There’s no clear-cut definition of “sensitive skin,” but the American Academy of Dermatology classifies it as a skin type that may experience stinging or burning after using a topical product. “Sensitive skin is pretty vague, but it does seem to resonate with a person when they have trouble with products causing irritation,” says Prospect, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD. “So many people are allergic to preservatives and extra fragrance that companies put into products, which causes burning, stinging and rashes. Once a person goes down the path of products causing irritation, they quickly learn they have to be very careful with products.”
One brand of products that may be slightly under the radar but gets major praise from derms is Vanicream. “The Vanicream product line is an excellent company that tries to eliminate as many of the irritants as possible, making options available for the ‘sensitive skin’ person,” says Dr. Cassis.
Vanicream’s parent company, Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc. (PSI), was founded by two pharmacists in 1975 who were working closely with dermatologists at a hospital in Minnesota. “Because of our extensive experience formulating products, it was suggested by several dermatologists that we start a company to make better products than were commercially available for people with sensitive skin,” said cofounders Conrad Thompson and Ed Mansfield in 2010.
“Early on, we made decisions regarding our operating principles. We wanted to avoid chemicals that dermatologists considered undesirable and could be irritating or sensitizing to the skin, such as fragrance, masking fragrance, dyes, lanolin, parabens, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives. We wanted to use the highest-quality ingredients that would conform to this principle. Even though most of our products were, and are, considered cosmetics by the FDA, we chose to manufacture to drug-quality standards. This meant meeting or exceeding the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations.”
Today, all Vanicream products are available over the counter, and PSI also has two other brands: Free & Clear, for hairstyling products, and Robathol—the Robathol Bath Oil was the first product the company created and sold 45 years ago. “The Vanicream Moisturizing Cream is our flagship product,” says Tegan Blagoyevich, marketing manager of Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc, “and our newest product, Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer, is formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides.”
Below, six other top dermatologists weigh in on their favorites from the sensitive skin–friendly collection:
“The Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser works well—it’s hypoallergenic and free of dyes and fragrances.”
—Gretna, LA dermatologist Dana Marshall, MD
“I love all of them, from their moisturizer to washes, and even their deodorants! Their products are free of common irritants, dyes and fragrances. Super affordable and can find it at any drugstore or on Amazon. Great for sensitive skin patients. I use it on my toddler who has eczema, too.”
—Washington, D.C. dermatologist Sarika Snell, MD
“Vanicream products are my go-to products for those with allergies or extremely sensitive skin.”
—Newport Beach, CA dermatologist Robin Lewallen, MD
“Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer is a cosmetically elegant fragrance-free moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, and Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser, a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser that is also great for removing makeup.”
—Miami dermatologist Debra Price, MD
“Vanicream Moisturizing Cream is an amazing hypoallergenic moisturizing cream with no fragrances, dyes or other harsh chemicals.”
—New York dermatologist Shari Marchbein, MD
“Vanicream products are a great option for those seeking fragrance-free options, as the products are also free of preservatives, parabens, masking fragrance and formaldehyde, making them especially good for those with sensitive skin.”
—New York dermatologist Marisa K. Garshick, MD
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