My sensitive skin only improved after discontinuing the cosmetics

Rosie Green

Rosie Green

I found out the hard way that too much cosmetics is an unhappy epidermis. For starters, let’s recall how we take care of our skin during a pandemic. Unable to visit salons and with excess time, we spent hours watching skinfluencers on social media. Then, bolstered with a bit of knowledge and lots of clickbait, we became our own facialists.

Many of us have embraced the trend towards potent one-ingredient products – and started using them all at once. We started layering our hyaluronic acids over our retinols and niacinamide – in our quest for the ultimate radiant glow. I even derma-rolled my face with what looked like a medieval torture device.

Of course, I should have known better, because long before the pandemic, as a twenty-something beauty editor, I tested thousands of serums, creams, essences, mists, and scrubs that were sent to me.

As a result, my skin went from “sensitive” to full-blown rosacea. I treated myself with other creams. Then, a decade later, I went on maternity leave and the packages of creams, serums and potions stopped coming – so I started using one moisturizer twice a day.

Surprise? My skin looked better than ever – calmer and clearer. My dermatologist friends attributed this improvement to the drying of my product. In fact, one of the UK’s most prominent beauty specialists, Dr Vicky Dondos, says our ‘more is more’ product culture is behind most of the skin problems she sees.

So limiting your regimen to a carefully calibrated multi-benefit cream is certainly a step forward. Our mothers would accept it too. In the end, many of them took a one-pot approach and were loyal to the brand for life. (I’m thinking of Joanna Lumley and her Astral moisturizing skincare routine.)

Now, I’m not suggesting everyone go to this entry level, but I’m saying spend less time and money and your face will be better. Conclusion? Cleanse every night (many experts believe that water in the morning will protect your skin’s microbiome from damage), regenerate with a scientifically formulated, multi-ingredient cream, and protect against UV aging with sunscreen. You’re welcome.

Four simple ways to cut down on your routine

Put your skin on an elimination diet

“My first rule is do no harm,” says Dr. Dondos. “Avoid harsh exfoliating products and just stick to a simple cleanser and moisturizer.” Dr. Dondos often sees improvement within a few weeks when clients follow her advice. Day after day, he sees women trying to perfect their skin with tons of products that do the exact opposite.

Overloading with too many exfoliating elixirs can compromise the skin barrier (which retains moisture and comes off uncomfortably), meaning it gets irritated. After following an elimination diet for skin, you can carefully and individually introduce products with active ingredients on a weekly or monthly basis.

Give your skin days of rest

If you’re going to be using anything with potentially irritating ingredients like retinol, try a skin cycle approach. “The concept is to use certain active ingredients only on certain days, followed by “rest” days,” advises Dr. Alexis Granite, CeraVe dermatology consultant.

“The resting phase allows the skin to regenerate and reduces the risk of irritation. The most common is the four-day cycle, which means using the active ingredient for two nights, then two nights of rest, then repeating. Everyone can benefit from a skin cycle, but especially those with sensitive skin.

Be proud of your corrections

There’s a new trend emerging among beauty experts: using simple products for your daily skincare routine, but relying on upgrades to deliver an anti-aging effect. Good for people with sensitive skin, it’s all about adhering to a regimen of quarterly injections.

Think of Profhilo injections based on hyaluronic acid below the surface of the skin to provide a hydrating and firming effect, Botox to remove wrinkles and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) to fight pigmentation.

Find your ideal reusable product

Instead of a beauty closet full of products, skin experts recommend looking for a single cream or serum that has multiple benefits (hydrating, boosting collagen, targeting pigmentation, etc.). Laboratories and chemists work hard to carefully blend and calibrate active ingredients to maximize results while minimizing irritation. Discover the one that suits your skin profile below…

If you only want one moisturizer



Best for problematic skin

Delo Rx The Youth Matrix Activator, £165,

Full of active ingredients for blemish-prone skin.

The best for value

Olay’s Collagen Peptide24 MAX, £44 (currently £22 at Boots),

Brilliant and affordable all-rounder.

Best for custom

Klira The Special, monthly subscription, £49, clear.leather

This moisturizer is custom blended using prescription active ingredients.



Best for night regeneration

Sarah Chapman Digital Stand, £57,

Pollution, blue light and stress counters.

Best for delicate skin

Aveeno Face Calm and Restore Triple Oat Serum, £14.99,

Recommended by Dr. Dondos, this formulation is great for a weakened barrier.

Read more: Five tricks for a flawless complexion

Do you have sensitive skin? What is your beauty routine? Join the conversation in the comments section below

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