Sensitive skin

WIMJ Guide

Sensitive, or reactive skin is a word used to describe skin that feels irritated, gets red, itchy, stingy, or starts flaking, or swelling. This usually happens in response to products or weather.

Symptoms of sensitive skin appear when immune cells in skin go on high alert. The cells "believe" that there is a danger in the environment (even if in reality there is none), and it they need to fight it off with inflammation.

Sometimes this "high alert" reaction is a consequence of an allergy. In this case, the immune system marks a substance as a danger permanently. In other words, skin allergies, once they appear, usually stay with us for life.

More often, the immune system marks a substance as a danger at a particular moment. Dermatologists call this "an irritant contact dermatitis", or irritation. Sometimes you can have an irritant reaction to a skincare product on one day, but be ok with it in a month. (Even though we do not recommend you to experiment with it in real life).

Every individual has a different threshold of "danger" that their skin immune system tolerates without going into a "high-alert", inflammatory state. Some people have very tolerant skin, and can use a lot of products and concentrated actives without a reaction. For others, almost any skincare product seems to trigger a sensitivity symptom. Doctors and scientists do not fully understand what causes the difference. Genetics certainly plays a role. Some people's skin immune system is so sensitive that they are diagnosed with a chronic medical condition like eczema (also called atopic dermatitis).

But even people with a healthy skin usually can experience sensitivity from time to time. Some substances are more likely to cause an irritation than others. For example, fragrances (both natural and synthetic) and preservatives are the most common irritants in cosmetic products.

Irritant reactions are also more likely to happen when the skin barrier is weak. Skin barrier is the very top layer of the skin. It is like a brick-and-mortar wall: dead skin cells on the surface are the "bricks" that are held together with "mortar" of skin natural oils and water-loving substances. When there is a "hole" in this wall, irritating substances can get through it easier, triggering an alarm with the immune system.

Cleansing too much or with too harsh products is often the culprit for the weak skin barrier.

The bottom line is that there are three things you need to do to reduce your skin sensitivity:
  1. Remove the trigger - that is the potential allergens and irritants. This means going through everything that comes in contact with your skin (for example, people often forget shampoo) and checking for potential irritants. Often the most practical thing to do is to stop using most of your current products for a while. (You can choose a very simple non-irritating moisturizer, cleanser and sunscreen to cover the basics). Once your skin becomes better, you can re-introduce your products one by one noting your skin reaction. (If your skin becomes worse after re-introduction of one of the products, you know that the irritant is most likely in it). Canadian dermatologist Dr. Sandy Skotnicki developed this method as a "Product Elimination Diet".

  2. Check your cleansing routine. The best approach is to use a very gentle cleanser, and only cleanse your skin when truly needed. For most people, it is once per day, at night. Less is definitely more with cleansing.

  3. Use a good fragrance-free moisturizer to help re-build your skin barrier.

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Best ingredients for sensitive skin

CERAMIDE EOP


Works for
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-inflammatory
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 396 skincare routines

Summary

A type of lipid similar to ceramides naturally present in skin. Helps to soften the upper layer of the skin and supports the skin barrier function to keep it hydrated. Can help to prevent inflammation in skin

CERAMIDE AP


Works for
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-inflammatory
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 392 skincare routines

Summary

A type of lipid similar to ceramides naturally present in skin. Helps to soften the upper layer of the skin and supports the skin barrier function to keep it hydrated. Can help to prevent inflammation in skin

CERAMIDE 3


Works for
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-inflammatory
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 309 skincare routines

Summary

A type of lipid similar to ceramides naturally present in skin. Helps to soften the upper layer of the skin and supports the skin barrier function to keep it hydrated. Can help to prevent inflammation in skin

CENTELLA ASIATICA EXTRACT


Works for
  • Moisturizing
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Reduces redness
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-blemish
Irritancy risk
MEDIUM

Appears on 1 avoid lists
Included in 260 skincare routines

Summary

A plant extract that has been shown to be able to reduce inflammation in skin, support restoration of skin barrier function, as well as support collagen production. Contains active compounds called centelloids: asiaticoside, madecasosside, asiatic acid and madecassic acid. Might be helpful in preventing stretch marks. It can be itself be irritating though.

CERAMIDE 1


Works for
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-inflammatory
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 249 skincare routines

Summary

A type of lipid similar to ceramides naturally present in skin. Helps to soften the upper layer of the skin and supports the skin barrier function to keep it hydrated. Can help to prevent inflammation in skin

BETA-GLUCAN


Works for
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Anti-blemish
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 202 skincare routines

Summary

Helps attract water to the upper layer of the skin, calm down inflammation and irritation, restore the barrier function and support wound healing. It can be helpful in reducing fine lines and wrinkles

AVENA SATIVA KERNEL EXTRACT

Other name: Oatmeal extract

Works for
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Reduces redness
  • Anti-oxidation
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 164 skincare routines

Summary

An effective moisturizing and skin barrier repair ingredient. Helps calm down inflammation and has some anti-oxidant properties

BORAGO OFFICINALIS SEED OIL


Works for
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-oxidation
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 117 skincare routines

Summary

A plant oil that is effective in reducing irritation in skin, restore the barrier function and support its hydration

ACETYL DIPEPTIDE-1 CETYL ESTER


Works for
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
  • Anti-aging
Irritancy risk
LOW

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 74 skincare routines

Summary

A type of peptide. Peptides are excellent moisturizers and might be able support collagen production reducing fine lines and wrinkles

ASIATIC ACID


Works for
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Moisturizing
  • Reduces irritation
Irritancy risk
MEDIUM

Appears on 0 avoid lists
Included in 73 skincare routines

Summary

An active compound of Centella Asiatica plant extract. In combination with other active compounds of Centella Asiatica extract (asiaticoside, madecasosside and madecassic acid) asiatic acid has been shown to be helpful in wound-healing, restoring skin barrier function and supporting collagen production in skin. It can, however, itself be irritating

Best products for sensitive skin

WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Exfoliation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • Moisturizing
  • +3 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • azelaic acid
  • salicylic acid
  • bakuchiol
  • niacinamide
  • azelaic acid
  • bakuchiol
  • hydroxypinacolone retinoate
  • allantoin
  • cetearyl alcohol
  • glycerin
  • polymethylsilsesquioxane
  • squalane
  • +9 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
MEDIUM
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WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • Moisturizing
  • +2 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • glycolic acid
  • salicylic acid
  • glycolic acid
  • allantoin
  • caprylic/capric triglyceride
  • glycerin
  • kaolin
  • sodium hyaluronate
  • squalane
  • +6 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
HIGH
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WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-oxidation
  • Exfoliation
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • +3 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • gluconolactone
  • gluconolactone
  • lactic acid
  • caprooyl phytosphingosine
  • caprooyl sphingosine
  • ceramide ap
  • ceramide eop
  • ceramide eos
  • ceramide np
  • ceramide ns
  • arginine
  • beta-glucan
  • cetyl alcohol
  • cholesterol
  • glycerin
  • helianthus annuus seed oil
  • lactobacillus ferment
  • pullulan
  • pyrus malus fruit extract
  • silica
  • squalane
  • tocopherol
  • +20 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
MEDIUM
Wish list
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WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Moisturizing
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • +2 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • lactic acid
  • tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate
  • acetyl glucosamine
  • algae extract
  • arginine
  • bisabolol
  • caffeine
  • cetyl alcohol
  • dimethicone
  • gelidiella acerosa extract
  • hypnea musciformis extract
  • kaolin
  • laminaria saccharina extract
  • molasses extract
  • peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone
  • phospholipids
  • polysilicone-11
  • pyrus malus fruit extract
  • saccharum officinarum extract
  • sea whip extract
  • silica
  • sodium hyaluronate
  • squalane
  • sucrose
  • trehalose
  • triticum vulgare germ extract
  • zinc pca
  • +25 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
HIGH
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WORKS FOR
  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • panthenol
  • centella asiatica extract
  • glycerin
  • glyceryl stearate se
  • +2 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
MEDIUM
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WORKS FOR
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • benzophenone-4
  • glycerin
  • hamamelis virginiana extract
  • sodium hyaluronate
  • trehalose
  • +3 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
HIGH
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Appears in   94 routines
WORKS FOR
  • Anti-aging
  • Exfoliation
  • Evens skin tone
  • Anti-blemish
  • +1 more
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • glycolic acid
  • salicylic acid
  • lactic acid
  • panthenol
  • glycerin
  • sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer
  • tartaric acid
  • +4 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
MEDIUM
Wish list
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WORKS FOR
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
  • Moisturizing
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • glycerin
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
HIGH
Wish list
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WORKS FOR
  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • cetearyl alcohol
  • cetyl palmitate
  • helianthus annuus seed oil
  • kaolin
  • lactobacillus ferment
  • olea europaea fruit oil
  • +4 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
HIGH
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Appears in   1 routine
WORKS FOR
  • Cleansing
  • Exfoliation
  • Anti-blemish
KEY INGREDIENTS
  • salicylic acid
  • panthenol
  • carnosine
  • glycerin
  • hydrated silica
  • +2 more
PROMISES
FULFILLED
100 /100
IRRITANCY
HIGH
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