6 Good Habits for People With Sensitive Skin

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Allie Lemco Toren on September 19, 2022
  • woman smiling at reflection in bathroom mirror
    Feel good in your own skin.
    If you have sensitive skin, you’re familiar with unexplained stinging and burning sensations, dryness, tingling, itching, and general discomfort when it comes to your skin. These symptoms can be frustrating and even painful, getting in the way of your ability to go about your day and present your best self to the world. Fortunately, with the right habits, you can give your skin the love it needs.
  • close up of woman applying moisturizer one hand
    1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
    If you have sensitive skin, it’s likely you also have dry skin—which means lotions and creams should be your best friend. Moisturizers hold water in the top layer of skin, keeping it hydrated and acting as a temporary barrier to irritants. People with sensitive skin should be careful about the moisturizers they use, as fragrances and certain chemicals can cause skin irritation and other issues. Find a moisturizer with skin-soothing nutrients like chamomile and aloe, and stay away from products that contain fragrances, dyes, or acids. To protect very dry skin, look for products labeled as emollients, which are more hydrating and protective than standard lotions and creams.
  • unidentified woman washing hair with shampoo in shower
    2. Shower smart.
    Sensitive skin can be irritated by your bathing habits, so make sure you’re protecting your skin during your cleaning routine. Keep showers and baths limited to 5 or 10 minutes and don’t let the water get too hot. Choose soaps with added moisturizers and avoid washing your entire body—only use soap on your face, hands, feet, underarms, and genital areas. Never scrub, as excessive exfoliation can cause your skin’s barrier to break down. Always gently pat the skin dry with a soft towel after you step out of the shower instead of rubbing, and apply lotion to damp skin after bathing to lock in moisture.
  • closeup-of-shaving-razor
    3. Learn shaving strategies.
    People with sensitive skin must be extra careful when it comes to shaving. First of all, never shave without lubrication! Dry shaving increases your risk of irritation and cuts, which can be painful and irritating. And never use plain old soap to lubricate—go with unfragranced shaving gel, hair conditioner, or body oil to help your razor glide smoothly. Wait until the end of your shower or bath to shave so your skin is soft and flexible, and once you’re done, rinse first with warm water to remove remaining lubricant, then rinse again with cool water to close your pores. Follow with a hydrating lotion immediately after blotting yourself dry to stay moisturized.
  • Asian woman shopping in the store cosmetics.
    4. Avoid anti-aging products.
    We all want to keep our skin looking young, but people with sensitive skin should stay away from many anti-aging ingredients. Products that include glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, and retinol can irritate and weaken sensitive skin. Instead, keep skin healthy and ageless by moisturizing regularly with products that contain soothing ingredients like oatmeal and yeast extracts. If you must use anti-aging lotions and creams, apply them every other night instead of daily until you build up a tolerance.
  • closeup of woman's hands using cosmetic cream in bathroom
    5. Stay away from foaming cleansers.
    Although the foam in a body wash or facial cleanser makes it easier (and sometimes more fun) to use, the suds can actually dry out your skin and remove important natural oils that protect you. Choose creamy cleansers with no fragrance for healthier, stronger skin.
  • African American mother applying sunscreen to daughter at beach
    6. Protect your skin from the sun.
    It’s important that everyone use sunscreen daily to avoid wrinkles, spots, sunburn, and of course, skin cancer. But this is especially important for people with sensitive skin, as sunburn is one of the most common ways to damage the skin’s natural barrier. Plus, continued exposure to the sun’s rays prevents the barrier from building back up. When you’re in the sun, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every two hours. Reapply more often if you’re swimming or sweating, and stay in the shade as much as you can during the hours of 10am and 4pm, when the sun is strongest. Consider purchasing clothing made with built-in SPF for even stronger protection.
Sensitive Skin Tips | Sensitive Skin Habits
  1. Sensitive Skin. Expert Review of Dermatology. 2013;8(6): 631-637. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/814679
  2. Moisturizers: Options for softer skin. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-skin/in-depth/moisturizers/art-20044232
  3. 9 ways to banish dry skin. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/9-ways-to-banish-dry-skin
  4. Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/skin-care/art-20048237
  5. Want a Smooth, Safe Shave Every Time? Try These 10 Tips. Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/want-a-smooth-safe-shave-every-time-try-these-10-tips/

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Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 19
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.