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There are many reasons why skin can become reactive. A small percentage of people have underlying skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. A larger percentage are likely to have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible to the impact of the environment, including stress, climate change, travel, sun exposure, cosmetic overuse, and mechanical irritation; friction or rubbing.

To heal reactive skin, you need to repair and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier. Once the moisture barrier is compromised, increased moisture loss causes a heightened inflammatory response and lessens the skin’s ability to self-repair. Therefore, step one for recovery is to remove from your regimen anything that could compromise the barrier, such as irritating substances, exfoliation, and peels. Step two, nourish your skin with ingredients that fill in and repair the barrier, such as dimethicone, allantoin, and lipids. This will allow the skin to heal, keeping moisture in and irritants and microbial agents out.


Be gentle with your skin and find products that don’t cause irritation. Identify and avoid factors that trigger reactions, such as heat, sunlight, and certain skincare or food products. And remember that nobody knows your skin better than you do. If something isn’t working or is making the problem worse, stop using it. Conversely, when you find something that works for your skin, stick with it. Keep in mind that sensitive skin also reacts to the way it is treated, so don’t be too aggressive with your skincare regimen and keep exfoliation to a minimum. Be patient; the odds of finding the regimen that’s right for you are in your favour when you are methodical about your approach.

Here are some tips for keeping reactive skin looking and feeling its best:

  • Use physical sun blockers such as zinc oxide; avoid chemical sunscreens
  • Avoid hot showers, steam rooms, and sauna baths
  • Don’t washcloths or loofahs; use only a smooth sponge
  • Always be gentle when touching skin
  • Avoid alcohol, propylene glycol, and glycolic acids
  • Skip toners
  • Stick with fragrance-free formulas
  • Find moisturisers that include ceremides, lipids, cholesterol, allantoin, and dimethicone to help repair the skin’s sensitive barrier
  • Apply a thin layer of a treatment moisturiser to skin while it’s still moist
  • Use a humidifier in a dry environment
  • Do your best not to scratch or rub the skin
  • Finally, if all else fails, see your dermatologist