Sensitive skin? Ingredients to Look for and Avoid + K-Beauty Faves

If you have sensitive skin, what products should you look for and avoid?

Let’s review some ingredients and K-beauty options that work wonderfully for sensitive skin. But first, let’s talk about ingredients to avoid. 

Ingredients to avoid: 



The first ingredient you probably want to avoid is fragrance, especially if you’re skin is sensitive or prone to irritation. 

Harsh actives

You also want to avoid anything with harsh actives or treatments like chemical peels and microneedling. 

Dyes and colorants

Organic sunscreen

If you notice that your sunscreen burns upon putting it on your face, you might want to use physical sunscreen.

Essential OIls


In reality, essential oils are not oils. They are basically an essence or a concentrated version of plant oil. While some essential oils like tea tree oil can be anti-inflammatory, they can be irritating if they’re too potent. Essential oils are not bad in general, but it’s best to know yourself. For example, if you’re sensitive to lemon, you’re going to want to avoid something that has lemon essential oil in it. 

Things to look for

Ingredients like ceramides, omega fatty acids, squalane oil, cholesterol, lipids, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids are definitely going to promote the most healing. Amino acids are tiny, little building blocks that turn into peptides and then proteins. Amino acids are great at holding moisture close to the skin, and they can potentially cause cellular cascades or reactions in the skin. Afterward, collagen and elastin can be produced. 

Depending on the group of amino acids, they can also be anti-inflammatory. Because amino acids form polypeptide chains, they can help rebuild the skin after a wound or irritation.

Centella asiatica 

We also want to look for antioxidants like centella, low-level tea tree, and madecassoside. These ingredients are anti-inflammatory, and provide antioxidants that fight against free radical damage from the sun or from within the skin. They also promote healing. 

Many of these ingredients are available in K-beauty products, and likewise, people with sensitive skin may benefit well from K-beauty products, especially the ones that don't have "ingredients to avoid."

Let’s talk about some of Cassandra’s favorite K-beauty products for inflammation.


This is one of the most gentle cleansers for acne that Cassandra has ever used. The founder wanted to create a line that helps to uplift the beauty and authenticity of young women around the world. The entire line was created with sensitive skin in mind too. They even tested it with dermatologists to see whether it irritated the skin and how deeply the actives penetrate the skin. If you have acne, this cleanser is so gentle, effective, and excellent.

It’s safe enough to use every day, and it’s also fragrance-free. It smells a little like rosemary, but the amino acids in here and the dandelion help to support the skin. Because of the antioxidants, this cleanser also decreases inflammation.

Skin1004 MADAGASCAR CENTELLA TONING TONER (Blemish prone and antioxidant boost)- $18.99 

Cassandra loves this toner, especially if your skin gets flushed or has a hard time with sebum and oil regulation. If you feel like your skin gets too oily, you can use this as a toner underneath your moisturizer.

So, not only will you have oil control when you apply a moisturizer, your serum products will actually penetrate deeper too.

This toner has centella asiatica extract or "gotu kola" at 84%, which is the highest centella asiatica concentration Cassandra knows. On top of that, this product also has hyaluronic acid in it. It also has a small amount of niacinamide which will soothe anti-inflammatory, and in turn, help to minimize the look and feel of pores. 

Moreover, this product also helps to decrease pigmentation from spreading on the skin. As it contains gluconolactone and adenosine calms, nourishes, and hydrates this. Overall, this is just a beautiful option for sensitive skin.

HOLIKA HOLIKA  Less on Skin Redness Calming CICA Serum (Redness) - $17

This has to be one of Cassandra’s favorite redness calming and correctors from K beauty of all time. Its main ingredient, cica, is the same thing as "gotu kola" or "centella asiatica," and it greatly helps with redness. This serum is literally made for anti-redness whereas the pure’am cleanser is more for blemish-prone and acne-prone skin.

This calming serum is amazing if you have redness-prone skin or a little bit of rosacea. It's like this serum swipes the redness away. This also has magnesium and a whole bunch of antioxidants that are also extremely soothing to the skin. 

9wishes Calm Ampule Serum (Hydration, antioxidant, and inflammation)- $10.89

If you’re looking for something that hydrates, this is another option. This is a super simple formula, and it's gentle on the skin. Because the skin is exposed to the environment and goes through inflammation, this could help combat this. It doesn't do a tremendous amount for redness, but it definitely hydrates.

VEGREEN Fragrance-free Nature Mucin Serum - $11.89

This is a vegan mucin serum with the same benefits as snail mucin. This k-beauty serum uses the vegan option of yam mucin, it feels just like yam mucin and comes out as a clear liquid. This supports the skin, its anti-inflammatory, and it can be used for acne and blemish-prone skin. The wild yam, panthenol, copper peptides, and ceramides in here are so good at helping the skin repair itself and calm inflammation. Peptides and ceramides are actually at the top of the list in regarding this skin concern. 

If you’ve always wanted to try snail mucin, but you're vegan or simply put off by the idea, this is a great one.

MEDICUBE Super Cica Water-in Cream (Moisturizer) - $22

To Cassandra, this is one of the most amazing skincare products. It rivals the Dr. Jart cica cream. This works so well for redness, hydration, and skin support. This goes onto the skin beautifully, and if you are looking for an antioxidant powerhouse, this is it. If you’re prone to pigmentation, discoloration, dark spots, or light spots left behind from acne or wounds, this is going to be amazing. Yes, this has centella asiatica, madecassoside, and turmeric too. It’s super brightening and supportive to the skin. This also has super cica seven which is basically their blend of cica ingredients and centella root. There’s panthenol, allantoin, and synthetic beeswax with the formula as well. 

Synthetic beeswax helps to lock in hydration, but it doesn’t hurt bees. This product also contains ectoin which is a patented ingredient. It acts as an emollient and keeps moisture in the skin. Therefore, the formula can stay in the skin and do its work without being evaporated into the air. If you are prone to pigmentation, this is one of the best K-beauty products that you can use. However, remember that the most essential part of a skincare routine is a cleanser and SPF.


This is comparable to the medicube super water cream.

LANBELLE Supernatural Cream - $22.99

If you’re extremely dry, this is a great K-Beauty product. This cream has, squalane, an oil our skin naturally produces, and it has panthenol (vitamin b5), and copper tripeptide. While Cassandra thinks this is absolutely wonderful, it does have a couple of plant ingredients, but not a ton. Because of this, the brand actually tested them to see if they were sensitizing. They found that it didn’t impact people, but if you’re worried about that, that is something to consider. 


Make sure you’re protecting your skin with a sunscreen! One of the key causes of skin irritation is UV radiation. Our skin is bombarded with it every single day. And in fact, UV radiation degrades elastin and collagen. 

That's why this is one of Cassandra’s favorites for inflammation. Even when she had a major sunburn, this felt completely comfortable to Cassandra. The sunscreen is fully mineral, and it has centella. There's actually 35.8% centella, making it the main ingredient. This also has niacinamide, madecassoside, and licorice. So, if you struggle with hyperpigmentation and discoloration issues after being in the sun or upon getting a sunburn, this is absolutely the way to go. This does have rosemary and bergamot so you may want to consider this. However, Cassandra has never developed any sensitivity from this formula, and she’s actually very sensitive to bergamot. This formula is fragrance-free, and she has found it to be one of the most gentle sunscreens that she’s ever used. It works brilliantly on inflammatory-prone skin. However, just remember that the best type of sunscreen is the one you’ll use consistently!

Coverphoto credit: Adobestock