Plus, what to look—and look out—for when shopping for new skincare products.
woman applying makeup mascara sensitive skin
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If you have naturally sensitive skin, you know that looking for a new favorite blush or bronzer that won't leave you with a rash can be tricky. It's a common problem: In fact, more than 50 million Americans experience various allergic reactions every year, including allergic contact dermatitis, or ACD. "Contact dermatitis is a type of rash that can develop following the skin's exposure to either an irritating or an allergenic chemical," says Dr. Tara Rao of New York City's Schweiger Dermatology Group. Sometimes, your skin may not even show signs of a reaction right away. "Irritants can cause a dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin as a result of chronic exposure to a mild irritant or a one-time exposure to a stronger irritant," she adds.

While Dr. Rao says specific allergic triggers will vary greatly from person to person, there are certain irritants that are more common culprits of contact dermatitis, including fragrances, peeling acids (such as alpha-hydroxy acid, trichloroacetic, and glycolic acid often found in facial scrubs and moisturizers), and additives such as colorings or glitter. Nickel-common in eye cosmetics like mascara and shadows-as well as liquid latex-which can also be found in eye makeup, including eyelash extensions, and facial powders-are also very common irritants for ACD.

So, what's a sensitive-skinned-shopper to do? Think mineral-based products, says Dr. Rao, as these products have more natural origins and are less likely to contain irritating additives. Many mineral-based products will contain ingredients that are gentler on allergy-prone skin and also tend to have less inactive or "filler" ingredients that can clog up skin or cause other kinds of allergic reactions.

Of course, if you do find yourself breaking out into a reaction from any kind of skincare or makeup product, you should stop using it immediately and treat with a gentle moisturizer and facial cleaners. If your condition worsens, consult your dermatologist immediately as you prescription medication may be necessary.

Here a few of our favorite beauty brands made with sensitive skin makeup-lovers in mind.

RMS Beauty

These beauty makers don't just source the best certified organic ingredients, but they also leave out any RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized) processed products-which can still be certified as "organic" despite being stripped of their most vital nutrients. They even list and explain every ingredient used on their website so you can know exactly what goes on your skin.

Physicians Formula

Backed by a board of skin specialists-including an allergist and a dermatologist-this California-based beauty line ensures the more than 150 known skin irritants never end up in their products.

Juice Beauty

Since 2004, this all-organic beauty brand has been making your eco-skin routine dreams come true thanks to a line of paraben-, petroleum-, and pesticide-free products. Sourcing locally from West Coast farms and making all their products in the USA, Juice Beauty never uses artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances either (along with a laundry list of other no-no ingredients!). Plus, they use sustainable practices in their production process and packaging.

Bare Minerals

Before "clean beauty" was the wellness world's favorite buzzword, Bare Minerals was formulating a wide range of products made without any of the stuff your skin doesn't need, like propylene glycol (fragrance ingredient) and triclosan (a preservative).


Completely plant-based and sourcing organic ingredients whenever they can, this all-natural cosmetics company steers clear from any dyes, fragrances, phthalates, petrochemicals, and artificial preservatives. It was also co-founded by a dermatologist-so you can pull off the perfect bold red lip without the itchy red bumps.


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