Whenever I visit my local drugstore or Sephora in search of a new beauty find, it always becomes this crazy, complicated mission. It doesn’t matter whether I’m looking for a new cream or face mask or even a new foundation; it’s always this huge stressful ordeal solely based on the fact that my skin is crazy SENSITIVE. I can’t simply go ahead and try the latest and greatest serum that everyone raves is magical. No. I need to pore over every single ingredient, making sure the the product doesn’t contain any offending ingredients that I know will aggravate my skin. For instance take Glamglow. They have the most popular and effective mud masks that literally everyone raves about. It’s a cult favorite, and people swear that it’s worked miracles on their skin. However, when I tried their clearing treatment some odd years ago, I wound up with a red irritated face that punished me for a week for trying to be adventurous.
I have such reactive skin, that I’ve taken a lot of care in the past few years learning what my skin likes and what it hates. I can confidently say that I have it down pretty much to a science, and I’d love to share with you guys exactly which ingredients I have found in my experience to be the most harmful to sensitive skin. Alright, Ready? Here goes.
- Synthetic fragrance – please avoid this one at all costs. It’s so irritating. Even if the product claims to be for sensitive skin, if it has fragrance (also shows up on labels as “parfum”) it’s a serious no-go.
- Essential oils – I spent an entire year foraying into the complicated world that is natural and organic skincare, and let me tell you; it was awful. I thought that since everything was natural that it would be more gentle, but it turns out that all those essential oils they include are actually very irritating. Lemon oil, lavender oil and peppermint oil are the ones I found to be most damaging.
- Certain Flower extracts (especially if you have ragweed allergies) – If you suffer from allergies, I would say stay away from any products that contain various plant and flower extracts. I have ragweed allergies, so that means I have to stay away from chamomile, calendula, nettle, daisy, and many more. They all run in the same family unfortunately. This especially sucks because chamomile is supposed to be amazing for sensitive skin, so if you’re not allergic, knock yourself out 😉
- Parabens – Need I say more? Even all the high end skincare brands are starting to come around and are now choosing to formulate their products without the use of parabens. Definitely a step in the right direction if you ask me.
- Harsh exfoliating ingredients – Walnut shell pieces I’m looking at you! These can really rip your skin apart. I no longer use scrubs because I simply can’t tolerate them. Instead, I choose to exfoliate with a konjac sponge every other day when I cleanse my face at night (LOVE). I would also be weary of products that contain high levels of glycolic acid.
- Retinol – This is a skincare superstar for many people as it really does help to slough off old dead skin, and bring in new, fresh skin. However, it can be very irritating so those of us with sensitive skin. If you want something that will perform similarly in a more gentle manner, I suggest using Rosehip oil because it contains natural vitamin A.
Those are the ones that I believe are the biggest offenders. Keep in mind that in order to truly understand your skin, it requires a lot of trial and error. What may be horrific for me may be wonderful for you and vice-versa. Let’s take mineral oil for example. I didn’t include it in my list because it can be really awesome for people who have sensitive skin that runs on the dry and dehydrated side. Someone with sensitive acne-prone skin however, may want to be careful. Many people prone to breakouts have used creams containing mineral oil with great success, while others have found it to be very pore-clogging. I personally found that it made me breakout if I used it regularly, but if I’m having a super dry day (Canadian winters *sigh*) using a restorative thick cream with mineral oil overnight is very beneficial for me. Avene has a cream called the Cicalfate Repair cream, and if my skin is inflamed from being so painfully dry, it’s the first thing I turn to, without a doubt. I also have friend who swears by good, old-fashioned Nivea creme, and she too has sensitive skin.
I really hope that this has been helpful for all of you ladies that suffer with sensitive skin in the ways that I do. As I mentioned earlier, it’s definitely going to take some dedication when it comes to finding what works best for your skin. Everyone is different! I would love to know what you guys have found to be irritating as well as what you have found to be beneficial to your skin, as I’m always looking to learn more about skincare! I hope you have a lovely day! 🙂