Super-Cheap & Natural Skincare for Ultra-Sensitive Skin

Posted by on April 16, 2009 | 14 Comments

Do you have skin that reacts to just about everything you put on it? If so, I can relate! My fair Northern European skin combined with childhood eczema (gone thanks to a milk-free lifestyle!), allergic hives, and the fact that I have had mild rosacea since around the age of two (who needs blush?), pretty much guarantees that my skin is a minefield waiting for the wrong ingredient to set it off. Of course, I have tried all of those sensitive skin products, the calming lotion potions, the all-natural brands, and even some topical dermatologist treatments, but more than anything, my skin just wanted to be left alone.

For a while, I didn’t use anything … soap / cleanser, lotions, or oils. I had to let my skin “chill” and cleanse itself via exercise and gentle rinsing. Surprisingly, it did rather well, but with extremely dry weather, and my desire to wear just a little make-up, some sort of a skincare routine was eventually required.   That said, I searched for years for some products that wouldn’t elicit a bright cherry color. And, at least for now, I have found success! Plus my mini-routine is not only ultra-sensitive, but it is also all-natural, and really cheap!

I know I am not alone in my search for gentle products; it seems like sensitive skin has become more the norm than the exception in this day of chemical products and mineral heavy water. So I wanted to share my skincare buys, just in case it helps a few others.


Did these products cure all of my problems and leave me with a movie star quality skin? No, of course not. But, my skin is softer, calmer, and generally happier. That, I say, is a huge step in the right direction! Now for the real kicker. Can you guess where I buy my frugal face care? Two out of three items are bought at Whole Foods. I am totally serious. Here we go …

Alisa’s Affordable “Skinfood” for Beauty on a Budget

The Cleanse: 365 Unscented, French Milled, Vegetable Glycerin Soap
The Ingredients: Saponified Coconut and/or Palm Oil, Vegetable Glycerin (that’s it!).
The Price: $1.49
The Scoop: I use this at night to rid any grime, and it seems to work well, even with the light make-up I sometimes use. It also doesn’t dry out my skin at all, and is extremely gentle. To make it last even further, my husband cuts the bar into 5 or 6 mini-bars. I keep one in the shower, one by the sink, and keep the rest to use as I need them. The littler bars also come in handy for travel.

The Moisture: Trader Joe’s Vitamin E Oil
The Ingredients: Soybean Oil, Vitamin E, Coconut Oil
The Price: $4.99
The Scoop: I have tried many oils, and they all seem to irritate, but this little combo leaves me with a calm complexion after application. It lasts a while to, as I just add a few drops to my palm, rub my hands together, and apply it all over my face (including under eyes) just after patting my face mostly dry. I emphasize that I use a very small amount, and it doesn’t seem to clog pores at all. I skip the toner/astringent phase as it is always too harsh for my skin.

The Lips: Whole Foods Vanilla Honey Lip Balm
The Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Flavor, Vitamin E Acetate, Lanolin, Organic Comfrey Oil, Rosemary Extract, Vitamin E
The Price: $1.99
The Scoop: This one is obviously not vegan-friendly, but despite the name, it isn’t because there is any actual honey in it. Beyond the misleading title, this simple, organic balm does the job on my cracked desert lips. There are some other great brands out there, but all that I have found in my local area contain colors or sunscreen. For some odd reason, if I wear lip balm with sunscreen, my lips swell up like a balloon when I go in the sun. I know many women pay for that look, but I find it a bit uncomfortable. I really just wanted a bare bones lip balm, and this one responded to my request. A little tip though … if your lips are in need of repair and some serious moisture, dab on a thin coat of honey and resist the urge to lick. I am always amazed by how healing honey is.

The Tools: Ultra-Soft Bamboo Wash Cloth from The Body Shop
The Price: Not Sure, it Was Free!
The Scoop: I almost always just use my hands for the most gentle wash, but when I need a little help, this washcloth does the trick and is extremely soft and gentle. My husband got a $10 free coupon (no purchase necessary) at the Body Shop, and I immediately fell in love with this washcloth. It was so soft, what can I say?

That’s it. My whole skincare routine for under $10, and I only need to replenish my supplies every few months. I am still tinkering with body care, but I have had good luck with one of my favorite baking ingredients, coconut oil!

What about you? Any tips, favorite products, or all natural beauty tricks?

Comments (14)


  1. VeggieGirl says:

    Oh my, THANK YOU for sharing about these products!! Perfect!!

  2. Deb Schiff says:

    Very good tips. I notice that the weeks I eat more avocado, the better my skin looks. Also, in the last 10 years, I’ve been drinking a cup of Celestial Seasonings Detox Tea a day, which keeps my face from breaking out.

    Finally, if you have really mushy bananas, don’t make banana bread out of all of them. Mush one up really good for a brilliant facial mask. It does really wonderfully things as a foot mask as well. By the way, most health food stores that sell fresh produce will give away their black bananas on days when they get in new produce. Ask around! Free banana bread for all.

  3. I love it! I am teaching a workshop on natural body care this weekend. Why are you so far away! We always seem to be posting on similar topics.

  4. Sophia says:

    Wow! thanks for the tip. My hands are really sensitive and gets itchy at times.I’m gonna give these a try.

  5. Mariposa says:

    i love the looks of these, but i dont think i can use them!!! my skin is sensitive too… but i can only use Purpose soap body wise. It’s big and ugly, but it gets the job done. Face wise? I’ve stuck with my routine of Origins in the PM and Clinique anti-bacterial in the am… lovely!
    and i gave you a blogger award!!!! go and get it! : )

  6. Mayo says:

    What you said makes perfect sense. I have Norwegian skin that seems able to react if I walk past a product with chemicals in it. I’ve gone organic which has helped immensely – and now always read labels before considering any skin care purchase.

    I also use raw organic honey on my skin. I pat som on, leave it on for 10 or 15 minutes, then wash it off. It adds vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants to my skin (helps with the aging problem!!) and takes out toxins.

    My skin loves it – looks better, feels smoother and not a reaction in sight!


  7. Ema says:

    Great post! I also have fair Northern European skin that is hyper-sensitive to everything, synthetic clothing including. Recently I have discovered a great olive oil soap from Nuvo and my skin actually loves it 🙂


  8. Alison says:

    Wow…thanks for the info! I’m lucky that my skin is not at all sensitive, but it’s very oily…which is quite annoying.

  9. Sue Angell says:

    Interesting. Sadly, I am acne-prone and sensitive-skinned, too — so the thought of putting coconut oil on my face makes me cringe!

    I do have tremendous luck with Beauty Bliss Cosmetics mineral foundation…on oily or dry days. It’s run by a one-woman powerhouse, who makes everything in pure, small batches. Very sensibly priced, very gentle…I use one powder and very little else, just for a bit of evening our and coverage!

  10. Andrea says:

    My skin isn’t as sensitive as yours but I’ve been using that same soap – usually the chamomile which has beta carotene, fragrance and essential oil in addition to the ingredients you listed. It’s great, and it doesn’t leave residue in the soap dish.

    For skin lotion I’ve been using Alba very emollient body lotion unscented.

    For a light blush I’ve been using Mineral Fusion, which I also get from Whole Foods, but it’s not a 365 brand and is expensive.

  11. pam says:

    I wish I had a Whole Foods near me. I’ve been using Hugo Naturals body lotion and it is the most moisturing body lotion I have ever used. I love it.

  12. Ali–Respectfully, are you sure you don’t have some gluten issues? Skin issues are classic gluten problems. From eczema, to rashes, to rosacea, to hive reactions, to psoriasis, to acne and on it goes. Others might want to consider that possibility also.

    Lately, for a moisturizer, I’ve been using coconut oil. Just spreading a little all over my face at bedtime. I had always thought that if one’s skin was a bit oily like mine, that one doesn’t need moisturizer, but then I read we need it as much or more. Sure enough, now that I am using the coconut oil, my skin is no longer oily and my face is more hydrated and baby soft. Love that! 🙂


  13. Thank you so much for posting this. We got my 19 month olds allergy results in and he’s allergic to soy, wheat, egg, milk and peanut. Fortunately, I purchased two of those products at Whole Foods and they are perfect for him. I went ahead and bought the 365 body lotion too since it was the only one I saw that was compatible with his allergies. It doesn’t seem to be quite as moisturizing as other lotions but his skin is still healing from all the eczema so we’ll see 🙂

  14. Rachel says:

    I love the Whole Foods Vanilla Honey lip balm!! It works sooo much better than big name brands!! I live in Western Maryland in the Appalachians where the winters are harsh and your lips are constantly chapped. This lip balm did the trick!!

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