The Best Skin-Care Routine for Sensitive Skin
Those of us with sensitive skin need to be a little more particular about which new skin-care products we’re picking up — that’s just the reality of it. Sensitive skin can be easily thrown off by anything, from the weather to a new product formula. Simply put, the best skin-care routine for sensitive skin is the one that works for you. Ahead, find a few tips for starting a skin-care routine that’s suitable for sensitive skin.
What Is Sensitive Skin?
According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, sensitive skin is a “condition of subjective hyper-reactivity to environmental factors. Generally substances that are not commonly considered irritants are involved in this abnormal response.” Basically, sensitive skin is an overreaction to factors that usually don’t irritate most people’s skin. This can be anything from certain moisturizers to even a type of metal used in a bracelet. It’s also important to note that sensitive skin isn’t necessarily something you experience from a young age. At any age, you can begin to suddenly experience sensitive skin, no matter what other skin predispositions you may have.
What Causes Sensitive Skin?
Although there may not be one set causation behind sensitive skin, there are a lot of theories as to why it pops up. Some studies have shown that there may be a correlation between weakness in the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) and how reactive the skin was in contact with external forces. Age has also been thought to cause skin sensitivity. Despite age clearly having an effect on sensitivity, however, sensitive skin affects those old and young. Where the skin is on your body may also determine its susceptibility to sensitivity with the face being one of the most commonly reported areas of skin sensitivity.
Do I Have Sensitive Skin?
Before we can get into a skin-care routine for sensitive skin, it’s important to determine if you do indeed have it. Unfortunately, this isn’t as black and white as it may seem. According to board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Dendy Engelman, “There isn’t a definitive checklist that dermatologists use to define sensitive skin.” However, there are a few tell-tale signs that can help you determine whether or not you have this skin type. If you have reactive skin that becomes red, blotchy, stings or burns when exposed to certain elements — like the sun’s UV rays or certain skin-care formulas —it is likely sensitive. Other signs of sensitive skin may include itching, burning and even feeling some sort of tight sensation in the area that’s irritated.
What to Look for If You Suspect Your Skin Is Sensitive
If you suspect your skin may be sensitive, there are a few things you’ll want to look for. First off, try to use products that are fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. When a product is non-comedogenic, it means the formula will not clog your pores. (This is key for all skin types, not just sensitive.) Secondly, do your best to look for gentle formulas that are safe for sensitive skin specifically and keep your routine as basic as possible. This will lower your chances of introducing any possible irritants.
Skin-Care Routine for Sensitive Skin
STEP 1: Cleanser
Whether you have the most resilient skin on the planet or you burn within a few moments of being outside in the sun, your skin-care routine should always start with cleansing. You can have the best products that money can buy but if you are layering them on top of built-up dirt, pollution, makeup and other impurities that can linger on the skin’s surface, they aren’t going to do you much good. By not cleansing your skin, you risk all of those aforementioned impurities clogging your pores which can lead to everything from breakouts to dull skin-tone to irritation. Start your sensitive skin-care routine off with a gentle cleanser formulated for sensitive skin. We recommend Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 to remove makeup and other dirt and impurities from your skin’s surface.
STEP 2: Alcohol-Free Toner
Sweeping toner over your skin might seem like a superfluous step, but it’s well worth the few extra seconds of effort. Toners are often overlooked in skin-care routines but can actually offer a wide range of benefits, including balancing the skin’s pH levels post-cleansing, soothing the skin and removing any lingering bits of residue or dirt. Sensitive skin types can benefit from using a toner but should steer clear of those formulated with alcohol or astringents. Reach for one that’s mild with calming ingredients, like the Kiehl’s Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner.
STEP 3: Serum
A serum is a product that can be applied in between toning and moisturizing to make sure your skin is getting all of the essential ingredients it needs. Serums are a great addition to any skin-care routine, as they can target specific concerns such as wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots and more. For sensitive skin, we recommend the Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Serum.
STEP 4: Moisturizer
While your skin is still a little damp, reach for a non-comedogenic, fragrance-free cream, gel, or water-based moisturizer. Depending on your specific sensitive skin needs, you may find you need a thicker formula. Keeping your skin well-hydrated will help reduce your risk of irritation. Try the dermatologist-recommended CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.
STEP 5: Sunscreen
If there’s one thing every skin type needs during the day, it’s protection from the sun’s harmful rays. While we recommend seeking shade and wearing protective clothing during peak sun hours, we know it’s not always possible. Reach for a sunscreen that's sensitive skin-safe, like Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 60 Sunscreen to avoid irritation from the sun.