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I’ve always had sensitive skin, thanks to a condition called dermatographia that causes my skin to welt when it comes into contact with pretty much anything, from makeup brushes to exfoliating beads. Both physical pressure and chemical ingredients cause my skin to flare up. Though the welts don’t hurt, they garner unwanted attention and questions from people unaware of my condition, so I try my best to avoid them by relying on a handful of products that keep my skin hydrated and smooth without causing unnecessary irritation.
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If you also have sensitive skin or look for gentle formulas in your beauty products for any reason, I hope my must-haves will lend themselves well to your routine, regardless of what your skin woes are.
1. Burt’s Bee’s Baby Nourishing Lotion
Most times I’m shopping for a skincare product in a grocery or drug store, I start by looking in the baby section. Babies have fragile skin and because of this, products made for them claim to be gentle, avoiding irritating ingredients or fragrance. One of my best finds in the baby section is Burt’s Bees’ Baby Nourishing Lotion. It’s made with moisturizing ingredients, like sunflower seed oil and shea butter, and it claims to have a hypo-allergenic formula. I use the lotion all over my body almost every day, and I enjoy its soothing lavender scent. Though thick in consistency, the lotion spreads well and lasts me months at a time. It’s a lifesaver when my skin is feeling dry.
2. Cocokind Texture Smoothing Cream
I’ve reviewed Cocokind products in the past, and I’m still happily using the Texture Smoothing Cream as my daily face moisturizer. The formula feels lightweight and absorbs quickly, adding moisture to my skin that lasts all day long. Its cucumber fruit water and squalane hydrate my skin well and prevent it from feeling dry or itchy. I’ve also become accustomed to the fresh peppermint and celery seed scent. I use this moisturizer in the morning and at night after washing my face with the Osea Ocean Cleanser and using any serums, allowing time for the serums to absorb before “locking them in” with the richness of this moisturizer.
3. BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm
It can be difficult to find makeup that doesn’t irritate my skin, especially because the act of applying products can cause redness and welts itself. I typically only wear makeup that can be blended into the skin with my hand as opposed to brushes, which is where Tower 28’s BeachPlease Balm won me over. The balm can be used as an eye, lip and cheek color, and it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy at application or throughout wear. The balm is pigmented enough to add some color to my skin with a thin layer, and it feels super smooth to rub onto the apples of my cheeks without irritation.
4. Osea Undaria Algae Body Oil
This body oil from Osea was a game-changer in my skincare routine. I dealt with itchiness on my back, arms and legs after exfoliating or scrubbing my skin in the shower prior to trying this. Now, I follow-up a shower or bath with a few pumps of this oil to moisturize my skin and avoid the unpleasant itch altogether. The formula contains a blend of many oils, including linseed, sunflower seed, rice bran, acai pulp and sesame seed. I love how smooth and lightweight this feels, and it leaves my skin glowing and feeling soft without greasiness. I often use a pump of the oil after washing my hands to curb dryness there, too.
5. Flowery Nail File
My nails cause at least half of the flare-ups and welts on my body. From accidental scratches to rabid-like itching, if my nails are sharp or ragged, the result is always worse. My defense has become a nail file in every purse or tote, at my desk, in the car and even in my partner’s fanny pack in case I forget my own. I’m fond of the Flowery nail file in the 100/180 grit for two reasons: First, its tapered shape is comfortable to use and allows me to file at an angle better than non-tapered, rounded files. Secondly, the rough side can be used to soften a callus or ripped nail to even out the shape and the 100 grit side can smooth any blunt edges. These will be helpful if you find yourself scratching or picking at skin—both habits that can irritate it.
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6. Everyone Nourishing Hand and Body Lotion
As you can probably tell by now, I can never have too much moisturizer in my routine. For warmer seasons, I gravitate toward a thinner lotion, which is where Everyone’s Hand and Body Lotion comes in. It has a water and coconut oil base, and it spreads easily and absorbs quickly. Despite the inclusion of coconut oil, this doesn’t feel greasy like some lotions do, and the big pump bottle of it is great for sitting by the bathroom sink as a follow-up to showering or washing my hands. If you’re choosing between my two lotion recommendations, go with this for on-the-go hydration and Burt’s Bees for post-shower hydration.
7. Sun Bum Cool Down Aloe Vera Gel
My secret to calm skin during a flare-up is aloe gel. I’ve used some from an aloe plant at a friend’s house, a cheap bottom-shelf gel and this Sun Bum Aloe Vera gel. Aloe is known for its soothing qualities, and it helps cool the feeling of burning, itchy skin in a way that lotion doesn’t always achieve. While most people may use this during warmer months in reaction to a sunburn, I recommend having a bottle all year long to give your skin TLC anytime it feels dry and inflamed. Sun Bum’s is my favorite because of its cool, refreshing scent.
8. Rosehip BioRegenerate Universal Face Oil
In the drier times of year—whether it be from windy and wintery weather or excessive air conditioning—I like to layer a facial oil on my skin after moisturizer. This rosehip oil states it’s great for “dry, mature, blemish-prone, combination and especially sensitive” skin types. In addition to oil, this includes squalane to help provide moisture and fight dry patches.
9. Wild Origins Body Butter
Body butters are made for an extra dose of moisture, and this herbal body butter changed my skin for the better. Its ingredients include coconut oil, shea butter, kaolin clay, ground organic oats, ground calendula, comfrey and rose. The body butter hydrates the skin and calms redness, a combination that I love before bed so I don’t feel itchy when I’m trying to sleep. I use this thick body butter on rough areas like my elbows, ankles, knees and feet. But, it’s also gentle enough to use on my face—a win for when I want to protect against chapping on windy days.
10. Vagus Nerve Oil Natural Perfume Roll-On
Many perfume formulas and their applicators cause my skin to welt, especially if they require additional rubbing into my skin. I use this Vagus Nerve Oil almost daily because the scent is made from lavender and arborvitae, and the consistency is smooth and oil-like as opposed to drying and astringent-like. The perfume has an earthy lavender scent, and it helps me feel grounded when stressed or anxious. The roll-on applicator’s smooth roller ball glides across my skin without causing any irritation and leaves just enough perfume that it doesn’t require me to rub it into my skin.
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