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The 11 Best Products for Sensitive Skin, According to Derms

From moisturizers to exfoliators, these products won't cause skin to freak out
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"Why so sensitive?" is a question those with reactive skin often ask themselves, when faced with an angry, red complexion. And no one wants irritated skin.

If your current skin care routine isn't up to par, you might want to search for gentler products, but even those can lead to more problems. Not to worry, though: You've got sensitive skin, and we've got derm-backed solutions. We asked dermatologists for their tips on the best products for sensitive skin as well as some ingredients to watch out for.

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Best Ingredients for Sensitive Skin

David Lortscher, MD, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology, says that less is often better with sensitive skin. It's also worth keeping an eye out for gentler formulations of products.

Board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD says that moisturizing ingredients to support the skin barrier are particularly important for those with sensitive skin because the more the skin barrier is compromised, the more vulnerable skin becomes. (Yikes.)

Moisturizers should ideally contain three components: humectants (like hyaluronic acid and glycerin), emollients (e.g. squalane, fatty acids, fatty alcohols) and occlusives (such as lanolin, zinc oxide and beeswax).

And don't forget about soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, cucumber, etc!

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Ingredients to Avoid

Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers and assistant clinical professor of dermatology, New York Presbyterian-Cornell, says that those with sensitive skin should avoid fragrance, harsh chemicals and any ingredients that can injure the skin barrier.

King adds that anything potentially irritating, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) (or the notorious retinoids), can be problematic for sensitive skin. The same goes for harsh sulfates, which can strip skin of its natural oils.

And watch out for natural skin care products, too: "It is important to be aware that even natural ingredients can sometimes cause irritation on sensitive skin because [skin care products] can contain various fragrance or plant-based derivatives that may make some people react," says Garshick.

Remember to always do a patch test before fully committing to a new product. If irritation occurs, discontinue use ASAP.

Keep those tips in mind and click through the gallery to see the best sensitive skin care products that earn full marks from dermatologists.

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This drugstore cleanser is a classic pick for many reasons, and it gets Garshick's approval for sensitive skin. "...It helps to cleanse the skin without stripping the natural oils," she says. "And it is also noncomedogenic which makes it particularly good for those with acne-prone skin."

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Scared of skin care acids? This toner shouldn't be too harsh on reactive skin. "With two percent glycolic acid, this is a relatively gentle strength for those with sensitive skin or those new to AHA products," says Lortscher.

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