People with sensitive skin have skin that is more reactive than other skin types. It may become easily irritated by factors like environmental elements (weather, pollution, etc.), topical products, poor sleep quality, or hormones. This can manifest as redness, itchiness, a burning or stinging feeling, or dryness.
Some people are genetically predisposed to this skin type, and have a hyperactive immune system. These people may deal with inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, or acne. Others may have a weaker skin barrier function, often due to external factors. It should be noted that, as we age, our skin gets thinner, and therefore can become more sensitive. Additionally, it’s also worth mentioning that people typically have sensitive skin that also falls into one of the other skin type categories (dry, combination, or oily).
In order to best manage their skin and keep it as calm as possible, people with sensitive skin should seek out skincare products specifically formulated for this skin type (more on that below). They should also identify what ingredients or environmental elements aggravate their skin, and try to eliminate or reduce exposure to those factors.
People with sensitive skin should use gentle skincare products specifically formulated for this skin type. Sensitive skin-friendly products will typically be fragrance-free, dye-free, and hypoallergenic. Here are some things to consider for each type of skincare product.
A good sensitive skin face wash will gently cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural oils or irritating the skin. If your skin tends to be oily or dry, you’ll also want to look for a cleanser that works for those skin types. People with oily and sensitive skin may wish to use a gentle foaming cleanser, while those with dry and sensitive skin should look for a creamier formula.
Sensitive skin types should seek out gentle moisturizers that are free of fragrances, dyes, or other common irritants. Many of the best moisturizers for sensitive skin will also contain ingredients known to soothe the skin, such as centella asiatica, allantoin, aloe, and oat extract.
There are some great serums that can help soothe inflammation, minimize redness, and calm sensitive skin. People with sensitive skin can also add serums to their routine that address other skin issues (signs of aging, pore size, etc.), but should seek out formulas that don’t contain ingredients known to irritate the skin.
Since chemical exfoliants can cause irritation, it's important for those with sensitive skin to seek out products that gently exfoliate. It’s also smart to use exfoliants that contain additional soothing ingredients. Mandelic acid is a great gentle alpha-hydroxy acid that is particularly suitable for sensitive skin, because it has a larger molecular size, meaning it isn’t as harsh on the skin as other AHAs.
In addition to looking for sunscreens that are free of irritants known to cause reactions in sensitive skin, people with this skin type will likely have the best results with 100% mineral sunscreens. Mineral (also known as physical) sunscreen filters are less likely to cause irritation than chemical sunscreen filters. Look for sunscreens containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.