As editors, we’re excited to keep you updated on all the latest and greatest innovations in the beauty space. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to hear from you. You Asked is a series where we explore the questions our lovely readers have sent our way. Yes, you! Whether in the comments section, the search bar, or on social media, we’re diving deep into the things you really want to know. From questions about hair tools and dry shampoo to makeup trends and skincare products—we hear you. And we’re here to help.
It’s in our job description to test essentially every new product that comes to market. Naturally, that can cause some irritation. Whether from a peel, an experimental ingredient, or just changing it up too often—we’ve come up with a few tricks to calm our skin. So, because you asked, we decided to dish on our best sensitive-skin-calming advice. Keep scrolling to find out how to reduce redness, banish irritation, and buy some really great products.
“I wish I had some sort of clever hack for avoiding skin irritation but honestly my best tip is just to have a clear understanding of your skin type and which products to avoid based on that. We tend to think of our skin as either dry, oily, or combo, but it’s really so much more complicated and nuanced than that. The set of issues I experience with my combo skin is most likely very different from another combo skin type’s issues, so the products that will irritate me are specific and personal to my skin. For example, I tend to get breakouts around my chin and hairline, my forehead is oily, but my nose is super dry and flaky. So even though I regularly use a glycolic acid at night, I don’t place it near my nose to avoid exacerbating that flakiness.
“I recommend taking esthetician Renée Rouleau’s skin type diagnostic, which will tell you your skin type based on nine different categories, as well as what products and ingredients are best for you. Being judicial about your ingredients is no magic trick for beating irritation, but in my experience, it’s the one thing that really works!”
“I don’t have super sensitive skin, but I do get some redness splashed across my cheeks when I use a harsh product. I find if I want to really soothe my skin (when the weather is dry or I get a treatment that irritates it), I use thick, calming moisturizers and hydrating masks. Recently I discovered Sturm’s Calming Serum ($225) and I'm in love.”
“When I’m testing a new product, I keep everything else super simple. My typical gentle cleanser, antioxidant-rich toner (Circ-Cell), and I bump up my moisturizer game with SkinCeuticals Emollience Rich, Restorative Moisturizer ($62). It’s so soothing and makes my skin feel like butter (in the best way possible). And if I’m testing an active mask, as much as it pains me, I don’t go for the whole time allotment. If the instructions say leave on for 10–15 minutes, I’ll start using it with seven minutes to make sure my skin can handle it and increase the time on the next wear.”
“I think my best piece of advice for avoiding irritation or adverse effects of new products is being selective. As much as I’d love to try out every single product there ever was, I know that certain ingredients like sulfates and rich creams and oil-based products always cause breakouts or itching, so I stick with what I know works. Whenever I try something new that does negatively affect my skin, I take note of the ingredient list and steer clear of the culprit the next time I see it listed on another label, and in the meantime, I’ll do a peel with Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel ($16) to bring my skin back to life.”
Which product do you love for sensitive skin? Let us know in the comments below!