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Sensitive skin can be challenging to deal with and requires special care. Interestingly enough, sensitive skin is a description, not a diagnosis – so there’s no real test for it. Because of this, knowing which ingredients to avoid, and what can trigger a reaction is key.

Generally, skin sensitivity increases during the winter months, resulting in inflammation, redness and discomfort. Cold wind, the dry Gauteng air and our body’s natural inclination to produce less moisture in winter, all contribute to a change in the skin’s appearance.

Even if you don’t suffer from sensitivity, you should consider adding more nourishing and hydrating products to your regime.

How to tell if you have sensitive skin

  • Sensitive skin tends to be dry, flaky and very easily irritated.
  • Symptoms such as redness, blotchiness, tingling, itching or stinging may indicate sensitivity.
  • Skin disorders like Rosacea and Eczema are often an underlying cause of sensitivity.
  • Those with sensitive skin typically have a tendency towards blushing and skin flushing.

What causes a skin reaction?

Triggers are wide and varied. Alcohol consumption and certain hot and spicy foods can be triggers. Sun and wind exposure, stress and chemicals used in certain products can all cause skin to react.

How to deal with red, sensitive skin

  • Avoid using products that contain fragrance, alcohol and artificial colourants.
  • Choose soap free cleansers.
  • Look for products that are specially formulated for sensitive skin with soothing ingredients like Aloe, Chamomile and Vitamin E
  • Avoid harsh, granular facial scrubs and rather opt for a chemical exfoliator – preferably one that uses gentle fruit acids.
  • Be gentle with your skin – don’t rub it with a towel, rather blot it dry.
  • Avoid very hot water as it can dry out & irritate skin.
  • Choose a fabric softener that’s organic & free from colour or fragrance – remember, you sleep on a pillow every evening that contains remnants of that softener.
  • Always make sure your skin is well moisturised. Dry, dehydrated skin is more vulnerable to sensitivity.

Ingredients to avoid if you suffer from sensitivity

Soothing treats for sensitive skin

SS numbered

1. Eucerin AtoControl Face Care Cream, R149.99

Perfect for skin that’s tight, rough, prone to itching, scaling and reddening. This formula contains Omega fatty acids and soothing licorice extract. It’s so gentle, it can even be used on babies skin.

2. BioNike Defence Hydra 5 Radiance – R150, available at Dis-Chem

Even very sensitive skin types can use this formula that beautifully illuminates, hydrates, protects and strengthens the skin. It also contains an SPF 15 and is free of fragrance, gluten & preservatives.

3. Gatineau SERENITE Multi-protective cream, R625

This soothing balm-like cream can be used morning and evening to treat easily irritated, red or patchy skin. It strengthens the skin barrier thus reducing reactivity.

4. The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Facial Wash, R99 – Buy it here

This rich, yet mild soap-free cleansing foam gently removes make-up and impurities and has an instant soothing and calming effect on sensitive skin. It’s been dermatologically approved and clinically proven as suitable for sensitive skin. Go read the review on – women with sensitive, reactive skin rave about this formula.

5. Garnier Hydra Match Ultra Nourishing Cream Dry & Very Dry Skin, R69.99

This nourishing moisturiser is enriched with Camellia oil, Omega 3 & 6 and Shea butter. Upon application, skin is instantly soothed and comforted.

6. Bioderma Sensibio AR BB Cream, R239.95

All the beauty gals love this formula – even those without sensitive skin. This BB is specially formulated for those that suffer with rosacea and sensitivity. It evens the complexion, hydrates, protects with an SPF30 all while soothing sensitive skin. If you skin is very dry, apply a moisturiser first. The coverage is light yet it gives the skin a lovely, even toned complexion.

7. Gatineau SERENITE Soothing Concentrate, R595

This serum should be applied to clean skin morning and evening. It has a soothing effect on reactive, very sensitive skin and contains anti-ageing technology.


The Gatineau cream/balm sounds really nice. Where can I get it?

Definitely want to give the Bioderma BB Cream a try.

This is such a great post, Candice! I’m a HUGE fan of Eucerin products (in fact, I think it was YOU who put me onto them!), and that Bioderma BB Cream is fantastic. I’ve been using it daily, and I’ve noticed a real improvement in the overall appearance of my skin… I think it’s SO important that women start becoming more aware of the ingredients in their skincare products, so thank you for this easy-to-digest, at-a-glance guide! x

Hi Julie, it is a lovely, soothing cream & I highly recommend it. You can purchase Gatineau at Truworths & Foschini beauty departments.

Hey Charlene, you must try it out – we all LOVE it! Brilliant formula, even for those that don’t suffer with sensitivity. X

Thanks Chereen. Actually, you’re one of the beauty gals I was referring to in the post! After you told me how you loved it, I gave it a try and am now a convert. Glad you like the Eucerin, one of my all-time favourite ranges for dry skin (face & body). XXXX

Thanks so much for this post! I have been suffering from dermatitis for the last 3 months after a nasty reaction to the Clinique CC cream. My dermatologist (who you recommended!) suggested that I use the Eucerin AtoControl and I literally apply it about 3 times a day. It’s amazing and I love how easily it’s absorbed by my skin. I still get flare-ups when it’s hot or after a trip to the gym but the Eucerin most definitely helps calm and soothe my blotchy face.

Love this post Candice! I’ve been battling with sensitive skin for years now. I’m excited to try some of these products, especially the Bioderma BB Cream.

Thanks Angela. That BB is the business – do try it out!

Thanks for the comment, Tessa. So glad you came right with the derm. I must admit, I’m such a fan of Eucerin – all their products are fantastic. Nothing beats their Complete Repair 5% Urea Body Lotion – NOTHING!!! You must give it a try, especially with winter approaching. XX

Love this article! Thanks so much. Just what I needed!
I really struggle with my sensitive skin

I’m so pleased you found the info useful, Imaan. X

I started using the Bio Nike range in December and found it so amazing that I now use everything in that range. Love the post.

wow thanks so much for this article Candice, i have super sensitive skin & couldnt understand why the doctors refuse to give me retinol(vitamin A) & lavender is suppose to help but makes it worse now it all makes sense…i could give you a big wet kiss right now these tips are going to save my already blemished skin this winter.

I’m so, so glad you found the post helpful, Andrea. I know from your previous comments that you battle with sensitivity & I actually had you in mind when writing the post. Big kiss right back at ya! Xxx

Thanks Angela! BioNike is a wonderful range for sensitive skin, and it’s so well priced. X

I have been suffering from sensitive skin for what seems like forever, years ago it used to manifest in my face due to stress but luckily I got that under control. Nowadays I get it on my hands (remember I showed you the other day) and cold air or extreme heat does make it flare up. I had great results from using the Eucerin AtoControl range on my hands and body and the Gatineau Serenite range is amazing to use on winter facial skin.
This is such a great post, thank you!

Thanks Eloise, my friend. That Eucerin AtoControl range is BRILLIANT. XXX

I’ve been using Bionike, but my face is still burning from the product, n later in the day starts getting that rond white circels(white dry spot). Is there anything that u can recommend me- n how must i used the product. I’m really tired of this dull, try face(cant even apply some make-up) then u realy see the try face

Hi Claudine, have you ever used any products from the Dermalex line? It’s available at Dis-Chem – I suggest maybe you try some.

Hi Please advice if Defence hydra5 opthydra is fine for combination skin .Thank you .Kind Regards Shanie

Hi Shanie, yes it would be fine for combination skin.

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