Ingredients to Avoid for Sensitive Acne Prone Skin

When your skin is breaking out, the last thing you need is for the products you use to make it worse. Acne is an inflammatory disease of the skin, so certain ingredients can further irritate or unbalance your skin’s natural barrier function by blocking pores or stripping natural oils. Here are our tips for the ingredients you should look out for when treating acne and sensitive skin.

❌ Avoid Alcohol

❌ Avoid Alcohol

Not all alcohols are bad for your skin, but alcohol denat, or denatured (SD) alcohol, should be avoided. Seeing one of these names at the top of an ingredients list means the product contains a high percentage of this drying alcohol. Alcohol is often used in skincare because it swiftly cuts through the lipid layer of the skin, creating a grease-free surface and helping products sink in better. However, as you may imagine, stripping away this layer isn’t great for your sensitive skin. The lipid barrier, or the surface layer of fatty acids on the skin, protects you from irritation. When you eliminate this barrier, you also destroy your natural protection from irritation, redness, and acne, only causing further issues with your delicate-skin situation.

✅ Try Alcohol-Free Products

✅ Try Alcohol-Free Products

When everything seems to trigger your sensitive skin, it’s best to choose products that are alcohol-free; read our round-up of alcohol-free skincare and choose your faves. One of the brands for sensitive skin that we recommend is Pai. Designed with even the most sensitive complexions in mind, Pai products are certified organic, all-natural, cruelty-free, and free of harsh chemicals. Options include cult bestseller Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil and the beautiful Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream.

❌ Avoid Alcohol

❌ Avoid Alcohol

Not all alcohols are bad for your skin, but alcohol denat, or denatured (SD) alcohol, should be avoided. Seeing one of these names at the top of an ingredients list means the product contains a high percentage of this drying alcohol. Alcohol is often used in skincare because it swiftly cuts through the lipid layer of the skin, creating a grease-free surface and helping products sink in better. However, as you may imagine, stripping away this layer isn’t great for your sensitive skin. The lipid barrier, or the surface layer of fatty acids on the skin, protects you from irritation. When you eliminate this barrier, you also destroy your natural protection from irritation, redness, and acne, only causing further issues with your delicate-skin situation.

✅ Try Alcohol-Free Products

✅ Try Alcohol-Free Products

When everything seems to trigger your sensitive skin, it’s best to choose products that are alcohol-free; read our round-up of alcohol-free skincare and choose your faves. One of the brands for sensitive skin that we recommend is Pai. Designed with even the most sensitive complexions in mind, Pai products are certified organic, all-natural, cruelty-free, and free of harsh chemicals. Options include cult bestseller Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil and the beautiful Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream.


❌ Say ‘No’ to Thick Emollients

❌ Say ‘No’ to Thick Emollients

If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, slathering on heavy skincare products or makeup every day can further congest your skin, no matter how many steps you implement into your skincare routine. Comedones can occur when oil and bacteria clog the skin, resulting in either a blackhead or a whitehead. Shea Butter and Coconut Oil, and other rich ingredients found in thick foundations and skincare products, aren’t what your skin needs at this time. When applied to sensitive acne prone skin, these heavy emollients simply sit on the surface, mixing with dead cells, sebum, and acne bacteria to encourage more breakouts.

✅ Try Non-Comedogenic Options

✅ Try Non-Comedogenic Options

Swap out your heavy products for non-comedogenic options that are lighter and less oily. One of our favourites is La Mav Anti-Ageing Mineral Foundation With Broad Spectrum SPF15, which is a concealer, foundation, sunscreen, and powder all in one. La Mav’s lightweight loose powder gives the skin a radiant look by using natural minerals that don’t cause clogged pores or irritated skin. Ideal for sensitive skin, this mineral and organic cosmetic is free of synthetic ingredients that can do more harm than good.

❌ Say ‘No’ to Thick Emollients

❌ Say ‘No’ to Thick Emollients

If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, slathering on heavy skincare products or makeup every day can further congest your skin, no matter how many steps you implement into your skincare routine. Comedones can occur when oil and bacteria clog the skin, resulting in either a blackhead or a whitehead. Shea Butter and Coconut Oil, and other rich ingredients found in thick foundations and skincare products, aren’t what your skin needs at this time. When applied to sensitive acne prone skin, these heavy emollients simply sit on the surface, mixing with dead cells, sebum, and acne bacteria to encourage more breakouts.

✅ Try Non-Comedogenic Options

✅ Try Non-Comedogenic Options

Swap out your heavy products for non-comedogenic options that are lighter and less oily. One of our favourites is La Mav Anti-Ageing Mineral Foundation With Broad Spectrum SPF15, which is a concealer, foundation, sunscreen, and powder all in one. La Mav’s lightweight loose powder gives the skin a radiant look by using natural minerals that don’t cause clogged pores or irritated skin. Ideal for sensitive skin, this mineral and organic cosmetic is free of synthetic ingredients that can do more harm than good.


❌ Bypass Chemical Sunscreens

❌ Bypass Chemical Sunscreens

There are two main types of sun protection: chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients such as Avobenzone and Homosalate to essentially soak up UVA and UVB rays like a sponge. Because several chemical sunscreens are often found in one product, they're more likely to cause sensitivity and irritation than physical sunscreens are.

 

✅ Try Natural Sunscreen Options

✅ Try Natural Sunscreen Options

Sun protection comes in many different forms, but Zinc Oxide sunscreens are the most-recommended sunscreen for sensitive skin types. Using a layer of minerals to create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun, broad-spectrum Zinc Oxide products shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Zinc Oxide is often used in natural sunscreen products and, due to its low irritation, is the perfect choice for sensitive skin—especially that of children and babies. A favourite is Hunter Lab SPF 50+ Facial Sunscreen, featuring Zinc Oxide, Aloe Vera, and Vitamin E. This sunscreen soothes the skin, diminishes redness, and fights off environmental aggressors.

❌ Bypass Chemical Sunscreens

❌ Bypass Chemical Sunscreens

There are two main types of sun protection: chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients such as Avobenzone and Homosalate to essentially soak up UVA and UVB rays like a sponge. Because several chemical sunscreens are often found in one product, they're more likely to cause sensitivity and irritation than physical sunscreens are.

 

✅ Try Natural Sunscreen Options

✅ Try Natural Sunscreen Options

Sun protection comes in many different forms, but Zinc Oxide sunscreens are the most-recommended sunscreen for sensitive skin types. Using a layer of minerals to create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun, broad-spectrum Zinc Oxide products shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Zinc Oxide is often used in natural sunscreen products and, due to its low irritation, is the perfect choice for sensitive skin—especially that of children and babies. A favourite is Hunter Lab SPF 50+ Facial Sunscreen, featuring Zinc Oxide, Aloe Vera, and Vitamin E. This sunscreen soothes the skin, diminishes redness, and fights off environmental aggressors.


❌ Dodge the Harsh Botanicals

❌ Dodge the Harsh Botanicals

Numerous harsh botanicals can cause irritation, dryness, and flakiness on sensitive acne-prone skin. Ingredients like Menthol or Camphor provide a cooling sensation but can be incredibly drying. Furthermore, citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit (which smell so good!) are much more acidic than your skin’s natural pH and can cause stinging and burning. Ouch!

✅ Try These Gentle Options

✅ Try These Gentle Options

When dealing with sensitive acne prone skin, it’s best to stick to products that are formulated for these issues. Alpha-H Clear Skin Daily Hydrator Gel is a lightweight moisturiser that contains Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium PCA, soothing Aloe Vera, and Cotton Seed Extract to support your skin’s natural barrier function. ASAP Clear Complexion Gel also can help balance the skin with resurfacing Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids. This gel moisturiser utilises Liquorice, Tea Tree, Bilberry, and Calendula extracts to naturally calm the skin.

❌ Dodge the Harsh Botanicals

❌ Dodge the Harsh Botanicals

Numerous harsh botanicals can cause irritation, dryness, and flakiness on sensitive acne-prone skin. Ingredients like Menthol or Camphor provide a cooling sensation but can be incredibly drying. Furthermore, citrus fruits like lemon and grapefruit (which smell so good!) are much more acidic than your skin’s natural pH and can cause stinging and burning. Ouch!

✅ Try These Gentle Options

✅ Try These Gentle Options

When dealing with sensitive acne prone skin, it’s best to stick to products that are formulated for these issues. Alpha-H Clear Skin Daily Hydrator Gel is a lightweight moisturiser that contains Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium PCA, soothing Aloe Vera, and Cotton Seed Extract to support your skin’s natural barrier function. ASAP Clear Complexion Gel also can help balance the skin with resurfacing Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids. This gel moisturiser utilises Liquorice, Tea Tree, Bilberry, and Calendula extracts to naturally calm the skin.



Another option for treating sensitive acne prone skin is incorporating cosmeceutical skincare into your regime. ‘Cosmeceutical’ means that the products contain active ingredients, like vitamins or antioxidants, which are chosen to enhance your skincare and make noticeable changes to the skin. The active ingredients in cosmeceuticals are chosen to target specific skincare concerns like acne scarring or pigmentation. Potent cosmeceuticals are a great way to support your skin in repairing pre-existing damage.

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