First, some basics.
YES AND NO.
Combining different actives in one regimen can give you multiple benefits but you up the risk of irritation and you can definitely over-treat. If you’re going to combine, keep the following in mind:
- Hypoallergenic: Choose products with minimal or no allergens to up the safety factor.
- Sensitive Should Simplify: For sensitive skin, less is more, period. Use fewer products and choose gentle but multi-beneficial ones.
- Date wisely. If you’re going to increase the risk of irritation by adding actives, add what’s proven to be good and reliable. Sexy, sci-fi-sounding claims that seem too good to be true probably are — big talk and broken promises are never fun. Stick to what’s backed up by studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
DO I NEED A TONER?
WHY: Not all skin types should use a toner. Very dry skin and sensitive conditions like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis do better with less cleansing overall.
CAN I USE MULTIPLE ACTIVES IF I HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN?
IT DEPENDS ON THE ACTIVES
WHY: “Active ingredient” is often an alpha- or beta-hydroxy acid, another type of microscopic exfoliant (hastens the shedding of old cells), or a drug (like an antibiotic). While effective, too much of these good things can be too much for sensitive skin. There are excellent actives that are less irritating and some that are even anti-inflammatory such as virgin coconut oil (anti-aging, barrier repair, antimicrobial); monolaurin (anti-acne, antimicrobial), and green tea (antioxidant). As long as the rest of the ingredients in your products are free of allergens, combining anti-inflammatory actives may not only be ok but beneficial.
How to Combine Actives the Right Way
Think: Extra Slow, Extra Gentle. Protect.
1) GO SLOW. With any active product, start with once-a-week applications, then twice-a-week, very slowly increasing frequency to three times a week and so on until you achieve once- or twice-a-day usage, which should be no earlier than eight weeks after your first application.
Get to once- or twice-a-day usage of one active product before starting another. Do this for each new active product that you add. That’s eight weeks or more per new active product — for example, you would only be using three active products together by week 24, at the earliest.
2) BE GENTLE. It is crucial to use a pH-lowered cleanser (such as Id, Illuminants+, Re-Everything) to prevent irritations. Active treatments are more acidic, which the skin can easily adjust to (the skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic) but low-pH active treatments plus a high-pH cleanser can spell disaster.
3) PROTECT: Actives tend to make the skin more sensitive to sun and light. It is important to use an Armada Sun + Light Screen every day, indoors and outdoors, even if actives have not been applied on a given day.