I have a bit of an occupational hazard. As a beauty journalist I have the chance to try all sorts of skincare, haircare and makeup in order to report on the latest products that are worth adding to your bathroom shelfies – but I also have ridiculously sensitive skin. And I mean really sensitive. While the term has been overused to describe a skin type (often on the drier side and prone to redness), when I say sensitive I essentially mean reactive. I’ve been known to innocently slather on a hand cream only to then have an angry, itchy, bumpy red rash spreading down to my wrists within hours simply because I didn’t check the ingredients carefully enough – something I now have to do religiously with every product that hits my desk.
I don’t have any skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, thankfully, but that doesn’t make it any easier to manage. I patch test everything at least three times, and despite multiple allergic reactions I am none the wiser as to what exactly I need to avoid; I steer clear of synthetic fragrance (perfume is guaranteed to give me a rash – experts claim it’s ageing, anyway), avoid chemical SPF (better for both sensitive skin and the planet, hurrah) and use essential oils sparingly, but otherwise it’s a case of trial and error.
I remember my skin reacting from my early teens, which I’m sure is no coincidence given that’s when I got into skincare and makeup – though back then it was more a case of spot-clearing face washes and clear mascara – but since then I have made it my mission to learn more about my own sensitive skin and others’. Unfortunately for me, trying new products and frequently changing up your skincare isn’t recommended if you have oversensitive skin; finding a soothing, strengthening routine is the key.
I won’t be switching careers any time soon, but I do have a go-to routine that forms the base of my skincare to keep things on an even keel if I’m trying something new.