Face Wash For Sensitive Skin: What You Need To Look Out For


Face Wash For Sensitive Skin:

What You Should Look Out For

When it comes to choosing a good face wash, there are multiple options to choose from. With that said, not all of the available choice go easy on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.

The facial skin is constantly exposed to allergens, bacteria and dirt throughout the day. It is necessary to have a regular cleaning routine to ensure that you wipe all the pollutants from your face and keep it looking healthy and rejuvenated.

A good facial cleanser not only helps to remove oil, dirt and grime from your skin but hydrates it at the same time. It also helps clear the naturally produced oil from the skin.

What does a face wash do?

So we all agree that a face wash is a vital component of your skincare routine. It performs the following necessary functions:

  1. Clears dirt build-up on the dermal surface
  2. Maintains the pH balance of your skin.
  3. Hydrates the skin
  4. Helps in exfoliating the skin
  5. Increases blood circulation

When it comes to skin sensitivity issues, various pollutants present in the environment can trigger a serious allergic reaction. Additionally, some skincare products like moisturizers, creams and lotions may have allergy triggering products (like acids and artificial fragrances) which can multiply sensitivity issues.

If you have sensitive skin, you need to be extra cautious about choosing a face wash and about applying your face cleaning regime.

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

Facial skin is the most vulnerable part of your body when it comes to harmful environmental impacts like solar radiations, pollutants and chemicals present in cosmetics.

For people with sensitive skin, the challenges are immense. Ingredients like artificial fragrances, alcohol and harsh chemicals may trigger reactions like dryness, irritation, skin outbursts, or itchiness.

A good cleansing routine is, therefore, a must for sensitive skin.

Face wash procedure for people with sensitive skin

The process of face wash is similar, regardless of the skin type you have. It is recommended to use moderately cool or lukewarm water to wash your face.

Take a very small amount of the face wash on your fingertips (avoid washcloths or sponges as they can cause irritation to sensitive skin) and massage gently all over on the moist skin.

Having done that, rinse well and ensure that the entire product is removed from the skin.

washing her face with mousse

                                                              Photo by Shiny Diamond from Pexels

It is important to understand that even the mildest of products if left on the skin may be a trigger factor for those with skin sensitivity issues.

Once you have thoroughly washed your face, pat dry with a soft towel.

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

While keeping the face clean is important, washing it too often can do more harm than good. And this is especially true if you have sensitive skin.

Washing the face multiple times a day will remove natural oils and protective barriers of the skin, making it more prone to allergens and chemical attacks. Additionally, it may lead to excessive dryness and irritation.

The American Academy of dermatologists recommends washing the face twice a day.

It is suggested to wash your face in the morning, especially if you also have oily skin. If not, you can simply wash it with lukewarm water instead of using a face wash.

However, at the end of the day, it is important to wash your face using a good face cleanser that is specifically formulated for your skin type.

Choosing a good face wash for sensitive skin

With so many options available in the market, choosing the right one is nothing but a process of trial and error. However, if you have a good understanding of the sensitivity issues of your skin, the process is simple.

The following are some suggestions that you need to consider:

  • Select the cleansers that are free of artificial fragrances and alcohol. This will minimise the chances of skin dryness and irritation.
  • Do not use regular soaps on facial skin.
  • Do not overdo on exfoliation if you have sensitive skin.
  • Similarly, wash only once or twice a day for sensitive skin. Over-washing may result in issues like inflammatory acne, rashes, etc.
  • All sensitive skin products are different. Just because a face wash worked for someone with sensitive skin does not guarantee that it will resolve your issues as well. Understand your condition and look for a product accordingly.
  • Do not use rubbing or scrubbing strokes when drying your skin. Always use a patting motion.
  • Seek advice from your dermatologist on the product that you have shortlisted. 

washing face with water

                                                                Photo by Vitória Santos from Pexels

Common irritants for sensitive skin

People with sensitive skin need to be extra vigilant when choosing products. The first step is to list down some common chemicals and ingredients that cause skin irritation.

And we’ve got it sorted out for you:

  1. Salicylic acid is a chemical that is commonly used in products aiming to reduce acne or even for wrinkle reduction. However, it may have reactions on sensitive skin and should be avoided.
  2. Cleansing ingredients like amyl dimethylamino benzoic acid, 2-ethoxyethyl methoxycinnamate, and dimethyl sulfoxide can also cause skin irritation and allergies.
  3. Certain exfoliants are added in face wash products to give the skin a better and cleaner appearance. These include products like glycolic acid or even coconut husk. However, sometimes, they can end up stripping the skin of its natural oils and blowing up skin irritation issues.

Things to look for in a face wash for sensitive skin

Gentle and hydrating face wash and face cleansers can do wonders when dealing with sensitive and dry skin.

But how do you go about choosing one, especially when there are dozens of options available to choose from?

The following are some important facts you need to consider when looking for an effective face wash that deals with sensitivity:

  1. Select a face wash that hydrates while it cleans. Choose products that talk about moisturization and hydration in addition to cleaning. These help in maintaining and replenishing the natural oils of the skin, thereby soothing it.
  2. Go for unscented products. When dealing with skin irritation, artificial fragrances can be a huge trigger point. Look for products that say “ fragrance-free” on the packaging.
  3. Ensure that the product is free from artificial colours.
  4. See if your face wash has mild moisturizing ingredients. Some of them like hyaluronic acid, trap the moisture on the skin. Similarly, face wash products that have glycerin and ceramides can boost the moisture levels while also soothing the skin surface.
  5. Look for soothing ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, amino acids, essential oils and so on in your chosen products.
  6. Steer clear of anti-ageing ingredients. Chemicals like glycolic acid are used to fight age spots and are often added to face wash and cleansers. However, they are quick to strip the skin of natural oils and cause itchy and dry patches on its surface. Ensure that your face wash has no such ingredients.
  7. Ensure that it does not create uncomfortable tightness on the skin.
  8. Make sure that the product does not leave any waxy or slippery residue on the skin.
  9. Your face wash should work towards refining the skin texture and improving softness.
  10. It should have good reviews from users. Reading up on first-hand reviews from users is the best way to understand how a product functions. Additional positive reviews/awards like the “Reader’s Choice Award for Best Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin” is a bonus.
  11. Always discuss your chosen options with your dermatologist if you have sensitive skin.

Chemical-free face wash 

Another point to consider when it comes to choosing the best fast wash for sensitive skin is to opt for one that is chemical-free. Choose a product that uses natural active ingredients such as amino acids that will cleanse, moisturize and leave your skin at its natural pH levels.

A face wash that contains essential oils such as lavender essential oil are also a good option as these oils are known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and healing properties. 

Your ideal face wash for sensitive skin

Choosing the best face wash for sensitive skin can be tricky. Here are some tips on how to find a suitable facial cleanser for you depending on your skin type. 

What is the best face wash for dry sensitive skin?

If you have dry skin, then you should opt for a gentle fash wash that contains moisturising ingredients and fatty acids. Mineral oil, petrolatum and lanolin are ingredients that not only clean the skin but also leave a thin film of moisture on it after washing. 

Avoid facial wash that contains chemicals, and alcohol and look for one that is fragrance free and has a non-foaming formula. Antibacterial soaps and exfoliating cleansers should be avoided as well since they can make matters worse by drying out your skin.

What is the best face wash for sensitive oily skin?

A good facial cleanser for sensitive oily skin should be able to remove dirt, excess bacteria, oil and sebum from your pores. The best face wash for someone with oily skin should include ingredients such as aloe vera and tea tree oil or other milk ingredients that can work to balance oil production and support the skin. 

Avoid facial cleansers that leave your skin feeling dry and tight after cleansing. You should also stay away from face wash that contains oil or alcohol in the ingredients as this will only add to the problem. 

Face wash for sensitive acne-prone skin

If you have acne-prone skin, here’s how you can choose the most suitable face wash. 

Look for the following ingredients in your facial cleanser:

  • Benzoyl peroxide – to remove the P.acnes bacteria that causes acne.
  • Salicylic acid – to exfoliate clogged pores and remove blackheads and white heads.
  • Sulfur – to lessen inflammation.
  • Glycolic acid – to clear away dead skin cells.

As always, practice caution when trying out a new product. If your skin gets dry and flaky due to anti-acne facial wash ingredients, you can use face washes that are formulated for sensitive skin. 

Make sure that you do not overdo on the cleansing and scale back on the anti-acne face wash. Follow with a moisturizer designed for oily or acne-prone skin after washing your face.

Summing up

A face wash that is a good blend of soft cleansers, essential oils, and amino acids will help keep your face clean of dirt, pollutants, oils, grime, and makeup. And what’s more, it should be able to soothe the existing irritation conditions on your skin, leaving it soft, supple and relaxed.

Modern and advanced technologies like nano cleansing molecules are being used by some brands which are an additional feature to look out for when choosing a face cleanser for sensitive skin.

With so much focus on moisturizers, anti-ageing products and serums, one often tends to forget that face wash is an absolute necessity when it comes to a good skin care regime for sensitive skin. Do your research and choose a product that makes your skin smile.

Coreenna Ong

Coreenna Ong

Co-founder and Head of Research

Ms Ong has more than 25 years of extensive experiences in research and development, conceptualization, formulation, and production process development. She is currently the Head of Research and Development at aspurely skincare.

She has authored 2 best-selling Beauty and Wellness books with Marshall Cavendish, Nature’s Spa: DIY Beauty Treatments and Nature’s Treats: Recipes for Wellness, which are currently available in the Singapore National Library collection.

Ms Ong was also a Beauty columnist for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper publication, with huge regional presence. As its weekly expert contributor, she shared the latest research and technologies from the Beauty industry, and addressed many readers’ skincare issues and concerns, offered beauty tips, quick fixes and insider knowledge.



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