Sensitive skin can be a frustrating condition to deal with, as it is often prone to irritation, redness, and breakouts. When it comes to skincare, it is important to be mindful of the ingredients that you use, as certain ones may be more likely to cause irritation or worsen your skin's sensitivity.
If you suffer from sensitive skin, keep reading to discover some skincare ingredients that you may want to avoid.
Skincare ingredients to avoid
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a common ingredient in many skincare products, as it can help to dissolve other ingredients and provide a refreshing, astringent effect on the skin. However, alcohol can also be drying and irritating to sensitive skin. It can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, flakiness, and even breakouts.
- Fragrance: Many skincare products contain added fragrances to make them smell pleasant, but these fragrances can be irritating to sensitive skin. In fact, fragrance is one of the most common causes of allergic reactions in skincare products. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to choose fragrance-free products.
- Sulfates: Sulfates are a type of surfactant that is commonly used in skincare products to create a lathering effect. However, sulfates can be harsh and drying on sensitive skin, and may cause redness, irritation, and even breakouts. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to avoid products that contain sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS).
- Parabens: Parabens are a type of preservative that is commonly used in skincare products to extend their shelf life. However, some research suggests that parabens may be absorbed through the skin and interfere with hormone function. While more research is needed, people with sensitive skin may choose to avoid parabens as a precaution.
- Retinoids: Retinoids, such as retinol and tretinoin, are ingredients that are commonly used in anti-aging skincare products. They work by increasing cell turnover and stimulating collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, retinoids can be irritating to sensitive skin, causing redness, flakiness, and breakouts. If you have sensitive skin and want to use a retinoid, it is best to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it as your skin becomes accustomed to it.
- Benzoyl peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide is a common ingredient in acne treatments, as it helps to kill bacteria and unclog pores. However, it can also be drying and irritating to sensitive skin, causing redness, flakiness, and even peeling. If you have sensitive skin and are using a product with benzoyl peroxide, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and start with a lower concentration when possible.
- Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid is another common ingredient in acne treatments, as it helps to exfoliate the skin and unclog pores. However, it can also be drying and irritating to sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, it is important to be cautious when using products containing salicylic acid. Follow the instructions closely and consider using a lower concentration if possible.
- Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that is commonly used in exfoliating products, as it helps to remove dead skin cells and improve the texture and tone of the skin. However, glycolic acid can be irritating to sensitive skin, causing redness, flakiness, and even breakouts. If you have sensitive skin and are using a glycolic acid-containing product, pay attention to the instructions and try using a lower concentration if possible to avoid irritation.
- Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a preservative that is commonly used in skincare products to extend their shelf life. It can be irritating to sensitive skin, causing redness, itching, and even allergic reactions. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to avoid products that contain formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, such as quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin.
- Mineral oil: Mineral oil is a type of oil that is commonly used in skincare products as an emollient to provide moisture and nourishment to the skin. However, mineral oil can be occlusive, meaning that it can form a barrier on the skin that prevents it from breathing and can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to avoid products that contain mineral oil or other occlusive ingredients, such as petrolatum.
Skincare ingredients to be wary of if you have sensitive skin
There are varying degrees of severity when it comes to sensitive skin. Those with extremely sensitive skin may also want to consider avoiding the following products:
- Essential oils: Ingredients such as tea tree oil and lavender oil can be very drying and cause a reaction in those with especially sensitive skin. If you do want to use them, make sure to dilute them beforehand.
- Exfoliating acids: While acids are great at exfoliating the skin without having to use physical scrubs, they can remove moisture from the skin and cause damage. Those with sensitive skin should use weak avid exfoliators, such as those containing lactic acids, as it’s more gentle than other types of acid.
- Witch hazel: Although witch hazel is a useful ingredient for skincare issues such as acne and rosacea, it can be too harsh for sensitive skin. It’s often mixed with alcohol, which can irritate sensitive skin.
- Vitamin E: This ingredient is useful for helping the skin to heal, but products containing a high percentage of vitamin E can cause redness or even a rash for those with extremely sensitive skin.
If you have sensitive skin, it is important to be mindful of the ingredients that you use in your skincare products. Some ingredients, such as alcohol, fragrance, sulfates, parabens, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, formaldehyde, and mineral oil, can be drying, irritating, or occlusive and may worsen your skin's sensitivity. By avoiding these ingredients and choosing products that are formulated specifically for sensitive skin, you can help to minimize irritation and keep your skin healthy and comfortable.