The wrong cleanser can make sensitive skin even worse. Here's how to choose a cleanser that brings skin's reactivity under control.
If you have sensitive skin, you still need to cleanse daily, but you must also choose a product that's unlikely to irritate your delicate skin. Here's how to satisfy your skin's need for gentle but thorough cleansing.
The Importance of Medical Care
Understanding the causes of your skin's sensitivity can help you make better product decisions. You might have a specific allergy, extremely dry skin, or even a condition such as eczema. If sensitive skin consistently undermines your comfort and appearance, talk to your doctor, especially before switching to a new skincare regimen.
Cleansers for Sensitive Skin
A number of ingredients are irritants of sensitive skin. Harsh exfoliants—both chemical, such as glycolic acid, and mechanical, such as coconut husk—may strip too much natural oil or worsen pre-existing reactions. Other culprits include:
- Benzoyl peroxide, a drying agent in many acne spot treatments.
- Salicylic acid, which is commonly found in both acne and wrinkle treatments.
- Common cleanser ingredients such as dimethyl sulfoxide, amyldimethylaminobenzoic acid, and 2-ethoxyethyl methoxycinnamate.
If you know your skin is sensitive, introduce only one new skincare product at a time. You might find that some potentially irritating ingredients are fine but others produce an immediate reaction. For a gentle all-purpose cleanser that's unlikely to irritate your skin, try Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser.
Sensitive Skin Cleansing Tips
- Don't use too many products at once. Product overload not only irritates but also can make it difficult to assess which product is the source of your reactions.
- Don't cleanse your skin too often. Doing so can dry and irritate it.
- Do use a clean washcloth every time you wash. Reusing cloths can introduce bacteria into your sensitive skin.
- Do protect your skin from the sun. Pick a sunscreen specifically formulated for sensitive skin, such as Dermalogica Super Sensitive Shield.
- Don't pick at your skin or even touch it except when necessary. Sensitive skin is highly reactive to even trace amounts of chemicals such as household cleaners. Your hands also carry bacteria.
If you develop swelling along with a reaction, or if you have a fever or other symptoms of an illness, seek medical attention immediately. A virus, severe allergic reaction, or other health issue could be responsible for your skin's sensitivity.