While fewer ingredients doesn’t guarantee skincare will be a winner for sensitive skin, products with less than 10 ingredients are a great starting point to learn what your skin loves and what it doesn’t. This my friend is where you begin relationship counselling your sensitive skin. You should have 2 columns. Yes and No.
Yes – my skin loves you… and,
No – my skin reacts to you like a 12 year old eating vindaloo!
First up, picking sensitive skincare products with fewer than 10 ingredients means there’s less likelihood your skin will react. Secondly, if skin does show sensitivity, you have great chance of pinpointing which needle in that 10 ingredient hay stack set you off.
Finding products with petite ingredients lists takes time, but not when you have me as your back pocket skincare scientist 😉 I’ve scoured the skincare shelves for you my friend and picked out the best less than 10 ingredient products that you can;
A) Design a skincare routine around – all the bases are covered and
B) Rest assured that I’ve pre-vetted for common sensitive skin triggers.
Fewer than 10 Ingredient Cleansers for Sensitive Skin
I recommend to never, ever, ever spend more than £20 on a cleanser because most cleansers get washed down your sink hole in less than a minute. Live your skincare life by that rule and you can instead invest the £’s saved on an active rich moisturiser that takes things slow ;).
The irony of cleansing is although it’s done quickly, it has high potential to aggravate sensitive skin. Face washes in particular contain a high percent of ingredients that drink up skins natural protective layers. Technically called our acid mantle, this stuff keeps the goodies in and the baddies out.
Your acid mantle is like the moat to your castle. When skin is sensitive, it takes a lot longer to pull that draw bridge up i.e. that baddies have time to come in. Using a cleanser that eats up more of your acid mantle, makes pulling up that protective drawbridge even harder. Whereas using a cleanser that respects and protects your acid mantle, feeds your drawbridge workers spinach *winks*.
1) DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
A respectful oil based cleanser that turns to milk when washed off. DHC deep cleansing oil is made mostly from olive and coconut oils which are perfect for cleansing and conditioning skin. If you’re new to oil cleansing, the concept can sound crazy. Cleansing with oil? Surely that can’t work?
My friend, oil cleansing is magic for this reason. There’s only 2 ways makeup, impurities, pollution and anything else that finds itself on skin will dissolve.
- By water
- By oil
That’s it! Water comes from the tap and oil comes from your cleanser. Oil based cleansers are perfect for sensitive skin as they use ingredients identical to the outer most layers of skin – oils. Sensitive skin craves ingredients that are identical or at least similar to it as it sees these as goodies and has no reaction.
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Ingredient total = 8
Ingredients – Olive oil, Fractionated coconut oil, Sorbeth-30 tetraoleate, Pentylene glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Vitamin E, Stearyl glycyrrhetinate, Rosemary leaf oil.
Available here (£12.50/70ml).
2) Honesty Protect Nourishing Cleanse Balm
An award winning creation of my own, designed to nourish, soothe and protect skin. Packed with shea butter, the formula respects sensitive skins delicate barrier making sure never to remove more than it will give.
Cleansing balms work by the exact same concept as cleansing oils. Their similarity in composition to the top layers of skin makes it impossible for them to steal away skins defences.
This my friend, is the rule of osmosis and says that everything will always level out to be equal. That means you can’t keep all the orange squash to one side of your semi-permeable membrane 😉
Cleansing skin with naturally similar oils, means skin can’t lose it’s protective oil based drawbridge!
Ingredient total = 4
Ingredients – Shea butter, Apricot kernel oil, Oat kernel flour, Vitamin E.
Available here (£15.00/90ml).
3) Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
The iconic cream cleanser, known as mum to the cream cleanser world, has to be the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser. While this product made cream cleansing cult in the UK, it’s not the best pick for sensitive skin. Firstly it has over 10 ingredients and secondly it uses essential oils to fragrance the cream.
If you have sensitive skin, I recommend to avoid essential oils. Although yummy smelling they contain known allergens and irritants that weaken skin over time.
Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser is a grab for sensitive skin. It’s fragrance free and contains moisturising ingredients called fatty alcohols. Pair it up with one of the oil or balm cleansers for a Korean double cleanse.
Ingredient total = 8.
Ingredients List – Water, Cetyl alcohol, Propylene glycol, Bulylparben, Methylparben, Propylparben, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Stearyl alcohol.
Shop here (£9.50/236ml)
Fewer than 10 Ingredient Serums for Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin often suffers from dehydration because it lacks a barrier. That barrier that keeps the baddies out also keeps hydration locked in. Serums are great at pumping an instant dose of water to the top layers of skin. When you have dry or sensitive skin, they should always be followed by a moisturiser or facial oil to re-seal your hydration drawbridge ;).
1) Indeed Labs Hydraluron, Moisture Boosting Facial Serum
Have you made over night oats before? Or left raisins in yogurt over night and seen how large they swell? This 9 ingredient serum is based on the exact same principle, it’s all-star ingredient – hyaluronic acid. The famous hydrating active that holds up to 1000x its own weight in water. When you think there’s no more room left, hyaluronic acid just keeps going (!)
The Indeed Labs hydraluron, is a simple formula that focuses on the number 1 aim of a serum, hydration.
Ingredient total = 9.
Ingredients List – Water, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Algae Extract, Carbomer, Butylene Glycol, Disodium Edta, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol.
Shop here (£24.99/100ml).
2) PHB Ethical Beauty Skin Restore Gel with Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a beacon ingredient for sensitive skin. The PHB restore gel has drunk in the benefits of aloe to create this restorative serum… it’s called a gel, but gels and serums have over lapping formulas my friend. Made by a family run company here in the UK, 15% of all their profits go to charity. A skincare product that makes you feel good inside too.
The Aloe vera plant has a natural ability to heal itself. Cut an aloe leaf and it’ll quickly seal up, locking moisture inside. Guess what? That’s also what it’ll help your skin do too. And it doesn’t stop there, aloe also has a lovely dose of vitamins and minerals to indefinitely lend skin.
Ingredient total = 10.
Ingredients List – Water, Aloe Vera Leaf Extract, Vegetable Glycerine, Sclerotium Gum, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Xanthan Gum, Coco-Caprylate, Propandiol & Salix Alba, Benzyl Alcohol.
Shop here (£16/150ml).
Fewer than 10 Ingredient Moisturisers for Sensitive Skin
The ingredients lists of moisturisers can sometimes be humongous! Out of all skincare products they’ll always have the longest list. They have water based ingredients, oil based ingredients, ingredients to mix the water and oil, stabilisers, added vitamins, antioxidants. Luckily I’ve found you a few specials;
1) Chanel, La Solution 10
Almost as if it were designed for this article especially, Chanel the normally high scented high-street brand created La solution 10 especially for sensitive skin. It’s fragrance free formula went through multiple rounds of testing to ensure the formula earned an A* for sensitivity.
Ingredient total = 10.
Ingredients List – Water, Squalane, Lauroyl Lysine (amino acid), Vegetable Glycerin, Silver Needle White Tea Extract, Shea Butter Extract, Sodium Polyacrylate, Steareth-21, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol.
Shop here (£62/30ml).
2) Avene, Tolérance Extrême Cream
The tolerance extreme range from Avene is a new launch designed especially for sensitive skin. It’s full of stripped back formulas that are free from fragrance, colourants and added extras that sensitive skin just don’t need. They haven’t even used the 10 ingredients we’d allow them for this list. Instead they have just 7, which create a moisturiser tested to provide 6 full hours of hydration. Not bad eh.
Ingredient total = 7.
Ingredients List – Avene Thermal Spring Water, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Glycerin, Shea Butter, Safflower Seed Oil, Behenyl Alcohol, Sodium Acrylates/ C10-30 Alkyl Acrylated Crosspolymer.
Shop here (£13.50/50ml).
3) Mario Badescu, Oil Free Moisturizer
Ideal for day wear, the Mario Badescu oil free moisturiser hydrates and conditions with a light-weight, quickly absorbing formula. This moisturiser step is all about helping to reseal skins barrier. After you’ve topped up skins water reserves with a serum, moisturiser helps to reform the barrier that keeps it tightly locked in.
Ingredient total = 10.
Ingredients List – Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Panthenol, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Carbomer.
Shop here (£18/59ml).
Fewer than 10 Ingredient Facial Oils for Sensitive Skin
Our final 10-ingredient category, facial oils. These beauties are best applied as the last step in evening skincare. You’ll probably be surprised how quickly they absorb and how little you need (!)
1) Odylique Superfruit Concentrate
Facial oils are very loving to skin, especially when they’re fragrance free like this superfruit concentrate from Odylique. Odyliques formula is based on avocado and jojoba oil which are extremely nourishing.
Did you hear the rumour that jojoba oil is the most identical out of all natural oils to skins own? See jojoba oil has some 007 pseudonym skills. Jojoba oil is actually not an oil. Jojoba oil is a liquid wax. This message will self destruct in 10, 9, 8 ;). The liquid wax characteristics of jojoba oil make it excellent at helping to reform skins natural barrier.
Ingredient total = 5.
Ingredients List – Avocado oil, Jojoba oil, Rosehip fruit extract, Pomegranate seed extract, Sea buckthorn fruit extract.
Shop here (£33.00/30ml).
2) Pai, Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil
A facial oil that is almost completely made from rosehip oil. The ingredient that recently shot to fame because of its naturally high content of Vitamin A. It pairs this with a high amount of omega 3 and 6 which makes it great for problem skin types.
Most people believe oil causes spots and while that’s sometime true. The right kind of oils can actually fight against them! This is one of those oils my friend.
Ingredient total = 4.
Ingredients List – Rosehip CO2 Seed Oil, Rosehip CO2 Fruit Extract, Natural Vitamin E, Rosemary Extract.
Shop here (£22.00/30ml).
3) PureChimp, Super One
Seabuckthorn oil is own of my absolute favourites because it’s high in skin healing vitamins and minerals and PureChimp Super One has a good dose. You’ll also notice it’s in the Odylique Superfruit Concentrate, but unlike the Odylique formula, the accompanying oils in this formula are omega 3 and 6 rich, which means they’re great for problem skin types. Even once that are already oily.
The best part – all PureChimp are 100% natural and handmade in the UK.
Ingredient total = 6.
Ingredients List – Safflower Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Sunflower Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Banana Extract, Vitamin E.
Shop here (£9.95/30ml).
There you have it my friend, a skincare routine that you can devise from products with under 10 ingredients. Whether your skin is having a ‘mare, or it’s just waiting to kick-off, you now have a pool of simple sensitive skin friendly products to choose from.
It’s a fab idea to keep a diary or at least a mental note of everything you use. Snap a picture of the ingredients lists and whenever your skin reacts to something, you can use those lists as a cross-off to see what should go in your ‘no my skin hates this’ column.
Tell me, what are your go-to sensitive skin friendly products? Have you tried any of these less than 10 ingredients sensitive skincare solutions? Are you about to?
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.