How I Found a New Purpose After My Diagnosis

It’s a tricky thing to embrace being off work long-term. I’m sure people think that would be amazing, but the reality is quite different. It’s lonely and tedious obsessing over every nuance of your health. Every. Single. Day.

Life was previously so full of things that gave me meaning – my job, my role as a mentor, my continuing education, my social life. The void being forced by my body to leave all that behind has felt so difficult to fill.

I have scrambled around lost for a very long time now.

Today however, I awoke determined that phase of my life should come to a close.

I have been listening to a lot of TED talks lately, both to inspire me and to continue my education. Although I can’t participate in academia the way I once did, I can still continue my life long learning, I can still keep trying to be a better version of myself.

Whilst slowly stumbling along the seafront this morning in my hometown, I found myself listening to a wonderful lady named Emily Esfahani Smith give a speech on how “There Is More to Life Than Being Happy.” The title alone intrigued me; I’ve been searching relentlessly for happiness lately, in the void that my children starting their next steps has left deep inside me.

It turns out that happiness is found, according to this lady anyway, in attributing meaning to your life.

The problem is that for me, I kind of lost my meaning somewhere along the way.

So what do I know for sure? What do I feel is factual about me in this moment?

I am a mother with no children at home .

I am a writer with nothing to say.

I am a teacher without a class.

I am a paddleboarder that’s too sick to paddle board.

I am a sea swimmer that’s not allowed in the sea.

You can see where I have struggled, right? There has been no outlet for my training and education, positive personal attributes or skills. I have felt like my body went off and left the core of me behind.

That my life has spiraled onwards but left me behind.

Miss Esfahani Smith then began speaking about “redemptive narratives;” a phrase I had heard before, but assumed applied only to the ex criminals or heartbreakers amongst us. Then she used the example of a football player once at the top of his game, who developed an injury that ended his career. He used to morosely tell people “I had such a great life and then everything changed. I lost everything. Life sucks.”
He was miserable.

After a significant period of self-reflection, soul searching and learning, he changed his own narrative.

Instead he said, when asked, “I used to party too much, I never had enough time for my family, I valued the wrong things, I spent too much time and money on the wrong things. My life changed for the better. My story changed for the better.”

He is now a highly regarded mentor for disadvantaged young people and truly believes that he has found his passion and purpose, when previously believed that he lost it forever more.

Ultimately his previous history was factually the same, it was his retelling and perspective of that same past that changed.

I’m not suggesting for a second that the process was easy for him.

It could take weeks, months or in my case, years to flick the switch that changes the perception of what your life has thrown at you.

I thought I had already done that – I realized what a privilege it was to be at home for my youngest’s preschool years in their entirety. That has been a huge upside of being sick. So many parents have no choice but to miss those years. I certainly didn’t get to have that with my other children when I worked all the time, often late into the night.

You see, I thought I already had my redemptive narrative in place. I was a dedicated mother of four – until that same youngest child started school. Once again I found myself adrift and without purpose.

I’m determined that this time, I will change my narrative for good.

I want to write my own honest redemptive narrative, I want to finally heal and let go of the me that went before.

A picture of a body of water.

To that end I’ve been taking steps to make the change.

While wandering aimlessly through this period of self-reflection, I have begun to naturally do the things that come to me – that feel right in the moment. I began collecting pebbles, taking them home and painting them. It seemed like a positive way to fill some time and occupy my mind. Then that lead to me taking these pebbles on walks and leaving them hidden, hoping to brighten somebody’s day when they found a cheeky monster or flower as they wandered around, maybe aimlessly or distracted themselves.

For some reason I started becoming really bothered by the rubbish and plastic everywhere. Like really, really bothered by it. Instead of rolling my eyes and moaning, I began picking up bits of litter with my grabber near where I hid my stones. Then my routine evolved to include picking up rubbish whenever I’m walking, or am out and about for any reason – hospital, doctors, kid related activities .

I had been cleaning beaches with my family for a long time, but suddenly I found myself picking plastic up in the woods. Then before I knew it, I was picking it up around villages and outside school, then randomly in the street.

People often look at me strangely, like I’m doing something wrong. My whole family was collecting plastic at a large beach in North Cornwall a few weeks back. We lost count of the number of people that stopped and stared as if we were maybe taking something we shouldn’t, or doing something illicit. They simply couldn’t understand why on a beautiful crisp winters day we would be on our knees collecting tiny pieces of plastic for hours.

Well here’s the thing I’ve realized.

It gives my life meaning.

Its given me a sense of purpose to do these things. Maybe what I was supposed to do all along was to be a giver, a fixer, an organizer, a volunteer, to use my time helping others from my sickbed. I have accidentally became a warrior for the underdog – an advocate for other disabled people, someone who befriends the lost and lonely, I spend my days fixing myself and what I can in the world around me.

My mental health needs me to get outside in the fresh air with a sense of purpose.

My physical health prevents me from doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing with my life.

So, I’m left at this life junction, where whilst flittering on the edge of my previously existence, I can see clearly.

I have time. That’s one thing I’m very lucky to have that others do not. I have an excellent education, something I’m very grateful for. I’m a good public speaker, organizer and teacher, I can use that. I’m passionate and enthusiastic when I care deeply about something- that’s worth something right?

Maybe this is it. My true purpose.

Maybe I’m supposed to use my time for the greater good, not for personal gain. Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong place all along.

So here goes, I’m writing my own redemptive narrative. My body has taught me compassion. My diagnosis has given me space to think and communicate. My prognosis makes me want to make my life count, to give myself meaning, instead of waiting for it to happen.

I’d ask you to wish me luck, but I’ve realized I don’t need it.

I am the writer of my own tale now…

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image by splendens

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Dove’s DermaSeries Campaign Features Women With Skin Conditions

It’s not often we see advertisements with models who don’t have “flawless,” airbrushed skin – despite the fact that more than one in four Americans live with a skin disease. Even ads for products meant to combat red, flaky or itchy skin feature models who don’t have a single blemish anywhere on their bodies. But a new campaign from Dove is trying to change that.

On Wednesday, Dove launched its DermaSeries collection – a range of hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products made especially for those with dry skin. Unlike other ad campaigns, Dove’s features women who live with the skin conditions its products are meant to treat, including eczema, psoriasis and acne.Alexis from Dove DermaSeries campaign

“These women are under-represented in mainstream media – they don’t feature them even in advertisements aimed at them. We are changing this by putting real women with real conditions – looking beautiful, confident and at peace with their skin – at the heart of our campaign for Dove DermaSeries,” a Dove spokesperson told The Mighty.

Mercedes from Dove DermaSeries campaign

Along with their photo, each woman shared how living with a skin condition has affected them and how they learned to embrace and feel confident in their skin. “You see perfect skin all over social media. But not everyone has perfect skin – whether it’s eczema, psoriasis, acne, or whatever,” Mercedes, one of the women featured in the campaign, said. “[T]he more we show it, the more people will accept it. Nobody is perfect. We should rock our scars.”

Christine from from Dove DermaSeries campaign

Approximately 31.6 million people in the U.S. have eczema, 7.5 million have psoriasis and 60 million have acne. Despite how common skin conditions are, it is highly uncommon to see anything other than smooth and clear skin in advertisements and beauty magazines

Studies show that the way women are represented in media causes 80 percent of women to feel insecure about their bodies. This, paired with the stigma and misconceptions those living with a skin condition face, gives skin care advertisers the power to boost or destroy their customer’s self-esteem.

Reena from Dove DermaSeries campaign

 

“My advice for others with psoriasis is just to be vulnerable and open,” Reena, another woman featured as part of Dove’s campaign, said. “When I started sharing and talking about it, that’s when I really started healing. It’s wonderful because I don’t feel alone. I’m not hiding, and I’m so proud of that.”

Images courtesy of Dove

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Francesca Timbers Creates Pins Designed to Help Reduce Your Anxiety

Francesca Timbers is always on the lookout for creative and fashionable ways to raise mental illness awareness. First, she created Motivational Tattoos, a line of temporary tattoos shaped like band-aids featuring motivational affirmations for people with anxiety and depressions. Next, Timbers launched self-care stationary, turning her tattoos designs into stickers and creating dissolving thought cloud notepads.

Now, Timbers is making self-care pins modeled after her temporary tattoo designs. Aside from being fashionable, the pins are also functional. “The pins [were] developed from a study I’d read about how tactile objects and fidgeting can reduce anxiety and increase creativity,” Timbers told The Mighty. The pins feature a tactile surface that’s meant to be rubbed when the person wearing the pin feels anxious.

Timber’s interest in making mental health products comes from her own personal experience living with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. “I studied psychology at my university with the intention to help others like myself,” she said. “I think in life it’s the little things that can make a big difference. I spent a period of my life in the hospital, and I’d often write notes to myself, or on my hands, as a reminder to stay present, and try to keep myself separate from any negative thoughts I had.”

Each pin features the word “breathe” as a reminder to take a step back and breathe. The pins also come with a breathing exercise card outlining the 4-7-8 breathing method, a type of breathing supporting by research. The card walks users through the steps: inhaling through your nose for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of seven and exhaling for a count of eight.

In addition to raising mental illness awareness, Timbers also donations a portion of her proceeds to mental health charities in the U.K., where she is from. So far, she has raised over £10,000 for a number of nonprofit organizations.

Those interested in buying one of Timber’s pins can purchase them through Kickstarter. Pins cost £6 (about $8 USD) and ship internationally.

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When You Have to Choose Between Your Hair and Your Health

I’ve always been blessed with strong, thick and healthy hair, which I’ve kept long for most of my life. My hair has always been the most striking and beautiful part about me. I used to get compliments daily and I used my hair as a form of safety blanket, which I could hide behind when my anxiety reared its ugly head.

I used to be overweight and very self conscious about my physical appearance. But no matter how I felt, I always loved my hair. After losing weight I kept my hair long and became even more protective of it. I actually feared going to the hairdresser in case they took off more than an inch, when I asked for just a trim. I also had frequent nightmares about my hair falling out.

Fast forward a few years and my physical health deteriorated to the point where I was unable to care for myself. I developed severe myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia. The exhaustion and weakness caused by the ME/CFS meant I couldn’t wash and dry my own hair. The fibromyalgia meant anything touching my skin, including my hair, was extremely painful. And I had developed constant tension headaches from the weight of my hair when it was tied up. I wasn’t well enough to sit in a hairdresser’s chair, so my hair got dry, damaged and very, very long.

Some of you reading this are probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? It’s only hair and it will grow back.” With all the challenges I face on a daily basis living with severe ME/CFS and fibromyalgia, cutting my hair would seem insignificant. But girls, from an early age, are fed the notion that you need long hair to be beautiful and feminine. I was terrified my husband wouldn’t find me attractive anymore, but it actually went a lot deeper than that. My long hair was such an ingrained part of my persona, I was afraid I would lose part of me if I cut my hair short.

So, four years ago, I had to make a very tough decision: To cut my hair off or risk my health deteriorating even further. I chose my health and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted. The one thing I feared the most, losing my hair, had happened, yet the world didn’t end. It was actually quite liberating. I felt physically and mentally lighter. I could hold my head up without the weight of my hair dragging it down. My tension headaches stopped and the pain in my neck and shoulders reduced.

photo of woman with long hair and bangs, and two photos of her with a buzz cut

I was able to wash my hair in one minute and let it air dry — no more spending 30 minutes under the hairdryer. I only had to wash it once a week which meant I could use my limited energy on other, more important tasks like eating. Because I’m unable to sit up long enough to have my hair styled, I have a buzz cut once a month. Yes, it’s quite a drastic solution, especially when you are used to having long hair, but it will grow back.

I don’t know what the future holds. For now I am housebound, virtually bedbound. In the future, when I am able to leave the house, I may be more self-conscious of my lack of hair, but there are other solutions. When that time comes, I look forward to shopping for hats, beautifully colored scarfs and possibly wigs.

Have you had to make any tough decisions for the sake of your health?

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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How Art Became a Window Into My Sister’s Struggle With Borderline Personality Disorder

“I threw two dishes on the pottery wheel today, which made me feel very happy. It feels good getting my hands wet with clay and making beautiful things with my own hands. It’s amazing. I’ve been sober for two weeks now, please God help me to be sober for the rest of my life, which will be long, hopefully. I want to live!”

— February 26, 1999, Pamela’s diary.

Funny thing is, I lived with my sister for 20 years before I knew she had any kind of artistic ability. We shared a bathroom, a bedroom and sometimes even clothes… I knew she could play volleyball, cook a delicious meal without following a recipe and was a fashionista… but I had no inkling she liked to do things with her hands.

I learned it after reading her diaries….

In 1998, Pamela experienced a major nervous breakdown while a junior at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. She was initially diagnosed with major depression, but after several brief psychiatric hospitalizations, self-destructive behaviors emerged: addiction, self-mutilation and suicide attempts. The doctors changed her diagnosis to borderline personality disorder (BPD). It made more sense. Impulsivity, fear of abandonment, intense personal relationships and pervasive loneliness were long-held characteristics of Pamela’s personality.

They said what she needed was long-term treatment. She lived in a residential setting for 18 months in Massachusetts. It was in an art studio there that she discovered art therapy, journaling and poetry as a means of expression and healing.

Although it was hard for Pamela to tell me what was going on inside her mind, her art was a window that helped me see in. She was ashamed of having a mental illness and the stigma that went with it.

Sometimes, after driving over three hours to visit her, I’d find Pamela quiet — not knowing quite what to say when her life was not going well. But the art on her walls spoke volumes about her inner pain. It taught me more than any textbook about BPD.

Pamela drew this self-portrait of a girl without a face. It looks nothing like her in real life. Pamela was dark-skinned brunette. One of the features of BPD is to not have a cohesive self-identity, and this piece helped me understand she was not just confused the way many teenagers are — she was truly tortured every day about who she was. She felt like as though she was drowning, just like the girl in the painting below.

Pamela drew this image of a girl with cuts on her arms. On the inside, Pamela really hated herself and how hard it was to control her emotions and impulses.

BPD is a disorder of emotional processing, because the brains of those with BPD actually feel and process emotions differently than others. Individuals with BPD report experiencing emotions rapidly and intensely, which feels extremely painful.

Imagine having a migraine that is so intense it just doesn’t go away. The pressure is so bad that you are desperate to do anything that will bring you relief.

This is how Pamela felt when her BPD symptoms became overwhelming. Invariably, she resorted to self-harm behaviors to numb the pain – cutting, vomiting, addiction. She was not proud of it, but felt trapped and confused about which road to take as evidenced by the figure in this picture.

Once Pamela received therapy and achieved sobriety, she learned to cope with her shifting emotions in a healthy way by using her hands. Sketching, painting, pottery and scrapbooking all became sensory experiences which helped her self-soothe.

In fact, art not only helped Pamela feel good about herself, but it helped others see her as more than just a psychiatric patient with BPD. Beyond that label, what emerged was very smart, talented and creative young woman.

When I visited, Pamela would take my hand and show me her latest pieces. Walls which were once as sad and bare as she felt, were now splashed with color. Art became a source of pride for Pamela, and helped build her confidence. She could finally do something better than her older sister…

With ongoing talk therapy, Pamela eventually moved into an apartment, had a job and steady boyfriend and achieved stability. Her artwork became more steady and controlled, signaling her recovery. She could focus the world around her painting still lifes, landscapes and portraits rather than in inwardly toward her emotions and herself.

In the spring of 2001, the unthinkable happened. Her doctors in a residential treatment facility in California put her on a mood elevating drug that has certain food restrictions. Hard cheese was one of them. Although Pamela and her caregivers knew of these food restrictions, she was served pizza with cheese on it for lunch one day. Her blood pressure immediately spiked, causing a fatal bleed in her brain. Tragically, Pamela died three days later.

We found her diaries when we were collecting her belongings at the facility. Her words jumped out at us — in page after page of book after book. We were so happy to have the enduring legacy of her voice – and yet distraught with grief and longing for the person she was.

It seemed unfathomable that, after all her hard work toward recovery, Pamela died as a result of mismanaged mental health care, and lack of effective treatment for BPD.

In the days after the funeral, my mom and I carefully propped up all of Pamela’s artwork around her room. There was so much of it –— collages, scrapbooks, watercolors, pottery, painting, charcoals.

As the years went by, we framed some of the more traditional pieces and hung them in the halls of our home. We took digital pictures of her art, and had them made into note cards. We gave reproductions of Pamela’s art to her friends, and shared them with those in the mental health field, to help shed a new light on BPD.

Pamela’s art was a sign of her life, both of her internal struggle, but also of insight and creativity. She was living proof that individuals with BPD are smart, talented and creative. They are so much more than the clinical perception that has been perpetrated over the years that they are the “most difficult” psychiatric patients to treat.

While Pamela is no longer with us, her art endures in “Remnants of a Life on Paper: A Mother and Daughter’s Struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder” (Baroque Press, 2013), which my Mom and I wrote to tell share Pamela’s diaries and art with the world. We wanted to break the silence about BPD, so that Pamela’s life and the thousands who struggle just like her on a daily basis should not be defined by their disorder, but by the creativity of their minds.

Pamela’s artwork was featured among 35 other pieces created by those impacted by BPD, in “Empowered to Create,” an art show and auction held at Fountain House Gallery for Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month at 702 Ninth Avenue at 48th Street on Thursday, May 18, 2017.

Artwork via Pamela Tusiani

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14 Memes You Might Enjoy If Your Illness Means You Spend a Lot of Time in Bed

For us chronic illness warriors, days spent resting and recovering in bed can be a frequent occurrence. Though some may see time spent in bed as “fun” or a “vacation,” we know that is far from the truth. Being stuck at home dealing with unpleasant symptoms is definitely not fun, and it can be very difficult emotionally to not be out enjoying the world and partaking in all the activities you love.

While spending a lot of time in bed due to your illness can be challenging and, quite frankly, boring, sometimes one of the best ways to cope is with a little humor. And if you’re like me, being stuck in bed affords you ample opportunity to enjoy all the wacky memes the internet has to offer.

For everyone planning to spend this weekend in the company of pillows and Netflix, this one’s for you.

1. When you’re ready to sleep away the weekend by 5 p.m. on Friday:

dog wearing a robe and lying on the couch with text saying "I love a wild friday night"

via @myillnessmythoughts Instagram

2. When fatigue means your bed is your best friend:

via @that.random.ranga Instagram

3. When you wake up and realize your body won’t be cooperating today:

via @just_spoonie_things Instagram

4. When you still manage to get hurt, even in bed:

via @chronically_kari Instagram

5. When the exhaustion is just too much:

via @supportforspoonies Instagram

6. When you finally make it out of bed…:

via @spoonies_united Instagram

7. …And get all the way to the couch:

via @eds-stripes Tumblr

8. When you have to spend all your free time recovering in bed:

via @jtrent238 Twitter

9. When one night of sleep just isn’t enough:

via @artekka Tumblr

10. When you could potentially crash at any given moment:

via @spondymemes Instagram

11. When you have a nightly date with your couch:

via @Deliverasgr Twitter

12. When people think you’re relaxing in bed but you actually feel more like this:

via @spondymemes Instagram

13. When getting out of bed today just isn’t happening:

via @fibromemes Instagram

14. When resting for a few days is actually doing others a favor:

via @TheCandaceB Twitter

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25 Brands of Face Wash to Use If You Have Sensitive Skin

Whether you live with a skin condition (such as psoriasis or eczema) or a chronic illness that affects your skin, it can be difficult to find skin care products that effectively cleanse your face without aggravating it. While harsh chemicals can certainly be a trigger for an outbreak, many people may also struggle with particular fragrances, oils or other ingredients.

You shouldn’t have to irritate your skin and risk a flare-up or allergic reaction in order to wash your face, so we asked our Mighty community to share which brands of face wash they use if they have sensitive skin. Here are their recommendations.

We hope the products below, all recommended by our Mighty community members, help you or a loved one in your health journeys. Just so you know, The Mighty may collect a share of sales from the Amazon links on this page.

1. Neutrogena

neutrogena ultra gentle hydrating cleanser

Neutrogena offers a wide variety of skin care products to accommodate your individual skin type. The brand offers cleansers that are oil-free, hydrating, ultra gentle, natural or geared towards stubborn acne or blackheads.

Carrie Wunderlick told us, “I am allergic to sulfates and I have super sensitive skin, so I use Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (creamy formula) [featured above]. It is one of the few products that doesn’t irritate my skin.”

I use Neutrogena Healthy Skin face wash,” said Sheri Peterson. “I have acne-prone skin and it also gets dry in places. This stuff doesn’t break me out and leaves my face and neck so soft!”

Buy the cleanser above for $9.99 from Neutrogena.

2. Shea Moisture

shea moisture african black soap facial mask

Shea Moisture carries natural and organic personal care products made with 100 percent virgin coconut oil and Shea butter. Their African Black Soap, a popular product in our chronic illness community, is made from palm ash, tamarind extract, tar and plantain peel, which helps to calm and clear blemishes and troubled skin.

“Shea Moisture – African Black Soap [featured above] specifically,” recommended Ashley O’Connor. “I have dermatitis and it’s been a god-send! The only thing that has helped and cleared up my skin. I get really bad sores and rashes but this has helped so much!”

Tierra M. Nauman wrote, “[I use] African Black Soap by Shea Moisture and follow up with witch hazel and Acure sensitive skin moisturizer.”

Buy the facial mask above for $12.99 from Shea Moisture.

3. CeraVe

cerave hydrating facial cleanser

CeraVe skin care products were developed with dermatologists to be moisturizing while also targeting various skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis or dry skin. The products are made with a blend of three essential ceramides, fatty acids and other lipids to help repair and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier.

Tifney Schoenfeld suggested, “CeraVe facial cleanser for normal to dry skin. I have CREST, a mild form of scleroderma, and rosacea as well as skin cancer. CeraVe products were recommended from my dermatologist and I have finally found relief from terribly dry and itchy skin.”

“CeraVe facial cleanser is great for my rosacea and super-sensitive skin. I like it better than Cetaphil,” Barbara Resch Marincel added.

Buy the facial cleanser above for $9.02 from Amazon.

4. Live Clean

live clean fresh face smoothing facial scrub

This Canadian company makes eco-friendly, plant-based personal care products without any harsh chemicals. Their Fresh Face line is more than 96 percent natural and plant-derived, hypoallergenic, made with essential oils and free of many irritating chemicals.

Sheila Victoria said, “I use Live Clean products, the Fresh Face scrub and foaming face wash in particular. They’re really easy on my skin but get the job done. Their shampoos are nice, too. They’re made to be environmentally-friendly and low on harsh chemicals you find in a lot of similar products.”

Buy the facial scrub above for $23.99 from Amazon.

5. Norwex

norwex body cloths

Norwex creates personal care products and cleaning products with the intention of reducing the use of harsh chemicals in the home. The lightweight, microfiber facial and body cloths (featured above) are antibacterial and only require hot water, making them useful for dry or sensitive skin.

“I actually switched to using Norwex cloths,” Alicia Thompson told us. “It sounds a little crazy, but they are actually made to be anti-bacterial, and you use them with no soap. I think they are a great idea for people with chemical sensitivity. Plus, you can buy one set and use them for ages (I’ve been using mine for three years, you just wash them in really hot water with laundry soap that is soap-free. You can either use their brand, or I buy Molly’s Suds, also great for people who are sensitive). Anyway, I do still have acne, but it seems to keep my skin nice and clean. You do have to find a consultant in your area to order from, but still totally worth it.”

Buy the cloths above for $19.99 by finding a Norwex consultant near you.

6. Kokoso

kokoso coconut oil moisturizer

This UK company makes skin care products for babies, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t use the products, too! From moisturizer to hair and body wash, the products are created using raw virgin organic coconut oil to be gentle on the skin.

“Having had hormonal acne for over 20 years (thanks endometriosis!), I have to be careful about what I use on my skin. Most of the time I just wash my face with water, but I also use Kokoso coconut oil. I just massage it in and then wipe off with a hot wet cloth. It’s great if you have makeup on as it will remove everything but it’s also very gentle and moisturizing for sensitive skin… Just make sure you remove it afterwards else you will be a bit greasy!” wrote Shireen Hand.

Buy the moisturizer above for £7.99 from Kokoso.

7. Badger Balm

badger balm unscented face cleansing oil

Badger is a family-run company from New Hampshire that uses organic plant extracts, exotic oils, beeswax and minerals to make safe and effective personal care products. Their facial cleansers are 100 percent natural, certified organic, hypoallergenic and can help dissolve makeup and reduce irritation and redness.

Sarah Langer recommended, “Badger Balm’s unscented face cleanser and face oil [featured above]. I’m very chemically sensitive, so I can’t use non-natural brands. It’s fragrance-free, organic and incredibly nourishing for the skin. It’s so gentle, but works! It takes off my natural mascara with no problem.”

Buy the cleansing oil above for $15.99 from Badger Balm.

8. Eye Love

heyedrate lid and lash cleaner

This 100 percent organic and natural lid and lash cleanser is designed to help soothe dry eyes, blepharitis, styes, gland dysfunction and dry, inflamed skin conditions. Made with hypochlorous acid, Heyedrate can kill microorganisms, neutralize inflammation and prevent biofilm formation. To use, spray once or twice on the closed eyelids, then pat dry.

“Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser is great for sensitive skin,” Llana Harp told us. “Great for inflammation. Super gentle, no residue left behind. Does not sting or irritate.”

Buy the lid and lash cleaner above for $15 from Eye Love.

9. Cetaphil

cetaphil gentle facial cleanser

Cetaphil creates skin care products that are gentle, hydrating and fragrance-free. They make facial cleansers for normal and combination skin, dry skin (featured above) and oily skin.

“Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser [featured above] is awesome,” said Libby Rydell. “No soap in it and there’s no residue left behind to clog pores. This and Dr. Bronner’s peppermint bar soap are the only two things I wash my face with.”

“I have rosacea that can’t be controlled, for some reason. I use Cetaphil Gentle cleanser and daily moisturizer. I’ve used them for about 10 years now,” wrote Diane Youngblood.

Buy the skin cleanser above for $9.52 from Walmart.

10. Rodan+Fields

rodan and fields soothe gentle creamy face wash

Rodan+Fields is an anti-aging skin care brand created by two dermatologists to help people achieve a healthy, clear, even-toned complexion. The Soothe line is designed for those with sensitive skin to help reduce redness, peeling and dryness.

“R&F Soothe line is amazing!” said Janine Trala. “My skin has become so sensitive and angry at almost every product I use. The Soothe line has been the only thing I can use.”

Buy the face wash above for $43 from Rodan+Fields (note: you will need to create an account in order to purchase).

11. Vanicream

vanicream bar soap

Vanicream is made by Pharmaceutical Specialties, Inc. – a company that specializes in sensitive skin care products. Vanicream is mild, gentle and fragrance-free and includes a variety of products, including soap, face cleanser, moisturizer and lotion.

Erin Presutti wrote, “I usually just use Vanicream bar soap [featured above]. I have very sensitive skin and am allergic to carba ingredients like carbomer and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate.”

“Vanicream!” recommended Jessica Holt. “It’s really gentle and cleans the skin amazingly. It’s also really hydrating.”

Buy the cleansing bar above for $3.49 from Walgreens.

12. Vital C

image skin care vital C hydrating facial cleanser

The Vital C Collection by Image Skincare is formulated for dry, sensitive and redness-prone skin and is meant to hydrate, nourish and revitalize.

Diana Estell Butler told us, “My esthetician got me started on Vital C by Image Skincare for my rosacea. My skin has never looked better in my whole life (of 40 years!) and I constantly get compliments now.”

Buy the facial cleanser above for $29 from Image Skincare (note: you will need to create an account in order to purchase).

13. Dermalogica

dermalogica ultra calming cleanser

Developed by The International Dermal Institute, Dermalogica carries a variety of skin care products for people with all types of skin. They have an “ultracalming” line designed specifically for sensitivity or redness, and the cleanser (featured above) is non-foaming and helps calm and cool the redness and heat associated with reactive, sensitized or overprocessed skin.

“Dermalogica has helped my hormonal cystic acne a lot. Having several conditions that all involve wonky hormone levels means I’m really prone to it,” wrote The Invisible Hypothyroidism.

Buy the facial cleanser above for $37 from Dermalogica.

14. Bioré

biore baking soda skin cleansing wash

Bioré skin care products specifically target the pores by cleaning out clogged dirt and oil. The oil-free baking soda facial cleanser (featured above) deep cleans and exfoliates dry, flaky skin.

Tracie Gutel said, “I’m allergic to most skin care products but I am on hormones for endometriosis so my skin breaks out so much! So I use Bioré! I’ve never had a bad reaction to it and it works super well!!”

“Bioré cream wash,” recommended Lauren Hill. “Gentle but does the job.”

Buy the pore cleanser above for $7.99 from Walgreens.

15. Garnier

garnier gentle sulfate-free facial cleanser

Garnier has a variety of hair care and skin care products to accommodate all types of hair and skin. Their SkinActive gentle cleanser doesn’t contain any sulfates, alcohol, fragrance, parabens, oil or soap and removes face makeup, impurities and excess oil while softening skin.

Samantha Stiles told us, “I recently found Garnier has a gentle sulfate-free cleanser [features above] that works really well. I haven’t had an allergic reaction to it so far and I have really sensitive skin.”

Buy the facial cleanser above for $11.99 from Garnier.

16. DHC

DHC olive concentrated cleansing oil

DHC is a skin care company started in Japan that makes products using olive virgin oil and no parabens, colorants or added fragrance. Their Olive Concentrated Cleansing Oil (featured above) is designed for those with sensitive skin to deeply moisturize and help prevent future dryness.

“Never in a million years would I have easily believed that using an olive oil cleanser would be the best money I ever spent for caring for my face. Perfect for sensitive skin, or for anyone. Great stuff!” wrote Julie Johnson.

Buy the cleansing oil above for $31 from DHC.

17. Clarins

clarins cleansing duo for dry, sensitive skin

Clarins is a skin care company that offers a range of products for people with dry and sensitive skin. The cleansing duo above includes a gentle foaming cleanser with Shea butter and a toning lotion with camomile.

“I use Clarins for sensitive and dry skin,” Dyanne Thomas said. “Nothing else. Also Clarins facial cream for very dry skin. I have Sjogren’s and very dry skin and this is all that works.”

Buy the cleansing duo above for $28 from Clarins.

18. Avène

avene cold cream cleansing gel

Avène skin care products are based in naturally soothing spring water and specifically designed for people with sensitive skin. The Cold Cream Cleansing Gel above is hypoallergenic, soap-free, paraben-free and non-drying to provide hydration and nourishment.

“Avène,” recommended Shayla Rae Blatz. “It’s the only facial cleanser and moisturizer that doesn’t cause my face and neck to break out in an angry rash.”

Buy the cleansing gel above for $24 from Avène.

19. Liz Earle

liz earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser

Liz Earle is a British beauty company that creates products for all skin types. Their Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser is made with cocoa butter to soften, smooth and moisturize, and rosemary, chamomile and eucalyptus to tone, soothe and purify. The cleanser comes with a pure cotton cloth you can use to gently exfoliate.

“I have really sensitive dry skin. I found that Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish is amazing,” Verity Reedy told us. “The muslin cloth exfoliates while still being very gentle. I wouldn’t be without it.”

Buy the cleanser above for $24 from Liz Earle

20. Simple

simple foaming cleanser

Simple offers a range of skin care products that are gentle enough for those with sensitive skin. None of their products have any dyes, artificial perfumes or harsh irritants that could upset skin. The nourishing foaming cleanser (featured above) contains skin-loving ingredients and Pro-Vitamin B5 to remove impurities and remaining traces of makeup.

“I tried for years to find something my face liked and have finally had success using Simple foaming cleanser! It’s really gentle and doesn’t make my skin angry,” wrote Ashley Seymour.

Buy the cleanser above for $7.12 from Walmart.

21. Sukin

sukin cleansing lotion

Sukin creates natural skin, hair and body care products using cold-pressed, solvent free oils, essential oils and 100 percent natural botanical extracts. Their Sensitive Range is made with chamomile, aloe vera and cucumber to cool and soothe dry skin, and rosehip, sesame, jojoba and avocado oils to hydrate delicate skin.

Johanna Butler suggested, “Sukin, Australian Natural Skincare, Sensitive Range. Sulphate and paraben-free. It is very gentle and mild, while leaving your skin feeling clean and soft. I love it, it is one of the few facial cleansers I can use without any reaction.”

Buy the cleansing lotion above for $10.95 from Sukin (Australian shipping only).

22. Purity Made Simple

philosophy purity face wash

Philosophy carries a range of personal care products, including their Purity Made Simple line of face and body cleanser. The facial cleanser (featured above) gently deep cleans pores, eliminates makeup build-up and conditions skin using natural oil extracts. It is formulated for all skin types – even sensitive – and is gentle enough to use in the eye area.

Eileen Davidson told us, “I currently am living for my Philosophy Purity cleanser! Gentle enough to remove makeup and gives me a deep cleanse when I’ve been too sick to shower or wash my face for up to a few days.”

“Philosophy Purity is the only thing that touches my skin,” added Joan Wyjack.

Buy the face cleanser above for $24 from Sephora.

23. Johnson’s

johnson's head to toe baby wash

Johnson’s body wash may be marketed for babies, but it can be useful for anyone with extra-sensitive skin. It’s hypoallergenic, free of parabens, phthalates, soaps or dyes and is as gentle on the eyes as pure water.

Kaitlyn Young told us, “I use Johnson & Johnson’s baby wash for my sensitive skin.”

“I use Johnson’s baby wash,” added Shonda Riley Crawford.

Buy the body wash above for $4.80 from Walmart.

24. Aveeno

aveeno ultra-calming foaming cleanser for sensitive skin

Aveeno uses natural ingredients to make a variety of skin, hair and body care products. Their “ultra-calming” line of facial products for people with sensitive skin is fragrance-free, soap-free, hypoallergenic, reduces redness and lifts away dirt, oil and makeup while still being gentle and soothing.

“Aveeno ultra-calming foaming cleanser [featured above],” recommended Donna Lear Lambro. “So great on my sensitive skin and rosacea.”

“Aveeno sensitive,” said Ryan Stone. “It helps a lot and doesn’t break me out in pimples or hives.”

Buy the cleanser above for $6.25 from Walmart.

25. Clinique

clinique acne solutions cleansing gel

Clinique carries a wide range of skin care products and makeup for many different types of skin. Their products also target different concerns, such as acne, dryness or redness. The cleansing gel featured above, part of the Acne Solutions line, is medicated and oil-free and can help clear breakouts and blackheads, unclog pores and control oil.

“I use Clinique acne solutions. It’s the only face wash that doesn’t irritate my skin,” wrote Noni Evans.

“Clinique,” said Sue Lilly. “I’ve tried others over the years and always come back to Clinique.”

Buy the cleansing gel above for $20.50 from Clinique.

What brands of face wash do you use for sensitive skin? Let us know in the comments below!

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