Anti-ageing for sensitive skin is big business in beauty right now. A whopping 53% of UK women reckon they have a sensitive complexion, and many find their skin gets more reactive with age, as its natural barrier function weakens. No wonder women are demanding products that will smooth AND soothe their skin.
However, it can be tricky to strike a balance between visible results and products skin will tolerate. According to new research from Eau Thermale Avène*, 55% of women with sensitive skin say anti-ageing products are too harsh for them,
and 53% feel forced to choose between treating sensitivity or wrinkles.
Many of the big guns in the beauty arsenal have traditionally been the last thing you’d want to heap onto reaction-prone skin.
“Fortunately, technology has advanced so much, we now have new forms of potent anti-ageing ingredients specially formulated to suit sensitive skin,’ says dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams.
Bioderma Sensibio H20
Ditch wipes and foaming cleansers. While it’s important to cleanse off ageing pollutants, Stefanie advises a non-drying formula, like La Roche Posay Toleriane Milk, £11, or Avène Extremely Gentle Gel Cleanser, £10.50.
A micellar water for sensitive skin, like Bioderma Sensibio H20, £5, is good for removing make-up.
“Use non-waterproof mascara, so you don’t further irritate your skin by scrubbing,” she adds.
La Roche Posay C10
A daily antioxidant serum is the best for fighting free radical damage and stimulating collagen. Even traditionally tricky vitamin C is back on the table for sensitive skin thanks to new slow-release formulas that are less likely to breach the skin’s tolerance threshold.
“La Roche Posay Redermic C10, £29.50, and Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel, £97.90, are ones I often recommend,” says Stefanie.
If pure vitamin C still proves a no-no for you, try a gentler antioxidant blend, like Neostrata Antioxidant Defence Serum, £77.50, or Skincere Facial Serum, £14.99.
Mineral based SPFs are best for sensitive skin
It’s a must for age prevention, and physical, mineral-based SPFs tend to be better tolerated by sensitive skin than chemical sun filters, says Debbie.
“They’re not thick and chalky like they used to be – Clinique SPF50 Mineral Sunscreen Fluid, £22, is very good.”
If you want coverage with your SPF, Stefanie recommends Oxygenetix SPF25 foundation, £45: “It’s so soothing we use it after peels and needling.”
Avène Tolerance Emulsion
You might not need one at all.
“Even if your skin is dry and sensitive, you may find serum and SPF is hydrating enough,” says Stefanie. “Excess moisturiser can just clog pores and stop dead cells sloughing off, so skin looks duller. But if you still feel you need something, sandwich a soothing moisturiser between your serum and SPF.”
Good new ones include Elemis Hydraboost Sensitive Day Cream, £39, and Avène’s new minimalist Tolerance Extreme range, with only seven ingredients per product – try the Emulsion, £13.50.
Exuviance Super Retinol
If there’s one anti-ageing ingredient that sums up how far sensitive skincare has come, it’s retinol. This vitamin A derivative is the hero of any anti-ageing routine, thanks to its ability to increase collagen, smooth wrinkles and increase cell turnover.
“However, retinol can irritate even normal skin, so it was especially problematic for sensitive skin,” says Debbie.
That’s all changed thanks to new encapsulated formulas.
“These drip-feed retinol, so the skin doesn’t get a shock,” says Debbie.
Formulas she finds her sensitive clients tolerate well include La Roche Posay Redermic R, £29.50, Exuviance Super Retinol, £55, or Avène Physiolift Night Balm, £26 which contains the milder retinaldehyde form.