The Best Moisturizers for Seborrheic Dermatitis (and Sensitive Skin in General!)

Seborrheic dermatitis is a confusing skin disorder – it’s presents like dry skin . . . but it’s also kinda greasy. It’s red and easily irritated . . . but you can’t just baby it, or you’ll never kill the bacteria/fungus causing all the drama. This makes choosing a moisturizer for seborrheic dermatitis plagued skin a difficult task.

(Contains affiliate links)

Moisturizer for Seborrheic DermatitisFor years, I thought I had DRY sensitive skin. I’d SLATHER on thick creams and goopy oils. It would soften up the scales so I thought it was working. But my skin still had a rashy quality and the flakes always came back. I’ve learned that seborrheic dermatitis is really OILY skin, that is somewhat sensitive, but mostly just cursed with a weird fungal rash.

Through much research and a lot of personal trial and error, I’ve discovered some amazing skincare products for seborrheic dermatitis. Let’s start with daytime moisturizers! Three of these hover around $10 so there’s something for every price point.

1. Paula’s Choice Hydralight Moisture-Infusing Lotion: This one is perfect for those of you wanting to treat your seborrheic dermatitis, but you also want to ward off wrinkles. (Not that I’d know anything about that. Wink, wink.) A lot of anti-aging stuff is far too irritating for those of us struggling with SD, rosacea or sensitive skin. This is super light and labeled “For Extra Sensitive Skin.” It provides a matte finish and works great under makeup. Paula’s Choice also makes a similar product with mineral sunscreen added!

2. Cetaphil DermaControl Moisturize with SPF 30: What a catch-22 . . . To protect our skin, we need sunblock. To keep your skin healthy and clean, the last thing we need is sunblock. But wait! I finally found a high-SPF daily moisturizer that smells neutral, offers a matter appearance, doesn’t irritate, won’t clog pores and actually HELPS prevent acne or seborrheic dermatitis flares. This is my day-to-day lotion now, since I spend a lot of time outside with my kids and God got real cheap with the melanin when he made me.

3. Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion SPF 15: If redness is rival, this should be your daily go-to. It contains extract from licorice root, which soothes inflammation. And of course it is oil-free, fragrance-fee and has a specially-formulated gentle sunscreen added. But the real perk? A subtle green tint which contracts red skin tone! Love.

4. PCA Skin Anti-Redness Serum: This is another great option for reducing redness. Many dermatologist recommend PCA because they use only premium ingredients that deliver excellent results. Though a little more pricy, this serum offers great redness reduction for most who try it.

5. Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin: Our most affordable option comes from, this is the choice for you if you just want to keep it simple. Oil-free, alcohol-free, fragrance free, non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic. Just good, basic, very light moisturizer for sensitive, oily skin.

I’d love to hear your recommendations! What’s your favorite daytime moisturizer?

30 thoughts on “The Best Moisturizers for Seborrheic Dermatitis (and Sensitive Skin in General!)

  1. Thank you for this post, and your entire blog! My skin went from fine to BAD in the last six months out of nowhere, and I have to admit I’ve been kind of panicked about dealing with it. I was officially diagnosed with SD by the dermatologist, but he just gave me some ketoconazole cream and sent me on my way. I feel like this has helped, but not extensively. I still have red patches on my cheeks with large patchy areas that just won’t go away. I’m trying to figure out a skincare routine to help clear things up, and your site is exactly what I have been looking for!

    Can I ask if you have ever tried apple cider vinegar as a toner? I have heard some good things about it and thought it was a cheap solution if it helps.

    Thanks so much!

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    1. It will get better! But you do need to keep trying different things, keep your skin guessing. As far as apple cider vinegar, I saw a great video by an estatician where she debunked a bunch of “natural” cures touted all over the Internet. She said to never use vinegar on your face! I will find this video and post it but let me say that she was very convincing. But I do love toner … Used in moderation! Too much and you’ll overdry which leads to inevitable excess oil. It’s all about balance!

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  2. I love the paula’s choice recommendation. I once tried the eucerin. It made me look like a ghost, because of the green colour. I have rosacea, not seb derm (well not on my face anyway) and it was irritating.

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  3. SD is such a pain to deal with. I’ll try a new product or foundation, and my face will clear suddenly & I will mistakenly think “I”ve found my holy grail product’. Nope. Everything comes back after a few days/week. So you’re right about keep your skin guessing part! Thanks for these product demonstrations. I was using some milk of magnesium on my face last year which helped for a while. I’ve fungal cream too & its been good.

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  4. I tried the apple cider vinegar on my face for SD and it irritated my face even more. I tried it 3 times and always the same results, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

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  5. Great blog! I find your writing good and strait to the point. I even enjoy your sense of humor 😉

    I always(!) shower before bed and use fungural shampo on my face for 3 min. Then I clean it off and remove, as gentle as possible, all dead skin-cells while in the shower. After that I use a thin layer of protopic. The result is a skin that isn’t flaky and feels elastic.

    My biggest rival is the redness. Thats the main reason I shower in the evening. I am always red after a shower and a good nights sleep helps with that. But it isn’t enough. It seems like my skin color never recovers to the natural tone. I suspect overuse of steroid based creams in the past may have damaged it or something. I`ve been experimenting with mineral powder with different tones and it helps a bit. But it seems like it trigger more oil production and that`s something we absolutely doesn’t need.

    Maybe Eucerin Redness Relief is my answer. I am going to try it. Is amazone the best site to order the product? None of the stores in Norway seems to have it.

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    1. Hi! This is an interesting case you have. I’m going to work on some research but my first instinct is that maybe you can reduce how often you use the anti-fungal shampoo/exfoliate. I have a post coming soon on makeup! Keep me updated on what is working for you.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your SD experiences.
    I have mild SD. I’ve been using La Roche Posay Kerium DS cream for my face and eye area for more than a year and I’m quite happy with it. I am a medical student and I tried to be scientific when searching for a product that i can use on a daily basis. Than I found out that proctamine oleate, an antifungal agent, is commonly used in products against SD. I tried LRP Kerium DS which has that antifungal property in small amount and this cream was effective enough to give my face its elasticity, erase the fine wrinkles and flakes. I guess other moisturisers containing proctamine oleate would work as well as this one. For those with severe SD this may not be enough but it could be an option for the skincare routine.
    Cheers,
    Müjde

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  7. I just want to thank you so much. I have very oily skin and breakouts, I admit I pick at it. A few weeks ago it started to crust over and then flake off over and over, I was becoming desperate and was waiting for a doc appt. I started using Burt Bees sensitive facial cleansing towelettes and Eucerin Redness Relief daily perfecting lotion. That felt weird because normally I cannot use lotion on my oily skin but after a day my skin started to soften and the crusts slowly came off. Stay away from any soap on your skin. I have no idea what this is from but stay away from all of that. You can use the towelette to gently wipe away dead skin. I also stopped eating bananas, the only think I can think is that I have fibromyaltia (immune compromised) and I was eating too much sugar and getting no sun in all this rain. I am also taking a high vitamin multi(rainbow light menopausal formula) and 5000 IU of D3 every day. I know the D fights fungal infections and viruses. I wish you all luck.

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  8. Thanks for the post.
    Personally I found Coconut Oil very helpful. The only thing that it didn’t help with was the flaking, but it reduced the lumps, redness and itchiness. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and it still makes my skin feel soft and normal.

    Most creams and remedies only seem to irritate it. I even tried Turmeric and I swear I had to wait 3 days for the red bumps to fade away, it was atrocious.

    Anyway, before the coconut oil I used olive oil because I used to get a lot of atopic dermatitis all over my fingers, but the problem with olive oil is that it rubs off everywhere and leaves my sheets super greasy (and they stink after a couple of days). Mixing oil with nivea cream (the traditional one with the glass jar) saved me during most of my adult life whenever I had a flare up.

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  9. Thank you for writing this blog. I also suffer from SD. My dermatologist recommended that I use dandruff shampoo on my face. With some trial and error, here’s the process that seems to work for me: During my morning shower, I use Nizoral, a dandruff shampoo, on my face. I only have dandruff on my face, not on my scalp. I’ve tried Head and Shoulders, but it has too much fragrance and that irritated my skin. Just before exiting the shower, I gently exfoliate with a washcloth (I only use white washcloths and towels because they can be bleached. I’m hoping that kills off whatever causes the SD and maybe minimizes its spread). After drying off, I immediately apply a light layer of Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream by Clinique. Then I apply a lotion containing pyrothizone zinc called Nobel Formula. This process eliminates my flakiness for most of the day, but if I touch up my makeup to go out in the evening, BAM…flakes, again. If I rewash my face and follow the procedure again…no flakes! If I skip any of these steps, then my flakiness comes back with a vengeance. It gets worse. Also, every time I stay at a hotel, my SD flares up. Maybe it’s the dry air, I don’t know. Additionally, I just started using ROC night cream for sensitive skin. It has retinol, but I’m not sure if it truly works like Retin-A, which is a prescription that helps to get your skin cells to turn over more rapidly. I used to use Retin-A in the evenings, but I stopped going to the dermatologist, so that I could have time to get regular shots for allergies. I was hoping allergy treatments might help my skin. I have dust mite allergies, and there might be some connection with that allergy and rosacea…Anyway, I just don’t have time to go to two doctors’ offices on a regular basis.

    The downside is that this process causes my skin to get redder, but at least I can wear make up to cover up the redness, my pores, and blemishes. My struggle is finding long-lasting makeup that covers the redness and doesn’t need to be touched up, otherwise, I get flakes.

    One trick that also has proven useful, if you do get a little spot of flakiness after applying foundation, I’ve learned that you can spray finishing spray on a foundation brush and lightly dab the flakes, Poof! They disappear. If my whole face is flaky, then the best bet is to start over and wash off the makeup. The finishing spray trick only works on a little patch. When attempting to fix the whole face, the foundation doesn’t look smooth.

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  10. What a great blog and suggestions! I’ve already bought a few products you’ve mentioned and look forward to more posts on things that have worked for you. SD is embarrassing to deal with and can be difficult to manage, so thank you for providing useful tips and tricks. I have been using First Aid Beauty, Ultra Repair Cream and have found that it really helps with SD flare ups around my nose and mouth. It’s a great product and is a face and body lotion. Thanks again!

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  11. For Once I found someone with a helpful blog About SD. I honestly think mine has been caused by stress (i know, relax and find peace, easier said than done) and it has changed the color of my skin or should I say taken away the pigment. I tan well being Mexican so the white shows up a lot in the summer, i hate when my friends say ” i cant even notice it” LIES I’ve had enough random questionable comments about it that I know it DOES stand out . I’ve paid big copays to see special dermatologists and they can’t really come up with anything except thees gooey creams that make me leave grease marks every i touch, gross. They also took a biopsy from my arm and it left a nice bright red scar ugh like I need more attention brought to my arms. They came back with the results that’s its inflamed and that’s it. I’m afraid of it spreading and yes sometimes it gets flaky and irritated red, I always say “its getting angry” and all I do it what you said put a bunch of cream on it. Honestly I wish I could just calm it down and it was red but nope it looks crazy with white spots drifting. I noticed its happening to my legs ugh this makes me want to cry i hate it its embarrassing. I’ve had dermatologists tell me “you could have worse like skin cancer” and I thought oh great now I’m being made to feel guilty like I’m crying over spilled milk. Sorry for the rant but I’ve searched and searched for some people to feel where I’m coming from. I’m hoping to calm it down with some of your recommendations and if the white spots dont go away I guess I’ll just have to look into those cover up creams.

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    1. I have the loss of pigment too! My dermatologist said it comes back eventually, it’s just a stress response from fighting the condition too hard. I’ve been alternating hydrocortisone and ketoconazole and using vanicream soap (apparently the vanicream z-bar is a life changer, but you usually have to order it online), and so far that’s really helping. I have one lighter spot still, but the others have gone back to normal. I hope yours do too!

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  12. Hi Emily,
    Your blog has more information than any other site – thank you for breaking down some basics!! My beautiful 13 year old daughter, who had perfect skin, suddenly broke out and has been diagnosed with SD. We’re on month 5. I hope you keep your blog active because it’s a great tool for others.

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  13. Hi! Really enjoyed sifting through your blog entries (love your dose of humor too, btw)! I was diagnosed with seb derm a couple of years back and I’ve been struggling to understand this condition fully. Been trying to amp up my skin care but I’m so confused if seb derm occurs with oily or dry skin. When choosing a moisturizer, do I go for those intended for oily or dry skin? Or just sensitive skin? Would really appreciate the help trying to decode this annoying condition. Hope to hear back! – Izzy

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    1. Ok, almost a year later and I just saw this! I recommend treating your SD skin more like oily skin. Use acne products or those for oily prone. But also not too harsh, overly stripping skin of moisture. I recommend an oil-free moisturizer that won’t clog pores. I know it is tempting to oil up your skin so the flakes go away, but that’s a bandaid and it only causes things to get worse in the long run.

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  14. I jave been using nivea (the classic one with blue box) as a moisturiser for more than a decade now. It is the best one after my hole life trying to free myself from SD. I wash my face offten during the day and always use nivea after. Never been able to use another kind of nivea though like night creams or antiage…they make my skin go crazy. I have never used antiage creams, I am 37, I have tried to find smth good but failet every time. They make my SD go from bad to worse. Still my skin likes natural oils, natural masks like milk, egg, yogurt (which leaves my skin looking like heaven) as for the oils, sesame oil is the best for SD it works wonder, I remove my makeup with olive oil but then wash it again after. Coconut oil makes SD angry and my skin needs days to recover from it even if I never use it on my skin just on my hair..still bad when reaches the face skin.
    So yeah this is my life ps nivea sunscreen only

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  15. Hey I’m not really sure what I have, or if I have what you guys do, so I was wondering if : it gets worse in the winter? If it creates a desert on your t area of your face? Makes your skin have severe red undertones?

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    1. I’m not a doctor but sounds like SD for sure. And maybe rosacea. More moisture in the winter is important. Switch to a CREAM cleanser in the winter and use a lot of moisturizer. No hot water. You’ll get your skin in balance.

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  16. Ps if you have really sensitive skin and are prone to pimples, I would not recommend the last one, I’ve had friends that have tried it and they have clear, not sensitive skin and they broke out within a few days so I would be careful not to use it right before an event

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  17. Does anyone know a good toner and nighttime moisturizer/serum to use if you have seborrheic dermatitis? I got a sample face regime kit from Brickell’s and honestly the only thing that irritated my skin was the toner they included. Pretty much everywhere on my face broke out in a rash from it. I’m still looking for products more geared towards those with SD because I’m unsure if the ones in the kit will cut it when winter comes.

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    1. I use glycolic acid toner. Try Pixi “Glow toner” which I think you can find at Target. It may tingle a bit but it really helps my skin. With toner, some people should only use it two or three times a week because it can be intense and drying. I use my toner most nights though.

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