It is estimated that about 50 per cent of all women think they suffer from sensitive skin. That said, it is important to note that sensitive skin is a very loosely used term, and generally refers to the skin condition where it is prone to dryness, flaking, itching, stinging and redness. And while having sensitive skin doesn’t necessarily mean you are suffering from or susceptible to other skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis etc, it can be a pain — and quite literally so — if your skin become irritated or inflamed.
And when that happens, not only do you have to avoid using the obvious harsher ingredients, you have to be absolutely discerning about what product you’re using on your skin at all to not aggravate it further, as well as to calm the inflammation, repair your skin and keep it protected. A rule of thumb is to look for products that are hydrating, soothing and designed to strengthen the skin’s barrier. These products are usually formulated with ingredients that deliver moisture, provide skin with antiseptic properties and help rebuild the skin’s barrier layer so that it is able to retain moisture and keep potentially irritating particles out.
Here, eight natural ingredients to look out for that will help skin heal:
Those who’ve handled an aloe vera plant will know that not only does the “flesh” of the plant have a clear and jelly-like texture, it also has a slippery sticky gel fluid.
And while most of us recognise aloe vera as a healing and soothing ingredient, how does it actually do so? Aloe vera contains high levels of vitamins, sugars and minerals which provide skin with hydration, calm irritated skin and accelerate the process of healing. Plus, it also helps that aloe vera feels cool to the skin so it also relieves stinging skin instantly.
If your skin is red and feels hot to the touch, calm it down with generous spritzes of an aloe vera face mist. We like Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Cucumber And Green Tea, $15 for 118ml, for a burst of refreshing hydration. Infused with cucumber, green tea and aloe vera, it soothes and hydrates skin instantly while dousing it with protective antioxidants. You can use it anytime during the day, under or over makeup. For the ultimate post-sun antidote, pop it into the refrigerator and spritz liberally over your face and body for a cooling and calming fix.
Traditionally consumed to treat tummy aches and boost immunity, calendula is rich in beneficial compounds that not only protects and strengthens our cells, but also has anti-inflammatory effects. Similarly when applied topically, calendula helps keep bacteria at bay and provides skin with powerful antioxidants to protect it from the environment.
And due to its ability to hydrate without stimulating sebum glands activity, calendula is also often found in skincare products targeted at those with oily and acne-prone skin.
A cult favourite, Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner, $59 for 250ml, has been well-loved by fans for its ultra-gentle formula which instantly soothes and hydrates the skin. Supported by allantoin and great burdock extract, this refreshing toner inhibits the proliferation of bacteria and keeps skin supple.
If all you can think of is a healthy, fibre-rich breakfast, it’s time to reconsider. The humble oat has been used soothe itching, provide moisture, cleanse the skin and protect it against further irritation. Colloidal oat, in particular, is when oats are ground into an ultra-fine powder form so that it mixes well into any carrier base.
In addition to whipping oats into your DIY calming face mask, incorporating colloidal oat into your daily routine also means that your skin gets bathed in a high concentration of vitamins, proteins, lipids, polysaccharides, minerals and flavonoids. This means that any irritation will be nipped in the bud as your skin barrier is restored and rebuilt for smoother, more supple skin.
Reach for Tatcha The Indigo Cream, $140 for 50ml. Containing 2 per cent colloidal oatmeal, this fragrance-free face cream is a great way to calm redness-prone skin while replenishing it with moisture and powerful antioxidants to fight off signs of ageing. Supported by humectants like glycerin and squalane which draws moisture to the skin, irritation is neutralised and your skin feels softer and smoother.
If the first thing that comes to your mind is tea just before bed time, you’re on the right track.
In addition to the relaxing properties of chamomile extract, chamomile is also great in reducing redness for skin that is irritated and inflamed. This is because it has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits, and can also be used to provide relief for those with dry and itching skin as well as acne.
If you are plagued with dry and redness-prone skin that is also susceptible to breakouts, try Arcona Chamomile Balm, $45 for 15ml.
With a rich balm-like texture, it glides smoothly over your skin to provide instant comfort for dry and itching skin. Thanks to its formula of blue chamomile and calendula, it helps repair capillary damage to reduce signs of redness while helping to rebuild skin’s barrier. Meanwhile, powerful antioxidants like vitamin E protect skin against further damage and panthenol locks in moisture.
A cousin of chamomile, blue tansy is has been widely used in aromatherapy as its mildly sweet and herbaceous scent is pleasant and calming. In recent years, however, it has gained popularity in skincare products.
This is because of a compound it contains, called azulene. Also the same compound that’s responsible for the blue colour of creams and masks that is formulated with it, azulene has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits that helps to neutralise redness and balance skin’s moisture levels at the same time, which makes it great for those with combination to oily skin types.
To improve skin clarity, try Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Oil Balancing Azulene Infused Facial Oil, $112 for 50ml. It is a blend of botanical oils, including blue tansy oil to provide skin with fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Apply about five drops onto palms and press into skin. Wait for about one to two minutes to allow the oil to completely absorb into the skin before following with makeup. Over time, skin hydration is improved while sebum production is regulated. Skin texture is also plumper and smoother as it is able to better hold moisture in.
We all know about the health benefits of ingesting olive oil. Its high level of monounsaturated fats help to promote cardiovascular health when transported around the body. Similarly, olive oil is packed with benefits to your skin when applied topically. Rich in a compound called squalane, it is extremely effective in providing skin with moisture as well as improving its ability to retain moisture.
In addition, olive oil is also packed with antioxidants that help to undo the damage that sun exposure has done on the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and UV-triggered pigmentation. Finally, it also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to make it a great option for those with eczema.
Try KORA Organics Soothing Moisturiser, $65 for 50ml, a gentle formula to hydrate and relieve stressed skin. Made with aloe vera leaf juice and botanical oils like evening primrose, olive, avocado, sunflower seed and macadamia nut, it replenishes skin with long-lasting moisture while countering redness. Thanks to the rich fatty acid content, it also helps to repair skin’s barrier layer for a soft and smooth complexion.
Alt text: Best Natural Ingredients For Skin Healing Olive Oil KORA Organics Soothing Moisturiser
You’ll often see this one in anti-ageing skincare, as soy contains compounds called phytosterols and isoflavones that have the potential to improve skin’s barrier function, elasticity and pigmentation. In addition, soy extract has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to keep bacteria at bay and speed up cellular repair.
Reap the healing and regenerative benefits that soy extract has with ReFa Expression Rising Lotion, $100 for 180ml. Formulated with Phytopolyamine, soy bean and juniper extracts, it is a fast-absorbing lotion that stimulates micro-circulation and lymphatic drainage. This means that over time, skin regeneration is accelerated and cellular detoxification is optimised for a smoother and firmer complexion.
Also known as “tiger grass” as it’s the preferred plant for tigers to rub their bodies on whenever they have cuts, Centella Asiatica has great anti-inflammatory properties and helps compromised skin heal faster.
Moreover, it is a powerful antioxidant (thanks to its active compound, madecassoside), is rich in amino acids that are effective in hydrating irritated skin, and is also effective in rebuilding skin’s protective barrier layer.
Designed to repair and protect even the most fragile of skin, Dr. Jart+Cicapair Night Re.Pair, $68 for 30 x 3ml, is an overnight treatment that soothes any itching and stinging sensation, hydrates parched and flaky skin as well as support cellular regeneration. Infused with Centella Asiatica, it cocoons irritated skin in a balm-like barrier so you can notice reduced redness and less sensitised skin by the time you wake up in the morning.