Finding the perfect skincare routine is a complicated process since it's all about trial and error — and often at the expense of your face. The stakes rise even higher when you have sensitive skin due to allergies or conditions like eczema or psoriasis. It doesn't help that so many brands underserve people with sensitive skin if they serve us at all.
Despite the lack of sensitive skin products, my eczema has gone from incredibly tough to manageable to mostly under control. At one point, I could only depend on traditional brands like Dove, Clinique and Eucerin — and even those brands didn't fully meet my hair needs. Some companies only offered lotion, soap, and shampoo, which was nice but so much more was left out. Like, am I supposed to do about my scalp after shampooing it? What am I going to moisturize my hair with daily that won't irritate my scalp and face? How about acne treatments? And is there a face mask in this world that I can slide on for longer than a minute?
Slowly but surely, beauty brands have been releasing products to meet those different needs. The skincare market still has a long way to go, but there are way more products available now than there were. In the last few years, brands like SheaMoisture, Koils by Nature, Honest Beauty and Saturday Skin have stepped up and out with more products that make it easier for me to care for my skin.
Fighting off winter dryness has never been so easy thanks to the Clinique Moisture Surge 72 Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator ($39). Yep, you read that right. This pretty pink cream is meant to lock moisture into your skin for three days and that's not the only thing that has us giving it our undivided attention.
What sets this moisturizer apart from the rest is that fact that it's multi-purpose! Per the tips on Clinique's Instagram, you can use the cream as a daily moisturizer, makeup primer, cuticle treatment, dry-knee fix and a frizz fighter for your hair! I've also used it as a five-minute face mask and can vouch for its ability to keep your skin completely hydrated. Dry skin, where?!
If I had a dollar for every "face mask and chill" post I've seen on Twitter, I'd have enough money to buy every mask in Sephora and then some. I totally get the craze. Masking is the in-home spa experience that makes people feel like they're living in the lap of luxury, if only for the duration of a Housewives episode. As much as I would love for my face to smell like lemongrass, mangos and anything that ends with the word "berry," my face — where my skin is most sensitive — just isn't having it.
Thankfully, Saturday Skin has the Cotton Cloud Probiotic Power Mask ($6) which is made with a natural microfiber and features zero synthetic fragrances. The mask is meant to breathe life into dull, dry and uneven skin. If you're sensitive to synthetic fragrances only, then this is the perfect pick to face mask and chill with. Apply it after you've washed and toned your face and keep it on for 20 minutes.
Despite having dealt with sensitive skin all of my life, the one area that I was pretty late on caring for was my scalp. I spent a lot of time switching products and hair care routines trying to figure out why my scalp was always so dry and why my hair wasn't growing the way I wanted it to.
The answer was, duh, that I needed to go the fragrance-free route with my hair care products. I'm currently obsessed with this TXTR By Cantu Oil + Vitamins Scalp Saver ($10), which is an oil blend meant to condition, moisturize and promote hair growth. This oil blend is perfect daily scalp massages but is also good for helping to seal in moisture after applying a leave-in conditioner or a cream.
Having sensitive skin already requires extra work but when acne scoots itself into the mix, it makes for a really uncomfortable experience. After one too many days waking up to swollen eyes and hellacious itching, I've learned that even when I'm focusing on a case of hormonal acne, I still can't forget about my ever-present dermatitis.
An acne set that has totally transformed my face is the Clinique Acne Solutions Clear Skin System ($28). The set comes with a foam cleanser, a clarifying lotion (basically, a toner) and a moisturizing clearing solution. Not only has this fragrance-free set cleared my acne almost completely, but I also notice that any random bumps I get tend to leave my face faster than before and with much less scarring. Over time, my face has a much smoother texture, my complexion looks more even and I have fewer bump appearances overall. The best part about it is that in the five months I've been using this set, I haven't had a single bout of skin irritation. Woohoo!
The sensitive skin version of the Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($6) come in handy for makeup removal or for general face washing when you prefer not to use your hands.
SheaMoisture is known for its hair care products but the brand has a few fragrance-free products sprinkled in its lineup. The 100% Marula Oil & Organic Shea butter Body Lotion ($8) is meant to moisturize but also to soothe irritated skin. We won't be complaining about that, will we?
Finding a really good fragrance-free sunscreen that actually has a high SPF is a pretty difficult task, but thank us later! The Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen ($19) is without fragrance and comes in SPF 50. This formula is also designed to be lightweight and fast drying so we don't have to worry about stickiness. It's also water-resistant so this is the perfect go-to sunscreen for all your fun in the sun.
Anyone who wants to go completely fragrance-free with their hair routine may want to incorporate the Cantu Sensitive Hypoallergenic Shampoo ($5) and Conditioner ($5). Both products have pure shea butter and cater to all hair textures. So many fragrance-free shampoos and conditioners leave the hair stripped of all its natural oils and feeling straw-like but these products are gentle on the scalp and the hair shaft.
Koils by Nature
There aren't too many products you can use on your hair and skin. Luckily, the Koils by Natural Nourishing Hair & Body Butter ($16) aims to seal in moisture from head to toe with a lightweight, non-greasy finish. Apply it anywhere on your body including dry or damp hair.
If you prefer oils over butter and cream formulas, then treat yourself to extra illumination with the SheaMoisture 100% Pure Monoi Oil ($5) meant to revive dull skin and hair. A lot of people shiver at the idea of "oil" for fear it will make them breakout (and it's true that if not made properly, it's a risk) but with SheaMoisture's concoction, you've got nothing to worry about!
Want softer curls? The Jessicurl Oil Blend ($12) includes avocado, coconut and jojoba oils to soften and minimize frizz. Simply add a few drops to your hair while it's dry or damp. Although you can order the blend without fragrance, it's also available in two additional scents including Citrus Lavender and Island Fantasy for those who aren't irritated by fragranced cosmetics.
The Koils by Nature Moisturizing Shealoe Leave-In Conditioner ($15) is a great product to use on naturally curly hair to avoid tangling but it actually suits all hair types. With its fragrance-free moisturizing formula, this is a proper everyday choice for anyone struggling with dry hair — and in the winter, isn't that kind of all of us?.
If you're looking for a gentle exfoliator, then look no further than the Tatcha Rice Polish ($65). A powder-to-foam formula separates it from the traditional grainy exfoliators out there so there are no worries about it doing more harm than good to your face. We especially love that Rice Polish has four different styles to suit varying skin types. Of course, the one you may adore is the fragrance-free Calming Rice Polish for sensitive skin.
To top it all off? Rice Polish is also one of Meghan Markle's favorite exfoliators. Scoop up this beauty pick to serve royal face anytime you please.
When the weather gets cold, your lips may need a little more than a balm to stay smooth and hydrated. Try the Bite Beauty Agave Sugar Lip Scrub ($18) to remove dry patches and smooth your skin. Massage the lip scrub into your lips with a bit of water then proceed with your lip balm. This is also a smart step beauty routine step to ensure your lipstick has a flawless canvas and spreads evenly.
An evening skincare routine is great for relieving your face from the stresses of the day. With the wrong irritating products, you could wake up to realize the routine only assaulted your face more. To minimize the risk of overnight distress, try the Burt's Bees Night Cream ($7). This product ensures you can give your skin the moisturizing beauty sleep it needs with zero irritating fragrances added. Apply this cream after thoroughly cleansing and toning your face.
Baby bumps need TLC too, right? Thankfully, Jessica Alba's Honest Organic Belly Balm ($17) not only moisturizes but also soothes itchiness. The balm also aims to improve stretch marks with usage over time for all you mommies and mommies-to-be.
The Honest Company
If your skin is so sensitive that even the quick hand sanitizer you use bothers you, then the Honest Hand Sanitizer Gel ($6) is what you need to keep close. The gel has zero synthetic fragrances and dries quickly without the stickiness. You can also keep this handy if you have bad reactions to hand soap.
Note: These beauty products are not substitutes for actual medical treatment. If you have a skin condition, it is best to consult with your doctor about a game plan to get the best results. Additionally, success with any beauty product is based on an individual's skin needs and can vary from person to person.