Jamie Reed is an embalmer. She spends her days restoring…
If you have sensitive skin you are probably no stranger to irritation and inflammation, and you may have just accepted that you’ll have to deal with these problems forever. You’ve used countless products labeled as safe for sensitive skin or “hypoallergenic” and “dermatologist tested,” and still your skin remains irritated. Unfortunately, labels on skin care and cosmetic products can be incredibly misleading. For instance, the dermatologist tested label often means that the product was merely patch tested on a human hand for about 48 hours, not that the product is actually something your dermatologist would wholeheartedly endorse. We don’t want you to give up hope, there are products out there that will suit your specific skin needs and concerns, it just may take a bit of trial and error. As you search for products for your sensitive skin, be sure to avoid the following ingredients.
Alcohol is a highly common ingredient in skin care products, particularly when it comes to cleansers and toners. One of the reasons alcohol is so pervasive is that it dries quickly, but in doing so it also tends to dry out your skin. While not all sensitive skin is super dry, when alcohol strips moisture from your skin, it can lead to further irritation and this can cause your sensitive skin to seriously freak out.
Sure, some scented skin care and cosmetic products smell absolutely amazing, but if the scent is a result of synthetic fragrance, avoid putting the product on your sensitive skin. Synthetic fragrances may react with skin, causing inflammation and irritation, but that isn’t the worst part. Fragrances may also penetrate deeper layers of skin and weaken these inner layers, leaving you with less protection. Many skin care and cosmetic products are available fragrance-free and you should look in this direction when selecting these items.
If you hear the word sulfates and freak out because these are in pretty much everything from shampoo to toothpaste, you can calm down a bit. There is a lot of controversy surrounding sulfates and the long-term effects they may have on your health, but one thing is known for certain; sulfates can be incredibly irritating to your skin. It’s not the easiest task in the world to go sulfate-free, but companies are starting to take note and are offering more options in skin care and cosmetics that are free from sulfates.
Apricot Kernels, Walnut Shells or Pumice
These ingredients will give your skin a hearty exfoliation, but they do so with negative benefits. Of course, you need to exfoliate, yes even if you have sensitive skin, but using products containing any of these ingredients will be too harsh for your skin and will result in damage and irritation. To exfoliate, look for gentle chemical exfoliants such as lactic or salicylic acid and begin with products containing these acids in low concentrations to avoid unnecessary irritation.
You don’t have to stay away from sun protection completely, in fact doing so just damages your skin more, but chemical sunscreens tend to contain irritating chemical ingredients like avobenzone or oxybenzone. These ingredients effectively reflect the sun’s UV rays and are generally fine for people with normal skin, but sensitive skin may not react as well. If you’ve previously had problems with sunscreen, consider switching to a physical, or mineral, sunscreen and your skin will stay protected and calm.
Sensitive skin really can be frustrating and we won’t lie to you, finding the right products can be a long journey, but when you use this list of ingredients to avoid, you’re already a bit farther ahead in your journey to finding the perfect products. Take this list of ingredients with you the next time you shopping and remember not to trust all claims made on the product’s packaging or label. With a bit of extra care and dedication, you can have calm and beautiful skin, even if it remains sensitive.