A negative reaction to skincare is like unrequited love: Try as you might, you just don't get back what you hope for in return. For people with sensitive skin (hi, friend!), this means it's important to take extreme caution with the products you choose so that you're not making matters worse. Cleansing, moisturizing, and masking don't have to (and shouldn't) be painful, which is why we're happy to report that there are several products that get the job done without reddening and inflaming your poor skin.
To find out exactly how to care for sensitive skin day and night, we turned to celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas and dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi for their (gentle) tips. Keep scrolling to learn more!
Chamomile tea, that is. Just like this soothing drink calms your body, it calms sensitive skin, too, according to Vargas. Steep tea bags in hot water for a healthy concentration of chamomile, then wait to rinse your face until the water is warm or cool. Which brings us to our next point…
Tanzi's advice to those with sensitive skin is as follows: "No hot water, no steam rooms, no saunas, and no steam facials. Only tepid water, because the hot water breaks down the oils in the protective barrier of the skin." Steam facials, we'll think of you often.
When it comes to cleanser, Tanzi recommends a gentle, non-fragranced cream cleanser to get the job done. This means no scrubs, as they're often way too harsh for sensitive skin.
"Exfoliation is important for all skin types but can be really tricky for people who have sensitive skin," says Vargas. Sigh—this we know too well. That's why instead of exfoliating with scrubs (remember: scrubs + sensitive skin = bad combination), use fruit enzymes. They slough away dead skin and impurities gently without rubbing and tugging at your face.
Tanzi says that hands down, the best moisturizer for sensitive skin is tried-and-true Vanicream. She explains that the line was dermatologist-created specifically with sensitivity in mind: "It's even milder than Cetaphil," she says.
For anti-aging, Tanzi says the best OTC product is Olay Micro-Sculpting Cream. "This has the patented peptide that helps gently rejuvenate the skin without any irritation," she explains.
If you see "retinols" or "glycolics," Vargas says to avoid these. Both ingredients can cause redness and dry patches—two of the last things we'd want after masking with the intention of smooth, hydrated skin.
Vargas says that products formulated with arnica are great for sensitive skin because it calms and reduces redness. Take this toner for example—it's infused with lavender, mint, and (of course) arnica for a seriously refreshing and soothing experience.
When putting on sunscreen (which you do every day, right?), Tanzi says to avoid using any formula other than those with zinc or titanium. These are natural physical sunblockers, unlike other formulas that use irritating chemicals to ward off rays.
What have you found works for your sensitive skin? Please share with us below!