My Winter Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin

Looking for a winter skincare routine for sensitive skin? I’ve got you covered. I’ve had sensitive skin since I was a teenager, and it would always sit somewhere between red and angry, or dry and flaky. Over the years, I’ve struggled with hiding my redness, and finding hydrating skincare that can cool it down enough to make it feel comfortable, and look soft and dewy.

I’m now in my 30s, and I’ve found a few brilliant skincare saviours in that time. However, I’m now on the other side of that coin – I now know how to hydrate my skin and keep it safe (SPF!) – but I’d also like to factor in some exfoliants and retinol to keep my skin soft and bouncy. And so we come to today, where I think I’ve found my perfect mix… If you’re like me, and you’re looking for skincare that is cruelty-free, sustainable, and high performing, read on!

My Ultimate Skincare Routine For Sensitive Skin

1. Start With A Gentle (But Firm) Cleanser

Start with a gentle cleanser that will hydrate your skin, but will also do the work when it comes to removing dirt and make-up. My go-to cleanser has been the Susanne Kaufmann Purifying Cleansing Gel* since laying hands on it in July last year. I have used this cleanser twice daily ever since, and it’s lasted me more than six months, making it both skin efficient and cost efficient. You can read my full review of it here →

This cleanser can be quite gentle on its own, so when I want to remove makeup, I’ll apply the cleanser to my face before removing everything with a trusty microfibre pad. This combination works incredibly well, cleaning my skin thoroughly without any scrubbing.

Susanne Kaufmann Purifying Cleansing Gel

2. Choose A Hydrating Toner

Facetheory Cera-C Toner with soft cloth from JoJo Glow

My newest addition has been a hydrating toner. The first toner I ever used stopped me from ever wanting to try them again – it scorched my skin and left me feeling taut and red. However, not all toners are the same, and there are toners out there designed to hydrated sensitive, dehydrated skin. My favourite has to be the Facetheory Cera-C Toner, which contains ceramides and vitamin B5 to boost hydration. It’s a little thick, so I like to apply a small amount on a cotton round* or my JoJo Glow Reusable Face Cloth (gifted) before drawing across my face.

3. Apply A Serum With Hyaluronic Acid

Now onto my favourite step: serum. My boyfriend recently came to me asking what serum does and where to add it in his skincare routine, and honestly, I couldn’t be prouder. Serum is such a great boost for hydrating dehydrated skin, and it’s a step I wouldn’t skip in a skincare routine for sensitive skin. My top recommendation is to go for a serum with hyaluronic acid, which is intensely hydrating, without blocking pores or creating any greasiness.

The Romilly Wilde Advanced Supercell Serum (gifted) has been my favourite serum this winter, as it’s both hydrating, and has a thin yet creamy consistency that sinks into my skin really well. While their range can be on the expensive side, I do think this serum is worth it. (I’ll be writing a full review of Romilly Wilde soon – stay tuned.)

I’ve also previously used the Susanne Kaufmann Nutrient Serum* but its water-like consistency feels a little too thin in the winter. If you’re looking for a good quality serum with hyaluronic acid on a budget, I’d recommend The Body Shop Vitamin E Serum*.

Romilly Wilde Advanced Supercell Serum as part of Besma's winter skincare routine for sensitive skin

4. Layer With A Hydrating Moisturiser

JunkTheory PALO Plum Algae Overnight Treatment with lid off

Now, it’s time to layer up with a hydrating moisturiser. In the mornings, I’ll use Dr Hauschka Soothing Day Lotion, which is cooling on the skin and reduces redness. It’s also thin enough to apply straight over serum, with SPF layered directly on top.

In the evenings, my go-to has been JunkTheory PALO Overnight Treatment (gifted), which is so calming and hydrating on my skin. I was really taken with this cream the moment I tried it, and it ticks all my boxes: sustainable, ethical, and effective. JunkTheory launched in the UK late last year and focuses on creating vegan skincare in simplistic, metal packaging. I like to use PALO like an overnight cream, although it is quite heavy so I’ll apply it every few nights or so.

If you’d like to try JunkTheory, you can get 20% off with my code: BESMA20

5. In The Daytime: Wear SPF

My favourite SPF has to be Dr Barbara Sturm Sun Drops*, which provides SPF 50 and full UVA coverage. This is the crème de la crème of sunscreens, with a serum-like feel, no white cast, and real heavy duty protection. My full review →

Unfortunately, I’m not made of money, so I dip between a few different SPFs. Lower priced alternatives include Comfort Zone Luminant Defense Fluid SPF 50, a liquid sunscreen that also has a serum-like feeling, and Facetheory Amil-C Whip SPF 30, which is more like a whipped moisturiser. (For just £9 this is a steal, but I just hate putting my fingers into an open pot to apply it!)

Sun drops with dropper

6. At Night: Apply A Retinoid

The Ordinary retinol

Now, onto the delicate subject of retinol. Retinol is a harsh product to put on any skin type, and can be a bit much for my sensitive skin. I’ve been using it for the last two years, and have been super cautious about how I apply it. I started off by following the advice of the dermatologists on the Doctorly channel, who encouraged low-dose (0.2%) retinol applied in-between layers of moisturiser, once or twice a week. Now I’m two years in, and I’ve built up my tolerance for retinol, moving up to daily use before moisturiser at 0.5%.

(I actually tried dipping my toe into with 1% retinol last week, but my skin immediately felt sore and itchy, and still does to some extent.)

Go slowly and carefully, and hopefully you’ll find a comfortable middle-ground of baby-soft yet happy skin.

7. Finish With An Emollient Lip Balm

Finally, let’s talk lips! Chapped lips are one of the worst things about winter, and there’s no real escape: if you’re not out in the dehydrating cold, you’re likely taking shelter in the dehydrating warmth of central heating.

To combat that, I’m always armed with a lip balm. I have one by my bed, one in my make-up bag, one in my handbag, and one in my gym kit. I literally cannot live without lip balm.

To that end, I have to say, my absolute favourite lip balm has to be the Facetheory Bioactive Lip Balm. This is an all-in-one for the lips, with built-in hydrating ingredients, as well as emollient properties, and a light raspberry scent. My lips have never been softer than when using this lip balm, to the point where I’ve had to stop myself from obsessively applying it. I love the way it makes my lips feel!

Facetheory Lip Balm

What do you think of my winter skincare routine for sensitive skin? Let me know if you have any additional recommendations – I’m always open to trying new products and solutions!

Disclaimer: This post features affiliate links (denoted ‘*’) and gifted items (denoted ‘gifted).


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