Winter can be problematic for even the sturdiest skins, but is particularly harsh on sensitive or sensitised skins. Firstly, it’s helpful to know whether you have sensitive skin, in that nearly everything feels like it’s too much, too strong or too irritating, or a sensitised skin, which is (hopefully) a more temporary situation and can be caused by anything from using a prescription strength topical cream to an allergic reaction to your lunch (or a skincare product..!).

If you’re unsure which camp you fall into – have you always had a problem with your skin? Do you have eczema, psoriasis or rosacea? Does you face ‘hurt’ every time you think of trying a new product?
You potentially have a traditional ‘true’ sensitive skin.

Have you had a recent allergic reaction to something and felt the effects on your face? Tightness, dryness, itchiness, redness? Is it isolated? Does it show up sporadically? Do you know what triggers it? Do you keep a few products on hand for when your skin is playing up?
Your skin may be temporarily sensitised.

Either way, your product choices fall into similar camps: soothing, generally fragrance-free and essential oil-free (there are some exceptions, as always, formula is king) and the good news is that for the most part, because you’re generally using simpler formulas, you can find what you need in affordable price ranges.

Genuine sensitive skins need to always be thinking about the acid mantle: how to protect it, how to reinforce it, how to do no further harm. Not all of these products have been designed with sensitive skins specifically in mind, but they get to work without causing further irritation.

Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion –

Chantecaille Pure Rosewater –

Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Serum –

Dermalogica Ultracalming™ Ultrasmoothing Eye Serum –

Cerave Eye Repair Cream for Dark Circles –

Clinique All About Eyes Rich –

Pestle & Mortar Hydrate Lightweight Moisturiser –

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream –

Weleda Skin Food –

Weleda Skin Food Light –

Aurelia The Probiotic Concentrate –

If you want to look at brands old and new I would head to Avene, CeraVe, La Roche Posay, First Aid Beauty, Dermalogica, Paula’s Choice, First Aid Beauty and Clinique for your basics. Avoid super-active ingredients like strong vitamin A and C products – at least until your skin feels calmer and isn’t red or hot to the touch.

Keep your routine simple until you can tolerate higher strengths and potentially increase to more active formulas.

  • Cleanse gently, no foaming.
  • If you want to use acid I would only use it on areas where you are not sensitised. During my allergic reaction last year and for a few weeks after it, I could only use acid on my forehead which felt pointless – so I shelved it completely until my skin calmed down.
  • Mist liberally with gentle sprays.
  • Try and apply some hyaluronic acid – Hydraluron worked well for me. It didn’t cause any stinging or burning, but you try and should patch test any new products if you can.
  • Apply your oil and/or moisturiser, let them settle and reapply.
  • If you’re not going out, and you can, avoid makeup and SPF.
  • You may want to spritz and reapply the final three steps on and off throughout the day – assuming you have found the right products for your skin, using them in light layers can help keep the temperature of your skin down.



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The views expressed on this site are the author’s own and are provided for informational purposes only. The author makes no warranties about the suitability of any product or treatment referenced or reviewed here for any person other than herself and any reliance placed on these reviews or references by you is done so solely at your own risk. Nothing on this site shall be construed as providing dermatological, medical or other such advice and you are always advised to seek the advice of a suitable professional should you have any such concerns.