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I’ll be honest: I’ve been blessed with pretty hardy skin because, despite my adventurous skincare habits, I’ve never had any major skin flare-ups (touch wood!) But every now and then, there are times when it just feels dry and uncomfortably tight, itches or stings (especially around the nose) and I have red splotches that makes me look like I had a food allergy reaction.

Granted, most of these “incidents” happen usually after I’ve just returned from an overseas trip, or maybe I’ve just started using a new product. As far as I’m concerned, dealing with sensitised skin is no fun at all, and frankly, can be utterly frustrating, because my skin feels rough, it looks dull (with red spots) and makeup doesn’t go on smoothly at all. And so I have devised a five-step anti-sensitivity plan to help calm angry skin and lock in moisture. Here are my tried-and-tested ways:

Tip #1: Use Cool Water

I love relaxing hot showers as much as the next person does. But when my skin’s feeling out of balance, I avoid using hot water and switch to using room temperature water or colder. This is because hot water can strip skin of its lipid barrier, which only aggravates sensitive skin further. Plus, hot water also accelerates blood circulation, and can make any redness look even more serious.

Tip #2: Avoid Using Soap

When your skin is dry, itchy, flaking or red, using soap-based cleansers can dry skin our further, i.e. not a wise choice. For such emergencies, I reach for my trusty micellar cleansing waters. Rinse-free and utterly gentle, these cleanse skin thoroughly by attracting dirt, grime, excess sebum and makeup without being harsh to the skin at all. They also respect skin pH for healthy, well-balanced skin. My favourite? La Roche-Posay’s Physiological Micellar Solution, $32.90 for 400ml. For those with shine-prone skin, try Biore’s Micellar Cleansing Water Oil Control, $18.90 for 250ml, while Bioderma’s Hydrabio H2O, $41.90 for 500ml, is perfect for those with dehydrated skin.

Physiological Micellar Solution, $32.90 for 400ml, La Roche-Posay

Tip #3: Moisturise Diligently

When your skin is irritated, chances are, its barrier function is also compromised. What this means is that the lipid barrier on your skin’s surface is unable to keep moisture in. Therefore, it is vital to replenish skin’s moisture levels at least twice a day, with an extra-strength moisturiser like Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Cream, $38.50 for 453g. It is loaded with rich emollients and humectants to bind moisture to the skin and prevent moisture loss so your skin stays soft and supple. Those who prefer a lighter texture can try Curel’s Moisture Milk, $22.80 for 200ml, which also helps to rebuild skin’s lipid barrier, thanks to its ceramide-rich formula.

Moisturizing Cream, $38.50 for 453g,Cetaphil

Tip #4: Keep Your Routine Simple

Another rule of thumb is to keep your regime streamlined when your skin is already compromised. So choose your skincare wisely: look out for products that are allergy-tested because this means that they tend to contain little or no sensitivity-causing ingredients to lessen the burden on your skin. Try Chanel’s La Solution 10 de Chanel, a moisturiser that contains only 10 ingredients (including power-packed antioxidants) to ensure fragile skin only gets what it needs. The result? Calmed and less reactive skin.

La Solution 10 de Chanel, Chanel

Tip #5: SPF Is Crucial

Last but not least, it’s important to give your skin an extra helping hand when defending against environmental hazards. This is because when your skin is sensitised, its barrier function and its ability to keep harmful elements out is affected, making it more susceptible to further damage caused by pollutants or free radicals from the environment. Designed to block out harmful particles and UV rays, Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Re-Cover also contains Centella Asiatica which accelerates skin healing and regeneration. Although green in colour, it transforms into a complexion-enhancing beige tint that counters redness but goes on sheer.

Cicapair Re-Cover, Dr. Jart+