Cleansing your skin may be the first step of your morning ritual, but if your skin is of the sensitive variety, it’s not as easy as grabbing the nearest bar of soap. If you have sensitive skin—easily irritated by chemicals and fragrances, or prone to redness, rashes and irritation—it’s essential to steer clear of harsh ingredients and opt for both gentle products and methods.
Cleansing Tips for Sensitive Skin
As a general rule, look for products specifically designed for sensitive skin, and aim for those that contain the least amount of ingredients—the purer the content, the less chance for irritation. It may also help to opt for fragrance-free cleansers formulated without chemical preservatives like paraben. Run a test on an inconspicuous bit of skin before applying any new cleanser to your sensitive face. Use warm water only, because hot water can dry and stress sensitive skin further, and be sure to blot—no scrubbing with a washcloth.
While it may seem odd to cleanse your skin with oil, plant-based oils work to unclog harmful oils from pores by binding to impurities, and they also leave sensitive, dry skin feeling soft. Instead of stripping the skin, formulas with botanical oils—think grapeseed, jojoba oil and particularly olive—keep sensitive skin balanced and hydrated. Although cleansing oils use natural ingredients, those with sensitive skin should always patch-test first. Some botanicals can cause allergic contact dermatitis in some people.
Micellar Waters and Cleansing Balms
If you love one-stop cleansing, you may wish to check out micellar waters. Originating in France, these cleansers are a combination of purified water and tiny oil droplets; simply apply to the face and wipe off with cotton. The oil removes impurities, while the water rinses the released dirt and bad oils away. For a mini at-home facial, opt for a cleansing balm. Composed of emollients and plant oils, the texture is thick and waxy, but the idea is the same as other oil cleansers: Heavy makeup and debris are whisked away, but sensitive skin is spared in the process.
Those with skin conditions like eczema or rosacea often have good luck with cleansing creams. Marked by a creamy consistency, as the name implies, these cleansers clean in a similar fashion to traditional varieties but don’t contain the harsh ingredients that can irritate or dry the epidermis. Thicker than a gel, creamy cleansers that contain natural organic soothers like extracts of anthyllis, calendula and chamomile or moisture-trapping hyaluronic acid are effective for both cleaning and hydrating—without fear of irritation.