There are a few different definitions for the word sensitive, but the one that resonates most with me is “easily offended or upset.” My skin takes offense to almost everything, and shows me how it feels through cystic acne, dry patches, allergic reactions, and bouts of dermatitis. I’ve come to understand and appreciate its particular nature, though, and now we get along pretty well — so long as I stick to my go-to skincare regimen for sensitive skin.
But finding cleansers, serums, and spot treatments that are gentle enough keep my face calm yet powerful enough to actually do something is no easy feat, and there have been a lot of missteps along the way. For me, trendy acid exfoliators result in redness and irritation, retinoids trigger angry breakouts, and most clay masks leave my barrier tight and stripped — and as a beauty editor living and working in the era of the #shelfie, these limitations feel particularly disappointing. The joy of finding a treatment that seems to magically soothe my reactive skin more than makes up for it, though.
Ahead, the 19 products that have earned a permanent spot in my sensitive skincare lineup, from cleansing balms to hydrating masks and more. (Oh, and pro tip: You don’t even have to have sensitive skin to use them.)
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.