Sick days don't do your skin any favors. I was unequivocally reminded of this last week when, shortly before returning from my last vacation, I was hit hard with a bug. Midway through my flight home, the cold I had been wishing away for half the trip finally caught up with me. I spent my first week back home with a severe head cold that didn't let up. During the seven straight days of sickness, my skin was in a sorry state. My nose and all the surrounding skin was red and raw, my lips were equal parts chapped and swollen, and my overall complexion looked sallow.
I proceeded with caution when it came to my skincare routine. I noticed that many of my nighttime products irritated my skin even more, causing a burning sensation or aggravating the dryness. I quickly decided that active ingredients were a hard no and I'd need as much hydration as I could get-but it wasn't as simple as that. I began piling on extra moisturizers, but even some of my go-to natural oils caused some discomfort. When I had committed to a routine of heavy hydration, so much of my skin was still scaly, and my chemical exfoliants were off limits.
Ultimately, I had to completely adjust my skincare routine to accommodate my sick-day skin. Formulas designed for sensitive skin were just what the doctor ordered-and some natural exfoliants didn't hurt to slough off skin that bit the dust in the process. Here are some products that turn up the T.L.C. and soothe sensitive, sick-day skin.Farmacy Honey Savior All-in-One Skin Repair Salve with Echinacea GreenEnvyв„ў Honey $34Shop
I stocked up on Farmacy's skincare line last summer and all of the formulas proved to be compatible with sick-day skin. This potent repair salve was a saving grace to combat dryness and irritated skin. A blend of naturally derived honey sugars, amino acids, and B vitamins, it was formulated to soothe skin abrasions and support the skin's natural renewal process.
Say goodbye to dry, chapped lips with this cult favorite lip sleeping mask. While sick, I applied a generous layer throughout the day to combat flakiness and worse, peeling lip skin that was causing my lips to become swollen.Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water $14Shop
Micellar water is the French-girl secret to cutting the fat from your skincare routine-especially helpful when your skin can't handle too many products or ingredients. Remove makeup, cleanse, and tone with this gentle formula made from organic grape water, chamomile extract, and plant glycerin.Eve Lom Gel Balm Cleanser $60Shop
If you don't want to skip the step of actually washing your face, a super gentle cleanser that doesn't strip skin of oils is a must. This gel balm cleanser feels great on the most sensitive skin. Cold-pressed argan oil helps to reduce redness while shea butter and grapeseed oil offer up an extra dose of intensive moisturizing benefits.Fresh Sugar Face Polish Exfoliator $62Shop
Dry flaky skin is inevitable when you're blowing your nose all day, but some exfoliants can simply aggravate the problem. Choose a natural exfoliant like this one from Fresh comprising brown sugar crystals and strawberry seeds that gently slough off rough patches before dissolving in nourishing oils.French Girl Rose Lip Polish $18Shop
Your lips likely need some extra T.L.C. to look their best. Gently remove dry skin from chapped lips with this rose and mint-infusedd sugar scrub that nourishes with hydrating butters before dissolving.Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist $90Shop
A refreshing spritz that also does wonders for your skin is a welcome pick-me-up when you're feeling sick. Inspired by the Queen of Hungary Water formulated in the 14th century, this purifying mist delivers potent minerals, plus the scent of neroli and rose, to soothe the skin and lift the spirits.SK-II Facial Treatment Mask $95Shop
When you're sick, you deserve to treat yourself-and your skin-to something special. This cult-favorite Japanese sheet mask comes with a steep price tag but is well worth every penny. Soothe sick-day skin with this award-winning mask drenched in 30ml of pitera, a bio-ingredient rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that work synergistically to enhance skin cell renewal and get your skin back in good health.
Here are 15 more face masks for sensitive skin.