By Julia Scirrotto
Q: I have very sensitive skin - what kind of skincare regime should I follow?
A: For starters, forgo the candy-store approach to cosmetic counters - this is no time to sample every colorful potion you can afford. You always pay a price for overindulgence, so switch to a bare-bones regimen of mild cleanser, chemical-free sunblock (look for a mineral formula containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide), and an unscented moisturizer, as additives like fragrance and preservatives can further aggravate sensitized skin. Stick to this scaled-back regime for two to four weeks - generally enough time to bring skin back into balance - and then gradually reintroduce one product at a time. "Before you can do a workout with 30 pounds at the gym, you have to do it with 10 first," says Manhattan-based dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross. "Skin abides by the same principle."
Sensitive-skin-friendly formulas are now available at all price points - from posh brands like Darphin and RéVive to Walgreens standbys like Cetaphil and Eucerin. The key is to pamper with the fewest possible ingredients. "You want to avoid any product that boasts vitamins, antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, and sunscreen all at the same time," says Dr. Diane Berson, adjunct assistant professor of dermatology at New York University.