Finding a skincare routine for sensitive skin can seem daunting. You need products that are gentle on skin but tough on acne, aging and any other skin concerns. As Skin Health Experts who treat some of the toughest skin concerns every day in our Los Angeles clinic, we’ve developed skincare for sensitive skin. Our products and services focus on providing moisture and assisting in re-enforcing the skin’s natural barrier which protects it from external elements. Depending on the severity and cause of your skin sensitivity, you may need to design a gentle skincare routine that addresses the unique challenges you face.
What is Sensitive Skin?
The term sensitive skin isn’t actually a clinical term or condition. Rather, it refers to skin that is easily irritated. Signs of sensitivity include redness, dryness, itchiness and rashes or bumps. Unfortunately, the cause of each individual’s sensitivity will vary but some commonly recognized antagonists are eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and allergies. Sensitivity may also be a reaction to environmental changes like the weather or the presence of a pet. In order to determine your unique sensitivities, you can work with a dermatologist or esthetician to narrow down the possibilities and maybe even have some tests done. But most often, the way to determine what you react to is to simply pay attention to what triggers your skin sensitivity.
Tips for Sensitive Skin
Esthetician Aly Mac has been at the Kate Somerville clinic for two years and in that time she has learned a lot about not only our products, but the skin concerns many of our clients face. One of the most frustrating challenges is skin sensitivity. Not knowing exactly what makes your skin react can make it difficult to find products that will help you maintain radiant and healthy skin. As you begin to look for products, Aly recommends first looking for those labeled as calming, nourishing or hydrating. She notes that these products tend to utilize ingredients that are gentler on your skin and less likely to cause a reaction. “If you have sensitive skin, you should definitely stay away from any products with words like stimulating, detoxifying or purifying as these will probably be too harsh for you and may irritate your skin,” she says.
In general, Aly notes that when it comes to skincare for sensitive skin, less is more. Fewer products containing fewer ingredients is a good rule of thumb when you begin to build a routine. As you add different products to your regimen, note the ingredients they each contain and how your skin reacts to each. This can help you determine what your skin may be more sensitive to so you can avoid it in the future.
The Best Gentle Skincare Routine
Because of your skin’s tendency to react and become irritated, you must be careful when building out a daily skincare regimen. For each step of your routine, you will want to select products that give you results without causing a reaction. Using Aly’s tips above, we’ve designed an effective yet gentle skincare routine you can implement:
1. Double Cleanse
If you haven’t heard yet, double cleansing is all the rage in the skincare community. Just as it sounds, this is the process of cleansing your face twice. First, with an oil-based cleanser to remove any makeup or environmental impurities from the surface of the skin. This is crucial when you have sensitive skin as leaving makeup on overnight can cause dryness and any other impurities may cause irritation. Then, you use a water-based cleanser to remove any lingering dirt and debris from the surface. This second wash ensures your face is completely clean and leaves it ready for any next steps.
As Aly suggests, you’ll want to look for cleansing products that are moisturizing and help enhance your skin’s natural barrier, not stress it. Try starting with our Gentle Daily Wash which is formulated without sulfates. This gel cleanser cleanses the face while working to prevent dryness. Our Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser is also an excellent choice of facial cleanser that will remove makeup, dirt, and oil while soothing dry, sensitive skin as a result of the milk’s natural proteins. Read more in our related blog post about the benefits of goat milk skincare.
While exfoliation and removing the surface layer of your skin seems counterintuitive when you’ve got sensitive skin, gentle exfoliation can actually help to address dryness and rough patches. However, be careful when selecting an exfoliant as anything too abrasive or harsh will worsen your sensitive skin symptoms. When you first start using an exfoliator or skincare facial scrubs, limit your frequency to once or twice per week until your skin adjusts. Then you can consider using the product(s) more often.
If you suffer from mild to moderate sensitivity, you may benefit from using an alcohol-free toner. It can balance your skin tone and remove any pore-clogging dirt, debris and makeup that your cleansers may have left behind. In addition, toners and facial cleansers are designed to help rebalance your skin's pH, an incredibly important aspect for maintaining the skin’s natural barrier. It may also help to replenish any hydration lost during cleansing and further prep the skin to better absorb all the active ingredients found in the products which you apply afterward. If, however, you suffer from extreme or severe sensitivity you may be better off skipping toner until you have seen improvements in your skin.
4. Serums & Treatments
Skin serum and treatment products can help address specific skin concerns by offering an increased concentration of active ingredients that will improve those conditions. Serums usually have a thicker oil-like consistency while treatments can vary in their appearance with some marketed as creams while others are more like gels. Regardless of the texture, their use can provide intense moisturization or other remedies to aid those suffering from specific conditions such as dry skin, oily skin and acne, just to name a few. One of our most popular products is Kate Somerville’s Dry Skin Saver. It is a lightweight, fragrance-free formula that restores the skin with essential hydration to help reduce irritation and dry skin.
Restoring the skin’s hydration is an essential step in addressing skin sensitivity. As the skin becomes irritated and inflamed, it often dries out leaving you with tight, itchy and red skin. A good moisturizer will not only hydrate but can help to provide additional nutrients to your skin  as well. Regularly using a moisturizer helps to maintain your skin’s natural barrier against environmental stressors while helping to prevent your skin from producing excess oils.
Kate Somerville offers a number of moisturizers that are compatible for those with sensitive skin. Our Goat Milk Moisturizing Cream is a great everyday option for those looking to add a gentle cream to their routine that will also provide a number of skin-enhancing benefits - more on that later. But if you would like to focus on anti-aging effects, we offer our Age Arrest Anti-Wrinkle Cream, which are both clinically tested to be suitable for sensitive skin so you can still achieve the results you desire. Learn about how to reduce eye wrinkles in our related blog article.
The skin around your eyes is generally more sensitive and delicate than the rest of your face and so we have also developed eye creams that are effective yet compatible for sensitive skin. Our Age Arrest Eye Cream aims to tone the area around the eye and increase skin resilience.
One of the most important steps for those with sensitive skin - and all skin types really - is to apply sunscreen in the morning regardless of the weather forecast in order to protect your skin. Without it, you expose your skin to unnecessary damage such as dark spots and increased risk of developing health issues such as skin cancer. Plus, continued unprotected exposure to the sun is linked to premature aging of the skin  and increased sensitivity as the result of sunburn.
Goat’s Milk for Sensitive Skin
You will notice that many of the Kate Somerville products designed for sensitive skin feature a common ingredient: goat’s milk. Our esthetician Aly notes that the natural lactose in goat milk calms the skin while helping to reduce redness and hydrate the skin. Goat’s milk products can range from cleansers to moisturizers due to the variety of nutrients it contains, including:
As you can see, goat’s milk is packed full of vitamins and minerals, each of which provides a unique benefit to the skin. For example, the various proteins and fatty acids in goat’s milk allow it to more easily absorb into the skin while other chemical compounds act as a natural exfoliant, helping to brighten your complexion and clearing away dead skin. The natural creams contained in goat’s milk are also what makes it such an effective moisturizer. Plus, it is gentle enough to minimize further irritation.
At Kate Somerville, we recognize the key to improving skin sensitivity is to reinforce the skin’s natural defenses. Which is why we’ve worked hard to create a line of products that are gentle, effective, and easy to use on sensitive skin. It’s a delicate balance, but we have worked with hundreds of clients to help them overcome this struggle and experience the glowing, hydrated skin they have always desired.