The Best Cruelty-Free Skincare Products and Routine For Sensitive Skin

Finding the right skincare products for my sensitive skin is one of the most difficult things ever. Almost anything can make my skin breakout – from the wrong ingredient to applying the wrong amount of product.

My skin took a hit during the first wave of covid-19 and I had what was known as “quarantine skin”. My skin was dry, itchy, and just dull in general. That all changed when I found the perfect cruelty-free and drugstore skincare products for my sensitive skin. Within a week I saw (and felt) a huge difference. I simply had to share this routine to my fellow sensitive skin types of the world.


Before I share the products that I used for my routine, I have to share the basic rules of maintaining a skincare routine for sensitive skin types. I know after years of experimenting with different products, routines and dealing with acne that sensitive skin is downright fussy.

Rules for a sensitive skincare routine:

  • Use the least amount of products as possible. There is no need to have a 20-step-skincare routine.
  • Use simple, fragrance-free, and gentle products. Anything with artificial fragrances, alcohol or colouring will cause further irritation and breakouts.
  • Have the least amount of active ingredients as possible.
  • Avoid using abrasive scrubs or exfoliators.
  • Use cruelty-free products! They generally are more sensitive skin friendly as they normally avoid incorporating harmful ingredients.


First things first: cleansers. I was very particular about the type of cleanser I wanted to use because like typical sensitive skin, I could easily breakout from the wrong type. From my experience, the worst cleansers for my skin are foam and soaps. Both cleansers dry out my skin because they remove the little natural oils I have left. That explains why foam cleansers and soaps are normally recommended for people with oily skin. Lotion and cream cleansers are generally the most recommended for sensitive skin types. Sure, they work perfectly well on my skin. However, gel cleansers have always been my preferred cleansers. I find gel cleansers to be extra calming and they help cool my irritated skin.  

My favourite drugstore and cruelty-free gel cleanser is the Glow Lab Gel Cleanser. This gem from the New Zealand brand contains several natural ingredients such as jasmine oil and ylang-ylang. The biggest benefit I gained from this cleanser was the reduced inflammation which commonly occurs overnight. So, I no longer wake up looking like a puffer fish in the morning.


I was reluctant to incorporate a toner in my routine. In the past toners have dried out my skin but have always helped even my skin tone. I was eager to try the Sukin Hydrating Mist Toner. I really wanted to try the mist because of its two key ingredients: rose and chamomile. Rose has always been my holy grail ingredient in skincare. Besides its incredible natural scent, rose is so gentle and makes my skin look dewy. As for chamomile, this natural ingredient is another savior for sensitive skin because of its soothing and hydrating factors. I saw instant results from the Sukin toner. My skin was already looking even and dewy by the second day. And because it is a facial mist I did not use any wasteful cotton pads or facial wipes. I simply sprayed some mist onto my face after cleansing, and gently tapped the product into my skin.


I will not deny that moisturising was my favourite step of the routine because of this amazing product. The Elf Holy Hydration Face Cream is by far the best cruelty-free and drugstore moisturiser I have used! This moisturiser is so simple and it is fragrance-free which makes it perfect for sensitive skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid which adds hydration and leaves my skin looking glowy. I don’t think my skin would have survived through the cold winter nights without this face cream. It is also incredibly lightweight, so it is also great to use on warmer days.


Sunscreen has become an essential part of skincare. With the increased temperatures and UV ray levels on steroids, wearing sunscreen is a must. I still wear sunscreen every day, even when it is overcast or if I am just staying indoors. The Natio Broad Spectrum Sunscreen with SPF 50 was the best lightweight and non-greasy sunscreen I have used which (thankfully) does not leave a white cast on my face.


On a few occasions I needed extra help to treat spots and dry skin at night. The most gentle serum I have used which helped reduce breakouts is The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum. As for dry skin which was a problem during cold winter nights, I used the Elf Nourishing Facial Oil. I would simply mix a few drops of the oil with my face cream for additional hydration overnight.

Remember to keep it simple, keep it minimal and keep it animal-friendly.

You can find out more about cruelty-free beauty and living on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Kayla Shivana


2 replies »

  1. I am currently using Sukin facial cleanser and I love it, but after reading your post I will try next the Glow Lab gel cleanser. Thanks for sharing all this useful content!


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