Knowing how to look after sensitive skin can be a minefield. We’ve rounded up the five most burning questions and put them to an expert…
If you have sensitive skin, you might be used to searching cosmetic bottles for ingredients that have been known to cause a flare-up.
With dryness, breakouts and an overload of information about how to best look after your skin, it can all feel a bit trial and error.
To separate fact from fiction, we consulted Google Trends to round up some of the most asked questions on the topic and put them to Amandine Sbardella, senior formulation chemist at skincare experts Neal’s Yard Remedies.
Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about sensitive skin…
1. Why does my sensitive skin always feel dry?
Before you get round to the business of treating dry and sensitive skin, you need to tackle the cause.
“Sensitive skin is prone to feeling dry due to its tendency to lose the more moisturising elements – water and oil,” explains Amandine.
“These are two important factors when it comes to skin comfort, and without them skin will become unbalanced, leading to skin feeling itchy, as well as other common sensitive side-effects, such as redness or feeling slightly rough to the touch.”
The time of year plays a part too, with sun exposure causing pores to naturally produce less oil, exacerbating dryness.
Then when the temperature drops and the central heating comes on, you get lower humidity in the air, which is why your skin might start feeling drier towards the end of the year.
2. How can I get rid of dry skin around my eyes?
There are fewer sensations less pleasant than having irritated skin around your eye area.
“The skin around the eyes is much thinner than the rest of the skin, so its needs are slightly different to elsewhere on your face,” says Amandine.
“Specifically, it needs more moisture and to be handled with a delicate touch.
“Use more concentrated products, such as serums and oils, and always apply products with your fingertips.
“Your ring finger is the gentlest – dab the product around this area with soft taps, until it is absorbed.
“When it comes to choosing a serum, cream or oil for the eye area to use on sensitive skin, look for active ingredients without perfumes or essential oils.
“These are key offenders when it comes to sensitive skincare, which is why our new Sensitive collection avoids them altogether.”
3. How do I get rid of redness?
One of the curses of sensitive sin is unwelcome redness, so how best to deal with it?
“Redness might not be something you can eliminate entirely,” says Amandine. “But there are precautions you can take to reduce and manage it.
“Checking the ingredients of the products you’re using is the best place to start.
“Look for oatmeal, which soothes and reduces sensitivity, and can help to lessen redness over time.
“Aloe vera is also good for easing redness, as it’s moisturising without being occlusive on the skin.”
4. How can I minimise pores on sensitive skin?
It can be tough to cleanse your skin when it’s sensitive, which can lead to pores becoming clogged and enlarged.
The answer? Gentle but thorough use of specially selected products.
“Use lightweight products that are better able to penetrate the first layer of the skin,” says Amandine.
“Micellar cleansers are good for this, as they contain micelles – tiny balls of a mild cleansing agent suspended in soft water.”
The Sensitive Comfort + Hydrate Micellar Cleanser from Neal’s Yard combines these with purified water, hyaluronic acid and oat extract to boost hydration without the buffing or exfoliating of traditional cleaning techniques.
“Follow with products that are similar in weight and texture, and simple in ingredients,” continues Amandine.
“Try a serum with light actives and a moisturiser that will allow the pores to breathe.
“The products you use should be simply formulated for sensitive skin, but be powerful enough to target redness, itchiness and dryness.”
5. Are facial oils good for sensitive skin?
Facial oils are often touted as a welcome salve for sensitive skin, but is it actually a good solution?
“Lighter oils such as sunflower seed oil can be good options for people with sensitivities because they can help to hydrate and smooth the skin,” agrees Amandine.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid oils that are on the heavier side.
“While super-nourishing for non-sensitive skin types, heavier oils or rich oil-based skincare products can reduce moisture loss by creating a barrier to lock it in.
“With sensitive skin, that can actually be a mistake – those products can trap heat, which can leave the skin feeling itchy and irritated.
“Instead, look for products that are lightweight with nourishing oils, allowing skin to breathe and preventing it from overheating.”
Battling with sensitive skin on a regular basis? The new Sensitive range from Neal’s Yard might be just the thing. Specially formulated to allow skin to breathe, it offers gentle relief for sensitive, reactive dry skin.
Register for a free sample of the Sensitive Restore + Smooth Serum and Sensitive Replenish + Balance Moisturiser, and see for yourself.