The best soothing skin care buys for sensitive skin
Calm complexion waters ahead
By Delaney Loane
Digital Beauty Editor / August 18 2021
Sensitive skin is basically the only thing in the world with the ability to make skin care un-fun. Because while everybody else seems to be masking and microneedling their little hearts out, the sensitive-skinned know that there is only trouble (AKA redness and sadness) at the end of those roads for their faces.
So, what's a reaction-prone skin care lover to do? Just stay out of the game forever to avoid inviting inflammation over? No, that's just plain sad. See, you can get in on the skin care party, you just need to choose very wisely. Basically, to keep yourself amused and your face calm, you'll want to build a routine that balances basic (but brilliant) formulas with ones that are a little funkier but still super gentle.
Of course, sensitive skin has many levels of intensity within it, and you (and your derm) know your face better than anyone. There will be times when you can experiment a little, and times where you need to strip it back down to the simplest routine possible. We've catered for both scenarios – just pick and choose as you see fit.
So, whether you're currently looking for an end-to-end inflammation-easing routine or a specific solution for a specific slot, here are the skin care buys we recommend for sensitive skin types...
QV Skincare Intensive Moisturising Cleanser
A calming but effective cleanser is the backbone of any good skin care routine, even if you're dealing with sensitivity. Long story short: skipping your cleanse is a no-go; you just have to choose a worthy wash. This moisturiser-enriched cleanser is super gentle, and gets all the grime off your face without leaving it tight or dry in the slightest (thanks to its non-foaming, soap-free status).
$19.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Exfoliant: Skinstitut Enzymatic Micro Peel
We swear this product sounds way more dramatic than it actually is, because yes, we know 'peel' is practically a trigger word for anyone that experiences inflammation. It's actually more of a mask, with a granule-free, low-intensity blend of papaya extract and chamomile that gives the skin a super light refresh without stressing it out. Basically, it's perfect for keeping your face congestion-free and calm; it's even recommended for people who suffer from rosacea, eczema and dermatitis.
$49 at Adore Beauty
Kylie Skin Vanilla Milk Toner
Another product that is actually beneficial rather than terrifying if you pick the right one? Toner. This vanilla milk option, for example, is an utter delight – it's the opposite of drying, actually helping to restore moisture back into thirsty, uncomfortable skin. It's free from alcohol and contains a mix of avocado, apricot and jojoba oils to leave skin smooth, soft and soothed. It's not a necessity, sure, but if you've got toner on your 'to try' list, this guy's totally safe for sensitive skin.
$38 at MECCA
Oil: Trilogy Rosehip Oil
Oils are one of the most potent topicals you can apply, so we'd recommend keeping things simple in this department. A pure rosehip oil will always be worthy of a spot in your routine – it's a 'does what it says on the bottle' classic for good reason. Expect your face to feel calm and hydrated; rosehip oil is bursting with essential fatty acids, which are some of the greatest friends that sensitive skin will ever meet.
$22.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Serum: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum
No need to stress about any post-application stinging with this serum; it feels like your face is getting a hug from a cloud. Said cloud is of course brimming with hydrating hyaluronic acid; a bonus. It's technically more of a moisturising blend than a calming one, but dehydration is one of the biggest triggers for sensitive skin, so hydration is the handy helper you'll always need on your side to keep everything feeling cool, calm and collected.
$100 at Sephora
Day cream: Glow Recipe Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream
When they say soufflé, they mean it – this is another product that feels like pure heaven going on, especially when skin is angry. Its fluffy/creamy/bouncy (we swear it's all three) texture is one thing (and a delightful one at that), but it also delivers a complexion-calming hit of hydrating, potassium-rich banana as well as magnesium (which helps to maintain skin barrier health while also rebalancing irritation and inflammation).
$56 at MECCA
Night cream: innisfree Aloe Revital Sleeping Pack
If you don't want too many cooks in your complexion's kitchen, applying your regular moisturiser day and night is just fine, but hey, if you want to dabble in an evening-specific option that's still soothing, this aloe vera gel-cream is a winner. Centred around the calming, healing, cooling benefits of aloe, it's a luxurious-feeling but lightweight consistency that will hydrate without being too heavy.
$20 at Adore Beauty
Healing cream: QV Face Rescue Gel
Even with the sturdiest routine in place, flare-ups still happen from time to time. When they do occur, we advise stripping back to basics: a good cleanse and a coating of a heavy-duty healer like this skin-soothing gel. Loaded with Avemide 15™ (a gentle oat kernel extract which is dynamite for calming the complexion), it'll help to get your skin back to a balanced state as quickly as possible.
$18.99 at Chemist Warehouse
Mist: Kora Organics Calming Lavender Mist
Sensitive skin never met a mist it didn't like, right? Wrong. Some have iffy ingredients for inflammation (no energising vitamin C in our sprays, please) and some just aren't finely milled enough to provide the soothing veil of moisture we're craving. You're in luck with this lavender spray, though – with its namesake soother and aloe vera both in the mix, get ready to check into relaxation station stat.
$42 at Myer
SPF: SunSense Daily Face SPF 50+
SPF is another product that seems to have a 'can't live with it, can't live without it' vibe for sensitive skin types. It's a non-negotiable step, of course, but if you don't select a sunscreen specifically designed to soothe and protect, you could be in trouble. The solution? This oil-free hydrating SPF50. It's even packed with vitamin E and a hint of tint so you can address and conceal redness in one go; hallelujah.
$7.50 at Chemist Warehouse