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Under the Radar Ingredients for Sensitive Skin

Everyone needs a little TLC—and dry, sensitive skin needs extra comfort, too. Like people, skin can get stressed any time of year. Skin stressors and moisture-killers include changes in weather.

Lack of exfoliation creates a build-up of dead skin cells that prevent skin from absorbing moisture and oils in serums and moisturizers. Plus, indoor heating, hot showers, and soaking in a jacuzzi can dry out skin.

Why? Because the stratum corneum contains water and lipids to help skin retain moisture. But heat makes skin's oils soften, like butter melts when heated. For skin, this heat melts away the natural lipid barrier, leading to moisture loss, dryness and itchiness. Even lifestyle factors, like sugary or fatty foods and alcoholic drinks can increase dehydration, aggravate sensitive skin, and trigger sensitized skin.

Sensitive and sensitized skin crave barrier-protecting ingredients that contain ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. Soothing ingredients include aloe vera, niacinamide, allantoin, chamomile, and licorice root, commonly known to alleviate redness and inflammation. However, there are many ingredients that are not as well-known in skin care, such as these “under-the-radar” ingredients for treating sensitive skin.

Mother Nature to the Rescue


Not just food for pandas, bamboo has been used for centuries in Korea to soothe and heal skin. Bamboo is a remarkably sustainable ingredient, one of fastest-growing plants on earth. In skin care, bamboo is an excellent hydrator, drawing moisture to skin to ease irritation from dryness. A rich source of flavonoids, bamboo provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and is often used in treatments for psoriasis and eczema. 

Broccoli Seed Oil

Broccoli is usually top of the list for benefiting bodily health—and can also help protect skin health. Broccoli seed oil is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and moisturizing omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, which make it an ideal ingredient for combating skin irritation and inflammation caused by UV exposure and other environmental stressors.

Coriander Seed Oil

Another ingredient associated with food is coriander seed, which is rich in copper, zinc, and iron. In skin care, coriander seed oil is an anti-inflammatory agent shown to decrease skin sensitivity. But that’s not all. This soothing active ingredient has been described as positively impacting not only skin, but the mind as well, focusing on “happiness molecules” and creating a feel-good sensation.


Derived from centella asiatica, a plant native to Asia, darutoside fights inflammation and helps boost collagen production for sensitive, dry, oily, and combination skin. Darutoside is valued for its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties that help calm sensitive, irritated skin.


Derived from the resin of trees near the Red Sea, frankincense was valued even more than gold for thousands of years. Frankincense oil contains anti-inflammatory boswellic acid, found to protect elastin and hyaluronic acid in the dermal matrix and to soothe irritated, dry, sensitive and sensitized skin.

Magnolia Bark

An important part of traditional Korean medicine, magnolia bark extract contains a high percentage of polyphenols that calm skin and antioxidants that protect against UV-induced signs of aging. This anti-inflammatory extract is known for alleviating the discomfort and itchiness of sensitive and blemish-prone skin.


This herb has been used for centuries in Korea to  heal and protect skin. Valued for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and healing benefits, mugwort is used in Korean skin care to soothe sensitive skin, rosacea, eczema and blemishes. Products containing mugwort provide relief to skin suffering from harsh climates, sun damage, and pollution. High levels of vitamin E in mugwort help relieve redness while moisturizing dry skin. Mugwort has anti-bacterial benefits for blemish-prone, irritated skin, helping clear pores of acne-causing bacteria and excess oil.

Sacha Inchi Oil

This oil derived from a tree native to the Amazon jungle helps protect skin from external irritants and oxidative damage. Sacha inchi is ideal for soothing skin sensitivity due to its composition of up to 85% omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid is known for anti-inflammatory benefits that relieve redness and sensitivity. Omega-6 helps repair the skin barrier function, reduce transepidermal water loss, and seal in moisture.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

Sea buckthorn oil is derived from a plant that grows at high altitudes in the Himalayas, with a natural ability to resist damage from environmental stressors. Sea buckthorn oil is rich in minerals including magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc, which improve skin cell functioning. This oil also contains impressive levels of omega-7 and omega-6 fatty acids to lock in moisture and reduce irritation, promoting skin recovery. Sea buckthorn’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce redness and discomfort associated with rosacea and eczema.

By Janel Luu for Skin Inc. Magazine, 2024. She is the founder and CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics and PurErb. She has over 38 years of experience in the beauty industry as an educator, researcher, and formulator.




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