If you have sensitive skin, don't blindly trust in 'hypoallergenic' claims and exaggerated promises. Always be your own advocate and test a new skincare product for a reaction before changing your routine.
Trying a new product on your sensitive complexion doesn't have to lead to a painful flare-up. Safe testing of new products can prevent you from suffering with a rash or breakout. Here's how to minimise your risk.
Choose Low-Risk Products
If you have sensitive skin, you can't afford to gamble with unfamiliar ingredients or known irritants. Every complexion is different, so keeping a log of skin reactions can yield a reliable list of problematic ingredients. You might also want to compare the ingredients in products that irritate your skin, because you may find some repeat offenders.
Not sure which chemicals are problematic for you? Here's a list of ingredients that tend to inflame skin sensitivity:
- Aluminium compounds
- Alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid
- Synthetic fragrances
- Sulphates (may be spelt 'sulfates' on some products)
Products marked 'hypoallergenic' produce fewer reactions in most people with sensitive skin, so if you're not sure where to begin your quest, start there. Know, however, that 'hypoallergenic' means different things to different manufacturers. The word isn't a guarantee that a product won't irritate your skin.
Introduce One Product at a Time
When you're eager to test out a new skincare protocol, it's tempting to use every item at once. People with sensitive skin can't take this risk. Introduce one new product at a time, waiting about a week before moving on to the next step. Watch carefully for weals, redness, itching, burning, peeling, or other danger signs.
If your skin is very sensitive, consider eliminating all of your old products too and adding them back gradually in the same vein. The reason is simple: a product that works well on its own or within a brand's coordinated line may interact adversely with another product.
Do a Patch Test
Don't risk an allergic reaction by unthinkingly slathering a new product all over your face or body. Instead, do a simple patch test. Remember that the skin on your face is usually more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body.
Start with a patch test on an invisible portion of your leg or arm, such as behind your knee or inside your elbow. If that application produces no reaction within 24 hours, it's time to assess how the product will perform on your face.
Pick a small area of your face that's easily covered—such as a corner of your forehead or the underside of your jaw—and apply the product. If there's no reaction, the product is probably safe for you to use.