There’s no denying it. Sensitive skin is finicky with its own unique needs.
If it feels impossible to find skincare for sensitive skin that won’t set off a chain reaction, we’re here to help. The first step is understanding what causes sensitive skin.
Then, use the following tips to build the best natural skin care routine to keep your sensitive skin calm and happy.
Meet the expert
We've asked Mokosh Organic Skincare founder Marion O’Leary to help us demystify sensitive skin.
A former vet and pathologist, Marion understood the potentially damaging effects of traditional skincare formulations. Her Ayurvedic inspired skincare products restore radiance by targeting the root cause of skin imbalances.
While Marion did not set out to create natural skin care products for sensitive skin, her pure organic skincare products are ideal. There's a gentle option to switch out every product in your sensitive skin care routine.
What causes sensitive skin?
Stinging, itching, tightness or visible changes like redness and dryness are all signs your skin is sensitive.
Any skin type can experience periodic sensitivities. Some people are genetically predisposed to sensitive skin, others can become sensitized.
Marion explains “the clue to understanding sensitive skin is that people with sensitive skin have similar physical changes in their skin.”
That common factor is damage to the skin barrier. The skin barrier is one of the body's first lines of protection against environmental insults.
Put simply, a healthy skin barrier keeps environmental irritants and harmful microorganisms out and moisture in. "When all parts of our skin’s barrier are intact, our skin is healthy and glowing" says Marion. “These physical changes make sensitive skin more permeable to irritating substances” she explains.
This explains why the best natural skincare for sensitive skin will prioritize rebuilding the skin barrier.
Tip: If you have persistent redness, irritation, stinging or burning consider seeing a dermatologist to help determine what is causing your sensitive skin.
5 Essential Skin Care Tips Everyone with Sensitive Skin Should Follow
Follow these 5 tips to help protect your skin so it’s less susceptible to irritation.
SKIN CARE TIP #1: PROTECT YOUR SKIN BARRIER
Many of us unknowingly do things each day that weaken our skin barrier. A weak skin barrier can lead to sensitivity and irritation.
Stop using barrier disrupting skin care products. Harsh facial cleansers, exfoliants, astringent toners and soaps can all strip our skin of its natural oils. Steer clear of sulfates and wash your face with lukewarm water.
Keep skin moisturized with natural and organic skin care products for sensitive skin.
SKIN CARE TIP #2: GET TO KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS.
Avoid skincare products with common irritants like soap, synthetic fragrances, alcohol, dyes and parabens. When you have reactive or sensitive skin, it's also best to avoid makeup and skin care products with phenoxyethanol (a preservative often used in clean beauty brands).
Essential oils (in small amounts) can have a beneficial effect on both the skin and psyche. But, if they have triggered a reaction in the past avoid for now and use essential oil free skincare products.
SKIN CARE TIP #3 SIMPLIFY YOUR SKIN CARE ROUTINE.
Try an all-natural face care routine. Start with fewer products and fewer ingredients. The fewer ingredients you put on your skin, the less likely you are to have a reaction.
Pay close attention to what makes your skin feel tight and uncomfortable. Over time, you’ll learn what your skin loves (and what it doesn’t).
SKIN CARE TIP #4: WEAR SPF, RAIN OR SHINE
The sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can weaken your skin barrier and dry it out. Avoid chemical sunscreens which can irritate sensitive skin.
Instead, try a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Mineral sunscreen forms a physical barrier that reflects harmful rays. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide an incredibly gentle ingredients known to be well suited for sensitive skin.
SKIN CARE TIP #5: EAT A HEALTHY DIET
Fine tune your diet to include more antioxidant laden fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. A healthy diet will arm your skin with the nutrients needed to perform optimally and look radiant. Try adding an extra serving of fruits or vegetable every day.
A Simple and Effective 5-Step Natural Skin Care Routine for Sensitive Skin
This natural skin care routine focuses on replenishing your skin barrier while calming and soothing your skin.
While these products are gentle and generally safe for sensitive skin, we recommend patch testing new products before using. Sensitivity is such an individual thing, and even natural products can sometimes cause a reaction.
Only add extra steps when your skin feels comfortable, balanced and ready. Marion explains "our skin changes all the time, as does the reactivity of our immune system. So listen to your body, and give your skin a rest from actives if the time is not right for them".
STEP #1: Cleanse Gently
Start with a face wash for sensitive skin and use lukewarm water.
Mokosh Organic Makeup Remover & Cleansing Oil is ideal for all skin types. This all-natural facial cleanser is also essential oil free and won’t strip or dry skin. It breaks down stubborn makeup, sunscreen and dirt before rinsing clean.
Or try Graydon's Aloe Milk Cleanser if you prefer a creamy cleanser. It contains soothing ingredients like aloe vera and niacinamide to calm irritation and redness.
STEP #2: Rebalance Your Skin pH
Next use a toner for sensitive skin. Mokosh Pure Hydrosol Toner provides an extra layer of soothing hydration and restores skin pH (often disrupted when you have sensitive skin).
It's the ideal base for your moisturizer. Applying your skincare products to damp skin helps them absorb better. You can also use it throughout the day as a soothing pick-me-up.
STEP #3: Nourish And Replenish Your Skin Barrier
Keeping skin well moisturized helps keep the skin barrier functioning its best. Your choice of moisturizer will depend on your age, your skin type and your skin concerns.
SELECT the serum for sensitive skin that best meets your needs. These serums are free of synthetic fragrances and almost all are essential oil free.
If you prefer to avoid essential oils altogether, choose from our essential oil free collection.
If your skin needs a richer moisturizer, try Pure Face & Body Cream. This deeply nourishing organic face cream has a light, fine texture and simple, clean formula. Use on its own or layer with your choice of serum.
Best hydrating serum for dry sensitive skin
Graydon’s Moon Boost is a gentle hydrating vitamin serum. Formulated with nutrient-dense superfood oils. Together, they help reinforce the skin barrier while providing a healthy glow. Contains essential oils.
Mokosh Organic Raspberry & Pomegranate Beauty Serum. This deeply nourishing face oil fortifies the skin barrier while softening fine lines.
Best Vitamin C Serum for sensitive skin
the Kari Gran Vitamin C Serum improves skin tone and brightens the complexion while keeping skin hydrated. Made with tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate – a gentle and stable form of vitamin C ideal for sensitive skin.
Best retinol alternative serum for sensitive skin
Bakuchiol has both anti-aging and anti-acne benefits and is gentle on sensitive skin.
Bakuchiol Revival Serum is abundant in essential fatty acids that help restore the skin’s barrier function. This anti-aging serum also tackles hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles without irritating sensitive skin.
Futurize – with just 3 ingredients, this dermatologist tested bakuchiol serum is another good option. Rosehip seed oil combines with squalane and bakuchiol to soften skin and improve skin barrier function.
Best serum for sensitive oily skin
Mokosh Organic Elderberry & Chia Seed Beauty Serum helps balance oily skin and replenish the skin barrier, without clogging pores. Or, consider the retinol alternative serums if you are prone to breakouts.
STEP #4: Protect your skin with a sensitive skin sunscreen
Too much sun can weaken your already compromised skin barrier. Reach for a sensitive skin sunscreen like the 100% Pure Green Tea Sunscreen. Formulated with non-nano zinc oxide it’s well suited for sensitive skin. Zinc oxide is so gentle it’s used in diaper rash creams for infants. This gentle sunscreen will leave your skin comfortable and, most importantly, protected from the sun.
STEP #5: Exfoliate Your Skin With Care (1x per week)
Exfoliating is the secret to soft and glowing skin. Immediately your skin feels softer and smoother.
Choose a mild face scrub like the Mokosh Organic Face Cleanser, Exfoliator & Face Mask or try a gentle konjac sponge. Made with 100% certified organic botanicals like oatmeal, aloe vera, pomegranate and calendula. It soothes sensitive skin while removing accumulated dirt, toxins and cell debris.
Because it's water activated, you can adapt it to your specific needs (e.g. add extra water to make it even gentler). Try exfoliating once a week and pay attention to how your skin responds.
If you have an underlying condition like rosacea, you might find our blog on How To Treat Rosacea Naturally helpful or A simple and effective skincare routine for sensitive skin and rosacea.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.