While skin care is huge in America, we don’t often stop to consider the role our clothing can play in our skin’s health. Recently, a few surprisingly cool detergents have been launched, like Dr. Barbara Sturm Laundry Detergent ($55) and Decool x Ouai Melrose Place Dedtergent ($35). While we were quick to add these to our cart, we wondered what someone with sensitive skin should do. We talked to board-certified dermatologists about which laundry detergent someone should opt for if they have sensitive skin. If your skin is not too reactive, you can try to introduce some innovative scents like the newest ones on the market. However, if your skin is sensitive, you’ll want to follow the doctor’s orders.

Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD says dermatologists generally recommend one detergent for their patients whether or not they have sensitive skin: All Free and Clear ($9). He doesn’t seem to be wrong as both Monroe, LA dermatologist Janine Hopkins, MD and Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill also named this detergent the best for sensitive skin and beyond. However, there are pros and cons. Dr. Schlessinger notes that while this is a great option for skin, it may not get clothes quite as clean as other detergents.

While Dr. Hopkins also recommends Tide Free & Gentle ($16), Dr. Schlessinger says he’s seen reactions to Tide products, even those claiming to be for sensitive skin, so it may be a bit of trial and error to see what works with your skin.

Things to avoid if you have sensitive skin

Dr. Schlessinger says his practice is not in favor of dryer sheets or fabric softeners. He’s seen even patients with non-reactive skin be bothered by these products. “Research has also proven that laundry detergent and dryer sheets/fabric softener hang around in the washer and dryer for at least two to five loads after they are used, so I advise my patients to ask their family members to not use these as well,” says Dr. Schlessinger.

If you’re scanning the laundry detergent aisle for a new product that will work with sensitive skin, be sure to check the ingredients list. The biggest thing to watch out for is added fragrance. “Most detergents have fragrances and added ingredients like Febreze that can cause allergic skin reactions,” says Dr. Hopkins. Dr. Longwill also recommends avoiding dyes, enzymes and harsh surfactants and preservatives.


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