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8 Sensitive Skin Products to Calm and Soothe Skin

Reduce irritation and inflammation with these skin soothers.
Photo: Shutterstock

I’ve never really thought of myself as having sensitive skin. Instead, I always believed I had oily/combination skin, and as a result, I was more concerned about breakouts. In the past 10 years, however, my skin has let it be known (along with practically every esthetician I’ve met) that sensitivity is an issue. With a family history of rosacea, I’m now also dealing with redness. And did I mention dehydration? It doesn’t matter how much water I consume, my skin is always extremely dehydrated. How I got from A to B, I’ll never know. I’ve often wondered if I brought it on myself, seeing as how I’ve been a guinea pig for various treatments over the years. I also live in New York City, where the air is anything but pristine. While my skin got a much-deserved break during the pandemic, I can’t say it looked or felt any healthier. Deciding I finally needed to recognize that my skin is indeed sensitive, I set out to see how it would fare with some of today’s sensitive-skin products.  

DMK Betagen (Pricing available through DMK partners)

Betagen
What We Love
  • Soothing texture
  • Immediate improvement
  • Immunity-boosting effects
Ingredients of Note
  • Beta glucan
  • Chamomile
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Safflower oil
  • Shea butter

In recent years, DMK has received buzz for its Game of Thrones facial using its powerful Enzyme Mask. But I’ve admired the brand for decades and have been in awe of the skincare prowess of founder Danné Montegue King. The Betgen products, including the cream and the Beta Gel serum, are two of my favorites for addressing sensitive skin. The texture of this cream is ideal, and redness is immediately reduced upon application. I used it for several weeks, and my skin was markedly improved (particularly following an ill-fated attempt at at-home lip and brow waxing during pandemic lockdown). It’s no surprise, as this cream was ideally designed to enhance the skin’s immune system and is often described as an “emergency cream” for reactive, irritated, or inflamed skin due to its calming and soothing effect for skin that needs a cushion, support, strengthening, and revitalization from environmental stressors and trauma. Like the Beta Gel, the cream contains the immune-boosting properties from beta-glucan. It also features vitamin and fatty acid-rich pumpkin seed oil; the reparative and antioxidant power of vitamin A in safflower oil and retinyl palmitate; chamomile to reduce inflammation and redness; and shea butter to facilitate healing, restore hydration and lock-in moisture. It also boasts anti-inflammatory capabilities and peptides to protect the skin’s structures, support collagen renewal, and stimulate and support a healthy robust matrix.—Reviewed by Julie Keller Callaghan

Glad Skin Redness Relief
What We Love
  • Free of fragrance, drying alcohol, steroids, preservatives, parabens, and sulfates
  • Clinically tested
  • Not tested on animals
  • Hypoallergenic
Ingredients of Note
  • Micreobalance
  • Water
  • Arginine HCL

In recent years, my rosacea has flared to new levels. The idea that something would treat the redness I was experiencing sounded absolutely divine. Gladskin Redness Relief Cream features Micreobalance, a proprietary smart protein designed to balance the natural skin microbiome as it moisturizes. After several weeks of use, I did begin to notice less redness as it began to reduce the chronic inflammation I seem to suffer. The cream soothed my skin and left it feeling hydrated.

Screen Shot 2021-07-26 at 10.27.07 AM
What We Love
  • Relies on the healing power of nature
  • Adopts a holistic approach to skincare
  • Uses sustainably and responsibly sourced ingredients
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Leaping Bunny certified
Ingredients of Note
  • Marshmallow
  • Probiotic lysate
  • Microalgae

This creamy cleanser along with Marshmallow & Microalgae Sensitivity Soothing Crème and Marshmallow & Ceramide Sensitivity Soothing Serum make up Naturopathica’s new sensitivity skin collection. Formulated specifically for skin prone to sensitivity and irritation, such as myself, it relies on soothing marshmallow, which is used to relieve irritation and redness. The root of the marshmallow flower is known for its emollient properties and can help soothe skin. The cleanser also incorporates probiotic lysate to reduce reactivity to environmental stressors. Sourced from the Mediterranean, microalgae is microencapsulated to calm and nourish the skin. I especially loved the texture of this light and airy cream, which comforted my skin.

Odacite AP+P Fragile Capillaries Serum Conentrate
What We Love
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Non-GMO
  • No parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, and fragrance
  • Short list of ingredients
Ingredients of Note
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Certified organic palmarosa essential oil
  • Certified GMO-free vitamin E oil

My skin couldn’t get enough of this silky serum. Formulated for fragile and sensitized skin, it relies on apricot oil, which has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Featuring a light texture, it is easily absorbed into the skin. Nourishing and hydrating, apricot oil also contains a host of antioxidants, high concentrations of vitamin A, and anti-inflammatory properties, which is apparently what my skin needs. The serum also contains palmarosa oil, which delivers additional hydration to quench dehydrated skin. The light and subtle scent made application a relaxing ritual that felt far more decadent than the affordable price would suggest. Although I don’t have any visible capillaries, this serum soothed and comforted my skin, leaving it feeling hydrated and looking a bit less flushed.

Screen Shot 2021-07-26 at 10.34.41 AM
What We Love
  • Cruelty free
  • Post-consumer recyclable/reusable packaging
  • No sulfates, GMOs, PABA, lanolin, urea, formaldehyde, alcohol, parabens, mineral oil, gluten, or artificial colors or fragrance
Ingredients of Note
  • Green tea
  • Licorice
  • Chamomile

Ideal for rosacea-prone skin, this lightweight and concentrated serum features a trio of soothing ingredients. Green tea works to neutralize free radicals, fight bacteria, reduce irritation and redness, and calm skin. Licorice also does its part to soothe irritation and reduce redness while chamomile calms and heals inflamed skin. Great for flare-ups, this cooling cream reduced redness and left my skin feeling soft and smooth.

Ranavat Renewing Bakachi Creme
What We Love
  • Cruelty free and vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • Synthetic fragrance free
  • Glass packaging
Ingredients of Note
  • Bakuchi seed
  • Lotus flower
  • Ashwagandha

Everything about Ranavat’s Eternal Reign Renewing Bakuchi Crème shouts luxury and decadence. This incredibly rich cream is loaded with powerful youth-preserving botanicals such as bakuchi seed and lotus flower. I must admit I wasn’t at all familiar with bakuchi, but I did a bit of research and learned that it is an herb that has long been used in Ayurveda and TCM. Used to treat skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation, bakuchi works to normalize the skin’s individual pigmentation. Lotus flower, full of fatty acids and proteins, helps regulate sebum production while also nourishing the skin.

Spectacle Performance Creme
What We Love
  • Free from fragrance, essential oils, PEGs, and parabens
  • Cruelty free
  • Sustainable packaging
Ingredients of Note
  • Niacinamide
  • Gallic acid
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Ergothioneine
  • Safflower seed oleosomes

A fan of most multitasking products, I was immediately smitten with this moisturizer. With a hybrid gel-cream texture, it features a host of ingredients that hydrate, brighten, and nourish the skin. Gallic acid, which blocks melanin production, helps protect the skin from inflammation while it brightens. Diminishing dullness and softening fine lines, niacinamide works to strengthen the skin’s defensive barrier. I was impressed by how the cream felt when applied to my skin. This lightweight moisturizer soothed my skin and left it looking brighter and moisturized.

Better Skin Lotion Kleanse
What We Love
  • Scent free
  • Paraben free
  • Vegan and cruelty free
  • Made in the U.S.
Ingredients of Note
  • Sea buckthorn
  • Aloe barbadensis leaf extract
  • Camellia sinensis leaf extract
  • Cocoa seed butter

This gentle cleanser melts away makeup and removes impurities. I especially liked knowing it relies on various natural ingredients. Aloe and green tea soothe the skin while a trio of seaweeds and cocoa seed butter work to nourish the skin. It also features sea buckthorn to fight free radicals. Providing a thorough cleanse, it felt fresh and clean without irritating my delicate skin.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.