We really are getting our sensitive skin caps on this week eh. So after our chat about, how to TELL IF you have sensitive skin and WHY we should all treat out skin as sensitive once in a while, I thought what you really need is a low-down of all the best sensitive skin ingredients out there and how the heck to find them! Here comes 10 ingredient lovelies which are fantastically, super-soothing for sensitive skin.
1. Bisabolol – Extracted from Chamomile
This is where you can give your-self a huge pat on the back for being super savvy – I bet you already guessed this one. Chamomile is one of those, old wives tales that folk-medicine has ingrained into our memories. Chamomile = skin soothing, and you know what, I am so happy to tell you there is absolute truth in this. Heck yes (!)
There’s an even better version of chamomile, which is [wait for it] even better for sensitive skin. Essential oils contain a lot of other ingredients. As well as that super skin soothing ‘part’ of chamomile, there are also some skin irritants in the mix. That’s just the way essential oils are. Can’t knock em ‘cus they do smell YUM!
The part of Chamomile that makes it super skin soothing, is called bisabolol [I’m sure there are about 100 different ways we could pronounce that tongue twister] and that name is exactly what you’ll find it called on an ingredient list.
View this post on Instagram
You don’t need a lot of this guy, and when I say that I’m talking sub 1%. Like actually more like sub 0.5%. That is A-OK, because this guy is potent, and not a lot is required for the job #JustThatGood. What this means is when you look for bisabolol on an ingredient list, it’ll be right down at the bottom. One of the last ingredients on the list. Making it super simples to pick it out.
This guy pad’s out his CV with crazy sensitive skin loving skills, anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, non-allergenic. Phew! To cut to the elevator pitch for bisabolol, this is one crazily sensitive skin lover with skin healing POWERS.
Psst; find bisabolol in our Honesty Soothe Facial Comfort Cream & Renew Antioxidant Night Oil – check them out in our store here.
2. Calendula Extract
A lot of naturals are hero’d at being great for sensitive skin, one case where this absolutely rings true is for Calendula oil. This guy has science behind it when it comes to treating sensitive skin conditions like dermatitis. If you say, may have, somehow, not quite sure how it happened, spent a wink too long in the sun, and got a wee bit pink, then reach for this skin soothing lovely. It’s proven better than Aloe Vera. Now there’s something to look out for.
Calendula poses as ‘Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract’ on your skincare’s ingredient list.
3. Oatmeal – Colloidal Oatmeal – Avena Sativa
Yes, this is exactly the stuff you make porridge from. Oatmeal has great health benefits from the inside out and the outside in. That’s the kinda multitasking we love. If adverts are to be believed not only will your sensitive skin be soothed, you’ll also be growing into a strong, strapping Scottish folk with a colourful kilt and enough heart health to climb up Ben Nevis 😉
Now obviously if we take oatmeal and just chuck it at our skin, it’s not going to do much other than fall to the ground like a snow storm inside #HowPretty. To get this stuff skin friendly its ground into a super, super fine powder – that’s what ‘colloidal’ means. It’s like oatmeal fairy dust for your skin.
This is where such a simple ingredient gets super high-tech. Oatmeal has a special ingredient in it called beta-glucan. And it’s the technology behind Johnsons & Johnsons Aveeno range. What this special something does is work with your skin to ‘activate’ your skins immune system, it basically triggers skin to start being healthier. Personally I think this is absolutely amazing and super skin friendly. I mean, it gets your natural skin biology acting better. It helps skin remember what to do and exactly how to repair.
I’m so in love with this ingredient that I’ve used it in our own Honesty, Protect Nourishing Cleanse Balm which as it launched (/I gave birth to it ;)) back in 2017 we entered into the free from skincare awards. Guess what – not only did it win silver in the category we entered, our baby also won THE overall free from achievement award – so humbling to have been considered among other extremely well known skincare brands like GreenPeople.
Mr Colloidal oatmeal’s also hanging in our Soothe Facial Comfort Cream. I usually have to hold myself back from putting it in every new formulation I trial. #Obsessed
Oh!… and to find this in your skincare, look for the word Avena sativa (oat) kernel flour.
This dude, also gets the name pro-vitamin B5, and vitamin and good go hand in hand my friend.
All pro-vitamin means is that there’s a bit of something protecting the vitamin before it gets into your skin. #WeAllNeedABitOfHelp. Panthenol helps soothe irritated skin and handily knows the mobile number for your skin builders aka can help to get your skin back in tip-top regenerating condition.
Random Fact: Did you know, the hair brand, Pantene is named after Panthenol, that’s because they were one of the first to discover it penetrated skin and hair easily and smoothed both. Oh yes (!)
5. Cucumber Seed Oil
Nothing quite like a spa night in and cucumber slices are an eye-de-puffing favourite because they cool your eyes down like an ice-lolly in summer time. Here’s the deal – the actual seeds of cucumber can be pressed for oil. Cucumber seed oil is super compatible with sensitive skin. Cucumber oil has a load of actives called phytosterols which help skin become the hero it was born to be, makes skin better at holding onto water and gets your skin cells in tip-top condition.
Oh and it doesn’t stop there for cucumber seed oil, oh no, this skincare lovely has a lot of an essential skin fatty acid called Linoleic acid. Essential, essentially means that your body cannot make this even if you were being held at gun point. Your body needs to be given linoleic acid. This one is a healthy skin builder, and that ladies, is all sensitive skin needs, a little helping hand to make back a healthy skin barrier. This is the path to great skin.
Watch out for cucumber seed oil by looking for the name cucumis sativus seed oil.
View this post on Instagram
Lecithin is a skincare ingredient that’s extracted from seeds i.e. sunflower seeds. This skincare ingredient gets to wear the ‘hat’ of skin-identical. Breaking it down, all that means is lecithin has a lot of the same things your skin’s made up of, and pretty much zilch of things your skin isn’t. Imagine lecithin as your BFF – so similar you get on like a house on fire and could even be twinnies. This is how Lecithin gets to be so great for sensitive skin, because it just knows what skin’s about and skin feels so comfortable around it, it was as if it were ALWAYS a part of it. #Mushy
It doesn’t stop there for Lecithin. Oh no my friend, not only is lecithin skin identical, lecithin’s also a component of your skin’s natural moisturising factor.
Natural moisturising factor is a group of actives your skin uses to stay hydrated, calm, healthy and happy. It’s pretty important. Adding back more natural moisturising factors into your skin means your skin will be better at holding onto water and just generally doing its thing. This is versus having to rely on something you put on-top of your skin i.e. silicones or mineral oil or Vaseline (i.e. occlusive skincare actives) to stop water wandering off of your face.
Lecithin will be found called exactly that on a sensitive skin loving lotion.
Not one to be putting on if you’re out hiking in countries with bears moseying around. Even honey masquerades under a different name in skincare products. Honey will be found called mel on a skincare ingredients list. Oh hey mel (!)
Honey is just milder than mild, and gets to work moisturising your face because it likes to hold onto water. Think how sticky a honey pot is, now think what would happen if you were a tiny, tiny water molecule. Boom, sensitive skin moisturisation.
Honey’s also anti-bacterial. Ever noticed how if you keep strawberry jam for too long, there’s a furry surprise when you open it? Ever found the same for honey? Nope, that’s because it’s naturally anti-bacterial. Not a bad benefit for your skin eh.
View this post on Instagram
8. Shea Butter
Shea butter is an African hero butter and is an absolute go-to for skin conditioning. It gets to be so skin conditioning as it naturally contains a fair bit of something called steric acid [not the stingy kind], which helps things sink into skin.
Shea butter also has a good dose of vitamins, A and E in the mix #FoodForSkin.
Great for sensitive skin as Shea’s a super mild skincare ingredient that has hyper potential to improve the quality of your skin.
Look for butyrospermum parkii on a skincare ingredients list – can you see it here?
9. Borage Oil – Highest Source of Skin Soothing GLA
There are SO many skincare oils. Take your entire beauty cupboard and times that by 10, and maybe 10 again and you’ll be close to how many oils you have to choose from.
A lot of oils offer skin very similar benefits whereas a few are key standouts – like a superhero in Lycra tights (!) Borage oil is one of these heroes.
Borage oil is special because it has the highest natural source of a skin lover called gamma-linolenic-acid, that’s GLA for short. Borage oil naturally contains well over 20% GLA which let me tell you, is huge.
GLA, is absolutely essential for skin repair and for radiant looking skin. It’s also super skin soothing. Gamma linolenic acid was first found in evening primrose oil. The exact reason why evening primrose oil also has a skin soothing reputation.
This awesome skincare ingredient is called borago officinalis in skincare ingredient lists.
Top-Tip: Because GLA is so good (and active) for your skin, it needs a bit of protecting to make sure it’s still there by the time you get to use a moisturiser or face oil which contains it. To do that make sure the packaging doesn’t let any light in, light fades out GLA like it were an 1800’s painting.
Last on our list, but definitely not least is allantoin. This ingredient is not just greatly compatible with sensitive skin, it actually helps skin to tolerate other ingredients. Now that is one heck of a skincare ingredient eh.
Allantoin way back in the day was extracted from the comfrey herb, it has its roots firmly in nature, but the kind you’ll find in almost all skincare is synthetically made in a lab. This is one of those cases when that is absolutely a good thing. Comfrey actually contains a couple of other ingredients that are toxic – ouch, wowzer, thank goodness for science eh.
Allantoin gets to sit in a special family of actives called phytochemicals. These are ingredients extracted from plants that have protective effects. Plants are studied a lot when it comes to skincare because they sit out in crazy harsh conditions and still look beautiful. Imagine if we had to sit out all day every day in hurricane winds, heatwaves and snow. Imagine a painting left by a window – it’ll fade like a race car zooming past. Put a plant in direct sunshine, and that leaf’s still green – say what!
This is the magic of nature that we try to borrow.
Allantoin as well as being skin soothing, helps to stimulate skin tissue to regenerate. That’s a sensitive skin saviour you for sure want in your skincare routine.
P.s. Allantoin’s also an FDA recognised skin protectant.
View this post on Instagram
P.s.s. find allantoin in our Soothe Facial Comfort Cream.
What skincare actives or products do you use when your skin’s feeling sensitive? Come tell me in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.