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Ingredients Good for Sensitive Skin: What You Should Look Out For

Sensitive skin is actually a symptom of other skin conditions, and isn’t something that can be diagnosed. However, a lot of people ‘self-diagnose’ themselves as having sensitive skin when they encounter a one-time bad reaction with cosmetic products. But, that’s not actually the case!

Let’s dive in deeper into the topic of sensitive skin, and hopefully shed some light on why you are experiencing these symptoms.

What causes sensitive skin?

Here are some types of skin conditions and reasons as to why you may be experiencing sensitive skin symptoms.

  • Genetics: Just like oily or dry skin, a big part of determining your skin type comes from your genes. More people with dry skin also experience sensitive skin, since they have less natural oil production and higher loss of water.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis): Eczema is a chronic but manageable skin condition that causes a red, itchy rash and discomfort. It’s a common skin condition that affects over 30 million people in the United States alone. When you have eczema, your skin can be extra sensitive to products with fragrances, harsh-surfactants, colorants or irritating ingredients.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis: Direct contact with substances like soap, cosmetics, jewelry or plants can cause an allergic reaction. Although it’s not contagious or life-threatening, the itchiness and discomfort can be less than thrilling to deal with.
  • Rosacea: This is another common chronic skin disease. It shows up as small red bumps on the skin that are often exacerbated after flare-ups. You might experience more flushing and redness after eating spicy food or drinking hot coffee and/or tea.

Signs that you have sensitive skin

Sensitive skin can come and go at random, making it hard to deal with. Here are some signs that you may be experiencing it:

Very reactive skin

  • You may notice that your skin reacts easily to certain products containing fragrances, colorants, and harsh and drying surfactants (soaps) or skincare products. This is why it is always best for you to know what exactly are in your products, and avoid using ingredients that can irritate your skin. 

Dry skin

  • Dry and sensitive skin often go hand-in-hand. When you have dry skin and a compromised skin barrier, you’re more prone to having sensitive skin. The skin barrier protects your skin from environmental irritants. When it’s damaged, these irritants will more likely cause an inflammatory reaction in your skin.

Develop rashes / redness often

  • When exposed to certain triggers, you often develop red rashes at the point of contact.

Skincare tips

Similar to dry skin, many sensitive skincare tips reflect those of dry skin types. It is important that you use a gentle cleanser, and a moisturizer that does not contain any triggering ingredients.

  • Use a gentle cleanser. Pick a cleanser with a gentle surfactant. Milk and gel cleansers are more dry skin-friendly. It will help remove excess dirt and sebum without stripping too much of your skin’s natural oils. 
  • Moisturize your skin.This is an absolute must! Pick a moisturizer with a good mix of humectants, emollients and occlusives. Apply moisturizer as soon as you’re out of the shower. Don’t wait too long or else your skin will dry out!
  • Avoid drying alcohol. Drying alcohol can strip your natural skin sebum and disrupt your skin barrier. If you have sensitive skin it’s definitely best to avoid this.
  • Avoid fragrances. Fragrances are best to be avoided when you have sensitive skin, especially if it’s present in multiple products. It can trigger an inflammatory reaction and often leads to flare-ups.

Ingredients to look for


Vitamin B5 is one of the most important vitamins in maintaining your overall health, hair and skin. It’s an ingredient commonly added to skincare products to relieve itchiness, rashes and redness.

Green tea extracts

We can’t stop talking about green tea extracts! Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea extracts are an amazing ingredient suited for nearly all skin types! Including sensitive skin.

Colloidal oatmeal

Next up, colloidal oatmeal! Certain compounds in colloidal oatmeal, like vitamin b5 and phenols, are shown to have anti-inflammatory and moisturizing effects that soothe irritated skin. 

Azelaic acid 

You’re going to want to add this one to your list of sensitive skin HG ingredients.This compound is found naturally in grains like barley, wheat or rye. Azelaic acid has been one of the most commonly used ingredients for treating rosacea. It helps reduce redness, itchiness and irritation.


Lastly, an ingredient that sensitive skin types suffering from textured skin is PHA. PHAs are polyhydroxy acids which help with exfoliating and removing dead skin cells. As it has a larger molecule size, it would not penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and cause irritation. Instead, it works only on the surface level to effectively remove dead skin buildup for clearer, brighter skin.

Ready to find more products perfect for your skin? Log into Picky and sign up for a profile to immediately discover products compatible with your sensitive skin. Don’t forget to also follow us on Instagram for more skincare science content!

One Response

  1. I think I am alergic to Aloe Vera… anytime I wash my hands with this ingredient in the soap my hands dry more. Same thing if it’s in anything else.

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