When you have sensitive skin, the protective skin layer between you and the environment is damaged and delicate. This leaves your skin vulnerable to irritation, dryness, allergic reactions and extra sensitivity. You may have inherited sensitive skin from your family or developed it later in life. Either way, it’s important you take special care of your skin to prevent painful reactions to irritating products or cleansing techniques. It seems like cleaning your skin would be easy, and it is, but with sensitive skin you need to start with a smart gameplan to keep the process simple, safe and soothing. Watch Out for Irritants When you’re shopping for cleansers for sensitive skin, there are several ingredients you should try to avoid. Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different, so you may not have a problem with all of these. Test out a few products and see how your skin reacts. Benzoyl peroxide: This is used in a lot of spot treatments for acne and blemishes and can be too drying for sensitive skin. Salicylic Acid: Another drying agent you should avoid, this is often found in wrinkle treatments and acne creams. Dimethyl sulfoxide, amyldimethylaminobenzoic acid, and 2-ethoxyethyl methoxycinnamate: These are three big words for common ingredients used in cleansers that can irritate sensitive skin. Look for them on labels. Exfoliants: This includes chemicals like glycolic acid and natural exfoliants like coconut husk. They can cause negative reactions by stripping the skin of needed oil and damaging the sensitive protective layer. Foaming agents: These often dry out your skin and can sometimes cause a reaction. Fragrance: Added fragrances, even natural ones, can irritate sensitive skin. Alcohol: Watch out for cleansing wipes, they often contain alcohol that dries out your skin and makes it extra vulnerable. Tips for Cleaning Sensitive Skin The ideal face wash or body wash for dry and sensitive skin is a product that’s gentle. Your daily routine should consist of a cleanser that’s not too harsh, and a wash cloth that’s soft and reduces the risk of irritation. With those two items in hand and these guidelines, you’re on your way to creating a soothing skin care routine. Don’t use too many products at one time. If your skin gets irritated, it will be hard to know which product caused the reaction. Test each new product separately. Keep in mind that some products will cause a quick reaction, while others might require a little extra time to see how your skin responds. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing your skin. Use a soft cloth or just your hands to wash your face and body. Use warm or cool water to cleanse your sensitive skin. Water that’s too hot can be irritating. Avoid washing too often. Cleansers remove oils from the skin and can lead to dryness if you overdo it. Try cleaning and removing makeup at night and simply splashing your skin with cool or warm water in the morning. Look for products labeled for sensitive skin. Many dermatologists recommend gentle brands like Cetaphil, CeraVe, and Eucerin. Skip traditional soaps and clean your skin with coconut oil. It might sound strange to use oil to get clean, but a small amount applied and removed with a soft cloth is great at removing makeup and other dirt. If you do want to exfoliate your skin, only do it once or twice a week with a soft, unabrasive cloth. If you have a long-term or severe reaction to any products or cleansing techniques, contact your doctor for advice on how to reduce the irritation and avoid it in the future. Now you’re armed with some great sensitive skin cleaning tips. Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is unique and your sensitivity triggers may be different. Be patient and try cleansing products and techniques one at a time to determine what works best for your body. And don’t forget to talk to a dermatologist who has experience working with sensitive skin.