Photo: Anna Buckman

The Best Products For Sensitive Skin That Banish All Redness & Splotches


Using washcloths, drinking coffee, and enjoying the great outdoors are just a few of the things that make my sensitive skin turn splotchy and beet red. In other words, basically everything makes my face flare up — which means I spend an unfortunately large part of my life trying to avoid, well, everything. Since I refuse to give up my daily Americano, I've turned to the best products for sensitive skin to help me out. And I've found, after lots of trial and even more error, that a few ingredients help keep my complexion glowing, hydrated, and — most importantly — free of redness.

My number one go-to? Dr. Barbara Sturm's $250 Calming Serum. Yes, it isn't cheap, but I'm here to tell you that this is nothing short of a miracle product in my book. I recently incorporated this into my routine twice a day, and I've seen a dramatic reduction in redness in my skin. Unlike many serums I've tried, my face doesn't immediately change colors when I apply the product. And over the course of a few weeks, a few permanent red patches on my face have all but disappeared.

Thankfully, my other go-to products aren't quite as expensive, but they're just as effective in keeping my sensitive skin happy. I start my routine with Neutrogena's $8.29 Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, a face wash that Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, recommended to The Strategist for people with reactive skin. True to its name, it's extremely gentle, and I never look splotchy after I use it.

Once I've applied my beloved Calming Serum post-cleanser, I follow it with Drunk Elephant's B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, which is $52 at Sephora. Then, I seal everything in with EltaMD's Intense Moisturizer for Sensitive, Dry Skin — a $12 product that makes me look like an oil slick upon application, but helps me wake up with dewy skin and no redness in sight (a true feat).

While I've significantly pared down my routine for the most part, there are a couple of others that have earned permanent spots in my medicine cabinet to help keep things under control. Ahead, 10 of the best I've found to keep my sensitive skin happy.


Unscented Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Creamy Facial Cleanser



I use this cleanser morning and night (sans washcloth, of course) for a gentle way to remove my makeup.

Sensibio H2O



When I'm feeling lazy or need to remove some particularly stubborn makeup, I soak a cotton pad in this gentle micellar water and wipe it all off. There's never a splotch left in sight.


Rose Face Mask



I love to throw this on during the mornings when my skin feels particularly inflamed. It contains real rose petals and pure rosewater, which soothes my mind just as much as my face.


Lotion P50W

Biologique Recherche

I occasionally use this exfoliator (and I opt for the gentle version) post-cleanse if I'm experiencing any breakouts or dullness. It does make my skin a little red sometimes, but adding water to the cotton pad before the lotion helps keep flare-ups to a minimum. Price upon request.


Calming Serum


Dr. Barbara Sturm

This is a non-negotiable in my routine. I use this morning and night after my cleanser (and sometimes P50W), and simply bask in its calming effects.

Rosaliac AR Intense


La Roche-Posay

This serum is actually made to help people with rosacea, so it's a pretty powerful formula that I've found significantly reduces the redness in my face. While it sometimes leaves my skin looking a little dull, it's still a product I trust to soothe my skin and work as a solid replacement for my Calming Serum when I need one.

B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum


Drunk Elephant

While many hydrating serums make me break out, give me major splotches, or simply don't do enough, this one actually works for me. It's calming on my skin and adds a hefty dose of hydration.


Intense Moisturizer for Sensitive, Dry Skin, Dermatologist-Recommended Moisturizer



Yes, this does leave my face *ultra* shiny before I go to bed, but it's incredibly hydrating and never makes me splotchy.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion for Nighttime Use Ultra Lightweight Night Cream



This product is meant for evenings, but since daytime-specific moisturizers are usually too light for my extremely dry skin, I slather this on in the morning for a gentle way to keep my skin hydrated all day.


Sun Drops


Dr. Barbara Sturm

Obviously, sunscreen is a must — but, in true Dr. Barbara Sturm form, this one magically zaps any lingering redness in my skin after I've applied all the rest of my products, and feels delightfully soothing going on.