Being a beauty editor and skincare fan can easily become a recipe for inundating skin with too many products. Actives, essential oils, exfoliators, treatments, beauty tools – you name it, I’ve tried it, and that’s not necessarily something to brag about when my skin barrier is screaming at me and begging for mercy. Unfortunately, years of experimentation and enthusiasm for the next best thing in skincare innovation add up. My once resilient and much-too-forgiving visage is no longer patient with me, and with good reason.
In an effort to return my skin to a somewhat balanced and comfortable state – one with minimal redness, itchiness, and inflammation – I’ve been taking part in a de-escalation process (sounds dramatic, I know). This involves getting back to basics and simplifying by using as few products as possible. It’s been a journey looking for staples that won’t cause me to react in any way, shape, or form and has taken many months over a few seasons. Surprisingly, the experience of dwindling down the options hasn’t been straightforward. Now that my skin is “reactive,” it’s not as predictable as it used to be. I've had reactions even to products that claim to be made for sensitive skin.
Fortunately, after much trial and error, I’ve come out victorious and have landed on some much-cherished staples that I can’t see myself removing from my cabinet anytime soon. These products have proven themselves time and time again. They aren’t solely for reactive skin but are non-irritating go-to’s that can act as the foundation for any effective and results-driven skincare routine. Even if my skin decides to return to my pre-reactive, highly tolerant “normal” and unbothered era, I’ll make sure to keep these safeguards on hand.
Many cleansers for sensitive and reactive skin tend to be richer in consistency but don’t always cut it when it comes to makeup removal and getting a comfortable, clean feeling after cleansing. Creamy and moisturizing consistencies can leave a film along with foundation and sunscreen residue behind, which may cause congestion and breakouts. THE INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser is a gel formula that lightly foams and gently but effectively cleanses, getting all dirt and grime off the surface while being careful not to strip the skin. Hyaluronic acid sticks around even after cleansing to ensure skin feels relaxed and moisturized, which is key when discouraging irritation and inflammation.
Hypochlorous acid is an ingredient that hasn’t been commonplace or talked about in the beauty space at large, but its use is abundant behind closed doors at dermatologist offices. The seemingly magical ingredient (for some) effectively balances the skin’s pH and is powerfully antibacterial, which can discourage blemishes, bumps, and conditions such as eczema and psoriasis on the surface. The no-scent spray has been endlessly praised for keeping redness and acne at bay, which has been my experience, and I wouldn’t want to live without it.
A moisturizing and protective face oil with a synergistic balance of ingredients – that's not greasy or smells like an intense floral and nut bouquet – can be hard to come by. This non-comedogenic and vegan formula is about as classic and reliable as it gets and has never once made me itchy or break out in hives. It can be mixed in with a moisturizer for added benefits or pressed into the skin as a final step in a routine. It’s flexible and gentle, and I always have it on hand. If I’m feeling tight and dehydrated, I use more, but it never feels like I’ve overpowered or drowned my face in rich oils, which I find is essential to avoiding reactions and congestion.
Released earlier this year, EADEM’s Cloud Cushion was an instant success and gained rave reviews across the board from beauty editors and skincare fans alike. As with any mega-hyped product, I needed to try it myself and see what the fuss was about. A cream is a cream, right? How different could it be? As the name implies, this cream is heavenly. It has a whipped texture, no fragrance, and even comes with a FuFu spoon to scoop out product and not introduce breakout and reaction-causing bacteria. I mainly use this one at night as an extra-protective layer that helps to deeply calm and repair my skin using ingredients like plant peptides, glycerin, and snow mushroom.