What’s the Best Skincare Routine for Sensitive Skin?

woman with sensitive skin behind leaves
We feature products that we think will be helpful to you, our readers, and these are selected based on our careful research. As an Amazon Associate, Skintellect Daily earns from qualifying purchases.

Nowadays, there are so many skincare products in the market that it is becoming more and more difficult to choose just a few products from the crowd. And even if you’ve already made your selection, you just might be tempted to change them every single week. After all,  life is too short to be dedicated just to one cleanser at a time. However, if you’re building a skincare routine for sensitive skin, in particular, it’s actually, a bad idea to switch products every so often.

It’s necessary to be consistent and not expose the skin to too much stress. Nonetheless, if you thought that your skincare routine has to be boring just because you have sensitive skin,  don’t worry, that’s not the case. 

You can still experiment a bit and enjoy the world of skincare. However, the fact remains that your skin will react violently if you do not choose skincare products that are gentle but effective. So what skin care routine is best for sensitive skin? What are the types of products needed in order to build the best skincare routine for sensitive skin?

Let’s go ahead and find out!

What exactly is sensitive skin?

The International Journal of Cosmetic Science defines sensitive skin as “a condition of subjective cutaneous hyper-reactivity to environmental factors”, which means that the skin reacts dramatically, even to substances that are generally not known as irritants. 

One word in this definition you should focus on is “condition”. As you can see, sensitive skin is not a skin type per se, as is the case with dry skin, combination skin, or oily skin

Sensitive skin is a condition that can occur at any point during life. This means that you may not be sensitive to certain factors until a certain stage in life, and then start reacting to them very aggressively out of nowhere. Knowing this can help you recognize what is going on with your skin and why it all of the sudden looks red and irritated after being exposed to substances that weren’t a problem before.

In addition, the skin’s sensitivity to various factors is unique to each person. In other words, people with sensitive skin may have very different reactions to different substances, so the best skincare routine for sensitive skin may also vary from person to person. 

Know what skin care routine is best: How to tell if you have sensitive skin

If you are not sure if your skin is sensitive, the way to find out is to observe whether it is irritated, itchy, or burning after using certain skincare products. Check how your skin reacts when in contact with laundry detergents, or when exposed to the sun. In some cases, erythema, dry skin, and rash can also occur as a reaction. All of these can be signs that the skin is sensitive and that you need to determine what skincare routine is best for your needs.

Ingredients that can be beneficial for sensitive skin

Everyone with sensitive skin should make sure to choose gentle ingredients that will not cause any problems but will still show beneficial effects to their skin. When choosing products for the best skincare routine for sensitive skin, you can do a cosmetic ingredients check first to know whether a particular brand would be good for your skin.

Some of the more gentle ingredients that can be added to a skincare routine for sensitive skin are white and green tea extracts — these have antioxidant properties and can protect the skin from the harmful effects of free radicals. These extracts are of natural origin, but that doesn’t say much about how gentle they are and whether they are a good choice for the skin.

Contrary to popular belief, natural and organic skincare products are not always better for the skin. At times, they can be irritating and cause problems in people with sensitive skin — maybe even worse than the substances of synthetic origin.

Another ingredient that is great for sensitive skin is sunflower oil. Unlike essential oils, this does not act as an irritant. Aside from that, it is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and has an emollient effect on the skin. 

And lastly, chamomile extract has always had its place in the best skincare routine for sensitive skin. It’s another natural ingredient with potent anti-inflammatory properties. It’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic which all comes in handy for people with sensitive skin.

Ingredients you should avoid in your skincare routine for sensitive skin

While it is difficult to predict which ingredients can irritate your skin and cause scratching, tingling, or redness, certain ingredients are best avoided — especially if you have sensitive skin because they are considered to be too harsh.

Alcohol is one of these substances. It’s been known to have drying properties and often has a stripping effect on the skin. Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone. For example, moderate alcohol use in people with oily or combination skin can lead to great results, but alcohol is almost always too aggressive for people with sensitive skin. That is why it is the best choice to limit its use. 

The same goes for fragrances and essential oils. The problem with them is that they often contain a lot of different substances, so the chance of reaction to at least one of them increases. If you have sensitive skin, we recommend that you consider products that are fragrance-free. 

Sulfates are another category of substances that have stripping properties on the skin and disrupt the skin barrier’s balance. Sodium lauryl sulfate is an example of a compound that is often used in cleansers, so look for products that are labeled ‘sulfate-free.’

Build your own skincare routine for sensitive skin

Most dermatologists and skincare experts would recommend a gentle, sulfate-free cleansing lotion, followed by an alcohol-free toner and a fragrance-free moisturizer. This can already be the best skincare routine for sensitive skin. When going outdoors during the daytime, make sure to use sunscreens containing zinc oxide, because they are the least likely to irritate sensitive skin.

Products that we recommend for a skincare routine for sensitive skin

Here are some products we think should be part of the best skincare routine for sensitive skin:

1. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

The first step in a skincare routine for sensitive skin should be a gentle cleanser. We suggest you try this Cetaphil cleanser which has a very simple formulation that includes water, as well as humectants and emollients that contribute to skin hydration. Although it contains sulfate, the formulation is not too stripping for the skin and is suitable for skin prone to irritation and redness.

2. Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner

Although toner is not a necessary step in the skincare routine, it can be a good addition to the rest of the products in your regimen — together they can achieve a synergistic effect when combined properly. This toner from Mario Badescu is alcohol-free and contains aloe, which is known for its gentle, soothing effect. If you have sensitive skin we suggest you give it a go. 

3. Paula’s Choice SKIN PERFECTING 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant with Glycolic Acid Chamomile & Green Tea

This Paula’s Choice exfoliant is a leave-on product based on glycolic acid and chamomile extract, aloe, and green tea. Although alpha hydroxy acids can be irritating when overused, their moderate use in people with sensitive skin can help remove dead skin cells, restore skin radiance, and help the skin to better absorb other products. Chamomile, aloe, and green tea have antioxidant and soothing properties, which makes this product optimally formulated for sensitive skin.

4. Neutrogena Oil-Free Facial Moisturizer

Lightweight and hypoallergenic, this Neutrogena moisturizer is perfectly formulated for sensitive skin. It does not contain alcohol, fragrance, or oil, substances, which is why it’s a perfect addition to the best skincare routine for sensitive skin. This ultra-gentle product is unlikely to cause irritation and is generally pleasing to the skin.

5. CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF50

For people with sensitive skin, finding the right SPF is often a challenge. In general, the general rule is that mineral SPF containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide very rarely has irritating properties on the skin, while this is not the case with chemical UV filters. That’s why this CeraVe sunscreen with SPF50 rounds up our choices for the best skincare routine for sensitive skin.

The best skincare routine for sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is a skin condition where it reacts very violently when in contact with substances that are generally not known as irritants. Although it may sometimes seem to you that your choice of skincare products is limited because you have this skin condition, it’s far from the truth. 

You can find many gentle and effective products that will help you build the best skincare routine for sensitive skin. In determining what skin care routine is best, therefore, look for skincare products that will not bother your skin but will provide it with everything it needs.