If your skin is prone to redness and/or breakouts, often gets really dry and itchy and reacts to almost anything you put on it, chances are you’ve got sensitive skin…

Now, while this can be a bit of a pain (quite literally!), knowing what causes skin irritation can help you stop irritating it, and this generally boils down to knowing which ingredients to use, and which ones to avoid.

Because we have your best interest at heart, here’s a list of the ingredients to avoid and ones to look for in your skincare and make-up products…

Read more: 8 skincare tips you should follow if you have eczema

5 ingredients to avoid if you have sensitive skin


Any product that is scented tends to be a big ‘no-no’ as it can cause major inflammation. The fragrance is generally synthetic and added in for consumer enjoyment but doesn’t actually add to the effectiveness of the product, so you’re not losing out at all here.

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Calm down – we’re not saying you have to give up your glass(es) of wine! Alcohol is added to many skincare products (especially toners) to help them dry quicker, but the alcohol is incredibly drying, which will add to your skin’s itchiness and irritation.

Benzoyl peroxide

This ingredient is added into many products that treat acne, but it is one that is a bit too harsh for sensitive skin. It dries pimples out, and this drying technique will only irritate and inflame your skin.

Chemical sunscreens

If the ingredient list contains the likes of oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, PABA and cinnamates, it is a chemical sunblock and you should avoid it, opting for physical or mineral sunblock that contains the likes of zinc and titanium dioxide. They are much gentler on skin and you will still get the SPF you need, but without any unwanted reaction!


This mouthful is actually a pretty common preservative added to products, but is one of the guiltiest in causing reactions on skin, so definitely avoid it!

Read more: Natural remedies for dry skin

5 ingredients to look for if you have sensitive skin

Sunflower oil

This is naturally high in healthy oils and is incredibly moisturising – something all sensitive skin can do with. The extra moisture will help repair your skin’s moisture barrier, so be sure to look for beauty products with this hero ingredient.

Green and white tea extract

High in antioxidants, green tea extracts are great to help with inflammation, while also assisting with circulation and easing general irritation.


You’ll find this ingredient in moisturisers and serums, and since it is a plant extract and completely natural, it can only be good. Bisabolol has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, non-allergenic and soothing benefits that will help calm irritated skin.


Also known as pro-vitamin B5, this nifty vitamin boost will soothe already irritated skin while also rebuilding and regenerating cells to help get your skin back into tip-top shape.

Shea butter

This is the ultimate moisturising ingredient as it contains steric acid which helps the product really sink deep into the skin. Shea butter contains vitamins A and E which are also both great for sensitive skin, improving the overall quality of the skin without causing irritation.