Sensitive skin ages like all skin, but it can’t tolerate many of the powerful active ingredients commonly used to help combat lines, wrinkles and dullness. The good news is: Just because your skin is more delicate, doesn’t mean it has to suffer. Here are the best ways to fight aging—without the flare-ups—if you have sensitive skin.
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Wear Sunscreen Daily
The first step to anti-aging is prevention—and that translates to wearing sunscreen every day. “Go with one that contains mineral blocking agents—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide,” advises Mount Kisco, NY, dermatologist David E. Bank MD. “Most people are not allergic to those ingredients, and as an added benefit, mineral sunscreens tend to be better broad-spectrum blocking agents than chemical sunscreens.”
Use Products With Growth Hormones and Peptides
The gold standard in anti-aging, retinol can be very drying, even to those with normal skin, so it can be especially irritable for those with eczema and sensitive-prone skin. “Instead, look for growth hormones and peptides as active ingredients in your anti-aging products,” advises Dr. Bank. “Both of these ingredients help normalize cell turnover and encourage the production of collagen, but neither are naturally irritating the way retinol and some acids are, so you can derive the anti-aging benefits without the side effects.”
Give Skin Time to Rebuild
When using topical products, a good rule of thumb is to wait 20–30 minutes after washing your face before applying. “Washing the skin removes a lot of natural oils, “ explains New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD. “Giving your skin 20 minutes lets it rebuild some of the oils and build back the natural barrier so products are less likely to cause irritation.”
Load Up on Antioxidants
Antioxidants are one of my favorite ingredients in anti-aging skin care regimens for people with sensitive skin because they are generally not irritating, says New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD. “Antioxidants are nutrients that, when topically applied, disarm and neutralize free radicals before they harm skin—so they can play an important role in anti-aging skin care.”
Always Keep Your Skin Moisturized
“The first thing to do, before adding any kind of anti-aging product, is to get the skin as calm as possible with gentle cleansers, moisturizers, and if needed, a humidifier,” says Chevy Chase, MD, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD.
“The number-one rule of anti-aging skin care for sensitive skin is to keep your skin well moisturized,” agrees Dr. Levine. Only then can skin even remotely begin to be receptive to other products.