefin sulfonate, or sodium lauryl sulfate and still effectively cleans without leaving your face feeling stripped or dry.

The formula also includes soothing Matricaria flower extract and skin and replenishing ingredients such as sodium PCA and sodium hyaluronate. Although these ingredients are great in leave-on products, they can also be beneficial during the cleansing process.

It's remarkably gentle, so if you have a dry outer skin layer that’s prone to redness or sensitivity, this is definitely worth checking out.


  • pH balancing
  • Hydrates and doesn't leave the skin dry
  • Free of fragrance, cruelty-free with sustainable ingredients
  • Non-irritating
  • Milky cleansing lotion
  • Most ideal for normal to dry skin
  • Gentle formula
  • Removes makeup easily


  • Contains PEG-7

This is a daily face wash that clears your makeup, dirt, and other impurities like excess oil from your face. It comes in a gel-based foam formula that doesn't strip natural oil off your skin and leaves your skin feeling refreshed. La Roche-Posay Toleriane foaming face wash is ideally best used on oily skin that's sensitive while helping maintain the skin barrier.

Not only does it clean excess oil, but it also helps to control your skin's oil production so you won’t end up having dramatically mattified skin that doesn't overdry you. But it’s a bit drying for normal skin and definitely not suitable for dry skin. 


  • Board Certified
  • Dermatologist-tested, allergy tested, and non-comedogenicity tested
  • Contains La Roche-Posay probiotic thermal spring water
  • Ideal for sensitive, oily skin
  • Contains ceramide-3 and niacinamide
  • Paraben-free, oil, soap, and alcohol-free
  • Great quality
  • Affordable price to quantity ratio


  • Has fragrance
  • Doesn't remove heavy or waterproof makeup

What to Consider for the Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin? 

A) Type of Face Wash

According to any board-certified dermatologist, if you have sensitive skin, always look out for face washes with non-irritating ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties that nourish, soothe and still cleanse your skin. Also, avoid harsh physical scrubs with rough edges since they can cause micro-tears on your skin, making it prone to inflammation or irritation.

B) Formulation

Sensitive skin types with dry skin should go for oil-free, thicker, and creamier textures like cream cleansers or milky cleansers. A board-certified dermatologist would recommend that those with oily sensitive skin go for a gel cleanser or foaming formulas. In contrast, people with normal skin could consider either creamy cleansers or gels. 

C) Hydrating Ingredients

You must impart some moisture back into your skin's barrier as you cleanse, no matter what kind you have. If your skin is dry, go for hydrators such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid. On the oilier spectrum, go for lighter hydrating ingredients such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid.

D) Package

Face washes come in 2 types of packaging; either in a pump bottle and tube. You can go for either as per your convenience. However, it's recommended that you consider a pump bottle since it's built only to dispense the right amount.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Face Wash for Sensitive Skin

1. How to best clean very sensitive skin?

Any board-certified dermatologist would advise:

  • Avoid using too many products at the same time; this not only irritates your skin but also makes it difficult to get the benefits of each or identify what's not working for you
  • Don't aggressively rub or scrub your face skin; it is quite sensitive
  • Avoid washing too often; stripping moisture off your skin causes it to be irritated
  • Use clean hands and soft flannels to pat dry
  • Use sunscreen to protect you from the sun
  • Avoid touching your face

2. Can you use the face wash cleanser every day?

Yes. Identify a gentle cleanser facewash that works best for you and that you can use twice every day. Don't do it more than that may overdry out your skin, and unfortunately, your irritated skin will do whatever it will need to do to regain that moisture.

3. Which is better between a face wash or cleanser?

Generally, face washes will prove a better option for people with sensitive, oily skin. A non-comedogenic face wash could be in the form of a foaming face wash and could be used in your skincare routine in place of soap. In addition, face washes are ideal if you have oily skin to help deal with the excess oil and pore-clogging impurities, giving that a more matte look.

The best facial cleansers are much more hydrating and moisturizing than face washes. According to dermatologists, specially formulated facial cleansers are gentler, help clean the skin's surface, and are ideal for dry and sensitive skin. They are often universally helpful, but you must choose the right product with the right active ingredients for your skin.

4. How do I get smooth and spotless skin naturally?

  • Ensure that you cleanse daily by following a regular safe cleansing routine. Double cleansing using a cleansing oil is highly beneficial, especially after wearing make-up. Yes, even for oily sensitive skin, according to cosmetic and clinical research dermatologists. Just ensure that you identify the right natural oils for your skin
  • Include the right toners in your skin care routine
  • Hydrate or moisturize depending on your skin type
  • Occasionally exfoliate
  • Regularly use the right masks for your skin
  • Try and maintain a healthy diet routine. Unfortunately, what you consume will always show through your skin
  • Consistently drink plenty of water
  • Remove makeup; never sleep with makeup on

5. Can you use both a face wash and cleansers for sensitive skin?

Yes, you can alternate using both the face wash and gentle skin cleanser in your skincare routine. But, ultimately, make sure your natural skin barrier is not stripped off too much moisture that leaves your skin feeling tight. Consider using the face wash as you start your day for a good cleanse. Then use the non-comedogenic cleanser during the day after your workout sessions or before you sleep, which helps remove dirt and all the acne-causing bacteria that clog pores and cause acne.

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