Super-Cheap & Natural Skincare for Ultra-Sensitive Skin


Alisa Fleming ~ When we think of food allergies or intolerances, it is easy to get stuck on the topic of what we eat. But the fact of the matter is, those who are sensitive to food they ingest, are often sensitive to what they feed their skin as well. Some have reactions to the ingredients themselves (buttermilk, nut oils, etc.), causing hives or rashes when they come in contact with the skin. But for many, the very nature of autoimmunity can cause extremely sensitive skin. Perhaps you are familiar with eczema, rosacea, hives, contact dermatitis, acne, or general rashes and irritation.

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 (no longer a problem without milk!), allergic hives (from environmental allergens), and the fact that I have had rosacea since around the age of two, pretty much guarantees that my skin is a minefield. 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. Really, I can only dream of those anti-aging treatments and spa facials (another disaster story for another time!) …

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 a face full of oh-so-attractive hives. 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, mineral heavy water, and allergies. So I wanted to share my skincare buys, just in case it helps a few others …


Did these products cure all of my skin problems and leave me with movie star soft and silky skin. Did you read my above issues? No, of course not. But, my skin is softer, the hives have minimized, and I am no longer dealing with the usual dry, itchy, red skin. 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 …

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.

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 dry 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?

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


  1. My 6 month old son has eczema and reacts with great pain and distress to any sunscreen. Have you found a good sunscreen for very sensitive skin?

  2. I’m sensitive to soy as well as dairy (along with LOTS of other environmental allergens). I finally figured out that my best soap option is Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap (no fragrances). For moisturizer I put a few drops of olive oil (I pour some from the kitchen bottle into a smaller bottle and keep it in the bathroom) on my hands, rub it on my face, let it set for a couple of minutes, and then wipe the excess off with a tissue. Cheap, easy, and no irritation! 🙂

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