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Building a Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin

February
5
,
2024

Itchiness, irritation, redness—if you have sensitive skin, you’re probably all too familiar with these symptoms. 

Managing your sensitive skin symptoms can be a huge challenge, especially if you don’t quite understand what’s causing it or how to remedy it. Understanding your skin and what triggers it can take some time, but it is crucial to help you find the right products to ease your sensitivity. Let’s take a deeper look at sensitive skin and its related causes, how to choose the right skincare products for your skin, and how to build a simple skincare routine to treat sensitive skin. 

Understanding Sensitive Skin

The Types and Characteristics Of Sensitive Skin

The relationship between you and your skin goes far beyond cosmetics. While, of course, the choices you make for your skin can improve your appearance, what’s really important is keeping your skin healthy. The better you understand your skin, the better you’ll be at making decisions about what you should and shouldn’t be using on your skin to keep your sensitivity at bay. As you work to understand your skin and how to take care of it, you ultimately will form a stronger bond with your body.

There’s no true universal cause for skin sensitivity. Rather, everyone experiences different types of skin sensitivity at different severity levels. Types of skin sensitivity may include:

  • Naturally sensitive skin - Some medical conditions, like eczema or rosacea, can cause inflammation, rashes, and dryness. People with these types of conditions typically have much more sensitive skin. 
  • Environmentally sensitive skin - Certain environmental factors, like sun exposure, pollution, or certain weather conditions, can send your skin into a frenzy. Your skin may feel irritated or sting when exposed to certain environmental triggers. 
  • Reactive skin - Ingredients in skincare can cause a negative reaction in your skin, leading to redness, itchiness, and burning. 
  • Thin skin - Our skin naturally becomes thinner as we age, and thinner skin is often much more susceptible to sensitivity.

 

If you have concerns about the sensitivity of your skin, start taking note of how your skin reacts when you use different products or if you are exposed to certain environmental factors. If your skin reacts strongly to changes in weather or climate or to fragrances or chemicals in your products, you may have to be a bit more cautious about how you treat your skin and the products you use.

Choosing the Right Products For Sensitive Skin

Ingredients To Avoid and Include In Your Skincare Products

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When choosing products to use on sensitive skin, pay attention to product labels. Keep an eye out for ingredients that tend to be harsh on the skin or ingredients that you know cause your skin to react in adverse ways. 

In general, some ingredients you may want to avoid include:

  • Fragrances - A common culprit for skin sensitivity, fragrances in your products can cause allergic reactions and irritate your skin. 
  • Alcohol - Alcohol is a drying agent, so if it’s in your skincare products, it can easily strip your skin of your natural oils and dry out your face. Be especially mindful of alcohol when looking for toners or cleansers as this is a commonly included ingredient. 
  • Sulfates - Sulfates, most often used for their cleaning abilities, are a harsh detergent that can strip your skin of moisture. Not only is it often used in cleansers, but it is also a very common ingredient in shampoos.
  • Essential oils - While some essential oils have their benefits, others can be harsh on your skin. Keep an eye out for products with citrus or mint oils as these can often cause allergic reactions for people with sensitive skin. 
  • Retinoids - While often used for their anti-aging properties, retinoids are extremely harsh and can result in dryness and peeling for those with sensitive skin. 

 

On the other hand, there are a few ingredients that are great for sensitive skin that you should be sure your products contain. Those include:

  • Hyaluronic acid - Often found in moisturizers and serums, hyaluronic acid is a hydrating ingredient that can help your skin attract and retain moisture. This ingredient is typically suitable for daily use.
  • Glycerin - Another hydrating ingredient, glycerin attracts moisture to the skin to keep it hydrated without irritating. Glycerin is commonly found in moisturizers and serums, and it is also generally suitable for daily use as well. 
  • Ceramides - Ceramides are lipid molecules that support your skin barrier to help you retain moisture while blocking your skin from environmental stressors that can cause your skin to react. 
  • Niacinamide - This ingredient can help ease inflammation while regulating your skin’s oil to maintain balance.
  • Aloe vera - Widely known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, aloe vera calms and soothes irritated skin. 

 

No one’s skin is the same, certain ingredients may have different effects on your skin. It’s always best to patch-test any new products before fully incorporating them into your daily routine. To test a product, apply a small amount to your skin and monitor your skin for 24 hours to see how it reacts. This will help you avoid any widespread adverse reactions that could exacerbate your symptoms. 

Creating a Daily Skincare Routine for Sensitive Skin

A skincare routine is more than just a beauty ritual. It’s important to have one to keep your overall skin health in check. For those with sensitive skin, finding the right skincare routine and products is a careful balancing act. Just having a simple and consistent skincare routine with mindfully selected products can make a significant difference in how your skin looks and feels. Here’s a simple morning and evening routine that can help you get started caring for your sensitive skin. 

Morning Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin

  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser - Start your day off strong by washing your face with a mild, fragrance-free face wash. Avoid using hot water as it may strip your face and lead to some additional irritation. 
  2. Introduce a toner - Toning is a completely optional step, but it can help balance your skin’s pH. Be wary of the ingredients of your toner. Look for one that’s alcohol-free and includes soothing ingredients like aloe vera or chamomile. 
  3. Moisturize your skin - Find a lightweight moisturizer for your daytime routine that’s suitable for sensitive skin. You might look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Apply evenly on your face, and be sure to focus on areas prone to dryness. 
  4. Apply sunscreen - Sensitive skin becomes even more vulnerable when exposed to the sun. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF 30) and apply it generously on your face and body. Be sure to reapply every few hours as needed, especially when spending time outdoors. 

 

Evening Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin

  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser - Ending your day by cleansing your face is just as important as starting it that way. Remove all the dirt and impurities from the day before bed. 
  2. Use treatment products - Your nighttime routine is the perfect time to use targeted treatment products and let them work their magic overnight. You might find you need a spot treatment or skin serum for sensitive skin to minimize your specific concerns like redness, itchiness, or irritation. You should gradually introduce new products and monitor any reactions you may have. 
  3. Moisturize with a nighttime moisturizer - Before bed, use a heavier moisturizer to lock in hydration while you sleep. 

 

As you begin to understand what works for your skin and what doesn’t, you can adjust your skincare routine to what suits your needs. At the very least, though, following these steps with products suitable for your skin will help your skin thrive. 


Understanding your skin’s sensitivity can empower you to make choices that resonate with your body’s unique needs. From choosing the right products with a discerning eye to crafting a daily routine that caters to your skin’s needs, you can work to find the delicate harmony between you and your most radiant skin. 

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