How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

Moisturizers for sensitive skin

The best face moisturizers for sensitive skin.

Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team
Aug 08, 2022 · 9 min read

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Best facial moisturizer for sensitive skin
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Does your skin tend to…overreact? Then you may be one of many with sensitive skin. We get it—plenty of Curology members deal with sensitive skin, so we know how tough it can be to find the right stuff for you. So we’ve whipped up this handy guide with moisturizers and sunscreens that our dermatology providers consider good options for sensitive skin. You can bet that we’ve researched the ingredients of each product to make sure they’re okay to try if you have sensitive skin.

Best moisturizers for sensitive skin

Close-up of a pair of hands squeezing some Curology moisturizer onto their fingertips.

The moisturizer by Curology

We may be biased, but hear us out! Curology developed this lightweight daily moisturizer with Curology members in mind, so it’s great for sensitive skin and acne-prone skin, too. Our in-house dermatologists designed a simple hydrating formula that’s non-comedogenic and free of parabens, common allergens, sulfates, fragrances, dyes, and other common irritants. Plus, it conveniently comes in your 3-step skincare set along with your prescription formula and a gentle cleanser! And yes, you can purchase the moisturizer by Curology on its own (AKA without a subscription).

Pai Skincare Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream

  • Chamomile, matricine, and chamazulene help soothe the skin

  • Rosehip oil nourishes the skin with omega 3, 6, 7 and 9

  • Nut allergy alert: contains sweet almond oil

Acure Seriously Soothing Cloud Cream

  • Hyaluronic acid effectively locks hydration into the skin

  • Nut allergy alert: contains sweet almond oil

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Nourishing Night Cream

  • Oil-free and fragrance-free

  • Contains ceramides, which nourish the skin and help it retain moisture

  • Oat extract and feverfew can help soothe inflamed or irritated skin

Boscia Cactus Water Moisturizer

  • Ultra-lightweight and fast-absorbing

  • Fragrance free, gluten free, and cruelty free

Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream

  • Non-comedogenic, gentle formula

If you have another favorite moisturizer that your skin likes (especially if it’s labeled non-comedogenic or formulated for sensitive skin), feel free to keep on using it! But if you’re breaking out, you’ll want to check the ingredients (more on this below).

couple of friends portrait with beige background

Best moisturizer for oily sensitive skin

The moisturizer by Curology 

  • Lightweight, absorbs quickly to locks in hydration all day long

  • Suitable for oily and sensitive skin

Derma-e Sensitive Skin Oil-Free Moisturizer

  • Oil-free moisturizer featuring potent antioxidants and soothing hydration

  • Includes soothing aloe

Fresh Rose Hydrating Gel Cream

  • Uses hyaluronic acid to provide lightweight, 24-hour moisture that won’t clog pores

  • Includes soothing, cooling cucumber extract

Portrait of a woman looking into the camera while holding a hand mirror and touching her face

Best moisturizer for dry sensitive skin

The moisturizer by Curology

  • Developed by our team of dermatologists to be safe for sensitive and acne-prone skin

  • Lightweight gel-cream texture that absorbs quickly

  • Hyaluronic acid locks hydration into the skin

If your dry-and-sensitive skin is thirsty for a rich moisturizer but your skin is picky about what ingredients you use on it, here are a few more moisturizers for dry skin that passed our inspection with no sign of potentially irritating ingredients.

Pai Skincare Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream

  • Chamomile, matricine, and chamazulene help soothe the skin

  • Rosehip oil nourishes the skin with omega 3, 6, 7 and 9

  • Nut allergy alert: contains sweet almond oil

Acure Seriously Soothing Cloud Cream

  • Soothes and hydrates with hyaluronic acid and chamomile

  • Nut allergy alert: contains sweet almond oil

Avene Skin Recovery Cream

  • Minimal ingredients designed to be safe for sensitive skin

Avene Xeracalm A.D. Lipid-Replenishing Cream

  • Formulated for dry, sensitive skin suffering from redness, irritation, or dry patches

  • Preservative-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, mineral oil-free, silicone-free

Extreme close-up of a woman's face, partially covered in powder

Face oils for dry, sensitive skin

If your skin’s drier than a desert and needs an extra boost of moisture, we recommend starting with a face oil or serum before your moisturizer. Certain face oils used in skincare are loaded with skin-nourishers such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, so the right oils or oil-based moisturizers can soothe sensitive skin while replenishing much-needed moisture!

Rosehip seed oil Packed with omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, rose hip oil provides anti-inflammatory effects, which can help improve acne. It’s found in many face oils, but you can get it on its own and add a drop or two to your everyday moisturizer for extra hydration. Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil is a popular option with great reviews!

Meadowfoam seed oil Made from a flower native to Northern California and Oregon, meadowfoam seed oil is lightweight, non-comedogenic, and sinks right into the skin. It’s great at locking in moisture, leaving skin supple, glowy, and hydrated. It’s an effective carrier oil as well, making it a popular ingredient in moisturizers such as Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40 and serums such as Sangre de Fruta Solis balancing serum.

Sea buckthorn oil Sea buckthorn has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties: it’s rich in anti-inflammatory omega fatty acids, including omega-3, -6, -9, and -7. A 2010 study of sea buckthorn fruit extract applied as a cream showed a decline in sebum (oil) production — this may point to some anti-acne benefit separate from fighting inflammation. It may be helpful for inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema.

Close-up of a person with their eyes closed, touching the side of their face.

Best face moisturizer with SPF for sensitive skin

It’s always important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but especially so if your skin is sensitive. Why? Because since sun damage can cause redness and irritation. Moisturizers with built-in sun protection make a great one-step solution to your morning skincare routine, but not all moisturizers with SPF are created equal.

Drunk Elephant Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30

  • Ultra-gentle

  • Lightly hydrating

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40

  • An invisible, weightless, scentless sunscreen

  • Contains meadowfoam seed oil: a lightweight, non-comedogenic oil that sinks right into the skin to help lock in moisture

TATCHA Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF35

  • Lightweight, creamy, and non-comedogenic formula

  • Combination of physical and chemical sunscreen (zinc oxide 15%, octisalate 5%)

  • Formulated to double as a primer for wearing under makeup

Olay Complete Lotion Moisturizer with SPF 30, Sensitive

  • Gentle and lightweight; features vitamin E and aloe, plus SPF 30

  • Combination of physical and chemical sunscreen (octinoxate 7.5%, octisalate 2.5%, octocrylene 2.5%, zinc oxide 7.0%)

  • Long-lasting hydration without irritating

PSA: Sunscreen is only one part of UV protection—cute sun hats and shades are also recommended.

Ingredients to avoid in moisturizers

Some ingredients found in moisturizers can irritate the skin or clog pores. The label “non-comedogenic” (think: “non-acnegenic”, “does not clog pores”, or “won’t cause breakouts”) indicates that the product has been designed with acne-prone people in mind. It’s no guarantee of safety, but it can be a useful guideline! We still recommend checking products labeled non-comedogenic for pore-clogging or irritating ingredients. It’s easy to do with our easy guide to checking products for pore-clogging ingredients!

Besides comedogenic ingredients, here are the key ingredients to avoid:

Avoid: Coconut oil Coconut oil is a popular ingredient in skincare and cosmetics, but if your skin is prone to pimples and clogged pores, you’ll want to avoid it. It’s also called “cocos nucifera oil,” so keep an eye on those ingredients lists. Coconut oil clogs pores slowly but surely for some, so you might not notice right away, but take it from the experts: it gets in those pores and clogs up the works!

Avoid: Alcohol Alcohol is unfortunately used in a lot of skincare products, even though it dries out the skin and can damage its protective barrier! Watch out for alcohol (usually listed as “denatured alcohol” or “alcohol denat.”) on the ingredients list of your products, especially if your skin seems dry, red, tight, itchy, or irritated after using it. However, some products have alcohol at the end of the ingredients list, likely meaning there’s not too much of it — in that case, it may not irritate the skin as much. But it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.

The exception: coconut alcohol Even though coconut oil is not good for acne-prone skin, and alcohol (usually labelled denatured alcohol) can be irritating, coconut alcohol is actually fine. Coconut alcohol is a gentle surfactant (i.e. emulsifier) that the skin tolerates just fine (unlike sodium laureth sulfate, a surfactant which can cause breakouts). Coconut alcohol comes from coconut acid, which is derived from coconut oil; but unlike coconut oil, coconut alcohol doesn’t clog pores, because it’s a smaller molecule. It’s so safe, in fact, that we use coconut alcohol in our Curology cleanser — it was tested for comedogenicity (pore-clogging potential) and passed with flying colors!

Keep your skin calm and carry on

The bottom line for sensitive skin is to keep your skincare routine simple and gentle. Let your moisturizer simply be a great moisturizer; avoid moisturizers that claim to do other things (such as treat acne or hyperpigmentation). Chances are, in order for the moisturizer to do extra work, it contains some type of active ingredient or irritant that can work against sensitive skin.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Subject to consultation. 30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in S&H.
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If you have sensitive skin, Curology can help you with personalized products made with effective yet gentle ingredients. You’ll also receive guidance from our in-house licensed dermatology providers, who can answer questions about your skincare routine and share product recommendations. Not only that, we’ll deliver it right to your door. Sign up for a 30-day free trial—just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling on your first box.*

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Curology Team

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