We really are getting our sensitive skin ‘caps’ on this week. 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 my readers need is a low-down of all the best sensitive skin ingredients out there and ‘how the hell’ 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. Hell yes!
There is an even better version of chamomile, that is [wait for it] even better for sensitive skin. Essential oils contain a lot of other ingredients, so as well as that super skin soothing ‘part’ of chamomile essential oil, there are also some skin irritants in there, 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. You don’t need a lot of this guy, and when I say that I am 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 that means is when you look for it on an ingredient list, it’ll be down the bottom, like one of the last on the list. That makes 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.
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 is something to look out for! Calendula poses as ‘Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract’ in an ingredient list.
3. Oatmeal – Colloidal Oatmeal – Avena Sativa
Yes, this is exactly the stuff you make porridge from! Oatmeal has great health benefits for you from the inside out and the outside in. That’s the kinda multitasking we love! If adverts are to be believed we will all grow into strong, strapping Scottish folk with colourful kilts and enough heart health to climb Ben Nevis! *wink wink*.
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 there’s a snow storm inside #HowPretty. To get this stuff skin friendly, its ground into a super, super fine powder, that’s what ‘collodial’ means. It’s like an 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. This is 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 cells, makeup, building blocks’ whatever you want to call them, making all the things that help skin repair. It helps skin remember what to do.
I’m so in love with this ingredient that I’ve used it in the Honesty, Protect Nourishing Cleanse Balm and also in the 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 of pro-vitamin B5, and vitamin and good just go hand in hand my friend. Provitamin just means there is a bit of something there to protect the vitamin before it gets into your skin. #WeAllNeedABitOfHelp. Panthenol helps soothe irritated skin and handily knows the number for the skin builders, 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 where one of the first to discover it penetrated skin and hair easily and smoothed both. Oh yes baby!
5. Cucumber Seed Oil
Nothing quite like a spa night in, and cucumber slices are an eye-de-puffy favourite because they cool you like an ice-lolly. The actual seeds of cucumber can be pressed for oil. This is super compatible with sensitive skin. Cucumber oil has a loada phytosterols which help skin become the hero it was born to be, it makes skin better at holding onto water and gets those skin cells in tip-top condition.
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. It 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 good skin. To watch out for cucumber seed oil, look for ‘cucumis sativus seed oil’.
Lecithin is a skincare ingredient that is extracted from seeds, ones like sunflower. This skincare ingredient gets to wear the ‘hat’ of skin-identical. Breaking it down, all that means is lecithin has A lotta the same things your skin is made up of, and pretty much zilch of things your skin isn’t. Imagine it as your BFF, just so similar you get on like a house on fire and could be ‘twinnies’. This is how Lecithin gets to be so great for sensitive skin, because it just knows what skin is about and skin feels so comfortable around it, it was as if it were part of it ALWAYS. #Mushy!
It doesn’t stop there for Lecithin, where the magic in skin identical ingredients starts, is these guys get to up your natural ‘skin moisturising factor’ #TechnicalTerm. This means your skin becomes better at holding onto water and just generally doing its thing, rather than having to rely on something you put on-top of it to stop water wandering off your face.
Lecithin will be found called exactly that on a sensitive skin loving lotion.
Not one to put on if you’re out hiking in countries with bears moseying around. Even honey masquerades under a different name in skincare lotions, it will be found called as mel, 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 is also anti-bacterial, ever noticed how if you keep a 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 is naturally anti-bacterial. Not a bad benefit for your skin ‘ey!
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. It also has a good dose of vitamins, A and E in there. #FoodForSkin. Shea butter is great for sensitive skin as it is a super mild ingredient that improves the quality of skin. So for sensitive skin types that means it’s only gonna get better #Amen.
9. Borage Oil – Highest Source of Skin Soothing GLA
There are SOOOOO many skincare oils, take your whole beauty cupboard and times that by 10, and maybe 10 again and you’ll be close to how many oils there are to choose from. A lot offer skin very similar benefits, and a few standout like a hero in lycra tights! Borage oil is one of those heroes! What makes Borage oil special is this is the highest natural source of a skin lover called gamma-linolenic-acid, that’s GLA for short. This oil naturally contains well over 20% which let me tell you, is huge!!
GLA, is absolutely essential for skin repair and radient looking skin and along with all of that, it is super skin soothing. It was first found in evening primrose oil, which Is why evening primrose oil also has a skin soothing rep’.
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 bitta protecting, to make sure its still there by the time you get to use the cream! 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 hell of a skincare ingredient. 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 – owch, wozer, thankgod for science ey!
Allantoin gets to sit in a special family called phytochemicals. That’s things extracted from plants that have protective effects. Plants are studied a lot when it comes to skincare, because they sit out in crazy harsh condition and still look beautiful. Imagine if we had to sit out all day, every day, in hurricane winds, heatwaves with no shade and snow. Think of a painting left by a window, it’ll fade like a race car zooming past, but a plant in direct sunshine, and that leaf is 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 way of getting your skin into great condition.
What do you use when your skin is feeling a bit sensitive? Tell me in the comments below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who is 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 is 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. Learn more here at www.HonestyForYourSkin.co.uk/Skin-Coach