Our Guide to Sensitive Skin Care

Building a sensitive skincare routine can be a tricky process of trial and error. When error strikes, your skin may react to certain ingredients, creating a rash, irritation or inflammation. If you have sensitive skin, you’re probably no stranger to these symptoms.

The good news? There are ways to avoid reactions, identify what is causing them and adapt your skincare routine to accommodate them. Here’s a roundup of best practices for navigating skincare for sensitive skin.

Sensitive skincare product on a woman's hand preparing for a patch test

Tips for choosing sensitive skincare

Although it’s hard to anticipate how your sensitive skin will react to new products and ingredients, checking labels is a great place to start. Here’s what to look out for:

  • DO consider products with descriptions like “hypoallergenic,” “non-irritating,” or “dermatologist tested.”
  • DON’T use skincare products with artificial exfoliating beads and scents. In addition to being damaging to the environment, microbeads (which are banned in the UK) can actually cause small rips in the skin known as micro-tears.
  • DO choose exfoliating cleansers with salicylic acid, which unclogs pores without damaging the skin. It is the active ingredient in SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser, which also contains allantoin to soothe irritation and redness.

Perform a skin sensitivity test

The best way to gauge how your skin will react to a new product is to do a test patch. Dr. Sandra Lee recommends patients follow this protocol:

  • Place a small amount of the product on the skin behind your ear or on your inner forearm for a few days in a row.
  • Closely monitor the area for any redness, irritation or rashes.
  • If your skin tolerates the product, you can safely incorporate it into your skincare routine.
  • If you start using a topical anti-aging product, you can also apply it to a smaller area of your face, like one cheek, for a few days to test your skin’s response without risking a full-fledged breakout.
  • If you’re adding a new product to your existing skincare regimen, try a test spot with the products you’re planning on layering as well to make sure those ingredients don’t interfere with each other.
A woman with sensitive skin examining her face in the mirror

How to identify a skincare reaction problem

If you recently upgraded your skin care in more than one way, and your skin has reacted poorly, pinpointing the problematic ingredient is the first step in resolving the issue. Stop layering your skincare and instead test spot one product at a time to figure out which product is irritating your skin. If your skin tolerates each alone, begin to layer them in a test spot to identify which combination is causing discomfort. With some persistence, you should be able to pinpoint which product you need to swap. If the problem persists, consider consulting a dermatologist to figure out which ingredients you may be sensitive or allergic to — and to rule out a possible skin condition.

Blemish Prone Skin System Salicylic Acid, Sulfur Lotion, Retinol Serum, Moisturiser by Dr. Pimple Popper

Dr. Sandra Lee’s top sensitive skincare picks

Though every complexion is unique, SLMD Skincare has been carefully formulated by Dr. Sandra Lee to be gentle enough for sensitive skin. Here are her best recommendations:

  • For blemish-prone skin, try products with sulfur, which regulates the skin’s oil-production, stops the growth of acne-causing bacteria and gently exfoliates. SLMD Skincare Sulfur Lotion is a lightweight, easily absorbed lotion formulated with sulfur and sweet almond oil to prevent breakouts for a clear complexion.
  • Swap out an occlusive moisturiser (which can exacerbate oily skin or clog pores) with a lightweight, oil-free and fragrance-free formula. Formulated for blemish-prone skin, SLMD Skincare Facial Moisturizer supplies deep-down moisture without irritating sensitive skin and uses vitamin C to brighten complexion.
  • Use retinol strategically: look for products that include skin-soothing formulations. SLMD Retinol Serum uses a time-release formula that gently activates throughout the night, instead of all at once, to minimise irritation.

If you’re looking for a blemish-fighting regimen specifically for sensitive skin, SLMD Skincare Blemish-Prone Skin System includes all of the essentials listed above: Salicylic Acid Cleanser, Sulfur Lotion, Retinol Serum, and Facial Moisturizer.

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