If you've ever dealt with skin reactions like redness, irritation, flakiness, or general discomfort for what seems like no reason at all, you might be one of the many people who have sensitive skin. Unpleasant skin responses due to sensitivity can be uncomfortable and frustrating and, a lot of the time, it can feel random or challenging to predict what will set off a reaction.
However, using the right skincare routine for sensitive skin can make a world of difference. First, we’ll cover the most common signs of sensitive skin and then dive into how to best care for it. With the right information, you can find a routine and products that will support your skin and help you avoid irritating reactions.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SENSITIVE SKIN?
Sensitive skin can manifest in various ways, so understanding the wide variety of reactions that may signal highly-responsive skin can help you build an effective routine. If you find that your skin often reacts negatively to topical skincare products, or even environmental factors, it may indicate sensitivity. Here are some of the common signs of sensitive skin and how they can show up.
Redness and Irritation
One of the hallmark signs of sensitive skin is redness and irritation. When exposed to triggers like harsh chemicals, environmental aggressors, or even fragrances, sensitive skin may become visibly irritated and red. In some cases, this might be due to an impaired skin barrier function which makes it more susceptible to irritants.
Dryness and Tightness
Those with sensitive skin often experience dryness and a sensation of tightness, even after applying moisturizers. In some cases, this might occur because the skin's natural barrier function has been compromised and is allowing moisture to escape, leaving the skin feeling dehydrated. Dry skin exacerbates sensitivity, leading to increased susceptibility to irritants. Hydration is paramount for sensitive skin, but we’ll go into that in more detail later on.
Flaky and Peeling Skin
Flakiness and peeling are common indicators of sensitive skin, too. When the skin's barrier is compromised, it loses its ability to retain moisture effectively, resulting in the shedding of dead skin. This can lead to a visibly flaky and rough texture.
Stinging or Burning Sensation
A telltale sign of sensitive skin is a stinging or burning sensation after applying certain skincare products or coming into contact with environmental aggressors. This sensation might indicate a heightened skin sensitivity.
Some individuals with sensitive skin are more susceptible to sunburn and sun-induced skin damage. Exposure to UV rays can trigger uncomfortable responses and, potentially, worsen skin sensitivity. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF rating is recommended for all skin types, but is especially important for those with sensitive skin.
WHAT IS THE BEST SKINCARE ROUTINE FOR SENSITIVE SKIN?
The best skincare routine for sensitive skin is gentle, simple, and protects the skin’s natural barrier function. This recommended routine does just that in four simple steps with products you may already have in your bathroom. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Cleanse
The best cleansers for sensitive skin are mild and made without harsh chemicals, exfoliants, or fragrances. Depending on your skin type, cream or gel cleansers will be great options for getting a good clean without stripping your natural oils, causing dryness, or irritating reactive skin. Once you have found a cleanser that works for you, use this formula AM and PM, rinse with warm water, and pat your skin dry with a clean, soft towel.
TIP: Do not rub the towel against your face. This can cause unnecessary irritation and friction. Pat instead!
Step 2: Serum
Next up, it’s time to apply your serum. A common concern for those with sensitive skin is how to choose a treatment serum that will help them address their skin concerns while also being gentle. And rightly so! Many serums utilize powerful actives that can be too aggressive for skin that is highly-reactive—like retinol or salicylic acid. However, there are also cutting-edge actives like malassezin that offer incredible benefits for the skin and do not cause sensitivity or irritation of any kind.
Malassezin, the active ingredient in Molecular Hero Serum, is a true breakthrough for those with sensitive skin. And that’s because this powerful ingredient is clinically proven to brighten skin and reduce visible hyperpigmentation in as little as two weeks—without causing any form of irritation. In a clinical study of 200 participants, zero people reported sensitivity or reaction.
This ingredient alone proves that those with sensitive skin do not need to sacrifice efficacy to avoid an uncomfortable skin reaction. For those with sensitive skin and concerns around brightness, tone, dark spots, or hyperpigmentation, malassezin is a safe and effective active to incorporate into your routine. And you can find it exclusively in our hyperpigmentation serum.
Step 3: Moisturize
After applying your serum, it’s time to moisturize your skin. Moisturizing is a vital step in a sensitive skincare routine because it helps strengthen and reinforce the skin's natural barrier. Formulas that are rich in humectants, like glycerin, or even innovative ingredients like malassezin, work wonders by supporting the natural moisturizing factors within the skin barrier. As a result, the skin's barrier becomes more robust and better equipped to defend against irritants and maintain optimal hydration levels.
Step 4: SPF
The final step in a skincare routine for sensitive skin is SPF. As mentioned above, exposure to UV rays may trigger uncomfortable reactions or worsen skin sensitivity in some individuals. So, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF rating and reapplying it regularly is absolutely critical to avoid potential UV-induced skin reactions. Choose a sunscreen formulated for sensitive skin and look for active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. In general, avoid formulas with avobenzone, oxybenzone, and homosalate which may be irritating to sensitive skin.
In the simplest terms, the best routine for sensitive skin is one that is gentle, hydrating, and helps protect the skin’s natural barrier. With your products, look for gentle actives that won’t cause sensitivity, like malassezin, and soothing and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. And when it comes to steps in your routine, keep it simple! Our recommended four-step regimen—cleanser, serum, moisturizer, SPF—helps support skin while minimizing potential reactions.