Sensitivity: a good thing in life, a bad thing in skin.
When your face is the equivalent of that touchy friend who flies off the handle at every innocent comment (“I said your hair was doing a NICE flicky thing! A NICE one!”) it can be hard to know how to keep it happy while still getting it to do all the things you want your skin to do… like looking clear and spot-free, wearing make-up, not wearing make-up, going swimming, standing in the cold without turning into an angry, itchy red misery mask. All the things.
Harsh chemicals can just aggravate the problem further, but if you’re also dealing with spots, oily patches and all the other joys that the puberty fairy brings in her hormonal handbag, you’re not going to want to just your skin to sulk on its own, either.
But luckily you can stay calmer than your angry cheeks, because there are loads of things out there to help. Plants, to be specific. Herbs, flowers and other botanical extracts can work magic on irritable skin; and these days there are loads of brands that bring nature and science together in brilliant ways. These are the ingredients you (and your fussy skin) need you know about.
Found in the pretty petals of marigolds, calendula extract has been used for centuries to counteract redness and calm down inflamed, stressed-out skin.
Weleda’s Calendula Face Cream might be intended for babies, but don’t let that put you off – for sensitive skin having a tantrum, it’s basically soothe in a tube.
Sometimes there’s nothing more comforting than a big bowl of porridge, is there? And your skin basically feels the same way. Oats contain beta-glucan, which helps boost your skin’s immune system, calms redness and soothes dry, itchy skin.
Lush’s Jackie Oates is a pale base made with oat milk and other natural lovelies. For porcelain skin it’s basically the makeup equivalent of your mum whispering ‘shhhhhh…. it’s fiiiiine, I’ll put the kettle on.’
Speaking of tea – chamomile is famously great at calming minds and tummies, and it’s no surprise that it can do the same for your face too. Thanks to a potent anti-irritant called bisabolol, those little flowers are a dream for sensitive skin, where other plant-based oils like lavender and rose can get it all riled up.
Burt’s Bees’ Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream is a super gentle way to get skin squeaky clean, featuring the all-important chamomile with best pals, softening aloe and cooling menthol. The loveliest bunch of flowers you can buy yourself.
Naturally antibacterial (although it’s too sticky to use instead of hand gel, stop right there), Winnie the Pooh’s fave is also a top treat for skin.
You can apply fancy-pants manuka honey straight onto your skin as a mask – or grab a sachet of this lovely stuff from face mask stalwarts Montagne Jeunesse. And a granola pot while you’re at it.
Grape seed oil
Odourless and less potent than other oils, grape seed is great for sensitive types but especially great for skin that manages to be both easily irritated AND oily (wtf, skin).
Simple’s Hydrating Cleansing Oil features grape seed, to melt away makeup while keeping your dry bits moisturised, your thirsty bits hydrated and your oily bits balanced. That’s oil, folks.