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Dealing with sensitive skin can be frustrating, especially when trying to treat acne. If you have sensitive skin, it’s likely that most things that come into contact with your skin cause irritation, dryness, redness, or pain. There are different factors that cause sensitive skin, and skin conditions that weaken the skin barrier, like acne, is one of them. Read on to learn the best ways to deal with sensitive skin while treating acne.

1. Use a gentle cleanser

When you have acne, there’s a fine line between cleansing too little and cleansing too much. It’s important to cleanse the skin morning and night to remove excess bacteria, dirt, and oil, but if you cleanse too much, it will dry out and irritate your skin.  It’s also important to use a gentle cleanser that is free of strong detergents and fragrances and to avoid using hot water when cleansing your face. Check out some of our favorite non-comedogenic cleansers below for sensitive, acne-prone skin:

A. CLEANSE with Benefits AM/PM Cleanser - It’s gentle, hydrating, at a lower pH to match the pH of your skin, and formulated with mild plant-based surfactants.

B. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - It’s a very mild, unscented formula that will wash away impurities without stripping the skin.

C. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser - It’s free of soaps and fragrances and contains ceramides and niacinamide to boost skin hydration. 

2. Moisturize and protect

Since sensitive skin is usually a result of a weakened skin barrier, applying a good moisturizer after washing your face and applying your acne treatment is a MUST. Look for moisturizers with hydrating, soothing, and skin protecting ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, Aloe vera, and antioxidants. Also, since most acne treatments already contain acids and can be slightly irritating to your skin, avoid any moisturizers with added acids like glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Check out some of our favorite non-comedogenic moisturizers below:

A. CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM Ultra Lightweight - It’s oil-free and formulated with great ingredients that hydrate and protect skin (ceramides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid) and without common skin irritants like fragrances.

B. Avene XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cream - This brand is completely dedicated to sensitive skin and formulates its products with a minimal ingredient list. It also supports the skin microbiome to help strengthen your skin’s natural defense system, which we are all about!

C. Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Night Cream - If you think your skin irritation is due to skin dryness, then this is a great formulation for you. It’s free of irritating additives and contains hyaluronic acid in a rich, but non-greasy formula.

3. Use new products gradually

We know it can be scary to try new skincare products and acne treatments when you have sensitive skin. The potential redness and burning that lasts for days is something no one wants to deal with. So, when you decided to try a new product, you should always patch test it first. This is done by applying a small amount of product to a discreet area, like behind your ear or below your jawline and waiting 24 hours to see how your skin responds to the new product.

If you have no reaction, then you’re safe to just dive right in and start using the product! If the product causes slight irritation or redness then you want to gradually begin to use the product. As an example, the Dermala SCANTILY Pad Acne Treatment should be used twice a day (morning and night) after cleansing your face. If you develop a slight irritation during patch testing, then only apply the pads once a day, wash the product off after 1 minute, and immediately follow with a soothing moisturizer to calm down the skin. After a week, apply the product once a day, leave it on, and follow with a moisturizer. Then after two weeks, your skin should get used to the product and you can start using the pads for the recommended twice a day. If you patch test a product and it results in pain, swelling, or bumps, then you most likely are allergic to an ingredient in the product and should not use the product on the remainder of your face. 

We know it can be frustrating to deal with sensitive skin. Especially since the sensitivity of your skin to different environmental factors and products can change over time, but we hope these little tips can help guide you through your sensitive skin journey when dealing with acne.

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