Finding the right skincare can be a laborious process, even for those without super fussy skin. Unfortunately for me, my skin came with a bunch of unwritten rules and requirements that I had to figure out, one-by-one throughout my life. It was a painful process with a lot of ups and downs, but I like to think (touch wood) that I’m really getting somewhere now.

Before we start, here are some qualities that, if you relate to these, you may find these six skincare rules helpful:

Reactive skin

Your skin often reacts to lots of things ranging from new products, to food, stress, heat and more. All in all, it seems to be hard work to keep it happy.

Acne prone skin

I say acne prone because you may have experienced acne breakouts on and off throughout your life, but it’s important to note that I am not able to give medical advice for those with chronic acne, for example. I really recommend seeing a dermatologist if it’s something you can afford, particularly if you’ve dealt with a lot of acne for a long time.

PCOS skin type

If you have PCOS or suspect that you might, it’s likely your skin is a little sensitive, too, and you might benefit from these rules.

Sensitive eyes

Something I’ve had from a very young age is sensitive eyes. I remember being unable to walk through the perfume department at John Lewis with my mum as a child without tearing up due to the scent! Often but not always, sensitive skin is accompanied by sensitive eyes.

Skin redness or rosacea

If you have always been someone prone to redness, you may or may not have rosacea, but even if you don’t, a lot of redness can indicate dry or sensitive skin.

You don’t necessarily have to relate to all of these, but if you relate to a couple then it could be a sign you have sensitive and/or reactive skin.

For a long time, I treated my skin as if it was everybody else’s, by trying out every viral product I could get my hands on, having some kind of a reaction and then realising it wasn’t working for me and feeling more and more discouraged. Over the last 10-15 years, I’ve worked to perfect some guidelines for my own skin to keep things under control, and I hope that these can help some fellow sufferers, too.

1. Only try one new product at a time

When you stick to trying out one new product at a time, it ensures you’ll know which product is causing you problems, should one arise. Conversely, if you use two or three new products in one day and suddenly develop a rash or a breakout, you won’t know which product caused it.

2. Always patch test new products

Patch testing is super easy and can limit negative reactions to a single area of your face, and also help you get a more accurate view on how a product is affecting your skin. For example, if you use a new product only on your left cheek for a week, you’ll be able to notice any sudden breakouts or rashes forming on that one cheek.

After a week or so, I’ll usually apply the product to another area like my forehead for a week again. After a few weeks and no reactions, you can feel much more confident to apply it to your entire face.

3. Avoid essential oils and fragrance as much as you can

The funnest products to use have nice smells, bright colours and fun names, but oftentimes these traits go hand in hand with irritation and artificial fragrance. For the best results on sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to go essential oil and fragrance-free for your whole routine. 

4. Don’t try to fix a routine that isn’t broken

Between social media and online shopping, it can be difficult to avoid being lured in by new product launches and trying out lots of new products. However if you’re already using a routine that works great for you, it’s always better to stick with what works. How many times have you had a perfectly good routine, only to try out something new and set back your progress? Most of the time it’s just not worth it.

5. Consider not cleansing in the morning

It’s a controversial one, but it’s a goodun if it’s right for you – skipping morning cleansing has become more and more popular in the past year or so. I’ve personally skipped morning cleansing for the past three years and, aside from saving me time and money on products, I feel it’s massively benefited my skin overall.

If you have dry and/or sensitive skin it could be a power move for you, although super oily and/or acne prone skins should consider giving this one a miss. The reason it can work so well is because every time you cleanse your skin, you are disrupting the protective lipid barrier, the more disturbed the barrier becomes and the weaker and less resilient it is. Skipping morning cleansing therefore disturbs your barrier a lot less, and can make it more resilient to products and the environment, to name a few!

6. Use one, targeted active, not multiple

Finally, a little reminder that a simple routine usually outweighs a complicated one when it comes to handling super fussy skin. I’ve seen so much success personally from solely using a retinoid, than I ever did when I was trying to include AHA, BHA, vitamin C and retinoids combined. Social media likes to tell us that you need them all to have great skin, but in reality that’s just not true. My best advice is to find the active that works well for you, for whatever your top skin concern is, and use it consistently over a long period of time for best results.