Best Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

Choosing a Sensitive Skin Cleanser
That Won't make your Face Break Out! 

What is the best facial cleanser for sensitive skin? You probably know from painful personal experience that one of the quickest ways to get a skin breakout is by using soap or other foaming agents on your tender skin.

It can be SO frustrating to try and find a good quality and yet gentle facial cleanser that won't cause an itchy skin rash or turn your face beet red! Why is it so difficult to find a good sensitive skin facial cleanser?

The First Facial Cleansers

In the "old" days (yes, I'm old enough to remember!) there weren't a zillion different fancy types of skincare products. In fact, there were hardly any options.

Many of us in those days grew up using soaps on our skin. We likde the lathering and the feeling of being sqeaky clean!

This worked well for some people, but for those with sensitive skin, the soaps would produce a drying effect. In some cases, this would result in an embarrassing itchy skin rash!

soap as a facial cleanser

The reason that soaps are not the best facial cleanser for sensitive skin is that they remove some of the protective mantle of the skin, which actually can make it more vulnerable to rashes and environmental irritants.

Modern Facial Cleansers

With the advent of modern manufacturing, many skin care companies have tried to make facial cleansers that give us that nice, satisfying foaming quality of the soaps, without creating such a drying effect.

This helps to create a nice, clean feeling on the skin, with a little more moisturizing. For a lot of people, this was enough to cleanse the skin without drying it. The best facial cleanser cleaned the skin without removing the natural oils.

For the unfortunate minority of us that have sensitive skin however, this was not enough! We found that even these nice, creamy, foaming facial cleansers produce a dreaded, beet red facial breakout. :)

Ingredients in Most Sensitive Skin Facial Cleansers

Why then are we still struggling to find the best facial cleanser for sensitive skin? The reason has to do with the ingredients in the facial cleanser, and the effect that those ingredients can have on sensitive skin.

Best Facial Cleanserfor Sensitive Skin - No Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Facial Cleansers

When soap is too drying, many skin care companies use other foaming cleansers. Some sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate which are used in many shampoos, facial cleansers, toothpastes, tooth whiteners, laundry detergents and even some cosmetics products.

Now normally the small amounts of these ingredients would not provide a skin rash in most people, however there are those of us who are very sensitive, and as a result we may find our skin breakout out after using a product that contains this ingredient.

If you do some research on this product ingredient, you'll learn that and it has the potential to cause skin, eye or lung irritation. For this reason, products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate are not the best facial cleanser for sensitive skin.

As more people become aware of this, we are starting to see more "SLS free" toothpastes, shampoos and cosmetics, which is good news for those of us sensitive skin.

Best Facial Cleanserfor Sensitive Skin - No Salicylic Acid

Other skin care companies may use salicylic acid (an anti-inflammatory that is related to aspirin) in their facial cleansers, which can work well for some people with acne or oily skin ... but for those of us with sensitive skin, this can dry your face, or worse, cause a beet-red itchy skin rash!

Even worse, some people suffer from a salicylate allergy, and they might not even know it. Salicylates are natural substances found in many foods, and they are the active ingredient found in aspirin.

Iin today's world we have developed so many products that contain high amounts of salicylates, that some people are developing allergies to them. Even though some people with acne find that cleansers with salicylic acid are the best facial cleanser for acne, those of us with sensitive skin need a gentler solution.

Best Facial Cleanserfor Sensitive Skin - NoParabens

All cosmetics products require preservatives in order to keep them fresh enough to last in their bottles. Some very common preservatives are:

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben

These preservatives are called parabens for shorthand, and many people with sensitive skin have discovered that these ingredients can trigger skin outbreaks. Research does support this, and so more companies are now developing paraben-free products in order to reduce the exposure to these potential irritants.

Best Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin - No Fragrances

I've been rather horrified to note that several very popular hypoallergenic skin care brands use fragrance in their products. I never realized that this one ingredient can actually cause quite a number of allergic reactions until I did some research on this because of my own fragrance allergy.

Perfumes are added to so many different products, from skin care, to makeup, shampoos, laundry detergents, cleaning products, air fresheners, not to mention colognes, bubble baths and soaps .It is almost impossible to avoid perfumes in the modern world, because they have become so widely used!

For some people with sensitive skin, simply removing fragrances and perfumes from their skin care, body care and hair care products can go a long way to stopping the itching and skin rashes that seem to come and go with no rhyme or reason.

Other Ingredients That Can Irritate Sensitive Skin

For some people, animal by-products such as gelatin, tallow or lanolin can provike a skin rash.

Mineral oil is an inexpensive oil that is often used in cosmetics and skin care products, which clogs pores and in essence, can suffocate the skin. Some of our visitors have seen their skin rashes disappear simply by stopping the use of products with mineral oil. For this reason, the best facial cleanser for sensitive skin will be free of mineral oil.

Sadly, many baby oil products still contain mineral oil! Nowadays there are healthier choices that won't clog baby's skin.

There are a whole host of questionable skin care ingredients such as artificial colors and dyes, preservative and more that are routinely added to products. We've written more about this in our Safe cosmetics section.

After all this, you might be thinking that perhaps more natural skin care products might help reduce your exposure to chemical irritants. That may be partially true, however it is also possible that you could have an allergic reaction to a natural ingredient!

Yes, even those pure, organic skin care products might provoke an allergic reaction, depending on your unique body.

What's the Best Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin?

The answer to this question will depend on how well you know yourself and your sensitive skin! It sometimes takes a lot of trial and error to figure out exactly what is the cause of your sensitive skin.

I've found that the best facial cleanser for sensitive skin is one that contains as few irritants as possible. Cleansers that are free of fragrance, parabens, plant allergens, sodium lauryl sulfate and harsh preservative are much less likely to cause your skin to break out.

In my search to find a good hypoallergenic facial cleanser for sensitive skin, I was shocked to discover that it was almost impossible to find gentle products that are BOTH free of plant allergens AND also free of the most irritating preservatives.

I've been looking for years now and the only hypoallergenic facial cleanser I've found is from a small company in California that focuses on chemically safe, botanical free products. Not one of our visitors has ever had a reaction to their products! I use them myself, and they are my top recommendation for sensitive skin care products.

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