Sensitive skin can get irritated faster than your man at the mall during the holidays. If your complexion reacts by stinging or turning red and angry whenever you apply most skincare products, you’ve got sensitive skin. By treating it with some TLC and knowing which products to pick, you can get a healthy, glowing complexion.

The challenge: Finding skincare products that won’t cause a flare up. The problem with skin that’s red, flaky or tends to sting is that trying to cover it up can irritate your delicate skin even more. If you’re not sure what ingredients you’re allergic or sensitive to, head to a dermatologist for a skin allergy test. In the meantime, stick to products labeled “hypo-allergenic” and “fragrance-free” and simplify your skincare routine. That way, you’re less likely to put something on your skin that will inflame it.

The science: While it’s not strictly a medical term and the causes are unclear, “sensitive” simply means that your skin is easily irritated, especially by cosmetic products. Reactions range from a stinging sensation with no visible irritation to redness and flaking to a full-on rash. According to Leslie Baumann, M.D., the director of University of Miami’s Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute and author of “The Skin Type Solution,” the ingredients most likely to aggravate your skin are fragrances, preservatives, colors and formaldehyde. Other common triggers are lactic, glycolic, benzoic and alpha hydroxy acids, vitamin C, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate, as well as certain essential oils like chamomile and calendula.

Perfect your complexion

1. Prep your face Go for a fragrance-free moisturizer formulated for sensitive skin like Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion or, if your skin tends to get ruddy, try Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion SPF 15. Apply it right after you get out of the shower to lock in moisture, or start with a moisturizing spritz, like Derma E Facial Moisturizer Hyaluronic Hydrating Mist, and then follow with cream. Wait a few minutes to let the cream absorb.

2. Get even, get glowing “I always use mineral makeup on sensitive skin,” says New York City makeup artist Sara Glick. It’s free of irritating fragrances and dyes. “Even though some people are scared it will look chalky, it actually makes your skin really glow,” she says. Plus, you apply it with a brush, so you won’t tug at your sensitive skin. The trick is to use a light hand: Dip a powder brush in mineral foundation like Bare Minerals Original SPF 15 Foundation, shake off the excess and sweep it over the face using circular motions. Switch to a concealer brush and blend the same product under the eyes and over any blemishes.  

3. Warm up Pick a mica-free powder bronzer with a tiny bit of shimmer like Bare Minerals Warmth, recommends Glick. Using a bronzer brush, dust a tiny amount where the sun would naturally kiss your face: your forehead, the bridge of your nose, cheekbones and chin. Sweep what’s left on the brush over your neck so it all blends in.
4. Go rosy Your most natural shade of blush is the color that you, well, blush naturally. (It’ll be in the pink family—nobody blushes tangerine or eggplant, notes Glick.) No matter your skin type, powder is easiest to apply and lasts the longest. Load up a blush brush, shake off the excess and sweep it over the apples of your cheeks. Soften and blend the color with a clean powder brush.