Skin Care Routine for Sensitive Skin

Updated on June 24, 2013
M.M. asks from Detroit, MI
13 answers

I am so clueless about beauty stuff. I've been using Noxema since I was 12. I'm now 37 and I have no idea what to do to fix my skin. I get clogged pores and pimples -- my skin is worse now than it was when I was younger. Anything I try (even organic stuff) seems to make my skin either break out or dry out within a few days. I currently do Noxema, remove it with a washcloth for a little exfoliation, then use witch hazel as a toner, and coconut oil as a moisturizer. This is OK but I feel like skin care must have improved since my grandmother's time!! I just get super overwhelmed in the skin care aisle or when I read about this stuff in magazines -- the options are just endless. I have no idea what I need. I don't wear make up.

Do you have a skin care routine you like? What line of products do you use for sensitive skin? How long should it take my skin to get adjusted to new products? Thank you!

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for all the great info! I went to Target and picked up the SImple face wash and lotion. After a few days I already notice a difference in my skin... it just seems more balanced -- no dry spots, no oily spots, and no new pimples! I'll see how it goes and work in the other suggestions if I need to. I've always heard good things about Clinique and it sounds like you have too! Thanks again for all the info.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I've thought for a long time that Clinique has the best products around. They're not trendy, but they're good. They're not cheap, but they're worthwhile and they last a long time. You might go to whatever store sells it and make an appointment (free). Clinique has makeup, too, but I'm referring to the skin care products.

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answers from Columbia on

I use: Clean and Clear sensitive skin foaming wash, Olay regenerist moisturizer and eye cream. I do this before bed every night. Other than the occasional pimple prior to my period, my skin is clear.

A friend of mine, who had crappy skin for a LONG time, and tried everything, finally gave up on pimple products. She washes in the shower with Clean and Clear, pats dry, then uses real lemon juice as a toner/astringent (literally just slices off a thin bit of lemon and gently rubs the juice on her skin), lets it air dry, and then moisturizes with a little organic coconut oil. Her skin looks AMAZING, and lots of her scars have lightened and cleared up. It's worth a try.

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answers from Honolulu on

Clinique, has sensitive skin care products.
And the products are hypoallergenic etc.

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answers from Dallas on

I am a loyal Clinique fan. When I was around 11 I went to the dermatologist as a proactive approach and it was something he suggested. I have used it ever since and I am 50 and pass for much younger than my years.

I also use Jose Moran Argon oil along with my Clinique routine. Right now, I use the Repairwear series night cream, laser focus serum and eye cream. I also use all of the makeup.

It is a good value... it seems pricey but it lasts a long time.

My 18 uses all Clinique as well. When she has a blemish, she uses the acne line and it clears up quickly.

Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

I second the Simple line of products at the store. I use the cleanser and under eye roller thing. Its been wonderful. I have to be very careful - even shampoos will make me break out on my forehead etc. They have several different products but I'd start with the cleanser and a moisturizer. Don't change up to much at one time. Otherwise you won't know whats bothering your skin.

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answers from Los Angeles on

There's a great book called Skin Type Solutions, written by a dermatologist named Leslie Baumann (

As a teenager, I used to have acne problems so I've always used skin care for oily skin. After reading the book, I realized I actually had sensitive, dry skin type, which is the complete opposite of what I thought I was. It turned out that the drying ingredients in my products for oily skin was causing my face to produce more oil to compensate. Since then I've been using products for sensitive dry skin and it actually made my acne better. I highly recommend you read the book to determine your skin type before investing in skin care products. You don't want to end up spending $$$ to buy products that are not right for your skin.

As far as my skincare routine goes, I always use Cetaphil to wash my face. It contains parabens, so if you're into using products without parabens, try Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser. Cetaphil only has about 7 ingredients, which means it's less likely to irritate your skin. To remove my make up at night, I use Pond's cold cream then use Cetaphil. Or you can try oil cleansers. I use the cold cream simply because they cost less. I don't believe in spending $$$ for a cleanser.

I use Prevage brand moisturizer. The company that makes Elizabeth Arden products also make them, but Prevage is higher end. I don't use a toner, because it will be too drying for my skin type. I used to use a separate eye cream, but I don't anymore because I've been reading that they're not necessary unless your skin around the eyes are ultra sensitive. Sometimes I'll exfoliate my skin, but I've yet to find a favorite. Since I don't exfoliate too often, I'm not too picky about exfoliators.

I also use Skinceutical's Retinol 0.5 to prevent wrinkles, every night on my forehead, and as a spot treatment on the rest of my face if I see a pimple coming up. Retinol is not only good for preventing wrinkles, but also for getting rid of acne. It also exfoliates the skin. However, it's pretty harsh if your skin is sensitive, which is why I only use it on my forehead on a daily basis (my forehead can take more harshness than the rest of my face).

Also you should always use a sunblock or sunscreen. I use Skinceuticals brand sunblock, because it's a physical sunblock, not a chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens caused an allergic reaction for me.

I would use more products, but I'm currently on a budget so what I'm doing is what I consider the bare minimum. If I weren't on a budget, I would also use Skinceutical's CE Ferulic and a couple of other products. I buy Skinceuticals prodcuts at because shipping is free (I hate paying for shipping!).

I've had a lot of skin problems in the past and I don't have the greatest skin so I did a lot of research before committing to these products. You should too. One great website I go to is

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answers from Los Angeles on

I use baking soda when my skin's acting up. There's no dye or perfume to irritate sensitive skin and doesn't dry it out. Don't use it every day; it is abrasive, but every other day should be fine. I just put a 1/2 tsp in my palm and slowly add enough water to make a thin paste. Then gently rub it on and rinse with tepid water. Skip the witch hazel and keep the coconut oil.

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answers from Detroit on

As we get older, our skin changes (drastically!) I use clean and clear fresh start in the morning followed by Neutrogena sensitive skin as a moisturizer with sun screen. At night I also still use Noxzema and after being in the sun with Boots number 7 night cream.

What ever you do, do not use proactive products, they are really harsh.

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answers from Houston on

Make sure you consider your skin type and whether or not it is dry, oily, combo, or normal. If you look up, "How to determine my skin type" there are lots of online quizzes that will help you. I found one by Fitness mag. that was good except for the annoying ads!!

I have very sensitive combination skin with oily T zone (forehead, nose and chin). I use a hodge-podge of stuff but through trial and error, I have figured out what works for me. In the morning, I use the Clean and Clear Morning Burst cleanser in the orange bottle. I like the sensitive skin line in the winter when my skin isn't quite as oily. If my skin feels dry, I use the Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture for sensitive skin on my cheeks and around my mouth. When I have a pimple, I use the AcneFree Terminator 10. It is awesome!! It is in a little orange tube but lasts forever. I use the Mary Kay blotting papers to soak up the oil in the t-zone.

My skin is so sensitive, I can only use certain makeup, shampoo, conditioner and even toothpaste.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Is your skin naturally oily or dry? It makes a big difference I think.

My skin is a little dry (which, BTW, can make your skin break out, because the dry flaking skin can clog the pores around it. Many people think that if you have break outs, your skin must be too oily but not true). I have found that less is better for me.

I used to wash my face with a gentle cleanser before bed and in the morning, and moisterize after washing. I tried all kinds of cleansers and moisterizers. I tried clinique toner in between the washing and moisterizing. Still my skin was irritated all the time with breakouts. Then one day I decided it was crazy to take all the moisture out of my skin with cleansers, and then try to put it all back in with moisterizers. So I stopped all of it. (And this sounds like what you are doing - taking all the natural oils out with the noxema and toner, then trying to put oils back in with the coconut oil)

Now, each morning in the shower I wash my body, but I just rinse my face under the water - no cleanser AT ALL on my face. When I get out, sometimes I still use a little moisurizer if my skin feels tight. And that's it. The only time I ever actually wash my face is if I wear foundation - which is about twice a year. Otherwise, I only wear some eye makeup and lipstick on a daily basis, and then I don't have to wash my face.

My face is so much healthier since I stopped using products on it.

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answers from Wausau on

I think the combination of things you're using are likely making it worse. Noxema can be effective but is also harsh on skin for regular long term use. Using a toner isn't even something you need to do after that, so you've been further stripping your skin and causing increased oil production. You've created a face that is both dry and oily. Coconut oil is likely contributing to clogging things up.

Because of how you describe your skin, I think a visit with a dermatologist is in order. If you're not ready for that, then try not using any products on your face for a few weeks. Just use warm water and a clean washcloth.

You don't mention makeup, but the best thing you can do is not wear any until your face clears up.

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answers from Orlando on

I have changed to all DIY products. I use the oil cleansing method for my face. I tend to have oily/combo skin so to slather on more oil is scary at first but it has NEVER looked better! I use equal parts olive oil, castor oil, and jojoba oil mixed in a little squirt bottle (like the mini travel bottles they sell in the travel section of the drug store). My face is super clean and clear. I use 1 drop of jojoba oil with 1 drop of tea tree oil to moisturize, just mixed together in my hand. About 1x/month I like to do a mask. I make a paste of baking soda and water, apply it to my face, let dry, then rinse. Google the oil cleansing method and give it a try. You will be amazed! I will never buy those nasty chemical products again.

Also, coconut oil clogs pores. You can use a small amount in a recipe for homemade body lotion or deodorant but don't use it straight up on your face. Other natural moisturizers include jojoba oil, almond oil, or liquid vitamin e. All are very nice and won't clog pores like coconut oil will.

All of these ingredients are easy to find and very affordable. Small amounts last a very long time.

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answers from Sacramento on

I love the Simple line of products for sensitive skin. You can find them at Target and other mainstream stores. I really love their face wipes. The whole line is very gentle on skin. I'm a redhead with very fussy, delicate skin and I've had no irritation.

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