9 Must-Have Products For Dull, Sensitive Skin

by Sebastian Zulch

Having sensitive skin used to feel like the hugest burden in the world. This wasn't because of my face's tendency to break out into acne and eczema (often in the same places), though those things were valid concerns. My issue was my inability to find beauty products for sensitive skin that could transform my dull, tired visage into something that more closely resembled that of a healthy person.

Since contracting chronic Lyme disease 11 years ago, my body has deteriorated a lot, reflected in my skin's dullness and intense dark circles. When I was younger, my knowledge of beauty was vastly limited. So the few products I would try from my mom's beauty cabinet, as well as some drugstore beauty buys I'd make here and there based on the appearance of the packaging, often left me disappointed.

But since growing up and acquiring more knowledge about beauty and my own body, I've given skincare another hopeful try over the past six months. To my delight, I have been able to find many products (and actually, an entire routine) that really work for me regarding my dullness and dark circles without flaring up my multiple skin conditions. If your skin is sensitive like mine, definitely consider exploring these super essential products.

1. Micellar Cleansing Water

Garner Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water & Makeup Remover, $9, Ulta

Makeup remover, whether it be in the form of liquid or wipes, has always been either too irritating or too oily for my skin. So unfortunately, I would often skip this step in my routine and go to bed with makeup from the day still in my pores, all out of fear that using the remover would be more irritating than committing this enormous beauty sin.

However, my skin has finally seen better days since I've started using micellar cleansing water to remove my cosmetics. Free of any harsh chemicals that might cause a reaction, micellar cleansing water removes makeup quicker and more easily than anything I've ever tried without any leftover oiliness or residue.

2. A Gentle, Brightening Scrub

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub, $10, Target

Though I love liquid cleansers, none has ever left my face feeling clean after yet another humid and sweaty day in New York City. But because scrubs often flare up my eczema in the summer, I've been begrudgingly sticking to the liquid ones anyway.

However, I recently found an amazing cell-stimulating face scrub by Acure at my local health food store that truly wowed me. The scrub cleanses and brightens without irritating, finally delivering me the type of deep clean that my oily skin so desperately needed this season.

I use very little at a time, fearful of upsetting a patch of eczema on my face that's still healing from prior to purchasing the wash. But by doing this, I've found that a little really goes a long way.

3. A Toner That Soothes & Brightens

Glow Tonic, $29, Pixi Beauty

I've tried lots of different toners in my day, all of which have irritated my face. Last year, I finally settled on a natural product that didn't cause any additional damage, but its strong apple cider vinegar smell became too much to handle. And so I was on the hunt for a new product, when it came to my attention that a family member with very similar skin had been using Pixi's Glow Tonic religiously.

Intrigued, I decided to give it a try myself... and I fell in love with the stuff pretty quickly. The formula's aloe vera helped soothe my sensitive skin while leaving it feeling refreshed, radiant, and smelling subtly floral. This gentle toner's glycolic acid is perfect for reducing the appearance of fine lines, acne, dullness, and oiliness. It's basically a multitasking dream come true.

4. A Mild Face Moisturizer That Makes You Glow

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, $48, Sephora

I've sworn by Clarins Beauty Balm since I was 18. Between the product's brightening powers, gentleness, and pleasant smell, it's the only moisturizer that really works for my face without leaving it feeling oily or irritated. Though the price tag is a little daunting, it's well worth the buy since a little goes a long way with this product as well. I've been using the same bottle for over a year.

5. Acne Spot Treatment That Won't Burn Your Face Off

Buffering Lotion, $19, Mario Badescu

I gave up on using acne-specific products from a young age because they were always way too strong for my face. As someone who has both acne and eczema, these treatments often dried out my skin to the point of creating an eczema rash on or around the pimples I was trying to treat.

Recently, I decided to give spot treatments one last try, after some humid weather began making me break out almost as much as I did when I was in high school. I was thrilled to find a solution in Mario Badescu's Buffering Lotion, a spot treatment for severe to cystic acne with herbal extracts.

Though I don't have cystic acne, it works perfectly (and quickly) on my smaller pimples without any stinging or irritation.

6. A Rosy, Lightweight Skin Salve

Flavored Balm Dotcom in Rose, $12, Glossier

Usually, skin salves are way too heavy for me to use on any part of my skin, thanks to the fact that eczema and cold sores are my most common reactions to such products. But Glossier's latest flavored Balm Dotcoms feel more lightweight and soothing than any formula I've ever tried. I love the rose one for when I want some quick and non-irritating moisture as well as a touch of glow for my pout.

7. A Fresh Face Mask

Oatifix Fresh Face Mask, $8, Lush

No matter what mask I use, my face looks noticeably more radiant afterwards. However, this often comes with the price of fresh eczema rashes around my mouth. However, gentle oatmeal face masks like LUSH's Oatifix rejuvenate my skin without flaring it up.

8. A Calming Face Mist

First Aid Beauty Vitamin Hydrating Mist, $16, Ulta

If your skin is easily irritated, consider investing in a face mist that's formulated to soothe and calm sensitive skin, like FAB's Hydrating Mist. Besides this gentle mist formulated with witch hazel, the brand is known for producing skincare products that are super helpful for sensitive and eczema-prone visages. I've heard amazing things about the Ultra Repair Mask, too.

9. Eye Patches For Dark Circles That Really Work

Petitfee Black Pearl and Gold Hydrogel Eye Patch, $14, Memebox

I recently bought these eye patches in the hopes of curing my dark circles. Though that was a lofty goal (I know because this isn't the first time I've tried), I felt confident about this one thanks to the recommendation of fellow beauty aficionados.

I've only just started experimenting with them, but I was shocked to see a noticeable difference in the skin under my eyes after just one use. Unlike other eye patches, these didn't sting or dry me out. I comfortably wore them for over two hours before bed.

Using all of these products together, my skincare routine has vastly improved. No longer do I have to choose between getting irritated and looking radiant. It seems that there are products out there that can both brighten and soothe, after all.

Images: Courtesy Brands