Everyone’s skin is different and that’s why we all need a slightly different skincare routine. This can be confusing at the best of times, but when you have sensitive skin to think about, it can be even harder. That’s because as well as thinking about dry or oily skin, you’ve also got to think about the best products to take care of easily irritated skin, too. Luckily, there are plenty of products out there to help, you just need to find the right combination for you, and that’s where we can help.
Here at Face Dr, our skin experts have decades of experience in the skincare world. We’ve helped thousands of clients improve the look and feel of their skin. We’re going to share this expert knowledge and cover how exactly you can find the best routine for sensitive skin, and what to do if you also have dry, combination or oily skin as well.
Want to save time and get an expert opinion straight away? We offer free online consultations to help clients find the best skincare routine for them.
What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin is simply skin that’s more reactive than usual. It’s very common, it’s thought that up to 70% of us will experience some level of sensitivity at some point in our lives. You may find you experience redness, small bumps and irritation every day or just at certain times when a reaction has been triggered. Triggers can include everything from skincare products and make-up, extreme temperatures and hormones.
The most common symptoms of sensitive skin are:
- Dry skin
- Flaky patches
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Small bumps
With the right products and routine, you can help to soothe these symptoms and keep your skin healthy and glowing. Here’s how to choose the perfect routine for you.
How to choose the perfect skincare routine for sensitive skin
There are a few different ways you can choose a routine:
- By skincare consultation
- By skin type
- By severity
If you’re working to a budget, we’ve covered sensitive skincare routines for a range of budgets here.
By skincare consultation
The quickest and easiest way of finding the best skincare routine for you is by speaking with a skincare professional. That’s because a skin expert can analyse your skin, determine your level of sensitivity and recommend the best products for you and the ideal routine to use them in.
With a consultation, you can also ask about other skincare concerns, like acne or hyperpigmentation, to get a routine to tackle those, too.
Here at Face Dr, we offer free online consultations where you can speak with one of our skin experts. In a 30-minute call, they can build you a skincare routine designed to tackle your exact concerns and level of sensitivity.
By skin type
When building a skincare routine yourself, it’s important to think about what skin type you have. Of course, there’s sensitive skin to think about, but you may also have oily, dry or combination skin, too. This will make a difference to the type of products you should be using.
All skin types should consider a routine that includes:
- A cleanser
- A moisturising serum or moisturiser
- A sunscreen
Here are some additions to make depending on your skin type:
Many people with sensitive skin also have dry skin. You may notice dry, flaky patches or skin that feels tight and uncomfortable, especially after cleansing. If this is your skin type, hydrating ingredients are key. Look out for hyaluronic acid, glycerin and squalane, all of which can help your skin maintain moisture.
You can also consider adding a weekly mask to your routine which can help with both symptoms of dry and sensitive skin. This can help give your skin a potent dose of nourishing ingredients to help heal the skin’s natural barrier which helps to keep in moisture and reduce your skin’s level of sensitivity.
Product to try: SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask £60
Combination skin is a combination of oily and dry. You might notice your cheeks are dry, but you’re prone to getting an oily t-zone, for example.
To manage both oily and dry patches, you can try an exfoliating product. This will help to remove the build-up of dead skin cells so your skin can absorb products better. A gentle exfoliator can unclog the pores while buffing away flaky patches. Look out for physical or chemical exfoliators that are made for sensitive skin and those that contain gentler acids like lactic acid.
Masks can also help those with combination skin. Look out for clarifying or clay masks, which can help to balance the skin, adding moisture where it’s needed and deep cleansing any excess oil.
Product to try: Pai Virtuous Circle Exfoliator £29
Those with oily skin may notice a general shiny appearance, enlarged pores and often blackheads or acne. While most oily skin types can handle higher concentrations of acids and stronger exfoliators, those who are prone to sensitivity should tread carefully. Introduce any new product slowly, perhaps just once a week, and always do a patch test first to make sure it won’t cause any redness or irritation.
You can look into adding an exfoliating product or exfoliating serum to your routine, which can help to keep pores clear. A weekly mask can also help to keep skin balanced and reduce oil build-up.
While moisturising oily skin can seem counterintuitive, it’s not. Oily skin, especially if it’s sensitive, still needs hydrating ingredients to look and feel healthy so don’t skip this step. Invest in a high-grade serum or moisturising product that’s designed for oily skin.
While salicylic acid is usually a go-to ingredient to help control oil production, it can be too harsh for those of us with sensitive skin. Look out for products with a lower percentage of the ingredient.
Oily skin types can usually tolerate higher percentages of acids, like vitamin C for example. But this may not be the case for those of us with sensitive skin. Start with a lower percentage and see how your skin reacts.
Product to try: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating £72
Once you’ve figured out your skin type and the steps you may want to include to tackle that, it’s time to think about the severity of sensitive skin.
Mild — mild irritation some of the time
Sensitivity can come and go, so you may find that most of the time, your skin is healthy and happy. If you sometimes experience mild irritation, you may not need to change your skincare routine much at all, and instead just invest the best possible products to reduce the risk of irritation.
Even for the mildest of sensitive skin, it’s important to use the right ingredients. Invest in high-grade products from reputable brands. Avoid alcohol and fragrances and take care if you decide to use strong acids or physical exfoliators.
As your skin isn’t as sensitive, it may respond well to the right vitamin C serum or exfoliating products.
Products to try:
Moderate — regular flare ups or mild daily irritation
If you have regular flare ups of sensitive skin or find that it’s irritated every day, you may need to make a few more changes to your routine to see results.
First, remove anything that can be causing a reaction and replace it with gentle products that are designed with sensitive skin in mind. Next, invest in the most hydrating products possible like a hyaluronic acid serum or thick day cream. Consider a weekly mask to focus on hydrating the skin.
Introduce any harsher products, like exfoliating products, slowly and be sure to use low percentages of any acid products. You may find your skin can tolerate these if introduced slowly, or you may have to skip these steps altogether.
Products to try:
Severe — daily uncomfortable sensitivity
For those of us who experience severe sensitivity every single day, it’s time for a total overhaul. Invest in a high-quality cleanser and moisturiser that’s designed with sensitive skin in mind. Switch out your sunscreen for a chemical-free one that can offer UV protection without being too harsh on the skin.
You may find that your skin simply can’t handle exfoliating products or ingredients like vitamin C at all. Instead look out for the gentlest ingredients like oatmeal, allantoin and squalane. Consider a mask that can provide hydrating and healing ingredients without drying the skin out or overstimulating it. It can also have a cooling effect on skin that feels like it’s stinging and burning.
Products to try:
- SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Mask £60
- ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser £39
- AllSkin Med Mineral Fluid SPF 50 £30
Choosing a skincare routine can be tricky when you have sensitive skin to worry about, but finding the right routine for you can make the world difference. Soothing ingredients can calm irritation, reduce redness and keep your complexion looking healthy, dewy and clear.
Want to take the guesswork out of choosing a routine? Speak with one of our skin experts. With a 30-minute video call, they can analyse your skin, ask about your levels of sensitivity and other skincare concerns and then make a tailor-made routine for you. We only ever recommend products we’ve tried, tested and seen real results from, so you can save time and money finding the best ones for you straight away. Plus, with a Face Dr account, you can access all of the high-grade products for sensitive skin we cover, including many of our top picks listed in this article.