What are the best skincare actives for sensitive skin? So many popular skincare actives - from retinol to strong acids and so many more - can be irritating to sensitive skin. But even if your skin is sensitive, you still want your products to perform, right? Here, I'll be sharing the very best sensitive skincare actives and why they’re the perfect addition to your skincare routine. First up...
Probiotics work by balancing your skin’s microbiome with good bacteria and have been shown in studies to:
• support your skin’s microbiome (aka. protective layer)
• reduce inflammation
• prevent premature skin aging
• prevent UV (sun) damage
• act as a protective shield against ‘bad’ bacteria (ie. acne-causing bacteria)
This gentle active is known to be effective in treating inflammatory skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, acne, eczema, skin hypersensitivity and rosacea and can even help to prevent these conditions. In other words: a must-have in your sensitive skincare routine! Look for ‘Lactobacillus’ in your products as this is the gold standard of probiotics and the most widely studied.
Ready to add probiotics to your skincare routine? You can find probiotics (& other amazing, gentle actives!) in The Offering Probiotic Orange Blossom & Frankincense Toner.
Another must-have skincare active for sensitive skin? Vitamin C! But, not all vitamin C is created equal, and not all vitamin C is sensitive skin friendly. Keep reading to learn which to look for and which to avoid.
Vitamin C is a must in your skincare routine for many, many (proven) reasons, but here are a few:
• boosts collagen production
• reduces the formation and look of hyperpigmentation
• reverses the effects of sun damage & other skin damage
• boosts skin repair
• visibly brightens skin
• increases moisture
• helps to treat acne and reduce breakouts
• and more!
If you have sensitive skin, you want to look for NON-ascorbic acid forms of vitamin C like tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate because they’re gentler, they’re stable and don’t oxidize in a formula, AND the best part? The vitamin C we use - tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate - has been shown in trials to be MORE potent and high-performance than other forms of vitamin C, all while being gentler on your skin.
Ready to add (non-irritating) vitamin C to your skincare routine? Shop our best-selling vitamin C serum for sensitive skin here.
You've probably heard of caffeinated skincare...but is it all hype or are there actually proven benefits? We wrote a whole blog on the topic here, but in short, caffeine has made the list for best skincare actives for sensitive skin.
Believe it or not, caffeine has a pretty impressive resume when it comes to real, science-backed benefits for your skin. Studies and clinical trials have shown caffeine to:
• minimize the look of dark circles
• firm skin and reduce sagging (ie. under the eyes)
• decrease redness
• calm and reduce inflammation
• slow down skin aging
• protect skin against sun damage
FUN FACT: In one study, caffeine was observed to prevent and reverse UV damage by literally causing damaged cells to self-destruct and make way for new, healthy cells.
On top of all that, caffeine is incredibly gentle and usually found in whole plant sources like roasted coffee or guarana fruit rather than as an isolated lab-made ingredient. This is truly one of the best skincare actives for sensitive skin, which is why you can find it across our entire line.
Ready to add caffeine to your skincare routine? Coffee lovers, you’ll want to add The Giver Cleansing Oil or Valley of Light Mask to your cart - or for something more fruity & extra caffeine-rich, try our Light Reveal Serum.
Adaptogens are a no-brainer on this list because they're known for their ability to promote balance and reduce stress inside and out. Our favorite type of adaptogen for skincare? Mushrooms!
Mushrooms including Reishi, Shiitake, Cordyceps and Chaga mushrooms are rich in vitamins B & D and beta glucan (similar to hyaluronic acid), making them a favorite for calming sensitive skin woes like redness, dry patches and irritation. These mushrooms have been shown to:
- calm and soothe inflammation
- reduce skin stress
- increase skin hydration
- reduce the look of fine lines
- and even increase firmness!
For adaptogenic skincare, try our mushroom-infused Balancing Act Balancing Face Serum, The Offering Probiotic Toner, and Valley of Light Illuminative 2-in-1 Mask & Exfoliant.
A sensitive skin-loving active you've probably heard of is Squalane. Squalane is actually a natural component of our skin's sebum (the natural oil it produces), making it incredibly gentle. It's become a popular choice in oil-based facial serums for it's ability to:
- moisturize skin
- support your skin's protective barrier
- soothe inflammation and skin disorders like eczema and dermatitis
- and calm redness
I especially recommend squalane for anyone with dry, sensitive skin. You can find it in our Moisture Boost Ultra-Moisturizing Dry Skin Serum.
There are plenty more high-performance sensitive skincare actives, there's no need to settle for lackluster skincare just because you have a sensitive complexion! Here's a more complete list of the ingredients & actives you want to look for in your products:
• Adaptogens (ie. mushrooms)
• Vitamin C (non-ascorbic acid and lipid-soluble types)
• Natural vitamin A (ie. orange hued, carotene-rich oils)
• Green tea
• Linoleic acid
• Astaxanthin, etc.
And other actives that are not in our products (for sustainability and other reasons) but are also great for sensitive skin, like:
• and CBD / hemp extract
Moral of the story...your skincare does NOT have to be boring if you have sensitive skin - and it can and should still give you amazing results, without irritation. I created Wabi-Sabi Botanicals products to be high-performance and perfect for sensitive skin, so they have nearly all of the above and more!
Are there any other actives your sensitive skin loves? Let us know in the comments below.