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20 Common Questions About Sensitive Skin

8. What types of cosmetics are less irritating to sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following:

  • Use face powder, which has few preservatives and minimal risk of skin irritation.
  • Use a silicone-based foundation for minimal skin irritation.
  • Do not use waterproof cosmetics. You need a special cleanser to remove them.
  • Use products with fewer .
  • Use black eyeliner and mascara that appear to be least allergenic.
  • Use pencil eyeliner and eyebrow fillers. Liquid eyeliners may contain latex and may cause an allergic reaction.
  • Throw out old cosmetics. They can spoil or become contaminated.



9. With an unfamiliar skin care product, how should I test for a sensitive skin reaction?

Before putting a new product on your skin, do the following:

  • For several days, apply a small amount behind an ear and leave it on overnight.
  • If your skin does not become irritated, follow the same procedure, this time applying the product on an area alongside an eye.
  • If you still don't see irritation, the product should be safe for you to apply on any area of your face.


10. What are some tips for protecting my sensitive skin in winter and summer?

First, wear a sunscreen year-round. Use one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and use it every day that you will be in the sun for longer than 20 minutes.

Remember, the sun’s skin-damaging UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Avoid going out in the sun during these hours whenever possible, any time of the year.

In winter, to help prevent skin dryness, flaking, itching, and cracking do the following:

  • Don’t overheat your home.
  • Take warm, not hot, baths and showers -- and fewer of them -- and use a soap-free cleanser.
  • Minimize skin dryness after bathing: Pat your skin dry and apply moisturizer while your skin is still moist.
  • Use a moisturizer containing petrolatum, mineral oil, linoleic acid, ceramides, dimethicone, or glycerin.

In summer, keep in mind that tanning damages your skin. Don’t lie out in the sun, even if you’ve applied sunscreen. See guidelines for choosing a sunscreen below.

If you do go out, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and tight-woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. Apply your sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out, and reapply it every two hours, after swimming, or if you’ve been perspiring heavily.

11. What should I look for in a sunscreen to protect my sensitive skin?

Your sunscreen should be rated SPF 30 or higher. Its active ingredients should be only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. This is because you cannot have an allergic reaction to these physical sunscreens. They deflect the sun’s UV rays instead of absorbing them as chemical sunscreens do.

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