Sensitive skin needs a little love – or a lot of love, as it can be picky about the products and ingredients you apply to it. This makes putting a complete skincare routine together a challenge, as practically anything may cause inflammation, tightness, or dryness. Below, we strip a skincare routine down to its barest essentials – products your skin absolutely needs to stay healthy, nourished and young-looking, devoid of add-ons that may trigger a reaction.
Every great skincare routine starts with a fantastic cleanser. This gets rid of surface dirt, sebum, and impurities that may clog your pores and irritate your sensitive skin. Experts suggest using a cream or balm cleanser with a warm face cloth to really get those particles off your skin. Check the ingredients list to make sure you’re not using anything that may be a potential irritant, and with reactive skin it’s always best to stay with the fragrance-free, alcohol-free, colorant-free, surfactant-free, and emulsifier-free products. If you find a product that’s free from irritants but provides an extra boost to your skin even during the cleansing step (such as natural flower extracts that may help with texture or hydration), that’s a keeper.
Toner picks up where your cleanser leaves off. It lifts residue, dead skin cells, and leftover impurities while preparing your skin to better absorb the products from the next steps in your routine. A great toner for sensitive skin is one that does not contain alcohol, mineral oil, fragrance components, parabens, and other potential irritants. It should be hydrating as well as clarifying, and ideally be able to restore your skin’s natural pH balance.
The ideal serum for reactive skin is one that calms and soothes inflammation, hydrates dry patches, and helps your skin better fight irritants. Try to find a product that does all of these and addresses your specific skin concerns – for example, if you are acne prone, look for an oil-free serum. If you have extremely dry skin, seek one that contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and lecithin. There are also serums that are safe to use on sensitive skin. You won’t have a hard time finding one that’s meant to even out your skin tone, soften your skin, calm redness, or return your skin’s plump and supple texture. Figure out what your needs are, and as always, keep an eye on that ingredients list.
Sensitive skin is often dry, or suffers from dry patches. To combat that, you’ll need intense hydration that can only come from a great moisturizer. Choose an alcohol-free, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic moisturizer that will hydrate your skin without clogging your pores or causing irritation. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, as mentioned above, will moisturize deeply, while ceramides and glycerin can help restore and strengthen your skin’s natural moisture barrier. Petrolatum locks all of that goodness in while acting as a physical barrier against irritants and dryness in the night.
Purchasing a good eye cream and using it religiously can go a long way in holding off telltale signs of aging that appear around the eye area, such as fine lines, crow’s feet, and wrinkles. Like everything else in this kit, it’s important that your eye cream doesn’t irritate your skin. For best results, look for an eye cream that also offers all-important SPF protection, as the number one enemy of skin is harsh UV rays from the sun. Natural extracts are a plus – cucumber can help de-puff the skin around your eyes, while rosehip and coconut softens and soothes.
Bonus: Sheet Mask
If your skin can tolerate it, sheet masks are a wonderful treat you can use once or twice a week to give your skin a boost. It delivers nourishing ingredients in a convenient, easy to apply package that’s just as easy to dispose – no mess, fuss-free. Again, check the ingredients list and make sure the mask is paraben-free to prevent a potential reaction.