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Minimalist Skincare for Sensitive Skin

Minimalist skincare takes a less is more approach to caring for your sensitive skin. I use just a few products to keep my skin looking fresh!

Clear glass bottle of rose hip seed oil with rose hips in the background, as used for minimalist skincare routine

Rose hip seed oil

Minimalist Skincare for Sensitive Skin

In my twenties, I took an accidentally minimalist approach to skincare—the only product I bothered to use was sunscreen.  Which turned out to be pretty smart!

In my early to mid-thirties, I bought fancier sunscreen and began using an AHA exfoliant.  Occasionally I used retinol, too.

Unfortunately, as I approached my forties, the old routine just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  My skin seemed to get irritated by everything—retinol, AHA, sunscreen, face wash, you name it.

I ended up having to throw everything out and start over.  Since I don’t have a lot of time to do an elaborate routine—and since my skin wasn’t happy with so many products—I decided to go minimalist.

What is minimalist skincare? 

Minimalist skincare means using less products to get the same effects you would get from using lots of products.  It’s an approach that’s ideal for sensitive skin. 

Do you really need a skincare routine?

You may not need a skincare routine, but it can be really helpful to know what works for you and be able to rely on having the products you need to get the effect you want.

What products do you use?

After much experimentation, I’ve settled on two skincare products and two sunscreens.  I’ve used several facial washes interchangeably; I’ll explain that in a moment.

Facial Wash

I try not to wash my face too much.  Once a day is usually enough for me.  If I’m not cleaning off the sweat and grime of the day, I simply splash my face with cool water and wipe gently with a soft washcloth. 

The reason for this is because the skin maintains its own moisture barrier, and if you wash it too much, or with something that’s too strong, you’ll start to strip away that barrier.

I recommend using a very gentle wash, like Aveeno Ultra Calming Foaming Cleanser, or any facial wash that leaves your skin soft and flexible, not tight.


AHA exfoliant used to work like a charm, but then it started to cause more irritation and it seemed to make my skin thinner.

Retinol caused irritation and never had much of an anti-aging effect as promised on the label.

I switched to a very gentle BHA exfoliant, which has the effect of keeping my skin clear and making it look plump and fresh. 

My BHA of choice is COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid.  Don’t let the name put you off!  It’s not just for blackheads, although it will clear those right up.  It’s gentle, hydrating, and works overnight.  No need to wait days or weeks for results.  And, a bottle of this stuff lasts for ages.

COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid is a Korean skincare product.  Although you may associate Korean skincare with using a dozen different products—the very opposite of minimalist—the Korean beauty industry makes some amazing products, and this is one of them.


I may lose some of you here, but I don’t use a standard moisturizer.  They clog my pores and make me feel like I’ve spread clay over my skin.

Instead, I use The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil.  This light yellow-orange oil has a nearly magical effect on my skin.  It reduces undereye circles, softens fine lines, and gives your skin a remarkable glow.

It’s amazing on my neck, too, which is something I can say about very few skincare products.

I put it on generously at night, then apply a little in the morning to refresh my neck and around my eyes.


I confess that I tried to use mineral sunscreens exclusively.  Unfortunately, although they worked well in certain areas, like around my eyes, they were too thick on the rest of my skin.

So I switched to a hybrid approach.

Chemical sunscreens tend to get into my eyes, so I use a very gentle mineral sunscreen around my eyes, and a chemical sunscreen for the rest of my face and neck.

My favorite mineral sunscreen is Blue Lizard Sensitive Face Mineral Sunscreen.  I love all of Blue Lizard’s sunscreens.  They’re my go-to sunscreens for vacations in the strong Florida sun.

My favorite chemical sunscreen is Olay Regenerist Regenerating Face Lotion, SPF 50 or SPF 30.  This incredible product has all the good stuff you expect from a high-end lotion, plus excellent sun protection.  It glides on like a dream and makes your skin look vibrant.

Keep your hands looking good!

Bonus tip: every time you apply any of these products, apply them to your hands.  BHA, rose hip seed oil, and sunscreen will keep your hands supple.

Summary of Minimalist Skincare Steps

  • If cleansing is needed, use a very gentle wash.  If not, rinse with cool water using a very soft washcloth.
  • At night, apply COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid.  Let it dry for a few minutes.
  • Apply a generous amount of The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil all over the face and neck and allow it to soak in before bedtime.
  • For daytime, refresh your skin with a splash of cool water and a light coating of rose hip seed oil.
  • Apply Blue Lizard Sensitive Face Mineral Sunscreen around the eyes and Olay Regenerist Regenerating Face Lotion, SPF 50 or SPF 30, everywhere else on your face and neck.

Got questions?  Ask me anything in the comments below!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

I don't have sensitive skin but I've definitely taken the minimalist approach . I need to add more products to my routine

Kelli A

Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

I am one of those people who use very little skin care products. Mostly because I have a issue with the way they feel, your tips are great!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

We don't need a lot of products! We need the right product!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

I agree it does help to know what works for you. What is great for one person may not help another. Rose hip seed oil is great for the skin, I love using it.

Ana De- Jesus

Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

My skin is oily and can get quite sensitive too so I use a minimalist skincare routine as well. The rose hip seed oil sounds great!