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Best skincare products for sensitive skin to try in 2021

From face wash to makeup

Jenni McKnight

The beauty market is constantly evolving. It seems almost daily a new product or ingredient is being hailed as 'the next big thing' that promises to restore and repair our complexions back to the dewy, bouncy skin of our youth.

But for those with sensitive skin, a more cautious approach is needed. Sensitive skin is described as reactive skin that is more prone to inflammation or adverse reactions like itching and redness.

MORE: 5 beauty treatments to do at home during lockdown

Sadly, genetics has a big role to play, but allergies, stress, hormones and certain environmental factors can also cause sensitive skin and redness.

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Some people may even experience sensitised skin due to over-cleansing or poor product selection which can leave skin more prone to irritation. That's why choosing the correct products is so important if you suffer from any sort of sensitivity.

And just because your favourite YouTuber has a 12-step routine, doesn't mean you have to. "A consistent and simple regime is the best way to avoid irritation and keep sensitive skin well balanced," Faye Purcell, Development Chemist and Skincare Expert at Q+A, told HELLO!

"Being gentle with your skin is key, ensure you're not over-exfoliating or using products that contain strong actives."

Best skincare products for sensitive skin 2021


Best face masks for sensitive skin

Soothing ingredients such as licorice root extract, cucumber extract and green tea extract (a natural antioxidant) are great for their soothing properties.

SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque contains cooling cucumber, olive and thyme to minimise redness and irritation.


SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque, £60, LookFantastic


Clarins' SOS Comfort Mask has been described as "just the tonic" for irritated skin, whether it's dehydrated, oily or spot prone. Not only does it soothe skin, but plumps and hydrates it just where it needs it, too.


SOS Comfort Nourishing Balm Mas, £30, Clarins


REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask contains Albatrellus Extract and Arnica that work in harmony to rehydrate and calm any redness or discomfort. It also protects against environmental aggressors.


REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask, £34, Cult Beauty


Best moisturiser for sensitive skin

Keeping your skin hydrated is essential if you suffer from sensitivity. Moisturisers "also create a protective barrier between your skin and environmental stressors like harsh weather conditions and pollutants which can sensitise the skin," says Faye.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA contains amino acids, fatty acids, ceramides and hyaluronic acid, among others, to protect and hydrate the outer layer of skin.


The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors +HA, £4.74, Beauty Bay


The Q+A Ginger Root Daily Moisturiser blends ginger root extract - perfect ingredient for stressed-out skin as it renews, smoothes and nourishes - along with soothing aloe vera, which is rich in polysaccharides, a molecule that hydrates the skin whilst also adding protection against pollutants.


Q+A Ginger Root Daily Moisturiser, £6.80, FeelUnique


Best makeup for sensitive skin

Looking after sensitive skin doesn't stop at your skincare products – makeup plays an important role too. As dryness can be an issue for those with sensitivity, you should look for formulas that focus on hydrating and moisturising the skin, while also keeping ingredients as natural as possible to minimise allergic reactions.

bareMinerals Original Foundation contains just five mineral ingredients, it's no wonder this foundation is considered a cult product, even for those not suffering from sensitive skin. With SPF 15, it claims to diminish the appearance of imperfections without drying skin out, giving you flawless coverage with a naturally luminous finish.


bareMinerals Original Foundation, £23.56, FeelUnique


It's not just your base you should consider when dealing with sensitivity, but your eyes too. Clinique High Impact mascara is ophthalmologist – and allergy-tested – and is safe and non-irritating for anyone with sensitive eyes. It’s also free of mineral oil and fragrance and gives you voluminous and fluttery lashes!


Clinique High Impact Mascara, £20, LookFantastic


Best exfoliator for sensitive skin

Exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – such as Glycolic Acid – Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) – like Salicylic acid – can be too harsh for sensitive skin, including those with rosacea and eczema, and overusing them can cause more irritation!

But Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs) – such as Gluconolactone – are sensitive skin's new best friend thanks to their ability to gently break down dead skin cells with very minimal irritation.

Medik8 Press & Glow is a hydrating acid toner that uses PHAs to help exfoliate the surface of the complexion without sensitising the skin for a noticeable everyday glow. The brand also offers a Calmwise range which is specifically formulated for sensitive skin types and helps to reduce redness, smooth out uneven texture and soothe surface heat and irritation.


Medik8 Press & Glow, £24.50, Face The Future


The Inkey List PHA Toner has been combined with the incredibly nourishing and gentle aloe barbadensis leaf juice to prevent future dryness and a three per cent niacinamide solution to help minimise pores and improve your texture.


The Inkey List PHA Toner, £9.99, CultBeauty


Best face wash for sensitive skin

Avoiding face wash that contains SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) is a good place to start. It's used in many cleansers and works by turning liquids into a foam which lifts oils and pollutants. "Unfortunately, a product that contains SLS can be very drying as it strips away your skins natural oils too," said Faye.

Q+A's new Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleanser or their new Grapefruit Cleansing Balm are both super effective but gentle on the skin so won't cause any sensitivity. They use coconut-derived Sodium Coco-Sulfate – an alternative to SLS – which is 100 per cent natural and much less stripping.


Q+A Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleanser, £6, FeelUnique


Fresh Soy Face Cleanser contains cucumber extract and aloe vera to calm and hydrate dry, irritated skin. Additionally, it's infused with nourishing rosewater, which is well known for its calming and balancing properties.


Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, £11.50, Cult Beauty


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