April 11, 2016

So many people have told us that they have sensitive skin that we’ve stopped to wonder: Can that big a proportion of the population really have sensitive skin? And what’s the definition of sensitive skin anyway? If using one product gives you a breakout, does that mean you have sensitive skin?

So once and for all, we decided to find out what having sensitive skin really means. Various dermatology sources reveal that there’s actually no fixed definition for “sensitive skin”; experts generally accept that it refers to the skin’s reaction to the use of skincare products or other external aggressors such as even the weather, which leads to it becoming red, itchy and sometimes even painful. Existing skin conditions like eczema and rosacea can also be major contributing factors to sensitive skin.

Basically, we wouldn’t label just any negative skin reaction to a product a result of sensitive skin; only if such reactions happen frequently and after use of a significant proportion of products you try, would we then say you have sensitive skin. Experience a breakout once or twice after trying a new product? That’s just your skin reacting to something that isn’t suited for it – probably not a sensitive skin diagnosis.

But we understand if you’d like to play it safe – we see how one bad breakout as a result of using an ill-suited product can be one breakout too many. Whether you truly have chronic sensitive skin or have experienced a few unfortunate skin reactions, we’ve picked out the skincare products that are truly safe for sensitive skin.


ETUDE HOUSE True Relief range

etude house true relief
This K-Beauty brand may be known more for princessy makeup products than sensitive skin-friendly products, but they’ve made sure that this range’s formula is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic, and the main ingredient is the True Relief Complex that’s made of only plant-based ingredients, taken from apricot, chestnut and chicory – all known to be natural ingredients that help soothe sensitive skin and strengthen the skin barrier. The range’s made up of a moisturising mist, emulsion and cream, which all work to gently hydrate delicate skin while protecting it from external aggressors.

$27.90 to $32.90, available at ETUDE HOUSE stores.


CHANEL La Solution 10 de Chanel

chanel la solution 10
Again, a product for sensitive skin from an unexpected brand. Chanel has made sure to formulate its first “comforting moisturiser” with only 10 ingredients, so as to not irritate the skin with an overcomplicated formula. The star ingredient is the Silver Needle Tea, an incredibly luxurious type of white tea that provides active ingredients with the power to soothe, calm and defend the skin. The moisturiser works to reduce dryness, discomfort such as tightness and stinging, and reduce appearance of redness and roughness.

$125, CHANEL Beauty stores and counters


Bioderma Hydrabio range

bioderma hydrabio
If your sensitive skin woes are of the dry, tight skin variety, Bioderma’s Hydrabio range is made to strengthen the skin’s barrier, so you get the dual advantages of keeping the products’ hydrating ingredients in, and external irritants out. We already know Bioderma’s cult micellar waters – the Hydrabio H2O is definitely something you should be using to remove your makeup if you suffer from perpetually parched skin – but what you might not know is, the Hydrabio range has recently been expanded to include a primer, gel-creme and rich creme.

$41.90 to $49.90, available at selected Watsons, Guardian, Unity, Robinsons and John Little stores


MUJI Sensitive Skincare

muji sensitive skin
Like the rest of Muji’s products, its Sensitive Skincare range is kept simple. It’s mainly water-based, but not just any kind of water – specifically, it’s cavern water from the Iwate prefecture in eastern Japan, which is “super soft” as it’s free from the dissolved minerals that make water “hard”. This water is also the same pH level as human tears, so it won’t irritate even the most sensitive of skin; and of course, there’s no mineral oils, parabens, alcohol, fragrance, and colouring additives. Simple.

$1.60 to $23, available at MUJI stores


Curél BB Cream

curel bb cream
Sensitive skin likely means that you shy away from most makeup products – putting layers of potentially pore-clogging product on your face just seems unnecessary when it means having to deal with consequences like a bad breakout. Curél is already known for skincare made for sensitive skin, and this recently extended into makeup, finally. The Curél BB Cream has the same ceramide ingredient as the brand’s skincare range, which is exactly what dry, sensitive skin lacks, and hence its inability to retain moisture and protect itself against external irritants. The coverage is light yet even, and the two shades let you choose between a brightening or natural finish.

$24.80, Guardian and Watsons


Main image: Opening Ceremony SS16, courtesy NARS.