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Sense and Sensitivity

Sense and Sensitivity: The experts’ edit of the best products for sensitive skin

August 18th 2016 / Judy Johnson Google+ Sense and Sensitivity: The experts’ edit of the best products for sensitive skin / 2 comments


You’re reading the labels, scouring blogs and patch testing away, but which products are no-brainers when it comes to sensitive skin? Judy Johnson asked the experts to find out

The sensitive skin sufferer’s search for reliable skin care is a seemingly endless quest. There are aisles upon aisles of pharmacies and beauty stores to scour, and that’s only offline - when it comes to the internet you’re only a Google search away from thousands of options that might save your skin or sensitise it even more.

Educating yourself and getting to know your ingredients, formulas and, ultimately, your skin is the key - but sometimes you just want to know which products you can almost certainly trust, without having nightmares post-application that you'll wake with a burning rash which a roomful of people can’t stop staring and pointing at (yes, this actually happened to me this week - I woke up rash-free, thank heavens).

So, in the interest of uninterrupted sleep and better skin, I asked some of the best experts in the beauty industry what their standout, foolproof favourite product for sensitive skin would be and why… so add these to your shopping list and take a break from your beauty woes.

Dr Sam Bunting, Cosmetic Dermatologist

"I’d say that my favourite product for sensitive skin is Avene Recovery Cream. This preservative-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic moisturiser is a skin saviour for anyone with reactive skin. It’s cleverly formatted to maintain a sterile environment inside the packaging so preservatives aren’t necessary." See more of Dr Sam Bunting's top tips on her YouTube channel.

avene-skin-recovery-cream.jpgImelda Burke, Founder of Content Beauty

"As a child I had severe ichthyosis, a skin condition characterised by the skin replacing itself too quickly, resulting in extremely dry and scaly skin on my body. Bath time was tinted green with a medicated liquid, designed to soothe my irritated skin. In my late 20s when I decided to ditch this and the body cream the doctors prescribed, in a quest to go natural with my skincare choices, the search to find something that calmed my skin was a long one. Having tried every combination of body cream and oil over the past 10 years, the one product I am now never without is the Pai Comfrey and Calendula Calming Body Cream, £22; the combination of the two lead ingredients plus echium which is super high in omega-3 seems to be the perfect combination to stop my skin crawling half way through the day."


Dr Rachael Eckel, cosmetic dermatologist

"Barrier function is paramount and achieved by using a serum rich in lipid fractions such as ceramides. My favourite product for sensitive skin is ZO Skin Health Ossential Daily Power Defense, £113, because it provides anti-inflammatory activity, antioxidant benefit, melanocyte stabilization, and DNA repair/protection. Together, these will increase the skin‘s resistance to UV light, and the subsequent inflammation induced."


Dr Stefanie Williams, specialist dermatologist

"To use the correct cleanser in sensitive skin is crucial, yet often overlooked. Two of my favourite cleansers for (true!) sensitive skin are:

"Avene's Extremely Gentle Gel Cleanser, £10.50. It's extremely non-irritating (so much so that you don't even have to rinse it off necessarily, although I would strongly recommend rinsing with water - I am not an advocate of waterless cleansing!), yet cleanses reasonably thoroughly.

"I also really like La Roche-Posay's Toleriane Cleanser, £11 for sensitive skin, as it cleanses very gently and contains only hypoallergenic ingredients. However, these are only suitable for 'sensitive skin' without breakouts! If the skin feels very sensitive, yet the person also suffers with breakouts, then this might be rosacea rather than simple 'sensitive skin' and a different regime is needed."


Lorraine Dallmeier, Biologist and Founder of Formula Botanica

"My number one product would be Lyonsleaf’s Calendula Cream, £8.99, which includes 2% calendula extract. Calendula is a well-known anti-inflammatory and skin soothing herb, so would be a great choice for anyone who is experiencing flare-ups or problems. A little goes a long way with this product and from a formulation point of view, its simplicity is beautiful and very effective."


Dr Maryam Zamani, cosmetic doctor

"If I had to recommend only one product, I would recommend Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection, £34, for sensitive skin types. It is a lightweight, mineral sunscreen with excellent broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection that is formulated with antioxidants. Everyone should wear sun protection daily, so this is a must-use product."


Nichola Joss, Facialist

"I always recommend Sanctuary Spa Cleansing Oil and their Therapist’s Secret Facial Oil, £17.50. Both products are fabulous for sensitive skins and help to rebalance any dry patches or over-oily areas, as well as being super gentle on the skin. The Therapist’s Secret Facial Oil is my go-to facial oil for all clients and is fantastic for sensitive skins as it works gently and effectively at nourishing, replenishing and hydrating without any harsh ingredients. I find it really helps to calm my clients’ skins very quickly, and soothes, hydrates and plumps; it’s my first option for helping them get into a facial massage routine, which many clients with sensitive skins will avoid."

the-sanctuary-therapist-s-secret-facial-oil.jpgNeed more sensitive skin product recommendations? Check out my Sense and Sensitivity column for my personal picks and advice

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  • Judy Johnson
  • August 19th 2016

Hi Anna, so glad you like the column!

If your skin is tight after cleansing, it might be that it's the wrong type for you. Is it foaming? If so I'd opt instead for something creamy or even a balm - I love Clinique's Take the Day Off balm or Pai's creamy cleanser. You might find a toner helps too - I like Pai's lotus flower tonic: http://www.paiskincare.com/lotus-orange-blossom-bioaffinity-tonic-25

In terms of cleansers not working any more, it depends in what way - a good cleanser will always cleanse well if used properly, so it's hard to determine if the issues you're experiencing are down to that or hormonal changes, for example! It sounds though like you haven't found the right one yet for your skin - try my article here for some other ideas? http://www.getthegloss.com/article/sense-and-sensitivity-the-best-cleansers-for-sensitive-skin

Thank you

  • anna Valkyrie
  • August 19th 2016

A big fat thank you for these sense and sensitivity articles, they are lifesaving.
I have two questions
1) Is it bad if my skin is tight after cleansing?
2) Is it normal for cleansers to work like a dream for the first few weeks then just.. stop doing their bit?
I feel like I'll never find the right product for my grumpy reactive skin :(

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