Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Rithi Choudhury (Journalist) on 2nd Dec 2020
Skincare 101: Choose An Ideal Moisturizer For Sensitive Skin
The most annoying and tricky skin type to have is sensitive skin. Sensitive skin is generally more prone to dryness, itchiness and redness. Most ingredients in the commonly accessible moisturizers in the Indian market are loaded with fragrances, which is a top-ranking skin irritant, especially for sensitive skin.
Finding a non-irritating, soothing, and hydrating moisturizer is not an easy task, but that is why we are here. We have curated a list of ingredients you should look for and elements you should avoid when looking for a moisturizer specifically suited to sensitive skin.
Best Ingredients For Sensitive Skin
- Colloidal Oatmeal - Colloidal oatmeal is the extract of finely ground oatmeal that is boiled. This extract is loaded with vitamin E, flavonoids, beta-glucans (antioxidant), minerals, and replenishing lipids. Not only colloidal oatmeal protects the skin and soothes skin irritation and redness. It also keeps the skin well nourished by holding on to moisture.
Try Minimalist Sepicalm 3% + Oat Moisturizer.
Did You Know:
In the western world, oatmeal baths are often recommended when one is afflicted with chickenpox to soothe the inflamed and itchy skin.
- Panthenol - Panthenol, also called Provitamin B5 or Dexpanthenol, is an alcohol derived from pantothenic acid, Vitamin B5. Panthenol is anti-inflammatory and is. Therefore, it helps relieve skin irritation, redness, sunburn, acne inflammation, and repairs the skin.
It is an excellent ingredient as it acts as both a humectant and an emollient. As an emollient, panthenol helps soften and lubricate the skin. As a humectant, it holds on to moisture and renews the skin cells. Well-hydrated skin naturally looks well-nourished and beautiful.
When panthenol is applied to the skin, it is converted to the active form of vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid. Vitamin B5 is essential in maintaining skin barrier function and thereby preventing moisture loss (transepidermal water loss) from the skin.
- Niacinamide - Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of Vitamin B3 (niacin). Niacinamide helps build the protective ceramide barrier on the uppermost layers of the skin. Niacinamide's anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective treatment for skin inflammations and inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, etc. It also helps control sebum, an excess of which clogs pores and leads to comedones and pustules. If you are new/beginner to niacinamide, start with a low concentration of 2-5% if using serum forms.
Retinoids are incredibly useful when it comes to treating acne and acne scars. But it is often irritating for people with sensitive skin. Niacinamide is a gentler but effective alternative to retinoids.
- Ceramides: Ceramides are simply fats (lipids) present in the top layers of the skin that protect the skin barrier by preventing loss of moisture & protects the skin from environmental damage. At one age, the natural production of ceramides depletes, which results in a compromised skin barrier. A weak skin barrier is prone to inflammation, irritation, and signs of aging. Fortunately, we have moisturizers in the market formulated with ceramides to help replenish this loss and keep the skin barrier intact. Studies have shown that moisturizers containing ceramides combat dryness and irritation that often result from acne-treatment with ingredients/components such as benzoyl peroxide & salicylic acid.
Did You Know:
Natural production of ceramides decreases after the age of 20.
- Hyaluronic Acid: It is a natural element/compound found in the body responsible for maintaining skin moisture and lubricating the joints. Hyaluronic acid in skincare is gentle and soothing for the most sensitive and easily irritated skin types. Hyaluronic and also boosts collagen production by aiding in its synthesis by surrounding the skin cells that produce it with water and protect it from environmental damage. However, Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring like collagen. Its production also decreases as we age. Therefore the topical application of Hyaluronic acid is necessary for that added boost.
Try Minimalist Hyaluronic Acid 2% + Vitamin B5)
When using Hyaluronic Acid serum, make sure to top it with a layer of moisturizer. Otherwise, if you live in a dry environment, the hyaluronic acid molecules will pull moisture from your skin's inner layers.
- Glycerine: Glycerine is a very common humectant found in moisturizers. Humectants are like water magnets that hold on to moisture and also draw moisture from the environment. It repairs the skin barrier and soothes skin irritation.
Never use glycerine directly from the bottle in its raw form if you have sensitive skin, as that will irritate your skin further.
- Aloe Vera Gel: The gel derived from this succulent is so versatile that we cannot stop listing the many benefits it offers. No wonder it is the first ingredient in our Minimalist serums. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, rich in antioxidants, is hydrating, and soothing. Therefore aloe vera gel is the perfect moisturizing ingredient for healing acne-prone skin.
If you are using store-bought aloe vera gel, make sure to look out for unnecessary ingredients such as dyes and fragrance. If you prefer using freshly squeezed aloe gel directly from the leaves, make sure you get rid of the yellow sap first, which irritates the skin.
- Shea Butter: Shea Butter is non-irritating and immensely hydrating for the skin. It is one moisturizing ingredient you should look for as it protects the skin barrier. A healthy skin barrier ensures locking in moisture and reduces the chances of inflammation.
- Squalane: 'Squalane' and not the very similar-sounding 'Squalene' is an oil naturally produced by our bodies. Yes, it is nothing but the natural oils that our body has to keep the skin lubricated. It is a natural antioxidant produced by the body that fights free radical damage and also forms a protective barrier on the skin. It helps to soothe and calm skin inflammation and redness.
Now the question is, why do we have to spend money on buying oil that is naturally produced by us? As we age, the production of squalane slows down, and as a result, the skin loses its suppleness of youth.
- Chamomile Extract: Chamomile has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore it prevents free radical damage and also soothes irritated skin. Not just that, polyphenols and phytochemicals in it also help in cell regeneration and rejuvenation.
Ingredients To Stay Away From
- Essential Oils: Essential oils may claim to be all-natural (the extraction method is critical) and smell like heaven, but it is very potent and irritates sensitive skin. The side effects may not show up immediately, but that doesn't mean that it won't eventually.
- Fragrance: A piece of advice for all those with sensitive skin - Please do your skin a favor and stay away from flowery and fruity skincare products. It is the fragrance that often drives a consumer to buy specific skincare and haircare products because obviously everyone wants to smell like a bowl of fruit salad or a bunch of flowers.
But in all honesty, the fragrance has no benefit in skincare and is the primary cause of skin sensitivity, allergies, and reactions. The scent is an umbrella term for many chemicals used in skincare products to give a pleasant aroma. You don't want to further irritate your already irritated skin by using a moisturizer loaded with fragrance. Go for fragrance-free variants, and your olfactory receptors may not, but our skin will thank you.
- Denatured Alcohol: You will not believe how common denatured alcohol or alcohol denat is in skincare formulations. It is used to make the formulation easily spreadable, and other than that, it offers no additional benefits. But it destroys the protective skin barrier, leading to skin irritation, inflammation, and acne breakouts.