People with sensitive skin need a gentle face wash that will cleanse without causing irritation. Thankfully, there are plenty of great options that you can find at the drugstore. Below, we’ve put together a list of the best drugstore face washes for sensitive skin.

Our Recommendations

1. Hydralight One Step Face Cleanser

Paula’s Choice Hydralight One Step Face Cleanser

Paula's Choice Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Paula’s Choice Hydralight One Step Face Cleanser

For those with oilier and more sensitive skin, this gentle gel cleanser is one of the best Paula’s Choice products. It contains replenishing ingredients that leave the skin feeling refreshed and clean without irritation.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: First, wet the skin with lukewarm water. Dispense the cleanser into your palms, and then gently massage into the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This cleanser is incredibly gentle, even for those with more sensitive skin. However, the gel formula still effectively cleans, while soothing and replenishing ingredients calm the skin.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Some reviewers note that it doesn’t remove makeup

This cleanser contains sodium hyaluronate (the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid), which increases moisture levels in the skin. It also contains allantoin and niacinamide, which moisturize, soothe, and protect the skin.

Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Glycine, Fructose, Urea, Niacinamide, Inositol, Lactic Acid, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Xanthan Gum, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Benzophenone-3 (Oxybenzone), Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Sodium Benzoate.

2. Ultra-Calming Foaming Facial Cleanser

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Facial Cleanser

Aveeno Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Facial Cleanser

This gentle foaming cleanser was formulated with sensitive skin in mind. It helps effectively cleanse while reducing irritation and minimizing redness.

Skin types: Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This gentle cleanser contains feverfew (chrysanthemum parthenium (feverfew) extract), a natural ingredient that is related to chamomile, which calms the skin. Additional ingredients cleanse the skin while minimizing irritation so that the skin feels soothed and balanced.

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons

  • May not be suitable for acne-prone skin

This hypoallergenic cleanser is free of ingredients that commonly irritate sensitive skin, including fragrances and soap.

Water, glycerin, cocamidopropyl betaine, decyl glucoside, citric acid, ppg-2 hydroxyethyl cocamide, peg-16 soy sterol, polysorbate 20, disodium lauroamphodiacetate, phenoxyethanol, butylene glycol, sodium coco pg-dimonium, chloride phosphate, sodium citrate, tetrasodium EDTA, methylparaben, xanthan gum, propylparaben, ethylparaben, propylene glycol, chrysanthemum parthenium (feverfew) extract, sodium cocoyl amino acids, sarcosine, potassium aspartate, magnesium aspartate, sodium hydroxide

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

3. Daily Face Cleanser

Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser

Cetaphil Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser

For those with normal to oily skin, this is one of the best cleansers from Cetaphil. The gel to foam formula is clinically proven to deeply cleanse the skin, but is still gentle enough to not strip it of its natural oils.

Skin types: Normal, Oily, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This is an excellent cleanser for daily use, particularly for those with normal to oily skin. It cleanses without irritating or drying out the skin and contains vitamins B3 and B5, as well as glycerin, which hydrate and nourish the skin.

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Gentle

Cons

  • Contains fragrance

The mild and low lather formula is dermatologist tested, and shown to be gentle on sensitive skin. Since it is also non-comedogenic, it won’t clog pores, making it a suitable choice for those with acne-prone skin.

Water, Glycerin, Peg-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Acrylates/Steareth-20 Methacrylate Copolymer, Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Masking Fragrance, Panthenol, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium Edta, Methylparaben

  1. Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations"

    Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

4. Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Skin CleanserCult favorite

Cetaphil Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

This cult-favorite cleanser is known as one of the best Cetaphil products of all time. The creamy formula gently removes debris from the skin without stripping it of its natural oils.

Skin types: Normal, Dry and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: First, wet the skin with lukewarm water. Dispense the cleanser into your palms, and then gently massage into the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This gentle cleanser is perfect for everyday use, and is appropriate for all skin types (although it is best for normal, dry, and sensitive skin). It has been clinically proven to be gentle on sensitive skin, and leaves the skin feeling soft and moisturized, rather than tight and dry. This cleanser contains vitamins B3 and B5, as well as glycerin, which hydrate and nourish the skin.

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Gentle

Cons

  • May not be effective enough for acne-prone skin

This award-winning cleanser has been clinically tested and shown to be hypoallergenic, which means it won’t irritate the skin. The mild, soap-free formula was crafted with sensitive skin types in mind.

Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben

  1. Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"

    Accessed Aug. 25, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations"

    Accessed Aug. 25, 2021.

5. Hydrating Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

CeraVe Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

This cleanser is gentle on the skin, but still cleanses away dirt, debris, and oil. It both cleans and hydrates, and doesn’t strip the skin of its natural moisture or disrupt the protective barrier.

Skin types: Normal and Dry
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Wet the skin with lukewarm water, then gently massage the cleanser into the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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It’s incredibly important that people with dry skin use a cleanser that strikes a balance between effectively cleansing and not stripping the skin. This is one of the best CeraVe products for dry skin, because it’s hydrating and gentle, but still actually cleanses. Since it is important to cleanse your face on a daily basis, this product makes it easy to do so without disrupting the skin’s barrier.

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Non-irritating
  • Fragrance-free
  • Accepted by the National Eczema Association

Cons

  • May not be be effective enough for acne-prone skin

This hydrating cleanser features glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which hydrate and lock in moisture. It also contains three essential ceramides, which restore the skin’s barrier.

Purified Water, Glycerin, Behentrimonium Methosulfate and Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6-11, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol, Polyoxyl 40 Stearate, Glyceryl Monostearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 20, Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cetyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Phytosphingosine, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum

6. Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Neutrogena Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

This cream cleanser is an excellent daily face wash for those with drier skin. It is gentle on the skin and effectively cleanses without further drying it out.

Skin types: Normal, Dry and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: Yes
How to use: Wet your face with lukewarm water, and then gently massage the cleanser into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
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This cleanser is one of the best Neutrogena cleansers for those with drier skin. It contains glycerin (a humectant), which keeps the skin moisturized while cleansing ingredients gently remove dirt and debris. It is also non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t contain ingredients known to clog pores.

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Fragrance-free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist developed

Cons

  • Some reviewers complain about the pump

This cream cleanser was developed by dermatologists, and is suitable for sensitive skin, including those with rosacea and eczema.

Water, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol

  1. Sage Journals. "Safety Assessment of Glycerin as Used in Cosmetics"

    Accessed Aug. 25, 2021.

7. Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

The Ordinary’s one and only cleanser is a great daily cleanser for all skin types, because it is gentle and moisturizing but cleanses effectively.

Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: Dispense the cleanser into clean, dry hands, and then rub your hands together to allow it to melt. Gently massage the cleanser onto dry skin, and then rinse with warm water.
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This squalane cleanser emulsifies from a balm to an oil-like consistency (despite being oil-free). It leaves the skin feeling moisturized, rather than tight and dry.

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Moisturizing
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Oil-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • May not be suitable for acne-prone skin

The main ingredient in this cleanser is squalane, a skincare ingredient that has an oil-like consistency (but isn't actually an oil). Squalane is a derivative of squalene, which is naturally found in human sebum. It is excellent for lightly hydrating the skin.

Squalane, Aqua (Water), Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Glycerin, Sucrose Stearate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sucrose Laurate, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Sucrose Dilaurate, Sucrose Trilaurate, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Isoceteth-20, Sodium Polyacrylate, Tocopherol, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Malic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Chlorphenesin.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Moisturizers: The Slippery Road"

    Accessed Aug. 9, 2021.

8. Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser

Paula's Choice Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser

This cream cleanser is one of the best Paula’s Choice cleansers for dry and sensitive skin, as it is super gentle on the skin, and softens and hydrates.

Skin types: Dry and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: First, wet the skin with lukewarm water. Dispense the cleanser into your palms, and then gently massage into the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
See on Amazon

Those with sensitive skin need a cleanser that won’t cause any irritation. This hydrating cream cleanser was formulated with sensitive skin in mind, and is even suitable for those with eczema.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle
  • Moisturizing

Cons

  • May not be suitable for acne-prone skin

This creamy cleanser was formulated with hydrating and soothing skincare ingredients, including soja oil and matricaria flower extract.

Water (Aqua), Hydrogenated Polydecene (texture-enhancing), Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate (cleansing), Glycine Soja Oil (soybean oil/antioxidant/emollient), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate (emollient), Polysorbate 80 (texture-enhancing), Laureth-4 (texture-enhancing), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer (texture-enhancing), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (cleansing), Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria Flower Extract, Beta-Glucan (skin-soothing), Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate (texture-enhancing), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Hexylene Glycol (preservative), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Chlorphenesin (preservative).

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Aug. 5, 2021.

9. Calm Redness Relief Cleanser

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin

Paula's Choice Face Wash for Daily Cleansing

Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin

If you’re struggling with redness, this calming cleanser will help soothe the skin while gently cleansing away dirt and debris.

Skin types: Normal, Dry, Combination and Sensitive
Best for: Daily Cleansing
Tested on animals: No
How to use: First, wet the skin with lukewarm water. Dispense the cleanser into your palms, and then gently massage into the skin. Rinse with lukewarm water.
See on Amazon

This milky cleanser is super gentle on the skin and easy to rinse off, so it won’t cause any further redness. It contains plant extracts and other replenishing ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin. Additionally, this cleanser was made to be gentle enough for those prone to rosacea.

Pros

  • Fragrance-free
  • Gentle
  • Moisturizing

Cons

  • May not be suitable for acne-prone skin

Two of the key soothing and hydrating ingredients in this gentle cleanser are chamomile extract and aloe leaf juice.

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (cleansing), Glycol Stearate (texture-enhancing), Methyl Gluceth-20 (emollient), Glyceryl Stearate (texture-enhancing), Hydroxyethylcellulose (texture-enhancing), Chamomilla Recutita Matricaria Flower Extract (chamomile/skin-soothing), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (hydration/skin-soothing), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (cleansing), Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate (cleansing), Sodium Hyaluronate (hydration/skin replenishing), Sodium PCA (hydration/skin replenishing), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Hexylene Glycol (preservative), Propylene Glycol (hydration), Citric Acid (pH balancer), Phytic Acid (stabilizer), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"

    Accessed Aug. 5, 2021.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Pharmacological attribute of Aloe vera: Revalidation through experimental and clinical studies"

    Accessed Aug. 5, 2021.

FAQs

How do you wash your face if you have sensitive skin?

In addition to picking a face wash formulated for sensitive skin that fits your needs, there are some extra things you can do while washing your face to ensure you’re being as gentle as possible on the skin to avoid irritation. First, make sure you’re using lukewarm water while washing your face, because water that is too hot or too cold can irritate the skin. You should also avoid using a cleansing brush, wet face towel, or any other exfoliating tools to wash your face. Instead, simply stick with gently massaging the cleanser into your skin with your fingers. Using additional cleansing tools will likely cause irritation.

How often should you wash your face if you have sensitive skin?

You should wash your face at least once per day if you have sensitive skin, and no more than two times per day. Over-cleansing your face can aggravate the skin, even if you’re using a gentle cleanser. You’ll want to wash your skin at the end of the day to cleanse away any sweat, dirt, sebum, and debris on your face. You can also cleanse your skin in the morning prior to applying any skincare products. This is especially important if you workout and break a sweat in the morning. That said, some people are fine just cleansing at night.

What face wash is best for dry sensitive skin?

If you have dry skin that is sensitive, there are some great face washes on this list that will work for you. The Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, the CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser, and the Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin are all excellent options that you can find at the drugstore.

The Bottom Line

There are some excellent face washes at the drugstore that are suitable for sensitive skin. If you’re creating a skincare routine for your sensitive skin, consider using one of our recommended face washes to maintain healthy and happy skin.