Your face is hot, itchy and sore to the touch. Your make-up won’t sit properly, and your skin’s taken on a strange bumpy texture. That’s right… you’ve got sensitive skin.
The first thing to remember is, no matter your skin type or concern, everyone is susceptible to suffering with bouts of sensitisation (and yes, that includes oily and blemish-prone types!). That tell-tale reactivity, redness and soreness can be caused by any number of internal or external factors, from hormonal imbalances and a change in medication through to rough weather and irritating skincare.
A helpful way to differentiate between sensitised skin and sensitive skin is that the former is more of a temporary concern rather than a skin type, and is normally episodic. If you suffer with long-term reactivity to skincare products and your skin is consistently red, itchy and irritable, then you’re likely to have a sensitive skin type.
No matter which one applies to you, your skin will be craving products that will respect its fragility and help it to rebuild its strength. Your key pit stop for this SOS skincare? The French pharmacy’s dermocosmetics aisle. It’s jam-packed with calming innovations for sensitised and sensitive skin, whatever the cause for its flare-up.
Here are my favourites for every stage of your routine…
Step 1: Careful Cleansing
When your skin is really sore to the touch, the thought of using products that are designed to remove rather than put in can be a toe-curling thought. You can’t give up the cleansing ghost, though, especially if you’re using makeup. Instead, be more selective with your cleanser, and look for pared back and no-rinse formulas that won’t overburden the skin.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O
The holy grail of sensitive skin cleansers is Bioderma Sensibio H2O, which offers an exceptionally mild cleansing action through the use of micelle technology, not soap. My favourite thing about Sensibio H2O is that I can use it even when my skin is feeling ultra-fragile; the fluid slips silkily over the skin with zero rubbing required. It’s an icon for a reason!
Need-to-knows: Free from alcohol, fragrance and soap.
Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser
The Extremely Gentle Cleanser is perfect for those who want all of the benefits of a milky cleanser, but they don’t want to remove it with harsh tap water. This lightweight fluid is designed to be removed with cotton pads for a quick and easy cleansing experience that leaves skin feeling so soft.
Need-to-knows: Free from fragrance, oil, SLS and parabens.
Step 2: Address The Sensitivity
Sensitisation and sensitivity can be effectively managed, you just need the right tools for the job. Before you go in with a cocooning moisturiser that’ll lock a good amount of care into the skin, it may be a good idea to use a treatment serum that will target heated sensations, irritation and tightness (hypersensitive types might like to skip this step to keep their regimes as minimal as possible!) .
Darphin Intral Redness Relief Soothing Serum
The Intral Redness Relief Soothing Serum is the pinnacle of Darphin’s sensitive skin offering. Created to offer intense relief for reactive skin, no matter whether the episode of sensitivity is short term or long term, this water-like formula glides across skin to instantly cool and soothe. After use, skin instantly feels more at ease and irritation is noticeably reduced.
Need-to-knows: Created from 83% ingredients of natural origin, free from parabens.
Nuxe Creme Fraiche de Beauty Serum
Sensitised complexions can often feel ‘thin’ due to a lack of water or oil in the skin. Created with a creamier consistency, the Creme Fraiche de Beauty Serum from Nuxe is all about infusing skin with lots of plumping moisture from 100% natural hyaluronic acid. Its ultra-fresh texture also gives overheated skin a lovely sense of coolness.
Need-to-knows: Created from 92% ingredients of natural origin, free from parabens.
Step 3: Put The Goodness Back
If your skin is rough and flaky, or it has the niggly lumps and bumps associated with sensitised skin, you may be tempted to go in with a refining exfoliator to achieve some temporary softness. But step away from the scrub – you don’t want to aggravate your skin’s delicate equilibrium even more. Address the texture of your skin with a compensating moisturiser instead, which will cocoon it in protective moisture and softness…
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care
This clever fluid is specifically created for those with hypersensitivity and skin-related allergies (it’s the first facial skincare product to be awarded the Seal of Approval by Allergy UK, no less). From the advanced anti-contamination packaging through to the extremely gentle formula stripped of all unnecessary ingredients, Toleriane Ultra protects skin at every stage.
Need-to-knows: Free from alcohol, lanolin, parabens and fragrance.
Eucerin Ultra Sensitive Soothing Care Dry Skin
This cocooning formula gives your sensitive, reactive skin just what it needs in terms of comfort. The added benefits of Eucerin’s SymSitive complex mean that skin is calmed instantly, whilst also reducing its reactivity over time. The formula is also helpfully available in a lighter texture for those with normal to combination skin.
Need-to-knows: Free from alcohol, paraffin, emulsifiers, parabens and fragrance.
Step 4: Help On The Go
Avene Thermale Spring Water Spray
There’s nothing, and I mean nothing, like a spritz of thermal water when your skin is on the fritz. The Thermale Spring Water Spray from Avene is our customers’ favourite. With a close to neutral pH and a small amount of silica, it really helps to soothe irritated skin. Keep it in the fridge for an even more refreshing experience and use at any time of day.
Need-to-knows: Available in three different sizes, ideal for all the family, can be used on nappy rash, razor burn, sunburn and insect bites.
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5
This SOS cream presents La Roche-Posay’s cult Cicaplast treatment in an even more comfortable cream format. Cicaplast Baume B5 is no ordinary cream, oh no – it’s boosted with repairing copper, zinc and manganese, plus panthenol concentrated at 5%. The bandage-like treatment is just perfect for skin that is chapped and intensely dry, so I always keep a tube in my bag.
Need-to-knows: Enriched with antibacterial agents, free from lanolin, fragrance and parabens.
Over to you!
Do you have sensitised or sensitive skin? Leave a comment below or get in touch with us over on Twitter (@Escentual) and we’ll help to find the right calming regime for you!