(Clockwise from left) Evolve Blue Velvet Ceramide Serum, Kiehl’s Ultra Pure High-Potency Serum 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid, Paula’s Choice Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, Freeplus Moist Care Lotion 1.
As of reporting time, the weather in Malaysia is currently 34°C with a UV index of eight which means we are seeing a lot of red-tinged faces no matter where we go. And we are not the only ones — the global market size for sensitive skin care products was valued at USD41.12 billion last year.
According to a study at Aveeno — the American brand that has made such products its cosmetic calling card — there has been a 55% increase in the number of people over the past two decades who self-identify as having sensitive skin.
A simple formula of just seven ingredients makes the hyaluronic acid in the Kiehl’s Ultra Pure High-Potency Serum 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid the star.
To date, we have published at least 32 online stories and 14 print ones about what it is to have skin sensitivity. There are visual cues — redness, inflammation and patchiness — as there are physical discomforts like itching and burning. More often than not, the story would end with us recommending one to get a proper diagnosis with a dermatologist.
What was the green light for this story then? The answer lies in keeping things simple with the skincare products men should use when applying skincare.
Formulated with four non-sensitising actives — hyaluronic acid, reservatrol, vitamin C, and niacinamide — the Paula’s Choice Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum boasts an equally light texture.
“If you need to layer tonnes of skincare to get different benefits, your regime is most probably incorrect and inefficient. I would suggest getting your skincare needs from your serum followed by a neutral moisturiser and sunscreen that isn’t overly fancy unless you are using that alone,” says makeup artist Larry Yeo — which makes scientific sense.
Firstly, there is a possibility that each serum applied over the next causes the previous to decrease in effectiveness due to the interference of chemical processes. Secondly, the skin is often described as a sponge for a reason — it can only absorb so much.
By focusing on just hydration, the Evolve Blue Velvet Ceramide Serum reaps many benefits like glowier, stronger, and calmer skin.
However, some might argue that the less-is-more approach extends to a skin care product’s formula by saying it makes it easier to identify which needle in the haystack sets their skin off. Others would say that a product with more ingredients — particularly actives — can be more effective at treating multiple skin concerns than a product with just one. Potency is also posited — if a skincare product contains just one active ingredient, it is usually at a potency that the skin might not be able to handle.
Sensitivity is often a not-so-simple guessing game when it comes to a skincare routine for men, but there are some non-negotiables according to Yeo. “A product’s efficacy works differently across different types, but I would always recommend ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), its derivatives and niacinamide. However, you need to do a patch test as our skin has different tolerance levels and overexposure can trigger sensitivity.”
Achieve brightness, bounce, and boosted skin in just 10 weeks with the Philosophy Dose Of Wisdom™ Bouncy Skin Reactivating Serum.
As for the holy grail of hydration, hyaluronic acid can be sensitising too as it facilitates the increased penetration of other topical products and irritancy is expected with this increased penetration. According to Dr Tor Pattarakul — a Thai skincare influencer and dermatologist — it is still an ingredient that makes sense for sensitivity. Citing the Philosophy Dose of Wisdom Bouncy Skin Reactivating Serum as a holy grail, its efficacy with said ingredient calibrated for full skin compatibility makes it usable on all skin types.
“I usually use it immediately after a toner to allow the low molecular weight of the acid to penetrate the skin,” he says. As for its results, he notes that “you can feel smoothness that is an immediate sign of skin recovery”.
Used as a toner, Freeplus’s Moisture Care Lotion 1 softens the skin while enhancing the absorption of products under: all in a lightweight formula that’s delightfully unscented.
In the matter of vanity, another concern we had was whether simpler skincare would work better under makeup. Once again, Yeo thinks that it is a personal matter. “It depends on your skin’s condition and needs, and especially the formula of it.” Of course, one more piece of advice for the now 47th story we have written about this sensitive topic — “do a patch test first”.
Photography Daryl Tan
Styling Manfred Lu