When you experience stinging, burning, tightness or irritation after applying any kind of active ingredient, it’s pretty safe to say you’ve got sensitive skin.
In which case, you’ll probably be pointed in the direction of watered-down formulas that don’t do much else except not upset your face.
However, for those of us that do experience irritation but are still interested in an active routine that includes anti-ageing, exfoliation and pigmentation-fading, we have another option: know what to look for.
Keep scrolling as we break down all the sensitive skin-approved serums to have on your radar. Because why should your skin miss out on all the fun?
Vitamin C for sensitive skin
Good for: Evening out skin tone, brightening, reversing damage
Good to know: As you might’ve guessed, the higher the concentration of vitamin C, the more irritating the serum typically is to those with sensitive skin. As with any product, it always helps to start slow. We can usually build up a tolerance to products, but when it comes to introducing vitamin C into your routine, slow and steady wins the race. For example, begin with a 10 per cent concentrate, then gradually move to 15 and up from there.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma™ Fresh Day Serum
This vitamin C and ferulic acid gel formula has been paired with skin-cooling ingredients like pumpkin ferment and pomegranate extract to help keep skin calm, soothed, and radiant while it gets to work.
$111 at MECCA
SkinCeuticals Serum 10 AOX
Now, we know the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic typically gets all the attention, and rightly so, it’s an amazing active serum. However, as far as sensitive skin is concerned, we recommend looking in the direction of another serum in the SkinCeuticals range. The SkinCeuticals Serum 10 AOX will offer similar results, but as the percentages in the formula are lower, it’s a lot more tolerable by those who are easily irritated. Plus, it’s half the price…
$140 at Adore Beauty
Retinol for sensitive skin
Good for: Reducing fine lines and wrinkles, regulation of excess oil production, reducing acne breakouts, refines skins texture
Good to know: This notoriously harsh ingredient has been known to trigger a mean dry patch. This is why when it comes to applying pure retinol to sensitive skin we typically say don’t. The gentlest form of retinol on the other hand, retinyl palmitate, has our stamp of approval.
We recommend sticking to a cream formulation where possible or diluting a small amount of your vitamin A derivative serum into a facial cream or moisturiser.
Inflammation, rosacea, redness, or acne sufferers seeking the advantages of a retinol serum will benefit from this low concentration, slow-releasing formula.
$71.95 at Adore Beauty
Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules
Hyaluronic acid for sensitive skin
Good for: Hydration, balancing uneven texture, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, firming skin
Good to know: As far as incorporating a hyaluronic acid serum into a sensitive skin routine goes — you’re in the clear. HA is well tolerated by all skin types, even those who are acne-prone and easily irritated.
Just be careful that your serum doesn’t have other active ingredients within the formula that might cause any redness.
CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum
BOOST LAB 2D Hyaluronic Acid Hydro Boost Serum
Vitamin B for sensitive skin
Good for: Moisturising, supporting the skin barrier, relieving irritation
Good to know: Another serum that sensitive skin loves, vitamin B3 (otherwise known as niacinamide) is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that works to reduce irritation and redness, and prevent the loss of water — a crucial addition to any routine looking to combat dryness, acne or rosacea.
The other vitamin B to look out for is B5, otherwise known as panthenol. Best known for its calming, soothing and moisturising properties, panthenol is well tolerated by sensitive skin and won’t cause irritation.
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast B5 Mask
Alpha-H Vitamin B
Which of these serums would you most like to try?