Sensitive skin is a struggle. Those of us who fall into this category often have a stockpile of skincare products that promised to change our lives, with little to no avail.
It’s a tricky one to navigate as there are a multitude of possible causes. Allergies is a big one; there are some sneaky substances that might be lurking at the bottom of your ingredients lists that will have you flare up in a heartbeat.
Those of us with dry skin can get caught out with irritating alcohols and fragrances too. Skin conditions such as rosacea are a minefield, triggered by dozens of potential parties including your morning coffee in some cases. All of this paired with freezing cold weather makes this time of year tough for sensitive skin sufferers.
The general rule of thumb is to avoid drying alcohols, synthetic fragrances, soaps and chemicals sunscreens. Even if you’re not prone to sensitivity, this list is good to avoid regardless so spread the word to anyone that will listen.
Sadly there’s no quick fix, but nourishing your skin with thoughtful, simple but effective formulas can give you a head start. That doesn’t mean it’s all boring either; there are some goodies in our roundup that will give your shelfie some serious street cred.
Let’s soothe this!
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Dr Roebuck’s no worries hydrating face moisturiser, 50ml: £30, Cult Beauty
This silicone-free, hydrating focused formula with soothing macadamia nut oil and hyaluronic acid is perfect for a plump up. The fatty acids heal while a sprinkling of rosehip gives you a vitamin C boost to help protect you from environmental aggressors. It’s thick and creamy but not to the point where it feels overwhelming and it sits nicely on the skin for pre make-up application too.
A good choice if you’re prone to breakouts as it’s easy to not want to moisturise for fear of making it worse. A small amount of this will help see you through the day without any extra flare-ups. It’s equally as good if you’re on the drier side as it’s got all the goodness you need to keep your cracking under control.
Indie Lee daily skin nutrition, 30ml: £61, Selfridges
If there’s anyone that knows a bit about sensitive skin it’s Indie Lee. After surviving a life threatening brain tumour, Lee founded her skincare range believing that the countless toxins she encountered could have contributed to the cause. The brand is fuelled by this mantra, using no synthetic ingredients or harsh chemicals in its products whatsoever. This daily skin nutrition works for us with its calming and conditioning properties. It’s lightweight but super nourishing with vitamins C and E for assistance with environmental aggressors.
It features rosemary which is a nice antibacterial booster but if you are prone to serious sensitivity, do a patch test first before diving in. This works particularly well if you’re on the drier side however thanks to its avocado and coconut oil infusion. The brand has only recently landed physically in the UK at Selfridges so it’s the perfect time to get stuck in.
Emulsion face cream base, 100ml: £22, Emulsion
A customisable face and body range is a marketer’s dream; fun, interactive and sellable. Thankfully Emulsion hasn’t whacked a load of nonsense in its products to help shift a few. The formula concept starts with a base and then builds up with other elements to help you find the perfect concoction for your skin, adding blended serums and oils for a personalised treatment.
The face base itself however is perfect for sensitive skin alone. Sunflower seed oil and fatty alcohols help moisturise surface skin while vitamin E and aloe vera soothe irritations. Unfragranced and uncomplicated, it’s a great all rounder for those in need of a little love.
Kate Somerville goat milk moisturising cream, 50ml: £55, Cult Beauty
Skincare superheroes don’t usually come inspired by the bovidae family, but the cult goat milk range from Kate Somerville is full of the wonder ingredient. The lactose from the milk helps soothe and moisturise dry or damaged skin with polypeptides nurturing sensitivity and helping restore some balance to stressed complexions.
It’s full of proteins and amino acids and comes in an airtight container to ensure the formula stays stable and at its best. It’s not too heavy surprisingly but does feel adequately rich upon application. If it was good enough for the ancient Egyptians, it’s good enough for us.
Lumene Arctic hydra care arktis moisture and relief rich day cream, 50ml: £26.90, Feel Unique
Inspired by Nordic women, aka painfully beautiful skin regardless of the mind numbingly cold climate, Lumene crafts sustainable skincare from its Arctic treasure trove. This rich cream has been developed with exceptionally dry skin in mind but anyone can benefit from the formula. There’s Nordic bilberry, oat and canola oil to relieve any tightness in the skin. Added beta complex keeps skin in check throughout the day. We found there was a subtle dewy finish which was a nice surprise and we felt this really had us coddled throughout the day as promised.
Crystal Clear skin repair, 60ml: £39.99, Crystal Clear
This bestseller from salon favourite Crystal Clear is a non-greasy, all round hydrator with some nice antioxidant help to boot. Age old vitamin E smooths while Alistin helps to improve the skin’s appearance as its main function is to repair skin damage. Silk proteins soothe and moisturise too. It left our skin with a delectable sheen, similar to what a couple of drops of your favourite oil might do.
We enjoyed using this as a primer on drier skin as it gave us a juicier base to play with. The limonene – which is all too common right at the end of ingredients lists – could give you some jip so be careful if you’re hyper-sensitive to those pesky additions. Other than that, it’s a lightweight and enjoyable offering which ticks all the right boxes.
Oskia nutri-active day cream, 40ml: £65, Space NK
Oskia prides itself on its signature ingredient MSM, which is the most bio available form of sulphur – it’s perfect for anti-inflammatory help. Despite being packed with vitamin A, B, C, D and E, the formula is very light in texture. It does have a natural rose/lychee fragrance – this shouldn’t be too much of a problem considering where it derives from, but do take note of this caveat.
The shea butter provides an element of richness and intense moisture while the milk peptides give you a little tightening effect upon application. This is another winner from the brand that really cares about thoughtful and caring formulations. We loved this for more mature skin as a perk up.
Paula’s Choice water-infusing electrolyte moisturiser, 50ml: £32, Paula’s Choice
Paula Begoun’s brand continues to innovate with its stringent commitment to not having anything detrimental to skin in any of its products. This latest launch might sound like something you might apply after a hangover which means it must be good for lacklustre faces. There are so many goodies in here it’s hard to know where to begin. Ceramides and humectants draw moisture to the skin and keep it there while the mineral electrolytes quench thirsty faces to the max.
There are also prebiotic sugars helping skin stay moisturised over time. We loved the texture of this and the final aesthetic it gave us: suitably replenished without looking sweaty. There is a heavy amount of silicone in here which while makes you look incredible and helps lock in moisture, but there may be a chance of trapping dirt or clogging pores underneath the film it sets on the skin. Do bear this in mind if you’re blemish prone.
The verdict: Moisturisers for sensitive skin
Dr. Roebucks gets the top spot as it’s genuinely for everyone without compromise. Indie Lee’s commitment has to get a shout out while Oskia lavishes us with a perfect day time treat for the more mature of us.