A Five-Step Routine for Sensitive Skin
With so many exciting skin-care products to choose from, it can be tempting to want to try them all. But if you have sensitive skin, you have to be careful about what you apply on your face and body. It doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun with skin care, though. The first step is understanding whether you have sensitive skin and, if so, what’s causing it. Next, learn what to look for in products and what to avoid. Once you’re in tune with your skin needs, you can build a routine that will work for you. Ahead, find a few tips for putting together 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.” These irritants vary by person. 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.
Do I Have Sensitive Skin?
“There isn’t a definitive checklist that dermatologists use to define sensitive skin,” says board-certified dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Dendy Engelman. There are, however, a few tell-tale signs that can help you determine whether you have this skin type. For example, if you have reactive skin that becomes red or blotchy 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, stinging, burning and a feeling of tightness.
What to Look for in a Product for Sensitive Skin
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 free of other potential irritants like alcohol. Second, do your best to look for gentle formulas that are tested specifically for sensitive skin and keep your routine as basic as possible. This will lower your chances of introducing any possible irritants to your skin.
A 5-Step Skin-Care Routine for Sensitive Skin
STEP 1: Cleanser
Any skin-care routine should begin with a cleanser. You can have the best products that money can buy, but if you’re layering them on top of built-up dirt, pollution, makeup, sunscreen 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 and irritation to dull skin. Look for a gentle formula that won’t strip your skin of essential oils. We recommend the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1.
STEP 2: Alcohol-Free Toner
Toners 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 too much alcohol or astringent ingredients. Reach for one that’s mild with calming ingredients, like the Lancôme Tonique Confort.
STEP 3: Serum
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 SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel, which calms skin and minimizes the appearance of redness.
STEP 4: Moisturizer
While your skin is still a little damp, reach for a non-comedogenic, fragrance-free cream, gel or water-based moisturizer. Keeping your skin well-hydrated will help reduce your risk of irritation. Try the allergy-tested La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer.
STEP 5: Sunscreen
If there’s one product every skin type needs to wear daily, it’s sunscreen. Not only can it prevent skin cancer, but it can also ward off skin damage that causes a weakened skin barrier and sensitivities. Reach for a sunscreen that's sensitive skin-safe, like the CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen with SPF 50.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn