Sensitive, reactive skin: 5 Soothing, Calming Creams to Balance Sensitised Skin

By Emma | August 28 2012 | 18 Comments

Skin Savers

When you use retinol your skin can become reactive and require targeted care – which has been the case with me over the past few weeks. Always combination, with an oily t-zone and dehydrated everything else, I now have some sensitivity (read: blotchiness) in my cheeks and dry patches are cropping up on a daily basis.

skin savers

On the plus side, I’ve discovered some great creams that I can share with you all today. These five products have all been lifesavers in helping to boost my skin’s natural repair process and soothe, calm and generally balance me out.

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Skin Balancing Lotion SPF 15 (oil-free)

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Skin Balancing Lotion SPF 15 (oil-free)

I LOVE this product. Part of the new Visible Difference line, which offers a customised regime for oily, combination or dry skin, this promises optimal balance in oil control, hydration and treatment. And it delivers on all counts. It’s perfect for my skin – I actually just kissed the (sleek, shiny, pump activated) bottle, I love it so much. It’s €45.

Eau Thermale Avène Skin Recovery Cream

Great for dry skin and skin complaints like eczema or dermatitis, this is a gentle repair cream that calms irritation by rebuilding the skin’s natural barriers. It’s made with a minimal amount of ingredients, so it’s kind to skin, and it reduces sensitivity and tightness. It’s €18.30 and intended to replace your regular moisturiser and night cream. (Wondering where to buy? Check out this post. )

Boots Botanics Ultra Calm Skin Relief Serum

Boots Botanics Ultra Calm Skin Relief Serum

The new Botanics range launched at Boots last month and draws on the power of active plant ingredients. The star ingredient in the Ultra Calm line is marshmallow, which has natural soothing properties. This fresh, light serum is just €7.99 and helps to calm my blotches – in the clinical trials, users reported a reduction in skin sensitivity after just two weeks.


NUXE Crème Fraîche de Beauté

NUXE Crème Fraîche de Beauté 24H Soothing and Moisturising Cream

We love a bit of NUXE and this revamped, relaunched range is no different. With its light, fresh scent and soothing formula, this provides instant soothing relief for redness and irritation. The cream comes in three varieties – light, regular and rich – for different skin types; this one is for normal sensitive skin and is price at €30.35. A serum and mask are also available.

Skinceuticals Epidermal Repair Cream

Skinceuticals Epidermal Repair Cream

I’m going to get the bad bit out of the way here and tell you that this is €72.50. I know, ouch. But – and you know there was a but coming – this stuff is the business for skin that’s been through the wringer. It was created for skin that’s become sensitised from procedures like microdermabrasion, laser resurfacing and, you guessed it, retinol treatments.  It works by speeding up the restoration of the skin’s natural barriers and it kicks my wee dry patches to the curb. It’s not for everyone – it’s expensive, and a very specialised, targeted product. But if you do use retinol or go for regular peels or treatments, I would highly recommend.

Any other skin saviours you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments!

Face, Problem skin, Reviews, Skin , , , , ,

18 Replies to "Sensitive, reactive skin: 5 Soothing, Calming Creams to Balance Sensitised Skin"

  • candi says:

    the boots botanics one is fab – it has saved me many a time. I went through similar with my skin a few years ago for some unknown reason – all of a sudden I was sensitive to all my usual products. It went away again after a few months.

  • Cait says:

    I just had to look that up – I never ever knew that marshmallow was a plant. You really do learn something new every day!

  • Edelmc says:

    I have sensitive dehydrated skin and the products I love are Elemis SOS cream, dermalogica ultracalming mask and serum and clarins sensitive serum. All help ease any redness I get when my skin is irritated

  • niamhygiggles says:

    I was just about to ask isn’t marshmallow a yoke you put in your hot choccie LOL! I’ve been scared off the Botanics range since they ruined their eye makeup remover. Scaldy eyeballs I tells ya :(

  • Margo says:

    La Roche Posay Effaclar H! It’s formulated specifically for senstive, acne-prone skin that has been dried out due to harsh acne treatments. I find it’s perfect for my dehydrated, oily skin though – I use it in the morning and use a moisturister with glycolic acid at night. So far I’ve had no breakouts and it keeps my skin so soft, I think it’s balancing out the oiliness too. I’m not sure how much it is…I’m living in France atm and it was about 7 euros here, but I think it would be a bit more elsewhere.

  • Juno says:

    Hi Emma, Cicaplast is really good for Retin-A treated skin. I don’t seem to need it anymore but used it daily when I first started the treatment, then my skin got used to it. Also I found the alcohol in the gel version of the Retin-A made me peel loads but I’m using the cream version now and it doesn’t irritate my skin nearly as much – no dryness or flaking at all.

  • Fantastic post Em, love your range of skin saviours too. La Roche Posay always rank highly on my smoothing scale when it comes to my fizzog but Nuxe and Skinceuticals have been known to feature too.

    I’m mostly lucky when it comes to my skin but for the lads I always have Vichy Normaderm on hand to calm and soothe their teenage visages.

  • littlesis says:

    Some nice choices there, Emma. I am totally loving anything La Roche Posay at the moment. My skin is combination and I was having a pretty bad time with spots along my jawline but the products from LRP seem to be making a big difference without the harshness of other brands (Dermalogica!)

  • Deasa1 says:

    Anything from the La Roche Posay Roasaliac range. Found these by far the best for my skin. Might try the Avene Range seems to be a bit more budget friendly as is the Boots botanics range.

  • SJP's Missing Mole says:

    The oul LRP Cicaplast is well known too – its meant as a recovery balm after you’ve had a chemical peel!! My pal has rosacea and says its the best thing she’s tried so far to calm things down when her skin is having an angry day.

    I have to give raves to the Mask version of that Nuxe one – Masque Fraiche Hydratant or whatever the feck its called. Its honestly, hands down the best calming and hydrating mask I’ve ever used. Every time I put it on I feel like singing Hosanna to the King of Kings!

  • Kate says:

    This is such a great post! I have the most ridiculously sensitive skin.. it reacts to everything!! I use Dermalogica’s Ultracalming cleanser on my skin every day and night followed by Avene’s Calming cream. I find any Simple products to be quite good on my skin.. and they are cheap as chips too! :)

  • Geri says:

    Thanks for this great post Emma. I have skin like the sahara that’s also very sensitive. I’ve been using Avene Antirougeurs jour cream for 2 months now, it’s a moisturiser that claims to have redness relief properties. There’s been a noticeable improvement in my skin, well hydrated and alot less redness. However, it remains to be seen if it will be as good for my skin during the winter months. Also it has an SPF of 20 which just makes me love it all the more!

  • JoJo says:

    I’ve been searching for a moisturiser that doesn’t irritate my skin. I’m using Curel at the moment (I know, don’t yell at me!!) but it’s pretty heavy duty because the Neutrogena one wasn’t making a dent in the dry patch I have on my forehead. It doesn’t help that my skin seems to be allergic to America.

    This post is amazing and I’ll be tracking down these items immediately (‘cept for the Boots one for obvious reasons).

  • Grace says:

    Yes, Cicaplast from La Roche P is not to be forgotten!

    Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, while I wouldnt dare put it on my whole face (imagine the goop??), is brilliant for sorting out sahara-like dry patches over night – has sorted me out in many an emergency.

  • Ginger says:

    Loved the Avène, a while back. Here’s some more possibles, especially if you’re really really sensitive, and all are also free of added scents (including essential oils) unless indicated otherwise. In health-food shops (Allergenics is also in some branches of Boots).

    Allergenics: the emollient balm, there’s also a lighter-weight lotion.

    Barefoot Botanicals SOS cream (some essential oils, not much)

    E45 cream and lotion: an oldie but a goodie! (in Boots, supermarkets, etc.)

    Elave (various chemists): fabulous stuff, and an Irish company to boot!

    Lavera: several options, in their Neutral and Babies & Kids Neutral ranges

    M&S is also worth a serious look: unscented ranges, and even their non-unscented stuff is often sensitive-friendly

    Weleda Soothing Almond cream or lotion

    Hope that helps… or leads to further temptation…

  • Grace says:

    Just wanted to come back and say I bought the Boots one and am totally loving it. I feel like my skin really doesn’t go as red/blotchy after washing. Ace!

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