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How to Take Care of Sensitive Skin

Find out which products work well for sensitive skin and how to care for your skin, so it stays calm, feels good and looks great.

1. How to maintain sensitive skin’s health

    a. Which ingredients trigger skin sensitivity?
    b. The importance of a strong and healthy skin barrier

2. What products to use for sensitive skin

3. What is the best skincare routine for sensitive skin?

    a. Best cleanser for sensitive skin
    b. Best serum for sensitive skin
    c. Best moisturizer for sensitive skin
 

Just like oily, dry and acne-prone skin, sensitive skin is something we hear about all the time. In fact, you might even think you have it, but you are probably not sure what has caused it in the first place or how to properly care for it. The most annoying thing about skin sensitivities is that they are unpredictable. They can hit at any time. This means it can sometimes feel like you are learning how to take care of your skin over and over again.

Ultimately, caring for sensitive skin is a personal journey. Since the root cause of sensitivity isn’t always clear-cut, it’s important to stick with a simple skincare routine for sensitive skin. Here, we explain what sensitive skin is, why sensitive skincare formulas should be minimal, have mild ingredients and how to prevent flare-ups—and soothe them.



1. How to maintain sensitive skin’s health


In a word, sensitive skin causes discomfort. The telltale signs of a flare-up are sensations of tight, tingly, itchy and burning skin, while on the outside things might start looking bumpy, red, flaky and puffy. Since sensitive has become a self-described condition, it has become a catch-all term used to explain all those uncomfortable to painful symptoms.

An individual’s exposome plays a big role. The exposome refers to external and internal factors and their interactions that affect an individual’s body from conception to death. This means that sensitive skin can be a skin type you’re born with—some people genetically produce less oil and are prone to inflammation—or it can also be a result of external factors like extreme temperatures, pollution, stress or as a direct reaction to certain skincare ingredients. Two of the most important things you can do to keep sensitive skin healthy and happy is to find out why it’s being reactive (and avoid those triggers) and protect the skin barrier (the protective surface layer).



a. Which ingredients trigger skin sensitivity?


We know that skin sensitivitiy and reactivity s can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Skin care products can trigger skin sensitivity and reactivity by compromising the skin barrier. One ingredient to avoid is alcohol, which is commonly found in toners. It is added to formulas to deliver a quick-dry finish, but it can sap your skin’s moisture levels and leave your skin barrier compromised.

Another one to skip is synthetic fragrances, which are often found in body lotions and moisturizers because they can cause inflammation and weaken the skin barrier. But this doesn’t mean all fragrances are bad. It’s just means that people with sensitve skin should avoid heavily fragranced products to lessen their risk of a sensitizing reaction. However, if you’re craving a scent look for hypoallergenic versions or fragrant plant oils and extract that also benefit the skin.

b. The importance of a strong and healthy skin barrier


Most skin sensitivities are the result of a compromised skin barrier, which can leave skin more vulnerable to irritation. When your skin barrier is strong and healthy, it protects your skin from external stressors and locks in moisture, but when it’s damaged, irritants and allergens can seep in while water will evaporate from the skin , leaving you with dull, dry and dehydrated skin. This puts all skin types at risk for sensitivity. A compromised skin barrier can also worsen the skin condition of people with pre-existing dermatoses like dry skin, rosacea or eczema.



2. What products to use for sensitive skin


When it comes to skin sensitivity, it’s not only about avoiding common ingredients known to trigger reactions; it’s also about including ones that help repair the skin’s natural barrier and help strengthen it. Avoid fragranced products and harsh surfactants. Instead, opt for fragrance-free serums and moisturizers and non-soap cleansers.

If you’re suddenly reacting to retinol for the first time in your life, a damaged skin barrier could be to blame. Temporarily stop using your creams and serums that contain retinol, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and vitamin C until your flare-up subsides and your barrier is repaired and recovered. To be safe, temporarily skip skin exfoliators.

You can speed up the healing process by staying out of the sun; if, however, you have to be exposed, make sure you are wearing sunscreen suitable for sensitive skin. Look for dermatologist-recommended skincare products for sensitive skin that are rich in lipids which are essential to barrier repair. Specifically, look for ceramides and linoleic acid; these ingredients act like cement to help heal cracks in the skin barrier and restore moisture. Follow up with a hydrating moisturizer for sensitive skin. Your moisturizer should have humectants (to increase skin’s water content) like hyaluronic acid, emollients (to lubricate) and bioflavonoids (to inhibit free radical damage to skin lipids).



3. What is the best skincare routine for sensitive skin?


Just like there are varying degrees of severity when it comes to oiliness, dryness and acne, there are also different levels of skin sensitivity. The most important thing to do is finding a well-rounded routine that consists of a skin cleanser, face serum and moisturizer that are gentle enough to keep your face calm yet powerful enough to actually have a positive effect. Those carefully balanced formulas can be hard to come by, but we’ve done the work for you. These products will care for even the most sensitive skin.



a. Which ingredients trigger skin sensitivity?


You should never see red when you wash your face; if you do, it means that your formula is too harsh. Look for cleansers that don’t have too many ingredients and leave the skin lightly hydrated. Vichy Pureté Thermale Mineral Micellar Water Face Cleanser has less than 10 ingredients and includes ultra-hydrating glycerine. The micelles capture and lift away dirt, oil and makeup without the need for aggressive rubbing, leaving skin clean and refreshed without over drying.

b. Best serum for sensitive skin


We know that the skin barrier plays an important role in protecting skin, especially sensitive skin, but using hyaluronic acid for sensitive skin can be a game changer. You might be wondering “Can sensitive skin use hyaluronic acid?”—after all, it has “acid” in its name—but it’s extremely safe and effective. For a hydrating serum for sensitive skin that contains hyaluronic acid, try Vichy Minéral 89. It is not only moisturizing but also helps calm reactive skin and strengthen it. You can double down with a gentle eye repair serum. Vichy Minéral 89 Eyes immediately adds hydration and in the long run will help to smooth fine lines and brighten under the eyes.

c. Best moisturizer for sensitive skin


If you’re wondering what the best moisturizer for sensitive skin is, first need to consider what your skincare goals are. If you struggle with dryness in addition to sensitivity, you’ll want to try Vichy Aqualia Thermal Light Cream, a hydrating moisturizer for sensitive skin. It’s enriched with Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water, which fortifies skin and uses hyaluronic acid and plant sugar mannose to boost hydration.

If you’re wondering how to take care of sensitive oily skin, it’s the same as the above, except swap the cleanser for Vichy Normaderm Anti-Acne Purifying Gel Cleanser and consider using a gel texture moisturizer rather than a cream. Oily sensitive skin is just as prone to breakouts as regular oily skin; the main difference is that as well as attracting blemishes, skin also reacts more easily.



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