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Sensitive skin basics

Many people have reaction to potential irritants, such as harsh detergents, alcohol, acidic skin care products, makeup removers and the like. This does not necessarily mean their skin is truly sensitive. Reactions to known potential irritants are considered to be within the range of normal. True skin sensitivity (i.e. hypersensitivity) is relatively uncommon. Hypersensitive skin would often react not only to potential irritants, but also to generally nonirritating substances as well as heat, cold, wind and so forth. If you think you have hypersensitive skin, see a dermatologist to rule out skin condition with similarities to genuine hypersensitivity (e.g. rosacea or eczema). Such conditions may require specialized treatment.

Sensitive skin routines usually include the following recommendations:

  • Use products that contain as few preservatives, fragrances, colorings and other redundant ingredients as possible.
  • Avoid toners. Most toners contain alcohol and/or other irritants.
  • Avoid (or at least be very careful with) acidic and other potentially irritating skin care, such as alpha hydroxy products or retinoids.
  • Avoid harsh detergents, both in your shower and in your laundry.
  • Minimize the use of makeup and avoid makeup removers. If you must use makeup, use hypoallegenic, easly-to-remove kinds. You can use a dab of olive or mineral oil to help dissolve and remove the makeup.
  • After cleansing apply hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic moisturizer. Do it while skin is still damp to help seal the moisture.
  • Clean your skin once or twice a day with alcohol-free, soap-free, moisturizing cleanser.
  • Use hypoallergenic oil-free sunscreen whenever sun exposure is expected.

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