The Sensitive Skin Struggle

Around a hundred years ago, skin was just skin, you washed it with a bar of soap or whatever and voila it was officially adequately cleansed. Moisturiser? Pfft what’s that? There was only a handful of foundation options, all in the same shade of course, and made a concoction of heavy elements that probably shouldn’t have ever been applied to the skin. As for the rest of it? Well you had a pot of ‘rouge’ for the cheeks and lips and that was about it. Fast forward a century and it’s a completely different ball game, with thousands of names in both skincare and cosmetics and a combined market of roughly £20 billion, it’s fair to say that times have changed. And with the growth of this industry has come diversity – foundation now not only comes in hundreds of different shades, but also brands, textures, packaging. However, the part I’m going to focus on today is how we’ve designed products for alternative skin types – we’ve recognised that we need different features in a product for different skin scenarios. I would describe my own skin as both dry and oily at the same time, redness prone and also extremely sensitive – i.e. incredibly annoying. This is very specific to me and I understand that only a handful of people will share my exact skin struggles, so I’m going to focus on one of these areas, which, in my opinion, is the most relatable as well as the most painfully difficult to cater for. That’s right, I’m talking about sensitive skin.

You know that feeling; you use a new moisturiser, it burns, a new foundation, it causes you rashes, a new cleanser, you look like a tomato. That, my loves, is life for someone with sensitive skin. It probably costs us more time and money than anyone else to find suitable skincare and cosmetic products – and that’s why I’m here to help today. Take a peek!


The Best Cleansers for Sensitive Skin

Comfort Zone Active Pureness Gel – £17.00

I discovered this whilst having a spa treatment at Ickworth House (a stunning place for a weekend away!) and I just adore the tingly cleansing feeling it gives and using a muslin cloth soaked in hot water to dampen the skin beforehand and remove the gel really helps give a deeper cleanse. Alcohol-free and using natural botanical extracts, Comfort Zone have created a cleanser which is capable of tackling blemishes but also being gentle.

Clarins Cleansing Milk with Gentian – £19.50

Effortlessly smoothes away make-up and anything else – you don’t even need a micellar water if you own this baby! Also, the milky lotion formula is incredibly gentle on the skin and leaves it feeling hydrated – although the gentian and other plant extracts ensure that this is an oil free cleansing milk for combination/oily complexions.

The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel – £45.96

Another gel, I quite like these cleansing but not ‘disappearing’ or sticky textures. However this one is a TAD more expensive… There’s a reason why though, this cleanser is the most gentle that I know, has a scent to DIE FOR and really makes a difference to the brightness and plumpness of your skin. It feels like luxury. Thanks ELLE for letting me try this one! (A monthly ELLE subscription is a must if you’re obsessed with fashion and beauty.)

and the worst…

Garnier Pure 3 in 1 Wash Scrub and Mask – £2.53

Yes this deep cleans skin, but it leaves it feeling tight and uncomfortable whatever purpose you decide to use it for. I think this is because it contains a lot of salicylic acid to fight spots, but this actually dries out my sensitive skin. I wouldn’t agree that it alters skin tone or proneness to blemishes.


Witch Oil Control Foaming Face Wash – £3.99

In my experience, Witch products are diluted tea tree oil and that’s all – you may as well go and buy some pure tea tree oil from The Body Shop (because that actually works)! This face wash is the worst I’ve ever used, no tingly feeling, no ceansing whatsoever, is just foams a tad and sinks into the skin with no effect.


The Best Moisturisers for Sensitive Skin

Clarins Gentle Day Cream for Sensitive Skin – £39.00

As recommended by a Clarins representative, this was my first ever Clarins product – and as you’ll soon gather, it seeded my love for this particular French brand. This is supposed to desensitise the skin with a few months use so that you can then move on to another moisturiser which is appropriate for your other needs. For example, after 6 months of using this, I now use Clarins Hydra-matte Lotion (£27.00, rather less expensive) for my combination skin.

La Roche Posay Hydraphase Intense Light – £16.50

La Roche Posay is fast becoming one of my favourite skincare brands of 2015, clinically proven to be suitable and beneficial to sensitive-skinned individuals. Recently, I managed to get my hands on a tester of their Effaclar Duo [+], a pore unclogging, anti-blemish moisturiser/serum, I love it so far, but I’m yet to compare it with Clarins Mission Perfection serum. Anyway, Hydraphase is their range for dry sensitive skin, which I suffer from in winter due to the cold winds and central heating. It contains hyaluronic acid just like the REN Evercalm Anti-redness Serum mentioned later on, but around half the price!

Clinique Turnaround Daytime Revitalising Moisturiser – £30.00

This is my daily go-to moisturiser if I’m not wearing foundation. The consistency is perfectly creamy, but feels water-light and cooling upon application. Clinique are right up there in the skincare charts, for me; my mother has used the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Gel (£18.00) for literally years, although this is for less sensitive skin in my opinion, as it stings a little. Other ranges from Clinique that I would recommend are the Moisture Surge collection and All About Eyes. (Make sure you buy when there’s a Bonus Time deal on to get a handful of free testers!)

Malin and Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturiser – £37.00

The reason why this is so good for sensitive skin is the use of chamomile as a primary ingredient – this helps to soothe and calm areas of redness and sensitivity. Although this has a rather hefty price tag, it’s light, residue-free and so so refreshing (especially with their grapefruit based cleanser!). This is a relatively new brand to me, but so far so good!

and the worst…

Garnier Skin Moisture Match Goodbye Dry – £3.99

I’ve never found any Garnier products that wow me, to be honest, the 5 second blur primer is oily and does NOTHING, their BB cream makes me break out in spots and slides off of my face, so the fact that this moisturiser stung my skin is no real surprise. Garnier is not the one for sensitive skin, in my mind.


Neutrogena Visibly Clear Oil-free Moisturiser – £4.19

I purchased this along with my Visibly Clear Pore and Shine Reducing Daily Scrub because I thought I’d give Neutrogena a try as it’s widely loved in the USA; although I am pretty fond of the scrub, I’m not a fan of this moisturiser as it really and I mean REALLY irritates my skin – making it burn almost! I’ll stick to Neutrogena’s cleansers and scrubs for now.

Simple Kind To Skin Hydrating Light Moisturiser – £1.29

Just like it says on the tin, this is a simple moisturiser. It’s not bad, but it’s not good; in other words, you can tell it’s cheap and there is must better out there – I was always a fan of Simple cleansers until my skin become more blemish-prone in my teenage years.


The Best Face masks for Sensitive Skin

Clarins Truly Matte Pure and Radiant Mask – £23.00

I find it odd that this is designed for oily skin, as I find it incredibly hydrating for my dry skin. It’s pink clay gives a seriously deep cleanse and refines pores like no other, skin feels baby soft upon removal due to the Linden extract in this mask which is designed to soothe the complexion. This is my No.1 face mask, it’s a shame it’s so expensive haha!

Boots Essentials Cucumber 3 Minute Clay Mask – £1.50 for 50 ml (that’s a cone of chips!)

Another clay hero, and it’s only £1.50 which is utterly amazing value. Cucumber is an ingredient that is frequently used in products designed to soothe because it’s full of moisture. This is most definitely for your shopping list next time you’re in Boots.


Good Things 5 Minute Facial Mask – £5.99

This smells absolutely gorgeous with avocado and goji berry extract and, once again, clay. Developed by award winning beauty writer Alice Hart-Davis, Good Things contains the right mix of natural ingredients to simultaneously fight spottiness and nourish, qualities that are hard to find together. Great value and faultless reviews from everyone I know – it’s a must try.

and the worst…

Clarins Gentle Peeling Smooth Away Cream – £25.00

I tried this when I was relatively new to face masks and stupidly purchased it after one try. Ugh, I hate impulse! I don’t like how this mask rubs off in tiny bits – it’s like your skin’s falling off and it’s a little freaky actually, if not extremely messy. All that scrubbing also makes my skin all angry and it never fully comes off, it’s like face-glue! Considering that this is a Clarins product, I expect much better.


Montagne Jeunesse Peel Off Masks –  £1.00 for 1 sachet

These are the face masks that you probably used to use at girly sleepovers when you were about 11 years old, and there’s a reason for it. They’re cheap, they’re cheerful and they’re crap. No cleansing feeling is present whatsoever, it’s a bit like PritStik-ing your face for the fun of it.


The Best SERUMS for Sensitive Skin

Clarins Multi-active Skin Renewal Serum – £36.95 at

For some reason it appears that Clarins have recently discontinued this one, as it is not available on their own website anymore. I’ve got no idea why –  it’s wonderful! A great night time serum for extra moisture and I’ve noticed that it helps to soothe redness and blemishes overnight. Skin undoubtedly feels plumper too.

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Facial Serum – £16.66

This one is mainly focussed on moisturising, so if that’s your biggest issue then this one’s for you. Indeed Labs thrives off innovation by combining science and skincare, so good bye skincare of the past! Also, this serum retails at around half the price of most others, so if it gives the same, or even better results for you, like it did for me, it’s a no brainer. Pop to your local Boots today to pick up a tube!

REN Evercalm Anti-redness Serum – £28.00

With a special ingredient called Beta-Glucan this serum soothes redness like no other, whilst hydrating with hyaluronic acid. Redness and dryness are often the two main side-effects of having sensitive skin, I know I definitely suffer; so this product is wonderful for me as it targets them both head on. The whole of the Evercalm (previously Hydra Calm)  range is very good for sensitive skin, but the new pump can be a bit of an issue when the product is low.

and the worst…

The issue here is, I’ve never come across any serums that I’ve particularly disliked, you see. Every one I’ve tried has improved my skin rather drastically, so I can’t really comment on any bad ones. What I can say, however, is that if your skin is uneven in pigmentation as well as sensitive, I highly recommend Clarins new Mission Perfection serum (£53.00); I love it.


The Best Foundations for Sensitive Skin

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 16.51.59bareMinerals Complexion Rescue – £26.00

By far the best moisturising foundation that I have ever come across – 215% increase in skin hydration in just one week; I don’t even use a moisturiser when I wear this (although a primer is necessary). Yet, here’s the best part, YOU STILL DON’T LOOK OILY! Furthermore, bareMinerals are a brand renowned for their use of pure and natural ingredients, hence being very popular among sensitive skin sufferers. This has lasted me 4 months so far and no signs of emptiness whatsoever – I’m very impressed. Has anyone tried any of their setting/loose powders? I’d love to hear your opinions on them.


MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation – £29.50

Upon having my make-up done at MAC for a birthday treat (this is an excellent gift for any make-up lover as the cost of the session can be redeemed in MAC items) from Evie, this was the foundation that the make-up artist recommend for me when I told her my skin issues and needs.  This gives a lovely light-medium coverage and lasts ages, but wasn’t quite moisturising enough for me and a little ‘flat’. Not my favourite for the hefty price tag, but doesn’t cause sensitive skin to flare up at least!

Diorskin Nude BB Cream – £30.00

This is my best friends ‘luxury’ foundation, she uses MUA Undress Your Skin Illuminating Foundation (£5.00) as her everyday alternative. However, she’s been generous enough to let me try her Dior one out a couple of times and, I have to say, I’m impressed. If your skin is sensitive, but you still like medium coverage, I’d say this is the one to go for. It feels like velvet on application and gives a gorgeous glow. My only problem with this product is the range of shades it comes in; FOUR! Are we in the early 1900’s?!

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser – £28.90

For a good year or so, this was my holy grail; I adored it. Totally moisturising and just the right amount of coverage for me – I wish I would have tried the oil-free version, however. To this day, I still love Laura Mercier cosmetics, especially for the base, but Complexion Rescue is simply better than this, in my opinion. Also, this somehow had a tendency to explode every time I got on an airplane…

and the worst…

L’oreal Nude Magique Eau De Teint – £10.00

I received this as a tester from Elle magazine in summer 2014, when it was new out and I immediately loved how it felt and looked on my skin; even my dad complimented me on it and that’s unheard of! It really does give the no-makeup feel, which is usually a sign that a product is good for sensitive skin, but after just 15 minutes my skin began to itch and it left me looking like  I’d coloured my entire face in with red Crayola when I took it off! Such a shame, but if you haven’t got such sensitive skin, I’d highly recommend this product.

Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream – £28.00

This is another product which I had to try IMMEDIATELY when it was released and seeing as I love the rest of Clinique’s Moisture Surge collection (the eye cream is amazing), I thought that this would be great. Oh how disappointed I was when I tried it! No matter how much blending, it remained streaky and didn’t seem to moisture my skin at all, only make it look oily. Also, the shade range is awful for anyone with extremely pale or dark skin! This is a no-go, especially for £28.

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse – £7.69

Well, for starters, I would say this foundation is less of a dream and more of a nightmare. Talk about suffocating your skin! The much-loved ‘cake-it-on’ foundation by the girls who think that makeup is more of a theatre mask than a natural enhancement, once on your skin, this feels nothing like airy mousse and more like mortar.


What are your recommendations for sensitive skin? Have you found this post helpful? I’d love to know, leave a comment below!

Emilia x


4 thoughts on “The Sensitive Skin Struggle

  1. Karen Rees November 19, 2015 / 12:44 am

    Brilliant post Emilia – so incredibly informative!! I’m so blessed in the sense that I can use quite a few products now a days and my skin seems to be holding up well. Unfortunately bars of soap are a huge no no but seemingly most products seem more finely tuned to reach a greater skin audience. Currently loving Olay’s range – it’s just a great range for me and the smell is beeeeautiful 🙂 Karen xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • emiliahurrell November 19, 2015 / 8:11 pm

      Wonderful! I’ve just ordered an Olay cleansing brush which comes with a full-sized cleanser of theirs! And thankyou!xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Karen Rees November 19, 2015 / 11:15 pm

        Oh brill!!!! Hope you enjoy it lovely 🙂 So welcome XXXXX


  2. Sara Balaguer Alandí December 31, 2015 / 5:45 pm

    ¿What shade appears at the photo of Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer?


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