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Sensitive skin has plagued me since I was young. I’ve faced (literally) dryness, tightness, itchiness, irritation, acne, & an oily T-zone. I found out the hard way that conventional skincare for acne-prone skin is not for me.
Tried everything under the sun from Proactive to prescription creams. Spent tons on monthly facials, chemical peels, and even acupuncture & herbal medicine. Don’t even get me started on all the natural skincare products I’ve tried!
Natural skincare products can still contain harsh sulfates, such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate). SLS is what makes cleansers foamy, leaving your skin feeling squeaky clean. It’s been the main ingredient of virtually every cleanser until recently. Unfortunately, it’s also a known irritant that can damage & dry out your skin.
Have you used a foamy cleanser that cleared up your acne initially then caused worse breakouts than before? I experienced this with popular natural name brand products, and I was devastated because I thought I was doing everything right. I found that natural doesn’t always mean gentle enough for sensitive skin.
Fast forward to 2015 when I found the magic of oils in skincare routines. These are still natural beauty products but don’t have irritating ingredients like SLS. I haven’t looked back since!
Below, I listed my morning skin care routine in the order that I use them. These products moisturize & keep my sensitive, acne-prone, & combination skin feeling healthy. I no longer experience dryness, tightness, itchiness, or irritation & my acne-prone skin has minimal acne, no more breakouts, and no oil slick throughout the day.
Since my skin is sensitive to synthetic fragrance, my entire skincare routine is fragrance-free & SLS-free–great for highly sensitive skin!
This is literally the best cleanser I ever used! It’s a gel that foams up without sulfates. I only use 1/2 a pump twice a day (AM + PM), so the bottle lasts awhile! It’s packed with green goodness (kale, spinach, green tea, alfalfa, & vitamins C, E, K).
This superfood cleanser is pH-balanced, so you don’t need to use toner after. It cleans my face without drying, and I haven’t found anything that compares!
Update: Now using Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser, a gel with the same foaming action and no harsh sulfates. PLUS, it tightens & firms my skin with lycopene and hydrolyzed wheat protein (safe for gluten intolerance since it’s too large to get absorbed by the skin).
Herbivore recommends using this mask every other day for the first 5 days then 2-3 times per week after.
This mask gently exfoliates dead skin with fruit enzymes, willow bark, & blue tansy oil. It was gentle enough to use every other day like they recommended. If you have sensitive skin, don’t use this mask (or any other clarifying mask) after a hot shower. I know many people recommend using warm water to open up your pores, but sensitive skin requires a more gentle approach to combat acne.
This product did not give me immediate results, but I saw incredible improvement in my acne after the first 5 days of use. I now use this every 3 days in the morning to maintain clear skin. It also saves my skin when I fall asleep without washing my face or when I get hormonal acne from PMS.
You just need a thin layer then leave it on for 15-20 minutes and rinse off with warm water. It’s normal for you to feel some tingling. For sensitive skin, they recommend leaving it on for 5 minutes. I tried that my first time and found it was mild enough to leave on longer. Definitely test it out first to see if it’s too strong for your skin!
Even though you don’t need a toner after YTTP Superfood Cleanser or Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser, I use this face mist as an extra oomph to my skincare routine. It reduces redness/inflammation (rose & witch hazel) & provides hydration (coconut water & hibiscus) for my skin. I love bringing it on long flights–it’s the perfect refresher!
This face mist helps my skin absorb any oil products I apply after. I like to apply my oils a few seconds after I spritz my face (without letting the face mist dry), so the oils really lock moisture in!
Update: Another good alternative is Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner. I love switching between these two to keep my skin guessing 😉
- Related post: Nighttime Skin Care Routine for Sensitive Skin
I only use 3 drops twice a day (AM + PM), and it lasts me a long time! The vitamin C + rose oil helps brighten & even skin tone. I apply this oil anywhere I have redness/dark spots (mainly my T-zone from past breakouts). I dab remaining oil around my eyes & lips because it also prevents fine lines & wrinkles.
This oil absorbs super fast, and I don’t have to wait to apply other oils. There’s no stinging or irritation, and it lightened up my redness and most of my dark spots within a few days! I fell in love with Biossance after trying this!
I only apply 2 drops twice a day of Biossance Squalane Oil on spots that need extra care (around my nose, mouth, and eyes). A little goes a long way with this oil. It easily absorbs into skin and doesn’t leave any residue!
Update: I’m now using Herbivore’s Orchid Youth-Preserving Facial Oil over these areas to add on extra anti-aging benefits. You can sample Herbivore’s facial oils (including the one below) in this Mini Facial Oil Trio for half the price here.
The main ingredient for this product is Blue Tansy oil, and it’s the only non-drying oil I’ve found that reduces redness & inflammation and prevents acne as an anti-bacterial. I was so close to buying Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, but I figured if salicylic acid dried out my skin before, why would salicylic acid mixed with oil be any better?
I used organic lavender & tea tree essential oils with jojoba oil for 3 years on my T-zone, and they cleared up my skin but not without creating dry spots. The dry spots + dense oils on my face did not mix well with any makeup on top.
Blue Tansy oil is everything for acne-prone skin (that’s why I love Herbivore’s Resurfacing Clarity Mask as well)! If you want to try both the oil & mask without breaking the bank, there’s a gift set with mini versions at Sephora for under $50.
Acure also has a cheaper alternative under $13 called ACURE Seriously Soothing Blue Tansy Night Oil. I haven’t tried it because it’s not fragrance-free, but I’ve heard it’s great for sensitive skin!
Herbivore’s Lapis Facial Oil also has jojoba & squalane oil, which are oils that I trust to balance sebum production. This oil takes a few minutes to dry, so I usually get dressed before I put on makeup.
If you found this post on my morning skin care routine helpful, check out these related posts:
- Nighttime Skin Care Routine for Sensitive Skin
- 8 Travel Essentials to Maximize Comfort on Long Flights
- Biossance Squalane Oil Review
Let me know if you have any questions about my morning skin care routine or skincare in general! Which products work for you? Comment below!