Sensitive skin: skincare ingredients to avoid

Posted by Daniela Pelonara on

What is sensitive skin?

Sensitive Skin is the general definition of a skin type triggered by a variety of factors resulting in stinging, burning, itching, tightness, and tingling sensations.

When your skin’s natural barrier function is weakened by a trigger, the skin's top nerves' endings become irritated.

Common triggers can be:  

  • Climate aggressors (sun, extreme temperatures, pollution)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Stress 
  • Chlorine (swimming pools)
  • Dry, dehydrated skin
  • Overuse of cosmetic products


Is sensitive skin a condition or a skin type?  

Sensitive skin is a skin type - it can be caused and aggravated by skin conditions like rosacea or allergies.


How do I know if I have sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin feels like:

  • Often dry and tight
  • Itchy, inflamed, uncomfortable 
  • Flushes easily (spicy food, alcohol)
  • Has patches of redness and flakes easily
  • Reacts to some skincare products
  • Turns red and dries out after a hot shower or bath


Can sensitive skin be healed?

Sensitive skin is a skin type so it can never be completely healed; however, knowing what triggers a reaction and using skincare that does not contain harsh ingredients and in the right amount/frequency, it can surely help to prevent skin reactions. 

If you have sensitive skin and you protect, hydrate, and boost it with the right active ingredients, the chances of a reaction will be minimal. if none.


Which skincare ingredients shall I stay away from if my skin is very sensitive?

  1. Essential oils*

  2. Fragrance oils

  3. Parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben)

  4. Harsh physical exfoliants 

  5. Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, Ascorbyl palmitate)

  6. Vitamin C-rich oils (Rosehip oil)

  7. Retinoids (Retinyl palmitate, Tretinoin) 

  8. Alcohol

  9. Sulfates (Sodium chloride, Sodium lauryl sulfate Sodium Laureth sulfate Ammonium lauryl sulfate)

  10. Salicylic acid and Willow back extract

  11. AHA's, especially Glycolic acid 

  12. Chemical sunscreens (Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone)

 * If the skin is inflamed, True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) essential oil or their hydrosols diluted in very small percentages (less than 0.3%), can actually be calming and soothing. 



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