The best soaps for sensitive skin

Posted by for Beauty

We’re increasing the frequency and time spent washing our hands, and with this comes the potential for having drier hands, stripped of moisture. Stylist reviews the best hand soaps that work with hands to keep them hydrated.

Having sensitive hands can be frustrating. Hand washing in particular is a pain, especially if – like me – you struggle with contact dermatitis.

This poses a problem because we wash our hands multiple times throughout the day. If I don’t use hand soap that is right for my skin, then that’s multiple opportunities for my hands to have a nasty reaction. Even the most neutral soaps can start to irritate after a while.

To solve this problem once and for all, I’ve tested some of the best hand soaps made specifically for sensitive skin – and found a new favourite. If you struggle with skin sensitivity and dryness then these soaps might just revolutionise your handcare routine.  

Best bar soaps for sensitive skin

I usually gravitate towards bar soaps, especially when my skin is in a bad way. Many bars (but certainly not all) contain more natural ingredients and you can easily find ones that are fragrance-free. That’s not to say that bar soaps are better by default though – some bars have a high pH level which can be drying, and they don’t all contain the gentlest ingredients. We’ve tried and tested some of the best, to help you find the ones that will be kindest to your skin.  

  • Gallinée Cleansing Bar, £10

    Gallinée’s Prebiotic Cleansing Bar

    It’s not often that you find a product with glowing reviews pretty much across the board, but that’s what I’ve found in Gallinée’s Prebiotic Cleansing Bar. It’s soap-free, softening and designed to be gentle, and is even suitable for use on both the hands and face due to it having the same pH balance as skin. However, it can be ever so slightly drying, so it’s probably not ideal for when your hands are at their sorest. 

    £10, Gallinée

  • Faith in Nature Handmade Soap, £2.29

    Faith in Nature’s Handmade Soap

    Faith in Nature is dedicated to creating natural products that are cruelty-free and do not harm the environment. Made entirely with sustainable, organic and plant-derived ingredients, this soap bar is a pretty perfect embodiment of that mission – it even comes in 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. Fragrance-free and proven to be kind to even the most sensitive, rash-prone skin, this is a great choice for those who want to avoid damage to both their hands and the environment. 

    £2.29, Faith in Nature

  • La Roche-Posay Lipikar Surgras Cleansing Bar, £5.50

    La Roche-Posay’s Lipikar Surgras Cleansing Bar

    The Lipikar Surgras bar from La-Roche Posay doesn’t have any out of this world properties, but it is made with moisturising glycerine and shea butter, and it reacted just fine with my skin. As a good old fashioned, no frills bar of soap, it’s a solid choice. 

    £5.50, Escentual

  • Herbivore Pink Clay Soap Bar, £10

    Herbivore’s Pink Clay Soap

    This is the soap I’d be most likely to reach for in the shops. Made with all natural ingredients including anti-inflammatory rose geranium essential oil, the bar smells amazing and looks pretty perfect for sensitive skin. It also has a thick, foamy lather, which is soft and moisturising. The only issue is the blood orange essential oil which, while brightening, isn’t the gentlest ingredient. Great for slightly more robust skin, but I think I’ll be erring on the side of caution and avoiding longer-term usage. 

    £10, Cult Beauty

Best liquid hand soaps for sensitive skin

As a rule, I tend to avoid buying liquid hand soaps. I often find that they contain more chemical ingredients and preservatives than bars, the effects of which can sometimes react unexpectedly with my hands. But there are plenty that include moisturising ingredients, so there are loads of great options if you know what to look for.
Many people prefer liquid soaps anyway: they’re less messy, easily portable and often last longer than bars.

  • L’Occitane En Provence Ultra Rich Hand and Body Wash, £16.50

    L'Occitane En Provence's Ultra Rich Hand and Body Wash

    This might just be one of the best liquid hand soaps I’ve used. It comes out looking and feeling almost like a hand cream, but lathers well when mixed with water. This shea butter formula doesn’t just smell amazing; it’s thoroughly moisturising, too, and has clearly been made with the skin’s natural pH balances in mind.

    This product has done what many liquid hand soaps have tried and failed to do before, and left my hands feeling soft and healthy. 

    £16.50, L’Occitane

  • NIVEA Rich Moisture Soft Hand Wash, £1.50

    NIVEA’s rich moisture soft handwash

    This NIVEA hand soap is made to moisturise and soften, and boasts two key ingredients. The first is almond oil, which is mild, moisturising and has anti-inflammatory properties. The second is NIVEA’s patented Hydra IQ, which is a natural ingredient that provides long-lasting, deep moisturisation. Not only that, but it is very reasonably priced.

    However it does also contain some harsher chemical ingredients and fragrances, so probably isn’t ideal if you have a fragrance allergy. 

    £1.50, Fragrance Direct

Best shower soap for sensitive skin

  • Herbivore Blue Clay Soap Bar, £10

    Herbivore’s Blue Clay Soap Bar

    So here it is, our clear winner and a new firm favourite of mine: Herbivore’s Blue Clay soap bar.

    Initially, this bar seems very similar to Herbivore’s pink clay soap: it contains no chemicals, uses sustainable palm oil and has an even more luxurious lather than its rose-based counterpart. An important difference is that instead of rose and blood orange, the key ingredient here is lavender. Lavender is known to have a whole host of great skin benefits, including reducing redness and skin inflammation – and balancing the moisture levels in your skin.

    I could feel the difference in my skin after the first use, and have continued to use it with only positive results. I have to say I am very impressed – I’m definitely a Herbivore fan! 

    £10, Liberty

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