Got red, sensitive skin? Here’s how to fix it

What to use, when and how.

Red, reactive skin is a common problem that causes many women (and men) angst. The good news – this is a condition that’s relatively easy to resolve.

If you’re one of the thousands of folk who tackle this type of skin daily, you’ll be relieved to discover there’s a simple set of skincare rules that will ease your red-skin woes and possibly even cure them altogether.

Paula Begoun, skincare expert and founder of the beauty brand Paula’s Choice, says even the most inflamed skin can be brought under control. But, and this is a big but, you will need to commit to the following ‘calm skin’ rules, she says. Skip them and your reactive skin troubles will likely return and sadly, in a flash.

Before and after red skin treatment
Red, reactive skin before and after. A huge difference. (Credit: Getty)

So here goes. The rules mainly revolve around things to STOP doing and ASAP.

First thing to quit: bar soaps, cleansing scrubs, and cleansers that leave skin feeling tight or dry.

Next, say goodbye to: abrasive cleansing tools (e.g. a cleansing brush with stiff bristles).

It’s time to go: astringents, toners, clarifying lotions, or any skincare product that contains alcohol (listed as SD alcohol or alcohol denatured) or witch hazel.

No more: products that contain fragrant plant oils or extracts, such as lavender, grapefruit, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus and rose.

Into the bin with: products that contain synthetic fragrances; these may simply be listed as parfum or fragrance on the ingredient list.

And sayonara to: products that contain any essential oil; essential oils are, essentially, just more fragrance! They contain volatile compounds research has shown aggravate skin.

Before and after
The right skincare can make the world of difference when it comes to redness. (Credit: Getty)

The risky products are gone. Now, it’s time to look at what to use instead. For the best results Paula recommends using the following: A gentle, non-drying, easy-to-rinse, skin-softening, water-soluble cleanser.

A toner that delivers skin-replenishing ingredients, such as antioxidant-rich plant extracts, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid, and calming agents to renew your skin.

A salicylic acid (BHA) exfoliant. “BHA not only exfoliates built-up layers of dead skin to reveal the radiant healthy skin hiding beneath, but also can calm red areas while smoothing dry, flaky skin,” says Paula.

During the day, a sunscreen whose only active sunscreen ingredients are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.

At night, a calming serum and moisturiser, formulated for your skin type, that contains abundant antioxidants, skin-enriching ingredients, and skin-drenching hydrators.

Paula’s own range Paula’s Choice includes all of those and more. You can buy products separately or a kit. Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Kit For Normal to Dry Skin or Normal to Oily Skin, $209.

Need a moisturiser for sensitive skin? Try out the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra, $39.95. Recommended by over 25,000 dermatologists worldwide, this French beauty contains Neurosensine™ and thermal spring water to soothe away any irritations or inflammations.

Formulated without parabens, fragrance or alcohol, so it won’t flare up your skin. 

la roche posay
(Credit: Supplied)

And for serums we love, REN Clean Skincare Anti-Redness Serum, $63. Protects, replenishes and improves skin tone to keep sensitive skin looking younger for longer. Plus, milk polypeptide works to reduce inflammation, redness, and irritation while strengthening the skin’s lipid barrier.

We’re also big fans of It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Correcting Cream, $54. This cream contains excellent coverage and is infused with soothing ingredients such as anti-aging peptides, collagen, colloidal oatmeal, hyaluronic acid, aloe and avocado so it soothes while it camouflages.

it cosmetics

Related stories