Skin Care Routine for Sensitive Skin

It’s widely acknowledged that sensitivity towards others means you’ve got great emotional intelligence. But sensitive skin? Not so great. That said, once you learn the steps that work for you, like finding your signature dance moves, you won’t need to tip-toe around your sensitive skin as much. Tender faces and bodies can look and feel their best with our makeup and body care for sensitive skin. Not sure if you’re a sensitive soul? Look no further, we’ve rounded up what to watch out for, the causes to be mindful of and, naturally, our best skincare for sensitive skin.

Women applying treatment

The symptoms of sensitive skin

Sensitive skin isn’t actually a clinically recognised term and what it looks like can manifest differently for everyone, but essentially it’s characterised by skin that tends to be easily irritated and more reactive. You’ll likely know if you have sensitive skin – and how can you not when skin feels uncomfortable and sensitive to touch, tight and dried out, or bumpy. It might blush easily, becoming red with patches that may not fade, or is dry/itchy or rash-prone. You might even find that it stings or you have an intolerance to certain harsh ingredients, products or triggers from the outside elements. No wonder you’re tentative to try new skin and body care products.

Sensitive skin can be a part of you from day dot, and other times it occurs over time. Like all of our other traits, some we’re born with a predisposition to, others we develop – some people are natural movers and groovers, others hone their toe-tapping talent over many years. Regardless of when you first noticed your sensitive skin, you’ll be skipping and strutting when you discover your ideal sensitive skincare tips and tricks. While everyone experiences sensitive skin differently, we’ve designed a whole host of universal sensitive skin products to be tough on dirt, while being gentle on skin from head to toe.

What causes sensitive skin?

While it’s a bit of a mystery what causes sensitive skin genetically, science has some pretty good ideas as to what’s going on – and what doesn’t help.

Our skin has a naturally protective fatty outer layer, the lipid barrier. It’s this defence mechanism that allows us to retain water, while fending off anything that could do us damage – think chemicals or the elements. When this shield is weaker or thinner than usual, it means the nerve endings in the top layer of the epidermis (the outermost part of our skin’s structure) can be vulnerable to foreign matter, which irritate them – ta-da, a skin flare-up occurs.

If your lipid barrier is thinner it’s said you also absorb skincare products more deeply, making your skin more susceptible to outbreaks caused by topical products like overly harsh skincare. Conversely, this also means that moisture can be more readily lost, which is why sensitive skin is often dry too. In a cyclical turn of events, sensitivity can also be caused by dry skin or dehydration, AKA, when it’s too low on oil and/or water. Similarly, it’s no coincidence that if you are already experiencing sensitivity, you might find that a change-up in elements or internal shifts like illness, hormones, stress can heighten what your skin is already going through.

With our faces and bodies being exposed to all sorts on a daily basis, there’s a lot to side-step when your skin’s barrier is weaker by nature. And since everyone experiences sensitive skin slightly differently, there’s a spectrum of severity, not to mention different types of sensitivity to be aware of. Often skincare for sensitive skin is a bit of an afterthought, but this time no one’s putting you in the corner. Spotlighting each type of sensitive skin, we’ve also rounded up the best of our sensitive skin products.

Women applying toner

What are the different types of sensitive skin?

Sensitive by nature

Thank your parents, and their parents before them, as sensitive skin generally runs in the family. Passed down through the generations, this constitutional tendency means your skin might just have a thinner protective barrier than other people’s. Along with this biological inheritance, inflammatory skin conditions like eczema (dry itchiness), contact dermatitis (rashes that come on after contact with triggers such as allergens), psoriasis (scaly patches or rashes) or rosacea (flushed skin with visible blood vessels) can be hereditary. Note, these conditions are typically more on-going than more sporadic skin sensitivity and something you should see a doctor for.

Sensitive to the elements

Over time skin can develop a sensitivity to factors in our surroundings like the sun’s UV rays, air quality, cigarette smoke or even temperature changes. Depending on where you live and work, these forces are pretty unavoidable as, you know, we all live on planet earth. Oh, but if your feet aren’t on the ground because you’re in an airplane, be mindful that these are typically hot spots for heightening skin sensitivity. Here, drying air conditioning can wreak havoc – not just for those with sensitive skin, but most skin types.

Internal and external sensitivity

If your skin tends to react to triggers you might be tempted to cut them out, but that could be easier said than done. Potential sensitivity prompts range from synthetic fabrics and household cleaners to dust and pets. Sensitive skin can also be caused or exacerbated by hot showers, hard water and chlorine. Even internal factors such as stress and hormone changes (think pregnancy or menopause) can cause skin drama. Lastly, a major factor for skin sensitivity can be using the wrong body care products for you, as certain harsh ingredients can bring about reactive symptoms like red and irritated patches.

A thinner protective barrier

You might not be born with thin skin, but you might develop it over time. Our skin’s natural protective barrier can weaken as we age since our lipid barrier stops regenerating so readily. The thinner the skin, the more likely it is to become irritated, creating new or heightened sensitivities, or even sensitive skin for the first time in your life. Aggravating this process, sun exposure can also thin the skin, making it more sensitive, not to mention making veins and capillaries appear more noticeable.

Woman applying soothing gel to her face

How to care for sensitive skin?

Feel like your skin dances to its own beat? Don’t despair, we’re here to tell you how to help keep your sensitive skin in check. While certain causes can be managed, skin sensitivity is not something that you can necessarily be 100% free of. But, happily, with the right skincare including cream for sensitive skin and even makeup, you can help to protect your skin from its pet peeves and keep it feeling smooth and hydrated.

Beyond just getting on board with sensitive skin products, you should be on point with how you use them too. Taking a softly-softly approach will help to keep breakouts at bay – don’t wash too regularly or abrasively scrub, as both will likely worsen skin sensitivity. You should also keep your hands as clean as possible and be wary not to touch your sensitive skin or scratch any itchy bits.

Follow our sensitive skin tips and before you know it, never mind skin outbursts, you’ll soon have a singing outburst to the tune of ‘you’re not welcome anymore’.

Sensitive Facial Care

The Body Shop Aloe Calming Foaming Wash

Our best face wash for sensitive skin

Our Aloe Calming Foaming Wash is the ideal face wash for those that need a gentle clean. The lather-y suds shimmy around the skin’s surface to help lift daily grime, all while helping your skin to rock again – faces feel calmer and refreshed. A tip to help boost your use make sure your water temperature is tepid when using this face wash for sensitive skin to avoid the triggering effects of too hot H20.

The Body Shop Aloe Calming Cream Cleanser

Our best cleanser for sensitive skin

Gentle cleansers are the not-so-secret weapon to help keep sensitive skin feeling soothed and moisturised, while doing that all-important work of getting rid of makeup, grime and other daily impurities. Enter stage right our Aloe Calming Cream Cleanser. This sensitive skin essential has a silky-smooth no-grease texture and feels super comforting and mild when massaged into skin. Once you’ve smothered your face in this Aloe icon, wipe off with a cotton pad or our fine Muslin Cloth, or wash off with water – skin feels calmed and clean.

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The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Day Cream

Our best moisturiser for sensitive skin

Ensuring your skin has enough moisture in it to help prevent drying flare-ups makes using a soothing daily moisturiser for sensitive skin crucial. Our Aloe Soothing Day Cream is designed just for this, helping skin to feel calmed and replenished. As with all new products you might want to introduce to your routine, make sure to patch test first. Try on the skin behind one ear before bed, checking in the morning to see how it’s fared. If all’s good, try the next day, next to one eye. If skin’s still irritation-free, then it should be safe to use all over your face.

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The power of Aloe for sensitive skin

With its spiky exterior who would have guessed that aloe vera is such a friend to sensitive skin types? But the soothing gel contained in the leaves of this tropical plant has been beloved as a hydrating hero for centuries, even for sensitive skin.

We source our Community Fair Trade aloe vera from Campeche in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico – where the leaves are hand-harvested and hand-filleted within 6 hours to ensure the highest quality freshness for our sensitive Aloe range. Since 2015, our Community Fair Trade programme here has supported indigenous female farmers living on the edge of the rainforest, helping to empower them to make a sustainable income from this natural resource, all while protecting forestland that might otherwise be compromised.

Sensitive body care

Woman applying exfoliating cream scrub in the bath

Scrub: body scrub for dry sensitive skin

Our Almond Milk & Honey Gently Exfoliating Cream Scrub is a specially designed gentle exfoliator for dry sensitive skin. Buffing away older skin cells is an integral part of a good routine, getting your body ready to soak up the benefits of your next sensitive skin products. This Exfoliating Cream Scrub helps to delicately remove the nasties that skin needs to shift, while leaving it feeling softer-to-touch. Enriched with Community Fair Trade organic almond milk and honey, the scent of our beloved scrub is as pleasing as the bathroom boogie you’ll be doing when you use this little number.

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The Body Shop Almond Milk and Honey Shower Cream

Cleanse: shower cream for sensitive skin

Now your body is buffed and prepped, it’s time to get down with our Almond Milk & Honey Soothing & Caring Shower Cream. Like all of our dry sensitive skin products, it’s formulated with your skin in mind, and feels like a comforting caress. It helps to clean with a creamy consistency instead of lathering. You could even use this Shower Cream to wash off any remaining Cream Scrub. You’ll want to put your hands up and do a little jig for this tender skin treasure.

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Woman applying body butter

Moisturize: body lotion for dry sensitive skin

For skin that needs to cool it, is there anything more satisfying than an all-over moisturising moment? Formulated just for dry sensitive skin, our Almond Milk & Honey range feels heavenly. Take one of these body lotions for dry sensitive skin for a spin. Our Almond Milk & Honey Soothing & Restoring Body Lotion helps to soothe uncomfortable, dry skin with a lightweight texture that helps to keep skin feeling moisturised for up to 48 hours. Meanwhile, in our iconic Body Butter formula, the Almond Milk & Honey Body Butter helps to restore dry sensitive skin with a more intense, unctuous feel.

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The Body Shop Shea Hand Cream

Hand care: hand cream for sensitive skin

Hands can be particularly prone to skin sensitivity and dryness, thanks to being one of the most used parts of the whole body. But you’ll soon forget shoving them in your pockets – you’ll be jazz hands-ready with our Almond Milk & Honey Calming & Protecting Hand Cream. It’s a pocket-sized parcel that helps to restore moisture to your digits without any stickiness, letting you get on with whatever your day holds. Enriched with Community Fair Trade organic almond milk from Spain and honey from Ethiopia like the rest of our bestselling range, this moisturiser for dry sensitive skin is an on-the-go must-have.

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The soothing benefits of Almond Milk and Honey

Almond milk and honey – can you think of a more iconic duo? The gentle giants of skincare are even better when they get together, harmonising perfectly and helping your skin to get its groove back. Our Community Fair Trade organic almonds come from Spain. They’re grown organically by small-scale farmers using low-impact methods before being sustainably farmed and pressed to become almond oil, known for being kind to skin and rich in vitamin E (which if you didn’t know, is just loved by skin). Meanwhile, our honey comes from the UNESCO protected ‘biodiversity hotspot’ of the Afromontane Rainforest in Ethiopia, where local ‘Bee Whisperers’ ensure the beekeeping process is traditional and sustainable. Syrupy sweet honey is known to be naturally anti-bacterial and nutrient-rich as well as a humectant (that’s the fancy word for moisture-retaining, FYI). Coming together in our time-honoured formula of sensitive skincare essentials, our Almond Milk & Honey range helps skin to be its best self.

Woman's face

“The Almond Milk & Honey scrub gently buffs away dead skin cells to leave skin feeling soft and smooth. Its creamy base is formulated to respect skin’s natural moisture barrier and pH.”

Dr. Kim, Dermatologist

Sensitive skin makeup

Think your sensitive skin can’t handle makeup? Think again. Our makeup for sensitive skin is designed just for you. Delicate faces will twist and shout for our aloe vera-enriched range. Keep the good vibes going by ensuring your makeup is kept clean and only holding onto them so long as they’re ‘good’.

Hand holding various foundations

Step 1: Fresh Nude Foundation

Our makeup for sensitive skin base layer, the Fresh Nude Foundation provides medium coverage with up to 24 hours of hydration and is enriched with Community Fair Trade aloe vera and English rose water. The semi-matte finish helps to create a healthy-looking glow, while feeling fresh and comfortable.

Hands holding The Body Shop Concealer

Step 2: Fresh Nude Serum Concealer

Enriched with caffeine and Community Fair Trade aloe vera, our Fresh Nude Serum Concealer is the more targeted sister to our Fresh Nude Foundation. It helps to make the under-eye area look more even and reduce signs of fatigue with a lightweight lasting coverage.

Hands holding The Body Shop Face Base and makeup brush

Step 3: Fresh Nude Face Base

Our Fresh Nude Face Base is like a setting powder and foundation got together to give your delicate face a mattified look. You can personalise how you use it, opting for light coverage, or building it to a more full coverage look. In one nifty little compact, it has a mirror and sponge to make touch-ups on-the-go a snap.

Makeup remover for sensitive skin and eyes

It’s always important to remove your makeup before bed to help ensure that nothing from the day is left hanging around on your face. Our Camomile range is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin, as it’s gentle and less likely to cause flare-ups. The Camomile Gentle Eye Make-up Remover helps to melt makeup from lashes and lids and soothe both sensitive skin and contact lens wearers alike. Our Camomile Cleansing Butter is a luxurious little tub of makeup remover, helping to break down makeup from the entire face when you massage it in, while restoring a moisturised-feeling. Fancy an oil formulation instead? Our Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is an emulsifying cleanser you just add water to before rinsing off for a nourishing feel.