Almost half of us reckon we have sensitive skin, but there’s definitely a huge variety of ingredients we’re sensitive to, as well as the severity of any reaction. Whether it’s the occasional breakout caused by a problem product, or a specific ingredient that you always try to stay away from, you have to do your best to work around it.
Before we start: if you have a diagnosed skin condition, follow your doctor or dermatologist’s advice! This guide is intended for those of us with mild to moderately sensitive skin that’s more of an annoyance than a health problem.
#1 Always patch test
As excited as you are to try out a new skincare product, carry out a patch test first. Simply apply a small amount of product to a small area of skin. Behind your ear or the inside of your elbow are good, discreet places to test for reactions. However, if you only have one sensitive area of skin, it makes sense to test new products there! Just be careful to only apply a small amount.
Watch the test area carefully for the next 24-48 hours – don’t wash the product off until after the test window, unless you see an adverse reaction.
Something else to bear in mind: if you’re returning to a product after a 6+ month break, patch test it again. The ingredient list might have changed, or your skin’s tolerance to it might have altered.
#2 Be cautious of hypoallergenic products
Just because a product is labelled as ‘hypoallergenic’ it doesn’t mean your skin will like it. The term isn’t legally defined – it’s just used as a shorthand for products with slightly fewer ingredients and potential allergens.
If you know the types of ingredients that upset your skin, check the ingredients list instead of relying on the hypoallergenic label. If you’re buying the product online, Google the product name to find an ingredients list.
#3 Common allergens
We’re not all sensitive to the same products, but there are some specific types of ingredients that tend to irritate sensitive skin. These include:
- Some alcohols
- Fragrances (look for parfum on the label)
- Sulphates (such as sodium lauryl sulphate)
- Apricot kernels and other physical exfoliators
By trying out different products and making a note of their ingredients, you can start to narrow down problem ingredients and know what to avoid in the future.
#4 If in doubt…
…Choose products with short ingredient lists – the fewer the ingredients, the less chance one of them will upset your skin!
In the same way, try to cut down on the number of skincare products you apply – it’ll make it easier for you to keep track of changing formulas and understand the causes of breakouts.
#5 Look after your skin
It’s not just products that can irritate sensitive skin – the weather can, too! If your skin is affected by the cold, the wind, or even the dry air from the air con or heating in your office, it’s really important that you give your skin the protection it needs to fight these irritants! Once you’ve found a moisturiser that works for your skin, apply it religiously – the same goes for sunscreen.
#6 Never scrub
When washing and drying your face, never scrub it! Carefully pat your skin instead to avoid damage.
#7 Choose your makeup wisely
In particular, stay away from long-lasting products (like waterproof mascara) that require harsh cleansers or scrubbing to remove.
#8 Throw out old cosmetics
We’ve mentioned this previously on the blog – but we’re all guilty of forgetting to throw out cosmetics that are past their best! If you have sensitive skin, it’s particularly important to avoid out-of-date makeup as your skin will be more easily irritated by the bacteria within the product.
What’s your take?
Is your skin sensitive to a particular ingredient? Do you have any more tips for managing sensitive skin? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
(And don’t forget to check out our webstore for our latest deals on products for sensitive skin!)