April 30, 2024

Best Skin Care for Sensitive Skin – Clean Beauty Edition

I’ve received so many questions, comments and recommendations about skincare products for sensitive skin, and it makes me wonder…why are there so many of us? Was our skin always this sensitive, or has our environment and diet altered the way our skin reacts to products, stressors, sun, etc.? I know my skin changed drastically after my first baby; products I’d used forever suddenly caused break-outs and irritation, so I blamed hormones. But people have been having babies and hormonal changes forever…my nana and her generation could lather on some Pond’s cold cream or Oil of Olay and never think twice. Now, even when using cleaner, simpler formulations, I’ve got to watch every ingredient and wait to see if my skin is going to go nuclear.

I know, I know…it’s a long rabbit hole to go down, the whole chicken-or-the-egg thing, and I’m not doing that today!

Today is for creating and sharing a new list (and who doesn’t love a solid list?). While I share all of the products that I’m currently using here, this right here is a complete and up-to-date list of ALL the clean skincare products that I’ve loved and found to be safe for my extremely sensitive skin. More than just a quick test-drive, everything here is something I’ve used for a decent period of time (minimum of 6 months). As I’ve mentioned many times, if I can use it, there’s a damn good chance you can too, because my skin FREAKS OUT at the drop of a dime.

To give you an idea of what I’m working with on my end, my skin is dry in the cooler months and more combo in the warmer months. But no matter the season, it is always a challenge to keep it hydrated, and whether you’re dry, oily or somewhere in between, your skin needs hydration (different than moisture…moisturizing locks in the hydration). You’ll also see many mentions of dermatitis or perioral dermatitis in my reviews (more on how I healed my PD here), so if you’ve also experienced the joy of the -itises, I feel your pain and have found products that heal and/or don’t cause or exacerbate issues.

I’m also providing several of my favorite places to shop for each (along with a few discount codes!) so you can best work any available sales/promos.

So here we go, a curated list of the best clean skincare products for sensitive skin, Tracey-approved. Please comment below with any questions, I’d love to help!


best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Live Botanical nourishing cleansing oil

LIVE BOTANICAL | Nourishing Cleansing Oil

You will see several LB products in this list…it is definitely one of the best skincare brands for sensitive skin IMHO! This oil cleanser is nothing short of stellar. When I was battling PD, this was one of the key elements to recovering my skin barrier. For me to love an oil cleanser it needs to wash clean WITHOUT double-cleansing, and this does that while removing makeup, sunscreen, the works. Won’t be without it. Also, my teenage daughter loves it too…completely removes her sunscreen and makeup without causing any acne flare-ups.

Purchase at:

Use code HAPPYMEDIUM for 20% off  any order!

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Lovinah Dragon's blood cleanser

LOVINAH | Dragon’s Blood Vitamin C Cleansing Oil

Ooooh does this smell good. And the color!! Definitely feels luxurious on, and like NCO it washes everything away without double-cleansing. Vitamin C can be tricky on my skin, so I was super excited that this cleansing oil didn’t cause me any issues. It is definitely a splurge (luckily I grabbed it with a sale), but I used it in rotation with my other oil cleanser to stretch out my time with it and not overdo on the C.

Purchase at:

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - MAKE Beauty Succulent cleanser

MAKE | Succulent Skin Wash 

This is the first non-oil cleanser I was willing to try after 2 years of using only a gentle oil cleanser (thank you, perioral dermatitis). The niacinamide was what drew me to this. It’s a serum-weight cleanser is great for those days when I just need a lighter cleanser (not that it couldn’t tackle a full face of makeup), or if I’ve used a cleansing balm that requires a double-cleanse. Gentle, doesn’t dry me out. And I really dig their packaging.

Purchase at:

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Twelve Beauty Dara's Water

TWELVE BEAUTY | Dara’s Water

2021 was all about keeping my skin’s barrier strong (and keeping the PD away!). I’d been relying on oil cleansers that washed away clean (meaning no double-cleanse…too harsh for me). But I missed having something that wiped away eye makeup before cleansing, and while I’d tried to be as gentle as possible while my skin was recovering (no manual exfoliants), I needed some sort of gentle sloughing action, especially when using heaver sunscreens. Enter Dara’s Water. I’d seen it mentioned a few times in Ayla’s newsletters, but this interview finally pushed me to try it. It truly is a wonder for us sensitive-skinned gals. No irritation and immediately after use my skin feels hydrated and plump. I only use it when removing makeup or beach/pool-level sunscreen, so the bottle has lasted a long time. I’ve liked everything I’ve tried from Twelve, but Dara’s Water is truly a gem. Made my Best of Clean Beauty finds for 2021!

If you’re a first-time shopper at Ayla Beauty, follow this link to get $10 off your order! 


best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Marie Veronique pre + probiotic mist

MARIE VERONIQUE | Pre + Probiotic Daily Mist

I was not a believer in toners/mists until I tried this. This is truly the one item I have to use whenever it looks like I may be starting a perioral dermatitis episode again (Marie Veronique’s line in general saved my skin after trying so, so many ‘remedies’…I wrote about my experience here if you’re interested! Another one of the best skincare lines for sensitive skin). Much easier than a greek yogurt mask, and just as effective if not more so. Won’t be without it.

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Live Botanical Radiance Elixir

LIVE BOTANICAL | Radiance Elixir

Another mist that has proved it’s effectiveness! Described as a “hydrating mist with serum-like qualities”, it definitely helps with hydration AND I kid you not, makes pores appear to shrink and give an overall look of smoothness. She has several seasonal offerings, and while I’ve blown through 3 bottles of the rose & tulsi blend, I’ve loved them all.

Purchase at:

Use code HAPPYMEDIUM for 20% off  any order!

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Tower 28 SOS

TOWER28 | SOS (Save. Our. Skin) Daily Rescue Facial Spray

I thought my PD (perioral dermatitis)-fighting arsenal was pretty solid, so as much as I’d already come to love this brand that’s specifically formulate for us sensitive skin folks, I didn’t immediately pull the trigger on trying this. So dumb. The glowing reviews are all well-deserved as this mist is something special. If you have any type of skin sensitivity, jump on this. You’ll see redness start to dissipate IMMEDIATELY. It has become my daily routine to spray this on and let it dry while I get dressed, before I begin layering on my other products. It was one of my top picks in clean beauty for 2021, and also a top pick for teenage acne…both my son and daughter have experienced better results from this than anything else we’ve tried.


ACTIVIST MANUKA | Green Botanical Face Serum

They had me at “healing, and anti-inflammatory”! Honey is well known for both its antibacterial and moisturizing properties, and when I saw this was included in a Beauty Heroes Discovery box, I had to try it. Smells good, feels good, and is definitely moisturizing. I’m never without it. Also, I know it’s labeled a serum, but just a heads’ up that this feels and applies more like a light oil.

Purchase at:

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Marie Veronique Barrier Restore Serum

KHUS + KHUS | D DROP Humectant Factor

Hydrated skin = less-aged-looking skin. And more importantly hydrated skin keeps your barrier strong. I began using this (along with the Activist Green Serum above) 2 winters ago when my skin was incredibly dry. It was a HUGE help, layers well with all of my other favorite products, and of course causes no irritation. I’d also venture to bet that the peppermint (yes, wee bit of peppermint) helped to get rid of a bit of dermatitis I had when I first tried it. Super refreshing, especially in hot weather…I wish I could use it whole-body! If you’re looking for a hydrator, this is a great one.

Purchase at:

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Marie Veronique Barrier Restore Serum

MARIE VERONIQUE | Barrier Restore Serum

Have I mentioned that Marie Veronique’s line completely saved my skin from perioral dermatitis? This is one of those products that I get really antsy about getting low, because it literally stops a PD break-out in its tracks when I see it coming on. Absolutely phenomenal at re-balancing barrier function. Magic in a bottle.

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Maya Chia The Straight A

MAYA CHIA | The Straight A™

If you’re looking to add a gentle, clean retinol treatment to your routine, this is the one. I can use this every night without any issues, but I typically insert a moisture-bomb night once or twice a week, plus a night or 2 of Altreno (tretinoin). In the warmer months this is plenty moisturizing for me, but in the winter I layer with a cream.

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Maya Chia The Superlift Vitamin C

MAYA CHIA | The Super Lift Vitamin C-More

I’ve finally found a vitamin C serum that doesn’t freak my skin out! This really does have a lovely, immediate firming effect on the skin, and I’m really interested to see the long-term results. And the smell…it’s like walking through an orange grove. Totally love that I can now use a topical Vitamin C, and it was one of my top clean beauty loves of 2021! Always in my rotation.

best clean skincare products for sensitive skin - Maya Chia The Superlift Vitamin C

TRUE BOTANICALS | Chebula Active Immunity Serum

Another great hydrator and maxed out with antioxidants! I’m tickled I can use this as I’d all but given up on TB…much of their line contains essential oils, which I love but my skin doesn’t. And while this does have a faint fragrance (smells a bit like honey?), I didn’t experience any irritation (though full disclosure, I rotated this in with my other hydrators, so I only used a few times per week). Layers beautifully, skin looks and feels plump and healthy. Love it!


CV Skinlabs Calming Moisture sensitive skin moisturizer

CV SKINLABS | Calming Moisture

This is one moisturizer I think everyone should have in their arsenal. This is a light-feeling lotion, but boy does it hydrate. It also soothes irritated skin and calms redness. Fragrance-free and safe for the most sensitive of skin. It’s been a lifesaver for times when I couldn’t use anything else, and has also been great on my teenagers’ skin when dealing with irritated acne flare-ups…hydrated without causing more acne. Another one I won’t be without!

LE PRUNIER | Plum Beauty Oil

I’m proud to say that I started using this oil not too long after it launched, and waaay before all the hype. But know this…the hype is real. My skin loves this, and in fact it was one of the only oil moisturizers I could use for a long time (thanks again, PD). Pure plum oil, from my home state! And delivers on plump, moisturized skin. Just can’t beat it.

Live Botanical Review - Ambient Moisture Liquid

LIVE BOTANICAL | Ambient Moisture Liquid

This is a lovely lightweight moisturizer…a cross between a lotion and a serum. I love this in the summer on its own underneath my SPF, and in the drier months I mix this in with an oil for a bit more moisture oomph. It gives the skin a velvety, moisturized feel. And somehow it’s a bit magical in that it works for drier folks like me, but my oily friend loves it too! Great for the sensitive-skinned and acne-prone. Truly a workhorse.

Purchase at:

Use code HAPPYMEDIUM for 20% off  any order!

MAYA CHIA | The Advanced Response Complex Face & Neck Firming Cream

Miracle worker. I almost didn’t try this when it launched because my skin was so reactive that winter, but I’d been hunting for something that’s great for the neck area, and the initial reviews were so fantastic. I have great luck with this line and couldn’t pass up a good launch deal, so I jumped in. So freaking glad I did!! I’ve tried too many anti-aging creams in the past decade, and this one right here is truly the only one I’ve used that has visible results. Not only did my irritations go away, my skins just looks…younger. And it’s definitely firmed up my neck, whoopheeeeee!!! I wish I could afford to slather it over my entire body. Believe the hype, this one is a hero product!

VOTARY | Super Seed Facial Oil and Super Seed Nutrient Cream

Oooh Votary, you kill me. I got this duo from Boxwalla for a killer deal, and while I’m so glad to have found them, I definitely wait for a sale. These are spendy, folks. But the oil is fragrance free and fantastic…and on days my skin is super-reactive, it’s my go-to as I know it won’t irritate in any way. And the bottle is huge…since I rotate it with others, it lasts forever. But the cream…ooooh the cream. It is so nourishing (think old school cold cream at night!), but somehow has this fantastic matte dry-down. It soothes and calms and hydrates like nothing else. I don’t need the cream as much in the summer (unless I’ve been a bad girl with my SPF), but in the winter, it’s a lifesaver for dry skin and what I reach for most nights. Hard to come by in the States…hoping more shops pick up this line!

Purchase at:

for deep/treatment moisture…

Live Botanical Review - Sanctuary Barrier Balm

LIVE BOTANICAL | Sanctuary Barrier Balm

This balm is just freaking gorgeous. And comforting. And a lifesaver in the winter. I don’t know how Carolyn works her magic, but this essential oil free balm is not only amazing at sealing in hydration, it’s also somehow very breathable. Typically anything labeled a ‘balm’ will break me out, but not this little beauty. Fantastic as an overnight treatment to lock in hydration and deliver serums/treatments. And the smell is straight out of a walk in the forest…a bit of divinity. While it’s superb on the face, I’ve also used it on my lips, winter hands and cuticles, heels and even a teeny bit on the ends of my hair when my curls were frizzing. I don’t use it often in the warmer months, but after a day at the beach I’ll mix a bit in with a hydrating serum and it restores and soothes my face instantly. Another staple, so well done.

Purchase at:

Use code HAPPYMEDIUM for 20% off  any order!

MARIE VERONIQUE | Barrier Lipid Complex

I pondered placing this in the ‘Serums’ section, but it truly does belong here as it’s a killer of a moisturizer! Again, it’s one of the products that saved my skin during bouts of perioral dermatitis. As you’ll read in reviews, it does not smell great. But it also doesn’t have any essential oils, which makes it great for us sensitive types. And it just feels so damn good when you put it on. In the summer I don’t need this quite as much…maybe once a week, or just if I can feel any dry patches (or PD) coming on. But in the winter, every 2 nights keeps my skin happy. Can’t be without it, I stock up during sales!


I did a big breakdown on the best clean moisturizers with SPF for sensitive skin…check it out if you’d like some additional scoop, including why sunscreen can actually reverse aging. Yes, reverse.

ERIN’S FACES | Peptide SPF 30

This one is right up there with the Honua Malu (coming up). I almost didn’t give it a try because it has titanium dioxide (alongside non-nano zinc oxide), and I’ve found that titanium dioxide in higher concentrations causes my skin to freak out. But I’m so happy to say that I haven’t had any reactions to this! It’s sublimely lightweight while still being hydrating and moisturizing. In fact it’s so lovely to put on that I’ve put it not only on my face, neck and chest, but also my hands and arms, so easy! No noticeable whitecast after rubbing in well, plays nicely with all the things, reef safe, no fragrance, totally clean (Think Dirty rating of 1!) and has a satin finish.


I have been through some sunscreens, y’all. And when it comes to a clean, mineral-based sunscreen for everyday, this is one of the best. Not shiny (shiny is no bueno on mid-40’s skin IMHO) – I’d say it dries down to demi-matte/satin on me, no white cast if rubbed in properly, plays nicely with serums/oils/moisturizers (no pilling) and best of all no break-outs or irritation. Yes the newest formula is just as fantastic as the previous, and still a top pick!

Purchase at:


This daily clean sunscreen is an extremely close runner-up to Fitglow (next up). In the summer, it’s a bit too glowy for me and has a wee bit of whitecast, but it’s perfection in the dryer months (saved me this winter!). If you stay on the drier side in the warmer months or just prefer a bit of a glowy finish vs the satin, get this! The glow is the only thing that keeps this at runner-up status for me. Reef safe, hydrating, beautiful but light smell, plays nicely with makeup and doesn’t irritate my crazy skin.

KINFIELD | Daily Dew SPF 35

I’m not sure what magickery Kinfield used to create this, but they changed the SPF game with this one. Oh, I was so excited when I found this last summer. Finally, FINALLY, a clean, non-nano zinc-based face sunscreen that breathes! You know when you exercise with your mineral-based sunscreen on, and it feels like your whole face is a wet sloppy mess (because it is)? Not the case with Daily Dew! No mess, no crazy sweating, smells great, very little white cast, not hard on the budget, water-resistant and reef-friendly. I will say it’s a bit glowy for me (I prefer a more satin finish), but honestly I’m really only using it for workouts and beach/pool time anyway. For those that do like some glow, Daily Dew did seem to play nicely with makeup. Doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin, plays nicely with my other skincare products, this, my friend, is a GAME. CHANGER. Best of 2021!

KINSHIP | Self Reflect SPF 32

Glow lovers, this one is for you! I discovered this when I was battling perioral dermatitis, and it was a lifesaver in that not only did it not further irritate my already pissed-off skin, but I’m sure it’s probiotics helped in the healing (the probiotics is what drew me to it, even though I knew it would be a glowy finish). It’s also blue light protective and hits all of the big checks. A stellar product, and should I ever have to deal with PD again, I’ll go back to it!

KOSAS | DreamBeam SPF 40 PA++++

This has taken over as my top everyday pick! Feels great on, plays nicely with my other products, and I LOVE that it’s got a bit higher SPF than your typical daily sunscreens. Don’t let the ‘tint’ fool you…the slight beige-y/apricot hue just takes away the issue of whitecast, but doesn’t provide any sort of coverage (peep my reel on IG). DreamBeam is moisturizing, but needs a bit more moisture beneath during the Winter when my skin is super dry. Perfection in warmer weather when my skin is more combo. And you know I’m not much for super glowy, and while this says it has a subtle radiant finish, I’d say it’s more of a satin finish on me. Which means it’s PERFECT. Well done, Kosas!!! Added to the top of my Best Clean Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin.



I fell in love with Leahlani back when she was still on Etsy…a bit over 5 years ago. The Mermaid Mask has continued to be one of my favorite products, and luckily has been safe on my crazy skin. This emerald green pot of goodness is truly a superfood smoothie for your skin, and once again honey comes through for hydration and healing (bit of a theme going on, yeah?). Skin is left soft, plump, glowy and moisturized. How can you not love a green face mask??

LIVE BOTANICAL | Tidal Moon Moisture Mask

I’ll be honest, I love all of the Live Botanical masks that I’ve tried. But I’m a sucker for the gorgeous blue color of Tidal Moon, and it’s so good for not only hydrating and moisturizing, but also calming any sort of irritations, including acne. In fact my daughter and I had a girls’ night recently, and she was worried this would worsen a little hormonal break-out she was dealing with. She was surprised when it actually made things much better! True magic. Unlike a lot of other honey-based masks, this one isn’t sticky at all…the texture is almost like a whipped gel. Once a limited edition, I’m so happy it’s now a permanent part of the line!

Purchase at:

Use code HAPPYMEDIUM for 20% off  any order!

LIVE BOTANICAL | Glowing Honey Mask

Raw honey is fantastic for hydrating, along with being anti-bacterial. Combine that with whole herbs, botanical extracts and fruit enzymes and you have a mask that  cleans, moisturizes and brightens your skin. This does contain rose and chamomile essential oils, but luckily these calming oils have not caused me any problems.  The herbal grains provide the gentlest bit of exfoliation on removal (which is about all the manual exfoliation my skin can do), and afterwards my skin feels lovely…clean, nourished and moisturized!

Purchase at:

Use code HAPPYMEDIUM for 20% off  any order!

M PICAUT | Hydra Lagoon Overnight Mask

This is hands down one of my favorite products. It truly delivers on its promises, and I’ve experienced very few products that provide such immediate, significant results. Moisture-replenishing, soothing, firming, healing…and it’s somehow super rich without being greasy or overly thick. Perfect after a day in the sun or any time your skin feels depleted. I’m itching to go put some on just writing this! It’s simply magic.

If you’re a first-time shopper at Ayla Beauty, follow this link to get $10 off your order! 

Purchase at:

Keep checking back…this list will be updated! Subscribe below so you don’t miss any new scoop!


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