Sensitive Skin SOS: A Step-by-Step Guide

A good facial routine for sensitive skin involves using gentle, non-irritating products and following a consistent regimen. Dealing with sensitive skin that frequently develops redness, rashes, inflammation, or acne is frustrating and can be painful. It’s important to use gentle products, provide nourishment and moisturization, and avoid irritants to your sensitive skin. In addition, consider consulting with a medical professional or dermatologist to find the best solutions given your specific situation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you take care of your sensitive skin:


It’s important not to underestimate the value of a cleansing regimen for sensitive skin. You do, however, have to be careful which cleanser you use. Choose a mild, fragrance-free, and soap-free cleanser specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Look for products with a pH-balanced formula to avoid disrupting your skin’s natural barrier. Before you use a new cleanser for the first time, be sure to try it in a small area to see how your skin reacts to it.


After cleansing, consider using a toner on your skin to condition and soothe it. If you have sensitive or dry skin, it’s important to opt for an alcohol-free and non-astringent toner. Look for ingredients like chamomile, rose water, or cucumber extract to soothe and hydrate the skin. Again, just as with your cleanser, you will want to try any new toner in an unobtrusive and small area of your skin before using it on your whole face.


Sensitive skin requires careful and frequent moisturizing in order to stay healthy. Because your skin is sensitive, you will need to be careful about which moisturizer you choose and what ingredients it contains. Use a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic moisturizer that contains ceramides, glycerin, or shea butter to lock in moisture and strengthen the skin’s barrier. Consider trying a sensitive skin face oil instead of lotion or cream. If you have very dry skin, you will want to choose a moisturizer designed for that situation, while if your skin tends to be more oily you may need to choose a milder moisturizer that won’t irritate your skin or cause you to break out.


Consider exfoliating your skin regularly to help remove dead skin cells and rejuvenate the surface of your skin. It’s important not to exfoliate too often and to use products that will be gentle. Be cautious with exfoliation as sensitive skin can be easily irritated. Choose a gentle exfoliant with fine particles or chemical exfoliants with mild acids like lactic acid or salicylic acid. Make sure to use products without irritants like fragrances and avoid scrubbing too hard so you don’t irritate your sensitive skin. You can also use gentle brushes or sponges designed for this gentle exfoliation.


Make sun protection a priority to prevent unnecessary damage and aging. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher daily, even on cloudy or cold days. Look for sunscreens specially formulated for sensitive skin, usually labeled as “fragrance-free” and “non-comedogenic.” You can also use physical forms of sun protection such as broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses to provide an extra layer of protection between the sun and your skin. Remember to reapply sunscreen frequently as needed.

Night Cream

A night cream is an excellent way to rejuvenate and nourish your skin and help it recover from the stresses and damage of the day. Night creams are often more moisturizing and nourishing than your regular moisturizer and continue to work throughout the night as you sleep. Consider using a richer and more nourishing night cream or a sensitive skin-friendly oil to provide extra hydration while you sleep, and never apply the cream to unwashed skin. Make sure that you stick with a night cream designed for sensitive skin and check the ingredients for fragrances and other reactive substances that may cause a problem to your skin.

Face Masks

If you choose to use a face mask, remember to be cautious, especially with clay masks or those with potent active ingredients. Consider making your own masks out of mild ingredients or purchase ready-made masks that are designed for sensitive skin. Make sure that you use these masks occasionally and test each one before use, to verify that it won’t cause a reaction or inflammation.

Patch Testing

As mentioned many times in this article, it’s important not to use a new product on sensitive skin without testing it first. Whenever you introduce a new product into your routine, conduct a patch test on a small area of your skin to ensure it doesn’t cause irritation or an allergic reaction. A patch test will allow you to evaluate how your skin reacts to the product over time and can prevent breakouts or reactions across your face or over a large part of your body. Make sure that you don’t do the patch test on an area of skin that is less sensitive, such as the palms of your hands. Instead, apply the product over a small part of your sensitive skin so that you will be able to get an accurate result. If you do find a product that causes a reaction, make sure to keep a record of it so that you can narrow down specific brands, products, or ingredients to avoid.

Avoid Irritants

There are some products that tend to be more irritating to sensitive skin than others. It is important to stay away from products with fragrances, alcohol, harsh chemicals, and artificial colors. Also, avoid using very hot water when washing your face, as it can strip the skin of its natural oils and worsen sensitivity. If you don’t know what ingredient or product causes irritation to your skin, consider contacting a dermatologist or allergist to help narrow down the cause.

Hydration and Diet

Hydration is an essential part of having healthy skin. Becoming dehydrated can cause your skin to get chalky, dry, and inflamed. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid sugar-filled drinks. You should aim for 8 to 10 cups of liquid a day. Your skin will also be healthier if you prioritize maintaining a healthy diet. Foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can promote skin health, as can healthy fats and the proper level of vitamins and minerals. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals, and some vegetables such as avocados also contain healthy fats. Try to get the USDA-recommended number of fresh fruits and vegetables a day and focus on eating a variety of colors as this is the best way to get many different kinds of nutrients.

Consult a Dermatologist

Finally, if you have sensitive skin or experience frequent reactions it’s important to consult a dermatologist. Suffering from persistent sensitivity, redness, or irritation can be frustrating and contribute to a lower quality of life so if this describes your situation consider visiting a professional. While following a gentle skincare routine is helpful, a dermatologist can provide insight into your situation and help you find the best ways to care for and treat your sensitive skin. They can also help you with any underlying skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, or allergic dermatitis.


While it can be difficult and frustrating to battle with your sensitive skin and try to find products, ingredients, and treatments that are effective and safe for you, it’s worth the struggle to avoid breakouts or inflammation. Everyone’s skin is different and finding a solution that works for your sensitive skin may require some trial and error. Remember it’s important to consider consulting with a dermatologist or other expert to find solutions and treatments that will provide you with the best results.