Top 5 skincare ingredients to treat sensitive skin

Vanessa Gibbs

Sensitive skin can be a nightmare to live with, what with cleansers causing a reaction, toners drying skin out and serums leaving behind bumps and redness. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Although sensitive skin does need a little more attention, it is possible to find products that not only soothe irritated skin, but help it heal and leave it healthy and glowing. One of the most important things to look out for is ingredients. 

Not sure which ingredients you should be using? That’s where we can help. Here at Face Dr, our team of skin experts have decades of experience in the skincare world and know everything there is to know which ingredients to use. Here, we’ll share some of that knowledge and cover exactly which ones can help sensitive skin and where to find them. 

The best ingredients for sensitive skin are: 

#5 Vitamin C

#4 Allantoin

#3 Glycerin

#2 Squalane

#1 Oatmeal

Looking for an exact skincare routine to follow for sensitive skin? We’ve covered that too.

Before we explain why exactly these are our top picks for ingredients, here’s what sensitive skin is all about. 

woman with eye masks for sensitive skin

What is sensitive skin? 

 

Sensitive skin is exactly what it sounds like—skin that’s more sensitive to the outside world. It reacts much more easily than other skin types. Reactions often leave sensitive skin looking dry and red. You may notice small bumps or experience a stinging or burning sensation, especially when using certain skincare products. This could be genetic or caused by a change in hormones. 

Sensitive skin can also be triggered by: 

  • Harsh skincare products—like ones with acids, alcohol, fragrance or physical scrubs 
  • Other products—like laundry detergent, shower gels or make-up 
  • Extreme temperatures—both hot and cold 
  • Pollution 
  • Excessive sun exposure 

 

The best ingredients to treat sensitive skin 

 

Luckly, there is something you can do about sensitive skin. With the right ingredients, you can not only reduce your chances of irritating your skin, you can also keep it looking young, fresh and healthy. Here are the ingredients to look out for.

 

#5 Vitamin C

 

Who’s it for? Sensitive skin that also has hyperpigmentation, signs of ageing or acne 

You’ve probably heard of vitamin C, either as a diet supplement that’s great for curing colds or as the skincare ingredient that gives people a glowing complexion. This ingredient is also great for sensitive skin, but it’s important to get the right type of vitamin C. 

The ingredient comes in different percentages and high-percentage vitamin C products may be too harsh for those of us with sensitive skin. Look out for products with 10% vitamin C. 

Vitamin C most often comes in serums, but you can also find it in masks, cleansers and moisturisers. Not only is vitamin C great for lightening dark spots, smoothing wrinkles and clearing blemishes, it also helps the skin heal and fights off damaging free radicals and pollutants that can irritate it. 

Face Dr top pick: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating 

You could also try: 

 Vitamin C as skincare ingredient for sensitive skin

#4 Allantoin

 

Who’s it for? Sensitive skin with rough patches 


Allantoin is often extracted from plants like comfrey and chamomile, but it also occurs naturally in the body. This ingredient helps to soothe already aggravated skin and protect it from further irritations. It also helps to soften any rough patches and it promotes new skin tissue to aid in healing and rejuvenation. You can find this ingredient almost anywhere, from cleansers to toners to exfoliating products. 

Face Dr top pick: AllSkin Med Gentle Cleanser 

You could also try: 

#3 Glycerin

 

Who’s it for? Sensitive skin that’s dry or painful

Glycerin is a common skincare and it’s great for most skin types, but especially sensitive skin. Not only is it very hydrating, it also helps to protect the skin from irritants and heal the skin’s natural barrier, both of which are important to those with damaged or reactive skin. It can also have a cooling effect which can provide relief if you have any stinging or burning sensations. You’ll find this ingredient most often in cleansers and serums. 

Face Dr top pick: ZO Hydrating Cleanser 

You could also try: 

#2 Squalane

 

Who’s it for? Sensitive skin that’s dry or eczema prone

Squalane occurs in the skin’s natural oils, so any product with a version of squalane in is often very gentle and has a low risk of causing irritation. You’ll most often find squalane in serums or moisturisers as well as products for eczema and psoriasis. 

The ingredient is great for adding moisture to dry and dehydrated skin, soothing irritation and reducing the look of redness. It also helps to heal the skin’s natural barrier, which works to keep irritants out, making skin less sensitive over time. 

Face Dr top pick: ZO Skin Health Recovery Crème

You could also try: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturiser 

 

#1 Oatmeal

 

Who’s it for? Itchy or inflamed sensitive skin 

Another ingredient you’ll probably know outside of the skincare world, oatmeal is actually a common ingredient in products designed for sensitive skin or skin conditions like eczema. You may also see oat amino acids or colloidal oatmeal. 

This ingredient brings moisture to the skin to relieve dryness and it promotes healing. It’s ant-inflammatory and soothes the stinging and itching sensations that often come with sensitive skin. You’ll most often find oatmeal, or a version of it, in cleansers, toners and moisturisers. 

Face Dr top pick: ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser 

You could also try:

oatmeal skincare ingredient for sensitive skin

Need expert advice?  

 

Those were our top five ingredients to treat sensitive skin. Of course, everyone’s skin is different and what will work for some, won’t work for others. Plus, we all have different concerns we want to tackle as well as sensitive skin—from acne to wrinkles to sun spots. That’s why speaking with a skincare professional can be so useful. 

Here at Face Dr, we offer free online consultations with one of our skin experts. In a 30-minute call, they’ll be able to analyse your skin, ask about your concerns and level of sensitivity, and then give you tailored recommendations. Wondering exactly which products to use? And which routine to follow? Our skin experts are on hand to help.

We only ever recommend brands and products we know and trust, so you can be confident in everything you put on your skin. Plus, there’s never any obligation to buy. If you’re looking to upgrade your skincare routine, but worries about sensitive skin are holding you back, why not speak to an expert to get the best advice. Click the button below to get started with Face Dr. 

 

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