Sensitive skin sucks. And you’ll often feel like it’s impossible to find products that won’t make your face feel all irritated, red and inflamed.
This is why it pays to know which ingredients work well on your skin type (read: soothing, calming), and which ingredients are best to avoid on sensitive skin (the ones that cause flare-ups, rashes, breakouts and any other kind of reaction).
“When treating sensitive skin, it is important to soothe and strengthen the skin, making it less reactive and more able to cope with irritants,” said skin expert and founder of Skin Virtue Nina Gajic.
Because we know you don’t have all day to decipher what’s on the back of your product packaging, we’ve picked a handful of ingredients to look out for – ones your sensitive skin will love.
Sounds 10/10 science-y, but laminaria saccharina is basically brown algae that’s loaded with a bunch of good things for sensitive skin. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.
“Laminaria saccharina has soothing and decongestant properties on irritated and inflamed skin,” explains Gajic.
“It increases skin moisture levels as well as improving superficial skin imperfections and helps to regulate the functions of the sebaceous glands.”
Another added bonus? This ingredient also has free radical scavenging action, meaning it can help slow down and prevent environmental damage to the skin (hey, pollution and friends).
If you’re looking for where to find laminaria saccharina, try Skin Virtue’s Super Clear Collection for normal to oily skin types.
Edelweiss extract is another great ingredient for sensitive skin. This plant extract is a real all-rounder and provides both antioxidant and skin-soothing benefits – it’s antibacterial, anti-blemish, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, free radical scavenger, and anti-ageing.
Told you she was a goodie.
“Edelweiss extract has a positive effect on all oxidative and pro inflammatory parameters within the skin,” said Gajic.
“It helps to re-balance the skin’s stress level and provides vital support for the skin’s natural protection power and skin barrier function.”
As a result, it strengthens the skin’s surface and helps make it more resistant to environmental aggressors. What a champ.
Another ingredient that is kind to sensitive skin is olea eurpaea – an olive-derived ingredient that provides skin-smoothing, emollient, hydrating, and nourishing benefits.
“It has excellent compatibility with the skin and provides skin protection by penetrating the skin where it can act as a free radical scavenger and antioxidant,” said Gajic.
“It serves a structural role in the lipid cement of the stratum corneum and provides soothing properties, further supporting the skin barrier function. It is rich in squalene, which makes it very soothing for drier skin types.”
Want to know where to find olea eurpaea? Check out the Skin Virtue Pure Anti-Ageing Collection for normal to dry skin types.
Hydrolysed elastin is basically a guard dog. It’s a hard-working ingredient that provides a natural protein layer of protection on the skin, guarding it against environmental factors on a daily basis.
According to Gajic, “It forms non-occlusive moisture retentive films when applied topically, alleviating dry and chapped skin conditions.”
Not only does hydrolysed elastin work as a skin-loving humectant, but its moisture-binding ability means that it can also promote cell growth and help maintain the skin’s elasticity.
Vitamin E is a fantastic soothing and strengthening ingredient that’s great for all skin types – including sensitive skin.
“Other than its antioxidant, replenishing and hydrating effects, it provides a skin-soothing action and helps to re-build and strengthen the skin barrier function, resulting in decreased TEWL,” said Gajic.
To break that down a bit, not only does vitamin E provide intense nourishment to the skin, but it also helps prevent water-loss by sealing up your skin and providing it with the hydration it needs.
Heard of hyaluronic acid? Well, sodium hyaluronate is an ingredient that is derived from hyaluronic acid – only it can be extracted and used separately to provide even more benefits for the skin.
Fun fact: Unlike hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate has a low molecular weight, meaning it’s small enough to penetrate the epidermis and improve hydration in the underlying skin layers.
“It’s a natural skin replenishing, skin-restoring, moisturising antioxidant that helps to make up the extracellular matrix structure,” explains Gajic. “It can reach deep into the dermis layer of the skin to mix with, attract, and maintain water.”
Gajic said sodium hyaluronate can also help speed up wound healing by controlling inflammation and redirecting blood vessels to areas of damaged skin.
Pretty neat, huh?