I Have Sensitive Skin — Here's What I Always Look For in a Moisturizer

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A few months ago, I took a trip and forgot to toss my favorite moisturizer in my cosmetics bag. This was a rather frustrating packing slip-up because I have sensitive skin and am very particular about the types of skin-care products I put on my face. I was also dealing with some dry patches, so moisturizer was crucial for getting them to go away quickly.

I didn't even realize it was missing from my suitcase until late in the evening — after I had already changed into my pajamas and washed my face. So, I reluctantly borrowed a dollop of my husband's moisturizer (which was not a formula fit for my skin) and decided I'd hit up the local drugstore in the morning for a replacement.

Despite knowing that this store didn't carry my go-to product, I wasn't worried about finding an option. That's because, through lots of trial and error, I've learned how to shop for sensitive-skin moisturizers. For me, it's all about finding a product with the following characteristics. (And yes, for those of you on the edge of your seat, I found a moisturizer in less than 10 minutes of being in the store.)

Fragrance-Free Formulas

Due to the possibility of aggravating side effects, like stinging, burning, and redness, I try to avoid fragrance in my moisturizers and opt for fragrance-free formulas instead. I truly don't mind if my face cream smells like, well, nothing.

If the product does not say "fragrance free" on the bottle or the front of the packaging, I always scan the ingredients list on the back.

Hydrating and Calming Ingredients

This may sound obvious, but I want my moisturizers to be packed with beneficial ingredients that will help moisturize, plump up, soothe, and nourish my skin. A few of my favorite moisturizer ingredients are hyaluronic acid, squalane, and ceramides.

If you're currently looking for a fragrance-free moisturizer, e.l.f. Cosmetics's new Pure Skin Moisturizer ($12) is budget-friendly and promises to deeply hydrate with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, niacinamide, and oat milk. The line also includes a new gentle cleanser and a hydrating toner.

A Cream-Based Texture

In the winter, when I need a little extra help in the moisturizing department, I layer on rich yet nongreasy cream-based moisturizers. As long as it doesn't leave my face feeling too oily or suffocated, I'm happy. In the hotter months, I swap in creams that have a slightly lighter consistency.

Noncomedogenic Formulas

Redness and dry patches aren't the only issues I'm trying to prevent. To help ward off potential breakouts on my chin and on my forehead (my two problem areas), I try to use moisturizers that are formulated to be noncomedogenic, which means they were formulated so they shouldn't clog pores.