Having rosacea seriously sucks, as I’m sure most of you know. Permanent flushing, papules, pustules, visible blood vessels, near constant burning and stinging, and eye problems are only some of what someone with rosacea has to deal with daily.
Thankfully, there are treatments available that work for many people (azelaic acid, I love you). But even then, the smallest environmental factors such as grabbing a few drinks after work, eating spicy ramen, taking a hot bath, working up a sweat at the gym, or spending a day at the beach can leave you right back where you started, managing flare-ups.
That’s why limiting flare-ups (and triggers that cause them) is the most effective way to treat rosacea. If you don’t know your triggers, I recommend taking the time to find out. Some of my common ones are consuming refined sugars, sunlight, and hot temperatures.
One thing that leaves me more red than almost anything, though, is the use of poorly formulated cosmetics, which is frustrating, considering the large majority of cosmetics/skincare are not rosacea friendly. So over the years, to prevent my face from turning into a tomato every time I apply a product, I’ve taken time to learn about skincare and the ingredients used in it. I’ve tried countless products, and know through trial and error what works for my rosacea and what doesn’t.
I want to share this information with anyone who is suffering with rosacea, sensitive skin, or damaged skin barriers. I know how hard it can be to find effective products that won’t irritate your skin, especially if you’re new to skincare. So, to make your search for a good cleanser easier, I’ve put together a list of the best cleansers for rosacea and sensitive skin. I can safely recommend every single product on this list, and 100% stand behind all of them.
Let’s get to it!
In my opinion and personal experience, a good oil cleanser is by far the best type of cleanser for rosacea sufferers and those with reactive skin. They don’t strip your skin the way typical cleansers do, but still manage to wash off makeup, oil, and debris with no issue.
That’s why many people love them as a makeup remover or first cleanser in the double cleansing method. I tried the double cleansing method, with an oil cleanser first and a cream based cleanser second. It did a great job of cleansing the skin, and wasn’t as stripping as typical foam and gel cleansers. But when I stopped using the second cleanser, and opted for only the oil cleanser, my skin looked better than it ever had.
I still had a perfectly clean face after washing, my redness and irritation were cut down by at least a fourth, and I had a huge reduction in pustules within a month. The only other things that ever relieved my rosacea symptoms like that were the incorporation of azelaic acid in my skin care routine and the elimination of refined sugars from my diet. It might not work for everyone, but if you’re struggling with uncontrolled rosacea or a compromised skin barrier, I sincerely recommend you give cleansing with only an oil cleanser a try. Here’s a list of my favorite oil cleansers, all of which are fantastic options for anyone with rosacea or eczema.
1. Eminence Stone Crop Cleansing Oil
Eminence Organic Skincare’s Stone Crop Cleansing Oil is my favorite cleanser of all time, and it’s the one I currently use, and will probably use forever. It’s that good.
It fits all the criteria for a killer product – it’s organic, alcohol free, cruelty free, paraben free, phthalate free, sulfate-free, and sustainably produced (using biodynamic farming which adds vitality to the plant, soil and/or livestock, whereas traditional farming deteriorates the soil)
The formulation is what solidifies it as my favorite cleanser of all time, though. Just like other good oil cleansers, its ingredient list is centered around moisturizing oils, but it’s the secondary ingredients that really make it stand out.
Eminence’s oil cleanser is chock full of soothing antioxidants. It contains more anti-inflammatory plant extracts than I’ve ever found in another cleanser, and the way they’re formulated is perfect for sensitive skin. Many products with high percentages of plant extracts cause irritation, but I’ve never had that issue here. If anything, my skin feels less reactive after cleansing with it.
Some of the cleanser’s best ingredients include:
- Sunflower Seed Oil
- Jojoba Seed Oil
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Stone Crop Extract
- Green Tea Extract
- Broccoli Sprout Extract
- Radish Sprout Extract
- Clover Sprout Extract
As far as texture and feel, it is easily the smoothest, most cosmetically elegant cleansing oil I’ve ever used. It glides on, is highly spreadable, doesn’t cause traction when you rub your skin, and washes off without a trace residue. It removes even the most waterproof makeup with ease, and courtesy of the botanical oils and extracts, smells beautiful.
10/10 my all-time favorite cleanser, and would recommend to anyone and everyone.
2. Organy’s Cleansing Oil
If your skin is reactive to almost everything – even the most calming antioxidants – and you’re looking for a gentle cleanser that has a minimalistic formulation, Organy’s Cleansing Oil might be for you.
I used this oil cleanser for years, and have nothing but good things to say about it. Its formulation is non stripping, effective, and perfect for those with rosacea or sensitive skin. I have rosacea, eczema, and acne-prone skin, and it never caused a flare up, a breakout, or any sort of irritation.
It’s able to remove waterproof makeup, oil, and debris easily, which is surprising considering how minimalistic it is. (the product’s formulation is only seven ingredients long) It’s best ingredients are olive oil, geranium oil, and vitamin E.
The only reason I stopped using this cleanser is because I found Eminence’s Stone Crop Cleansing Oil! If you’re looking for a basic cleanser that will do its job without causing a flare up, I recommended you give this one a try.
3. KLAIRS Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil
If you have oily skin or are prone to clogged pores, I’d skip this one. On the other hand, if you have rosacea in addition to perpetually dry skin, this is definitely the oil cleanser I’d recommend for you.
KLAIRS Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil is highly moisturizing. It’s formulated with seven occlusive botanical oils, and the ones that make it so good, specifically for dry skin, are sesame seed oil, soybean oil, black currant seed oil, and shea butter. There are two reasons these ingredients are so good for dry skin:
- Dry skin is partially caused by a deficiency in the necessary healthy fats at the top of the skin. Applying products with oils can help counteract this shortage and alleviate symptoms of dryness.
- This lack of necessary healthy fats at the top of the skin often leads to a damaged skin barrier, which results in dry and dehydrated skin. Applying products with oils (particularly oils like these that are highly occlusive) creates a physical barrier that helps prevent trans-epidermal water loss and aids in strengthening barrier function. This will help prevent dehydrated skin.
KLAIRS Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil has the ideal mixture of occlusive oils to be fitting for dry skin, it cleanses effectively, and it’s extremely gentle and non irritating. It also smells somewhat like black tea, which is refreshing!
4. iUNIK Calendula Complete Deep Cleansing Oil
This is another goodie. iUNIK’s Calendula Cleansing Oil is a mild cleansing oil that does its job well without stripping the skin or causing irritation. What makes it special, and particularly good for rosacea and sensitive skin, is its concentration of calendula extract.
Calendula extract is a botanical ingredient derived from the common marigold. It has potent anti-inflammatory properties that make it an effective ingredient for treating inflammatory conditions like rosacea and eczema. This is thanks to calendula’s potent dose of flavonoids, saponins, and triterpenoids, which enable calendula to prevent the body’s release of histamines. (which in case you didn’t know, is a very common trigger for rosacea flare-ups)
It also has exceptional wound healing properties, and due to its high content of antioxidants, does a stellar job at protecting the skin from free radical damage and external aggressors.
All in all, it’s a fantastic ingredient, and iUNIK Calendula Cleansing Oil’s high concentration of it allows you to reap its benefits. Some of the products’ other star ingredients include jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, macadamia seed oil, and canola oil.
Cleansing balms are similar to cleansing oils. They both remove makeup without stripping the skin like traditional foam and gel cleansers, and are essentially the same thing. There are only a few differences:
- Texture. Cleansing balms are much thicker, and are a semi-solid rather than liquid. (much like clay or soft wax)
- Travelability. Cleansing balms are much more convenient to take while traveling because they’re semi solid. You don’t have to worry about leakage or TSA enforced liquid restrictions.
- Effort. Cleansing balms typically take a little while longer to remove makeup than an oil cleanser will.
- Packaging. Oil cleansers usually come in a bottle with a pump, while cleansing balms usually come in a tub or tube.
If you think a cleansing balm is more your style, here are some of the best (and my favorite) cleansing balms suitable for rosacea and sensitive skin.
5. Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm
I’ll tell you one thing – all cleansing balms are not created equal. Most of the ones I’ve tried were either too difficult to wash off, were texturally unpleasant (usually gritty), or were overpriced for the ingredients you’re getting.
I’ve only found a few that I like and would recommend for reactive skin, and of the bunch, this one is my favorite. Inkey List’s Oat Cleansing Balm is fantastic and is my go to cleansing balm.
It has all the benefits of a regular cleansing balm – it effectively cleanses the skin without stripping it, removes makeup and sunscreen like a dream, and is convenient to travel with – but has two traits in particular that make it stand out from the rest.
The first is its formulation, which includes sweet almond oil, sunflower seed oil, vitamin E, and (most importantly) several ingredients derived from oats. These ingredients, such as oat flour and oat oil, are a match made in heaven for those with rosacea or eczema. A few of the reasons why include:
- Oats help prevent dehydration, which often exacerbates symptoms of rosacea and eczema. It does this via starches and beta-glucan, which draw water to the skin and then form a protective barrier over it, preventing transepidermal water loss.
- Oats provide stellar antioxidizing benefits. They contain polyphenols called avenanthramides, which have both anti-inflammatory and skin soothing properties. In addition, like other antioxidants, they help protect the skin from UVA rays.
- Oats help prevent itching. The previously mentioned polyphenols, avenanthramides, also have an anti-itch effect, which is why soaking in an oat bath can be so effective for eczema.
The second reason I like this cleansing balm so much is its packaging. Most cleansing balms are packaged in a tub, which is not convenient travel with, not great for keeping in the shower, and downright unhygienic. Inkey List’s Oat Cleansing Balm, on the other hand, comes in a squeezable tube, which makes it much easier – and cleaner – to dispense.
6. BANILA CO Clean It Zero Purifying Cleansing Balm
BANILA CO is a well-known South Korean skin care company that has been around since 2005. They make plenty of popular products, but one particular line of products has gained traction outside of Korea in recent years thanks to social media and influencers – their cleansing balms.
And it’s not surprising why they’ve become so popular. They’re a fantastic line of balms with an A+ ingredient list. There are five different versions, each formulated to target different skin issues, and they all would be a great fit for those with sensitive skin or rosacea. My favorite of the bunch, though, is their Clean It Zero Purifying Cleansing Balm.
Its main purpose, other than to mildly cleanse the skin, is to pack a serious anti-inflammatory punch. It contains more antioxidants than any other cleanser on this list, which helps soothe the skin and protect it from oxidative stress. Some of its best ingredients include:
- Licorice root extract
- Beta carotene
- Rosemary leaf extract
- Centella asiatica extract
- Argan oil
- Chamomile flower water
- Chamomile flower extract
- Calendula flower extract
- Althaea Rosea Flower Extract
- Evening primrose oil
- Green tea leaf extract
- Bamboo extract
- Aloe extract
It’s also formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, alcohol, or irritants. I enjoyed this balm thoroughly when I used it and it never once caused a flare up with my rosacea or eczema like traditional cleansers do. The botanical extracts give it a lovely natural scent and the balm itself was the perfect consistency. Also, it emulsifies like a dream, which is actually pretty hard to find. A lot of balms take some real effort to remove makeup and rinse off, but I had zero issue with that here.
I’ll admit I don’t like the container it’s packaged in as much as Inkey List’s Oat Cleansing Balm, but other than that, I have zero qualms with recommending this cleanser to anyone who wants to try out a new balm that is safe for reactive skin!
7. Paula’s Choice Omega Complex Cleansing Balm
This is another goodie from a brand that people seem to go absolutely bananas for. Paula’s Choice Omega Complex Cleansing Balm has a more simple formulation than the balm above, and has an ingredient list that focuses less on plant extracts and more on botanical oils.
The reason for this is because of their high quantity of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, which have long been known to repair the skin barrier, help regulate oil production, and soothe irritation/various types of dermatitis.
The main two oils that this cleanser derives these fatty acids from are jojoba seed oil and meadowfoam seed oil. Some of the balms’ other star ingredients include rapeseed oil, vitamin E, and olive oil esters.
If your skin is more on the dry side, or is highly sensitive to even the most soothing plant extracts, this balm would be a good fit for you. It has a very creamy, easily spreadable texture, which is nice considering I find a lot of balms are too thick and cause dragging upon application, which only furthers irritation.
Cream cleansers are another type of facial cleanser that suit rosacea prone, eczema prone, and sensitive skin types well. They don’t contain the harsh sulfates that give foam and gel cleansers their suds, and instead use emulsifiers and natural oils that effectively clean the skin whilst locking in moisture.
They are fantastic for reactive skin types, and are often the second cleanser of choice for those who partake in the double cleansing method. If you want a one step cleanser that can remove makeup and sunscreen, cream cleansers aren’t for you. But, if you want a gentle cleanser that pairs well with an oil/balm cleanser, or don’t wear a whole lot of makeup, they’d be a perfect fit!
8. La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
La Roche Posay’s Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is my favorite cream cleanser of all time, and if you’re interested in trying one out, it’s the one I’d recommend.
It’s just got everything going for it. It’s formulation is phenomenal, with ingredients like prebiotic thermal spring water, niacinamide, ceramides, vitamin D, panthenol, and glycerin. It’s unscented, ph balanced, non-comedogenic, paraben free, sulfate-free, allergy tested, and suitable for even the most sensitive skin types.
It’s also the most affordable cleanser on this list, by far. I used this cream cleanser as my second cleanser for years, and I have only the best things to say about it. Not once did it ever strip my skin, and the only reason I even stopped using it was because I found I didn’t actually need a second cleanser.
It has a similar consistency, ingredient list, and price point to CeraVe’s hydrating cleanser, but I prefer it much, much more. CeraVe’s hydrating cleanser caused widespread breakouts in my complexion, as did it’s lotion counterpart, so if you’re looking for a cream cleanser of similar nature, La Roche Posay’s Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is the one to choose. 10/10 would recommend and use again.
9. Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser
I want to preface this cleanser by saying it is very expensive, so if you don’t have some extra money lying around or a substantial source of income, I’d pass on this one. That being said, Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser is a fantastic cream cleanser that tons of people swear by, and it’s not hard to see why. It has a beautiful texture, it’s got a great ingredient list, and it’s one of the only cleansers on this list that is fungal acne safe.
Some of the cleanser’s best ingredients include panthenol, alpha-bisabolol, willow bark extract, oat extract, cucumber extract, and ginger extract. While I can’t comment on the long term use of this cleanser as I’ve only tried samples of it, I can say that each time I’ve tried it, I was tempted to buy it, and the only reason I didn’t was because I couldn’t justify replacing my La Roche Posay Cleanser with something so expensive. If I had fungal acne, on the other hand, I very well might have, as anyone who has it knows it’s almost impossible to find good products that don’t trigger it.
10. Avene’s Tolérance Extrême Cleansing Lotion
Avene’s Tolérance Extrême Cleansing Lotion is a minimalistic cream cleanser that works well with all complexions, even the most reactive. It’s safe for individuals with rosacea, eczema, and even fungal acne. In fact, if you have fungal acne, this is the cleanser I’d recommend because it’s much less expensive than the one above, but will work just as well, without causing breakouts.
This gentle cream cleanser is formulated with only six ingredients, and that’s one of the things that makes it so great for sensitive skin. I find that the more ingredients a product as – even if they’re stellar ingredients – the more likely a product is to cause a reaction. Sometimes, simple is just better.
Avene’s Tolérance Extrême Cleansing Lotion is also fragrance-free, paraben free, and preservative-free.
Those are all of my favorite facial cleansers for sensitive, rosacea, and eczema prone skin types. I’m sure there are some that I haven’t tried yet, so if I didn’t mention one that you love, feel free to let me know about it in the comments below. Thank you for reading, and I hope this list was helpful!
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I 100% stand behind.
Hi, I’m Ash!
I’m a laid back traveler who loves experiencing new things and spontaneity. My favorite hobbies are hiking, gardening, skincare, and all things tea.
My biggest goal is to spread the word about sustainable travel and show everyone how easy it is to partake in. If you wanna learn more about that or get to know me better, feel free to click here.