Sensitive skin is a common concern but it can also be wildly confusing.
With so many myths around how to treat it, and way too much info on the internet, it can be difficult to know exactly what to do if you are experiencing symptoms like redness, itching, flaking and general irritation.
To help cut through the noise (and perhaps correct your complexion now that party season is over) we’ve sourced expert advice for sensitive skin, from ingredients to treatments and everything in between.
Sensitive, Or Just Sensitised?
The first thing to consider is whether your skin is chronically sensitive or just sensitised. Unless you’re dealing with an underlying condition like rosacea, dermatitis or an allergy, it’s likely any issues you’re experiencing (redness, bumpy texture, irritation, flushing) are caused by abrasive ingredients or environmental factors – this is ‘sensitivity’ as opposed to a more serious sensitive-skin condition.
If you have a suspected skin condition or can’t seem to get on top of the aforementioned issues, chat to a dermatologist to work out a management plan.
Streamline Your Routine
The golden rule of caring for sensitive skin is to keep things simple – constantly introducing new formulas and ingredients will simply overwhelm your complexion. Instead, focus on nourishing your skin and barrier repair: a simple cleanser, soothing treatment product and great moisturiser will be your best friends.
The pH balance of a product is also important. Our skin’s surface has a pH level of around 5.5 (slightly acidic), to help protect it from pathogens. Lowering or raising this level will only worsen things, so seek out formulas that are pH balanced.
Try: Gentle Cleanser
Try: Repair Balm
Try: Moisture Defence for Normal Skin
Go Easy On Active Ingredients
The ingredients you reach for will also play a crucial role in bringing stressed skin back into balance. While Retinol and Alpha Hydroxy Acids are great, they can cause further irritation if you overuse them. Press pause on Retinol if you’re experiencing a flare-up and reach for a gentle exfoliant such as Enzymatic Micro Peel instead. Hydrating and reconditioning, it removes expired skin cells, which will improve the smoothness and radiance of your complexion.
Niacinamide is another particularly useful ingredient for sensitive skin as it instigates repair functions, improving barrier integrity and skin resilience. 10% Niacinamide Power Serum calms and protects, improving the look of redness and blotchy texture; plus, it contains a Probiotic Complex to balance the microbiome and relieve signs of irritation.
Try: 10% Niacinamide Power Serum
Try: Enzymatic Micro Peel
SPF Is Essential
This one kind of goes without saying, but sunscreen is essential when it comes to protecting sensitive skin. UV rays can diminish the skin barrier, which in turn triggers redness, irritation and discomfort. Be sure to apply SPF liberally every single day, and reapply if you’re outside, swimming or sweating.
Try: Age Defence SPF 50+
Heat is a trigger for conditions like rosacea and dermatitis, and it’s not exactly kind on your skin’s barrier. Use cool water when cleansing, and always keep your face out of direct sunlight.
On a holistic level, there are any number of other lifestyle habits that support optimal skin health and can reduce the risk of sensitivity. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, limit the amount of alcohol you consume, and cleanse your face thoroughly to get rid of pollutants. Some people might also find that eating spicy foods can trigger a flare-up – keep this in mind the next time you reach for the chilli.
LED light therapy is an in-clinic treatment that uses LED light waves to penetrate the dermis, which reduces inflammation and stimulates collagen production. It’s also an excellent treatment for sensitive skin as it stimulates wound healing and improves circulation.
Try: Laser Clinics LED Light Therapy
Finally, if you are experiencing a skin meltdown, reach for a formula that will instantly soothe, like Laser Aid, which combines botanical ingredients to offer instant relief from redness, warmth and irritation. Slather on a thin layer of this cooling gel and leave for 10 minutes as a mask, or sleep in it overnight.
Try: Laser Aid
Want to learn more about how to maintain a cool, calm complexion? Read up on the skin barrier here. You can also explore the entire Calming range here.