Those with dry, sensitive skin must use prudence when choosing a facial moisturizer. Reading product labels might not provide enough help, because they can be deceiving. Experts at Shape magazine, for example, say the term "hypoallergenic" means only that there are fewer potential irritants and not that the product is free of them. Experts say emollient ingredients like lanolin, petrolatum, mineral oil and glyceryl stearates are good options for dry skin, and fragrance should be avoided, especially by those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. The American Academy of Dermatology says fragrance is the most common cause of irritant-contact dermatitis. Products that contain soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients such as aloe and chamomile extract are also good options.
Reviews point to Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream (*Est. $13 for 16 oz.) as a gentle, soothing option for dry, easily irritated skin. The formula is fairly basic, but it doesn't contain any irritating ingredients and is loaded with soothing hydrators like petrolatum, glycerin, dimethicone and glyceryl stearate. A scientific study documented in The Journal of Dermatologic Treatment shows that Cetaphil's cream, which is suitable for the face and body, is especially beneficial for those who are suffering from rosacea, a chronic skin condition that is characterized by flushing and very sensitive skin. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream helps to restore the skin's barrier and reduces dryness, roughness and sensitivity. Skin care expert Paula Begoun says that it's a good, albeit basic, option for "dry to very dry skin that is sensitive." She praises the formula for being fragrance-free, but she says she wishes that it had more antioxidants -- it only contains a small amount of vitamin E.
Hundreds of users at MakeupAlley.com and Drugstore.com are enthusiastic about the moisturizer. Many say that it's especially soothing on eczema and skin that is impaired because of various medications. Users say that results can be seen in a matter of days. It doesn't contain sunscreen, however, and an additional SPF product is needed for daytime use.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (*Est. $15 for 16 oz.) is a basic but gentle facial moisturizer that Begoun says has "merit for sensitive skin." It contains glycerin, ceramides and cholesterol, all of which help restore and maintain the skin's barrier function, according to Begoun. Hundreds of users at Drugstore.com give CeraVe a 5-star rating because it soothes their dry, sensitive skin and improves skin texture over time. Several say the moisturizer is good for those with eczema. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream can be used on the face and body.
Both Cetaphil and CeraVe creams are excellent options for dry, sensitive skin but we chose to list Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream as the best moisturizer for sensitive skin because it is chosen more often by professional reviewers.