My skin is a mix between sensitive, dry, yet also acne-prone in the absence of much oiliness. Like many people with sensitive skin, I also have allergies (nuts, dust, hay), and something called Dermatographic urticaria.
I’ve tried so many skin routine products over the years and very few have come up to scratch because they either break me out, or irritate my skin making it dry/flaky. In this first post I’m going to cover the main skincare products I’ve found that don’t aggravate sensitive skin.
I currently use Simple soap bar to cleanse my face. It doesn’t leave my skin feeling artificially super smooth, but it doesn’t leave it dry and flaky either. I have used many liquid cleansers in the past, and didn’t get on with any of them, probably because they contain harsher detergents such as Sodium Laureth Sulphate. Generally when cleanser is in a bar form, it doesn’t contain such harsh ingredients. As you can see, there are very few ingredients in the soap bar, and none are linked to acne. You just can’t go wrong with a bar of soap. How often do you hear older people say “In my day, all we used was a bar of soap!” – and my grandma looks pretty good for her age. I honestly think if acne-sufferers quit using the Clean & Clear and Neutrogena, and switched to using simple bar soap morning & night, their skin would markedly improve.
Update: Ok, I don’t use bar soap anymore for washing my face, it was just too drying! Now I use Neutrogena Clay Wash or Cetaphil.
Imo, this is pretty much essential for getting the best out of your cleanser. If I use my hands or cotton wool, it doesn’t exfoliate. But if I dab some soap on the cloth, and then wipe the cloth over my face, it physically (and gently) removes any dead skin. This is a much better way of gently exfoliating than the harsh microbeads that just scratch and aggravate your skin. I personally use the Liz Earle cloths, as they are thicker and softer than other brands I’ve tried. My skin looks so much better since I started using them. Unfortunately they do get dirty quite quickly, especially if you wear make-up, so I’d suggest using them 3x max and then washing them (60 degrees cotton, with non-biological detergent for sensitive skin).
You can also just use cotton pads to lesser effect.
I’ve tried every liquid eye make-up remover under the sun, but they all leave my lids red and irritated, and my eyes tearing until the next day. Johnson’s Daily Essentials Facial Cleansing Wipes (dry skin) are the only irritation-free way I know of fully removing eye make-up.
Sometimes I will dab a cotton bud in Clinique All about Eyes (a traditional solvent make-up remover), or Bioderma Crealine TS H2O Micelle Solution (uses micelle molecules to remove make-up particles, supposed to be gentler on sensitive skins), and very gently wipe it over my lashes and lids. Unfortunately they still leave my lids slightly red, but at least using a cotton bud stops the crap getting in my eyes. I think the important thing with eye make-up removers is using as little as possible. I used to drench a whole cotton pad in the stuff and wipe it over my eyelids – inevitably it would seep into my eyes leaving them raw and red.
Most moisturisers break me out (recent culprit was the Clinique Moisture Surge Intense which gave my THREE deep cystic spots right where I had applied it, and I rarely get spots like that!) so I tend to leave moisturisers out of my routine. Some of the better moisturisers I have found for sensitive skin are:
Nivea for men Sensitive Moisturiser: I use this as a day cream sometimes. Yep, it’s aimed at men, but this makes me think the ingredients will be more basic and gimmick-free. Men are also known to suffer more from acne so one would think this would be good for acne-prone skin.
Freederm Moisturiser: I started using this recently because I was getting really bad cystic acne. It contains an active ingredient which fights acne (nicotinamide), whilst at the same time moisturising your skin. Since moisturisers can cause acne by making your skin greasy/clogging pores, using a moisturiser with anti-acne ingredients seems a good idea.
Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant: This is something I use quite rarely (e.g. once a month), just when my skin starts looking yellowy and dull. I don’t think it’s good to use too many chemical exfoliators on young skin, when normally a light daily scrub with a cloth and soap will suffice. But when I do use it, my skin looks amazing and glowing. The exfoliators it contains are Lactic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid) and Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxyl acid). Both are also linked to anti-aging, but can be irritating to sensitive skin. I personally have had no problems, but I try not to leave it on for too long (about 10 minutes, then rinse) and only use it rarely.
Thanks for reading! Just a note that although these products have worked for my very sensitive skin, it doesn’t mean they’ll work for everyone. My next post will be on my make-up routine for sensitive skin