When you have sensitive skin, it can be really hard to find gentle products that don’t irritate it. But everyone’s skin, regardless of how tough it is, can become irritated or inflamed at some point. You can have a negative reaction to a skincare product. Or stay in the sun too long and get burnt. Or suffer from acne or rosacea.
Whatever the reason, irritations and inflammations are never good. Here’s 9 ingredients you can try to soothe them:
1. Aloe Vera
This succulent plant is famous for its soothing properties. Although made mostly of water, it also contains glycoproteins that help speed up the healing process by reducing pain and inflammation, and polysaccharides that stimulate skin growth and repair. However, if not properly processed, the soothing properties of aloe vera can be greatly reduced. Because of this, always look for products that use aloe vera derived from the whole-leaf and that was then cold-processed.
One of my favourite skincare ingredients, niacinamide (also called nicotinamide), is a stable form of Vitamin B3. In addition to treating acne and hyperpigmentation, and improving skin’s barrier function and elasticity, niacinamide also has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve the symptoms of rosacea.
3. Avena sativa (oat) extract
Avena sativa, derived from oats, has soothing properties. A 2002 study has shown that it can reduce skin irritations caused by contact with a high dose of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Avena Rhealba, also tested in the same experiment, has a similar soothing effect as well.
Green and white tea contain epigallocatechin gallate, a powerful antioxidant that can stimulate collagen production. And, of course, it has anti-inflammatory properties too. Black tea also contains epigallocatechin gallate, but in a smaller, and thus less effective, concentration.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, which is used in skincare in various forms has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. For instance, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, when used in 5% concentrations, reduces inflammation caused by acne. In addition, Vitamin C can also boost collagen production and treat hyperpigmentation.
6. Zinc Oxide
Zinc Oxide is my favourite sunscreen ingredient for its ability to protect, on its own, against the entire UV spectrum. Not only, unlike chemical filters, it doesn’t irritate skin, but it also acts as an anti-irritant. It can be used to treat various forms of skin irritation, including diaper rash.
7. Licorice extract
Licorice extract contains Licochalcone, which has been found by several studies, including one published in 2008 in the Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C., a journal of biosciences, to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
8. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic Acid is an exfoliant. It can slough off dead cells from the surface of the skin and get inside the pores to remove all the gunk that accumulates inside them, preventing breakouts. This makes it particularly suitable for those with oily skin. Because salicylic acid is a derivative of aspirin, it is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It can reduce inflammation related to acne, rosacea and “other superficial inflammatory disorders”.
9. Chamomile extract
Chamomile has been known for centuries for its soothing properties. They are derived from one of its components, chamazulene. However, it can cause an adverse reaction in those allergic to chamomile and other plants in the daisy family.
How do you soothe irritated skin?