How to Take Care of Your Sensitive Skin
Over 70% of the population reports they have sensitive skin.
Yeah, you read that right.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re frustrated with your moody, hard-to-please sensitive skin, just know that you’re definitely not alone.
There’s always new information coming out about how to take care of sensitive skin—and we’re here to share some of it with you.
How to know if you have sensitive skin
Luckily, it’s somewhat easy to tell if your skin is sensitive. There are a couple of signs you can look for; you may experience one or several (or many!) of these, but even one or two can indicate that your skin is sensitive.
1. Your skin is reactive
Reactive skin can mean any number of things: if you get eczema, rashes, hives, or general redness, you may have reactive skin. While reactive skin doesn’t always mean sensitive skin, it can be a symptom and is something to take note of!
2. You breakout often
If you feel like your breakouts never end without another one on the way, you may have sensitive skin. Dry, sensitive skin types produce excess oil, causing clogged pores and blemishes and acne that feels perpetual.
3. Your skin stings or burns when you use new or specific skincare products
Stinging or burning can be your skin's reaction to a certain ingredient. Sensitive skin types don’t usually have a thick skin barrier, so they’re unable to thoroughly protect themselves against irritants or harsh ingredients.
If you have a reaction to a new skincare product, quickly remove it and rinse with cold water to soothe your skin!
4. Your skin is constantly red or irritated
When it comes to sensitive skin, something as simple as a touch can leave a bright red mark. Sometimes certain materials in clothing, outside pollutants, or even a chilly breeze can trigger reactions as well.
5. You have rough patches and/or flaking
No matter how much you try to hydrate your skin, it’s always thirsty for more. Sound familiar? This means your skin may not be producing enough sebum—natural oil—to keep it hydrated, resulting in rough texture and flaking.
Psst—sensitive skin can also be dry and tight if you use hot water to wash your face! Opt for cold or lukewarm water instead.
6. You burn easily
If you’re bright red within five minutes of being in the sun, that may be a sign of sensitive skin. Sensitive skin is extremely photosensitive; basically, the sun is one giant irritant your skin can’t escape, resulting in quick and painful burns and/or rashes.
While these signs don’t always mean you have sensitive skin, if you relate to any or all of those points, it’s definitely worth looking into!
Ingredients and products to avoid if you have sensitive skin
The key to sensitive skin is knowing how to take care of it. This means knowing what your skin likes and what it really, really hates.
While all skin types are different, there are a couple of universal irritants when it comes to sensitive skin, like:
- Artificial fragrances. These are actually just a collection of a bunch of different chemicals. Artificial fragrances can cause serious irritation and allergic reactions, especially in sensitive skin types. Stick to natural fragrance or, better yet, opt for fragrance-free products.
- Coarse exfoliants. While physical exfoliants are great for some skin types, they can be way too rough on sensitive skin. Because the outer layers of sensitive skin are usually pretty thin, coarse exfoliants remove the dead skin more quickly and easily and can irritate and cause micro-abrasions in the skin layers beneath.
- Essential oils. These oils can cause allergic reactions and irritation in sensitive skin types. There tends to be differing opinions about which oils are good and which are bad for sensitive skin, so it might be better to just avoid them altogether.
- Alcohol. There’s nothing inherently bad about alcohol in skincare products, but it can be pretty drying for sensitive skin. Also, if your skin is in the middle of a flare-up (irritated or rashy), alcohol can make that worse.
- Sulfates. Sulfates, in particular Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), are banned from our boxes for a reason. They’re considered “deep cleaners,” and can be way too harsh for sensitive skin (not to mention they can be irritating for normal skin types, too).
- Formaldehyde. This one’s on our no-no list, too. TBH, formaldehyde should be avoided by everyone, not just those with sensitive skin. Not only is it a carcinogen, but it also is a very common allergen that can lead to rashes, allergic reactions, blisters, and burning.
Products and ingredients your sensitive skin will love
There are some amazing vegan, cruelty-free, and clean ingredients out there that are perfect for sensitive skin types. Look for products containing:
- Green tea
- Natural oils like jojoba and sunflower
These ingredients are especially soothing and are less likely to irritate your skin.
It can be difficult to know what works and what doesn’t without trying products out. But before you do, here are some extra tips to help you avoid unnecessary irritation:
- Skip the toner—toners usually have alcohol in them, which can dry out sensitive skin types.
- Use mineral sunscreen—chemical sunscreens are full of potential irritants, for all skin types. And whatever you do, don’t forget your sunscreen! You need to protect your skin from the sun so it’s super important to find a sunscreen that works for you.
- Less is more—craft a short skincare routine with only the basic products (cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen) to minimize your exposure to irritating ingredients.
- Only wash once a day—washing your face too much can leave it dry and irritated.
Is vegan, cruelty-free, and clean skincare better for sensitive skin?
Truthfully, we think vegan, cruelty-free, and clean skincare is better for everyone.
When it comes to sensitive skin, there are some inherent benefits of using these products (as opposed to animal-derived or chemical-filled products).
- Vegan, cruelty-free, and clean beauty products are sometimes made with fewer ingredients, meaning there’s less chance of irritation or allergic reactions.
- Animal ingredients like lanolin can clog pores and cause breakouts.
- Clean skincare means non-toxic, which means these products are free from harsh chemical additives that can be especially irritating and dangerous for sensitive skin.
Added bonus: these products are better for the environment and don’t come at the expense of any other lives!
If you’re struggling to find a good, simple skincare routine for sensitive skin, try:
Cleanser: Radiance ahoy! The Ahoy Love Nourishing Cream Cleanser is nonfoaming, softening, and brightening cleanser contains nourishing ingredients like seaweed extract, hibiscus flower, aloe, and coconut oil to give you that year-round sunshine glow. Perfect for a morning cleanse for all skin types, and excellent for nighttime too for dry, sensitive, or mature skin.
Moisturizer: The Mermaid Milk Nutrient Glow Moisturizer is classic in the Kinder Beauty universe and a staple that everyone should try at least once. This moisturizer is packed with superfoods such as spirulina and matcha, along with concentrated phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vegan hyaluronic acid. Either wear it under your makeup as a skincare base, or enjoy it all by itself, as your final step in your morning and evening routine.
Sunscreen: This nourishing Malu SPF 30 Day Cream summons the power of traditional Hawaiian healing and medicinal herbs to protect and nourish your skin—and all without leaving a white cast. Laukahi nourishes, noni fruit provides antioxidants, and non-nano zinc oxide ensures excellent SPF coverage. Plus, this cream uses only reef-safe ingredients, bringing that aloha spirit to you and the planet.
All of these products are super gentle and formulated with sensitive skin in mind. Not to mention they’re 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and clean, too!
We all know how finicky our skin can be—especially those with sensitive skin. But the real trick is finding the products that work for you, patch testing new products, and staying away from ingredients that are sure to irritate your skin.
So show your sensitive skin some love—it’ll show love right back to you!
Ashley Webb is a professional copywriter for the clean, vegan, and cruelty-free beauty industry. Using SEO and consumer research, she writes blogs, webpage copy, product descriptions, and emails for beauty brands that are committed to making a difference. Adopting her two kitties, Ivy and Binx, started her journey to advocacy for animal rights, and even led her to go vegan! Learn more about her and her work at ashleywebbagency.com