Having sensitive skin may feel like a vicious cycle: First, your skin is irritated, then you try a new product to calm it down. Next, you find yourself layering products on the quest for balanced skin. You've also probably invested considerable amounts of money into your skincare routine, which may consist of many steps. Now what?
Over the years, from my personal and professional experience as a dermatology resident physician, I've learned that there's only one rule to follow for sensitive skin: Keep it simple. For both my patients and myself, I am constantly on the lookout for skincare products that are safe, effective, and affordable for sensitive skin types. After all, healthy skin shouldn't have to break the bank.
Sensitive skin can mean different things to different people. Some people may experience tightness, redness, and dryness, while others may experience burning or pain. While some of us are born with sensitive skin, others may develop sensitivities over time. Common triggers may include weather, physical or mental stress, and even certain skincare ingredients. No matter which category you fall in, less is more when caring for sensitive skin.
Your skincare products should serve you two goals: One, to maintain and protect your skin barrier, and two, to minimize stressors to it. Choosing carefully formulated products designed for sensitive skin can simplify your routine and reduce flare-ups. Ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid can help protect your skin from water loss and strengthen your barrier. To minimize irritation, avoid products with alcohol and fragrance.
Your key to calmer, healthier, and protected skin is a routine built with a few effective products made of simple ingredients. To help, I rounded up my favorite tried and recommended products that are gentle on your skin and wallet.
The Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser is a derm favorite for sensitive skin, and this creamy formulation helps remove excess makeup and oil while leaving the skin balanced. This is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog your pores, and is also fragrance-free. It's also identified as a SkinSAFE product, made without common allergens and irritants.
This dermatologist-developed face cleanser helps remove excess oil and dirt while remaining gentle on the skin. With a touch of water, this cleanser creates a foamy, satisfying lather without over-drying the skin. The formula is oil-free, soap-free, and hypoallergenic, leaving the skin feeling clean and balanced.
Plain old Vaseline Petroleum Jelly is a holy grail for dermatologists because it locks and seals in moisture, soothes damaged skin, and accelerates wound healing. Compared to other ointments, Vaseline contains no potential allergens, making it an effective emollient for sensitive and eczema-prone skin.
You don't have to be a baby to reap the benefits of this balm. It's made with colloidal oatmeal and ceramides, which lock in moisture and protect our skin barrier. This balm is a perfect way to moisturize your hands and soothe sensitive areas of your skin, especially in the colder winter months.
Sensitive skin is prone to irritation, especially when shaving. However, picking the right skincare products can minimize these side effects. The Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel is packed with vitamin E and oat, which help moisturize our skin and protect it from razor bumps. The lightweight gel offers a rich lather, leaving the skin soothed and hydrated after each shave.
Winter can be harsh on our hands, so finding a hand cream you can rely on and will want to use frequently is key. The La Roche Posay Cicaplast Hand Cream has a non-greasy formulation that leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated. The power ingredients in this product include niacinamide, which is soothing and restoring, and shea butter, which replenishes moisture in the skin.
You're likely prone to skin irritation, inflammation, and eczema if you have sensitive skin. Having CeraVe Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream in your toolkit can help with these conditions. This dermatologist-developed product contains a combination of 1% hydrocortisone (the maximum strength available over the counter) which helps reduce inflammation. It also includes three ceramides and niacinamide, which help hydrate and calm irritated skin.
Most experts recommend double cleansing to remove makeup, oil, and dirt. However, makeup wipes may irritate sensitive skin: Enter Bioderma Micellar Water. This product is formulated to perfectly balance the composition of our skin. The micellar technology captures impurities and fine particles from our skin, leaving us comfortable and clean. This cleansing product is generally tolerated by all skin types and is fragrance-free, making it an ideal way to start off your skincare routine.
The Avene Thermal Spring Water mist is your secret to calmer and hydrated skin year-round. This product is rich in postbiotic microflora to calm and soothe the skin. In the summer, this mist is the perfect way to cool off and calm the skin; in the winter, you can use it to boost hydration before applying moisturizing skincare products, such as hyaluronic acid.
Even though you may love long, hot showers, they cause our skin to lose a considerable amount of water. Choosing the right cleansing product for your body is essential, especially for sensitive skin types. The Dove Body Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar is one of the most dermatologist and pediatrician-recommended soap bars because it effectively cleanses the skin while moisturizing it. It is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and safe to use on the face and body.