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Natural Living

Delicate Situation

Harsh chemicals are no way to treat sensitive skin

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Is your skin persnickety? Does soap make it feel dry? Does sunscreen irritate it? Does it easily blush or break out? If so, you have sensitive skin, and you need to give it special care.

Triggers for sensitive skin include severe weather conditions (excessive heat or cold, strong wind, low or high humidity), pollution, harsh chemicals, irritating topical products, and soaps. Any of these can act as allergens or irritants, often resulting in what dermatologists refer to as atopic dermatitis.

To care for sensitive skin, avoid heavily fragranced products; harsh cleansers; toners containing alcohol, glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, and other fruit acids; peels; drying masks; antibacterial ingredients; and PABA or other chemical sunscreens. Instead, choose products that are designed for sensitive skin, including mild cleansers and treatment products and moisturizers rich in antioxidants. Select sunscreens that use zinc and titanium oxides as physical sunblocks.

Also be aware that “hypoallergenic” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe.” There are no federal standards governing the term, so hypoallergenic can mean whatever a particular company wants it to mean. And while gluten molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin, some people report reactions to topical products made with the problematic protein. So it may be best to patch test a product that contains gluten or search out gluten-free alternatives if you have a sensitivity to dietary gluten.

Take the Test

If you aren’t sure whether you have sensitive skin, just answer these questions:

  1. Does your skin react adversely to cosmetics containing alcohol, synthetics, fragrances, and artificial colors?
  2. Does your skin often get red or blotchy?
  3. Does your skin have a low tolerance for heat, cold, wind, or pollution?
  4. Do certain types of clothing or fabrics irritate your skin?
  5. Is your skin prone to allergic reactions?

If you answered yes to at least three, you have sensitive skin and need to treat it gently with appropriate products.


Soothe delicate and weather-damaged skin with Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Rose Day Cream. Extracts of biodynamically grown rose flowers and rose hips moisturize, strengthen, and nurture the skin while helping reduce redness.

Gently cleanse the most sensitive skin with non-irritating Lily Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser. This unscented lotion contains Lily’s homemade almond oil soap, vegetable glycerin, tincture of lily flower, and comfrey root-handcrafted with ingredients grown on Lily’s organic farm in Colorado.

Protect sensitive skin with John Masters Organics SPF30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide provide broad-spectrum UV protection while organic aloe and shea butter hydrate and fortify skin against the elements.

Moisturize the ultra-sensitive skin of the lips and avoid ingesting gluten with Green Beaver Gluten Free Lip Balm. Cranberry and carrot seed oils and vegan candelilla wax keep lips smooth while peppermint oil provides a refreshing taste.