How to Choose Skincare That's Less Irritating to Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on special skincare. A little attention to detail can help you select the perfect products.

It might seem like the slightest thing can send your sensitive skin into overdrive: a new lotion, a change in season, even a trip to visit a friend. Sensitive skin is much more reactive to small changes than normal skin. 

Sometimes, this sensitivity is the result of an underlying condition, such as an allergy, eczema, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. If you've ruled out all medical causes, you're probably stuck with skin that tends to overreact.

That doesn't mean you can't use makeup or cultivate a skincare regimen that produces glowing skin. Here's how to choose skincare products that are less likely to irritate your sensitive skin.


How to Choose Skincare That's Less Irritating to Sensitive Skin


Know Which Ingredients Are a Problem

You can't make good skincare decisions until you know which ingredients irritate your complexion. If some products are no problem for you whereas others cause an immediate reaction, start playing ingredient detective.

You may find either that you're allergic to specific ingredients or that your skin overreacts if you use an irritating product too frequently. Begin your sleuthing by scouring the ingredients list on your favourite products for these common irritants:

  • Denatured or SD alcohol
  • Ammonia
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Essential oils
  • Menthol
  • Salicylic acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Sodium lauryl sulphate
  • Phenol
  • Fragrance

You may also find that certain ingredients used together are problematic, such as retinol and benzoyl peroxide. Carefully read the label on every product you use, since some may warn against sun exposure or using the product alongside other ingredients.


How to Choose Skincare That's Less Irritating to Sensitive Skin


Choose Hypoallergenic Formulations

One of the simplest ways to prevent a skin reaction is to use hypoallergenic products. These products contain fewer allergens than traditional products. For rich moisture in an organic formula, for example, try Burt's Bees Soothingly Sensitive Body Lotion.

Note, however, that a product's hypoallergenic status does not guarantee against skin reactions. Everyone's skin is different, and the ingredients that irritate your skin might be quite different from those that irritate someone else's.

Introduce New Products Slowly

A skin reaction can take a week or longer to get under control. You may even have to stop using all of your skincare products until the condition clears up. Of course, abandoning your regular routine can trigger other skin problems, such as acne or excessive dryness.

Prevent this cascade of catastrophes by introducing new skincare products slowly. First, patch-test the product on an unobtrusive area of skin, such as under your chin or behind your ears. Wait 24 hours, and if there's no reaction, try the product on your face.

Don't add any other skincare products to your routine until you've gone a full week without a reaction. Otherwise, it can be nearly impossible to determine which product has caused the problem.

Find a Company You Like

No government body regulates the use of terms such as 'hypoallergenic' and 'sensitive-friendly'. One company's hypoallergenic formula might contain many more allergens than a similar product from another company.

If you find a product you love, try buying other products from the same company. You may have found a skincare company whose approach to sensitive skin works perfectly for your complexion. Some companies design their product lines to work well together, further reducing the risk of a reaction.