Sensitive Skin Care

Sensitive skin care varies depending on the type of sensitive skin you have. The four main categories of this type of skin are:

  • Acne
  • Burning and stinging, usually for unknown reasons
  • Contact dermatitis caused by allergies and irritants
  • Rosacea.

Inflammation is common to all types of sensitive skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (2010).

Sensitive Skin Care

If you have sensitive skin, use a gentle cleanser suitable to your skin condition. Generally dermatologists recommend cleansing morning and night, but depending on your skin, once a day may be sufficient. Avoid harsh soaps and look for fragrance-free and alcohol-free cleansers.

Avoid scrubbing your skin. After cleansing, pat dry, leaving the skin slightly moist. Moisturize immediately. A sensitive skin cream as a moisturizer can help prevent or reduce irritation.

Here are a few other points about sensitive skin care:

  • Avoid products that contain fragrances, soap or alcohol.
  • Be careful when exfoliating, which can make skin more sensitive.
  • Consider using sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients deflect the sun’s rays, rather than absorb them in the way that chemical sunscreens do. Chemical sunscreens are more likely to irritate sensitive skin. One exception may be for people with acne, who can use sunscreens containing avobenzone, which is less likely to clog pores.
  • Look for calming ingredients in skin care products and sensitive skin cream, such as green tea polyphenols, chamomile and aloe.
  • Use care with products containing acids, such as lipoic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid, because they may irritate sensitive skin.

Sensitive Skin Makeup

Choosing cosmetics for sensitive skin can be difficult. If you have sensitive skin, the following tips may help you avoid redness, rashes and irritation:

  • Avoid using waterproof cosmetics, because you must use a solvent to take them off. These solvents also remove the skin’s protective oil, exposing sensitive skin to potential irritants.
  • Do not use makeup past its expiration date, since cosmetics can spoil or become contaminated.
  • Use cosmetics that contain 10 ingredients or fewer. The fewer ingredients a product contains, the less likely it is to irritate your skin.
  • Use lighter, earth-tone eye shadows. Darker pigments may be more likely to irritate the sensitive skin of the eyelid.
  • Use pencil eyeliner and eyebrow fillers rather than liquid eyeliner. Liquid eyeliners contain latex, to which some people are allergic. Black eye products may be less likely to cause irritation than other colors.
  • Use powder cosmetics when possible. They contain fewer preservatives and other ingredients that can irritate the skin than liquid makeup contains. If you must use a liquid foundation, use one with a silicone base.

If you have sensitive skin, talk to a dermatologist. She can help you determine what is causing your sensitive skin and discuss the best ways to reduce irritation and inflammation.


American Academy of Dermatology. (2010). Sensitive skin. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from

American Academy of Dermatology. (2009). Saving face 101: How to customize your skin care routine with your skin type. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from

University of New Hampshire Health Services. (2009). What you should know about protecting your skin. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from

UAB Health System. (2003). Cosmetics (Sensitive Skin). Retrieved November 17, 2010, from