Face Moisturizers For Sensitive Skin

As we age we have a tendency to develop dry skin which becomes more sensitive. In this post I would like to discuss face moisturizers for sensitive skin.

What happens when we age?

face moisturizers for sensitive skinSebaceous glands which normally keep our skin supple and lubricated decline inactivity with aging. The water content in the skin is dependent on these natural lipids. When our skin has a good balance of oils and fats it is healthy and glows, without this balance the skin is dull looking. Stratum Corneum which is the outer layer of skin relies on these protective lipids, as they decrease the skin barrier becomes compromised.

Some of the moisturizing ingredients that we discuss below are naturally found in our skin. As we age we lose these components which leads to dryness. The natural moisturizing factor (NMF) of skin is made up of amino acids, sodium PCA, glycerol, and urea. The role of the NMF is to maintain adequate skin hydration. The more hydrated the skin is the less chance of damage.

Moisturizing active ingredients retain water level in the skin and prevent the skin collagen deterioration.

Face moisturizers for sensitive skin should provide hydration that can help protect the skin. Face moisturizers for sensitive skin ingredients usually fall into 3 different categories which includes occlusives, humectants, or emollient ingredients.

Occlusives face moisturizers for sensitive skin

Occlusive moisturizers prevent water loss as they cover the skin. Ingredients in this group include petrolatum, paraffin, lanolin and silicones.

Lanolin comes from a sheep’s skins. Unfortunately, there are concerns that lanolin may contain pesticides as the sheep were exposed to pesticides.

Humectant face moisturizers for sensitive skin

Humectants attract water to the skin. Humectants include, glycerin, butylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate, urea, propylene glycol, alpha hydroxy acids, sugars, sodium pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), sodium lactate and sorbitol.

Humectants will help the skin tp appear more plump and hydrated, this can help diminish the appearance of fine lines.


Glycerin, also known as glycerol, is a humectant that which will attract water. Glycerin was first popularized as a byproduct of soap production. Glycerin is cheap and you will see it in many different moisturizing products. There is some concern that glycerin can actually dry out your skin as it is an alcohol.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a strong humectant. Our bodies make hyaluronic acid but production diminishes with aging.

Sodium hyaluronate is similar to hyaluronic acid.

Sodium PCA

PCA (pyrrolidone carboxylic acid) is the salt of an amino acid proline. Amino acids and peptides (proteins) attract water. Our skin produces PCA but levels diminish with aging. PCA is important for our cellular matrix, when levels diminish the skin is at higher risk for becoming dry.


Urea is another humectant, it is found naturally in our skin and decreases with aging. Urea is not to be confused with Imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea or polyoxymethylene urea which are thought to release formaldehyde.

Hydroxyethyl urea is a potent humectant and considered safe as a cosmetic ingredient.

Emollient face moisturizers for sensitive skin

Emollients help to moisturize the skin. Some ingredients such as Lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum are both occlusive agents and emollients.

The emollient class of moisturizers includes,

  • Shea butter
  • Cocoa butter
  • Mineral oil
  • Lanolin
  • Petrolatum
  • Paraffin
  • Beeswax
  • Squalene
  • Coconut
  • jojoba
  • sesame
  • almond
  • Cetyl alcohol
  • olive oil
  • Triethylhexanoin


Ceramides are fats that are naturally found in the skin’s outer layer, they are important for maintaining the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Ceramides are major skin components that help form the “glue” that holds surface cells together. Ceramide depletion occurs with aging which will increase the risk of wrinkles and make the skin more susceptible to moisture loss, environmental allergens and skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

Different types of face moisturizers for sensitive skin

  • Water based moisturizers absorb quickly but do not moisturize for that long.
  • Oil based moisturizers do not absorb as quickly but lubricate the skin for longer period of time.

Application of face moisturizers for sensitive skin

After the shower when the skin is still moist the moisturizer should be pressed into the skin

Tips for preventing dry skin

Shower and wash with lukewarm water.

Avoid sulfates and detergents that can be irritating to the skin. Consider using a nutrient rich cleansing balm. 

Remember to exfoliate. Exfoliation will remove the outer dry level of skin allowing other products such as moisturizers to help hydrate the skin cells beneath.

Prevent dry skin by ensuring the products you use in your daily skin routine include ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, antioxidants and peptides. Alpha hydroxy acids and peptides can attract water to the skin.

Antioxidants help prevent destruction of the skin from sun exposure.

Alpha hydroxy acids will exfoliate the skin and increase cell turnover which can help with dryness. Too much exfoliating can dry out the skin even more so you want to go slow with this process.

Remember to use sunscreen to protect your skin. Do you have a favorite face moisturizers for sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin then consider avoiding fragrances. Fragrances are one of the most common reasons for allergies in our facial moisturizers, they can cause burning and tearing of the eyes. The manufacturers do not have to list what their “fragrance” is, it is protected under their trade secrets.

Vitamin E is a great skin moisturizer but some some people can be allergic and develop a contact dermatitis from it.

What do you think of face moisturizer for sensitive skin?

Spread the love