Based on your comment that many ingredients affect you, I would advise that you need to consider more than the external expression of your skin’s sensitive reaction, and also investigate what may be going on at an internal level. The skin is our largest organ, as well as being an important organ of elimination. It can therefore often provide us with clues about our internal state of health by reflecting disturbances, even subtle ones, at an external level. We’re exposed to so many chemical and environmental toxins on a daily basis that it’s not uncommon for people to express multiple chemical sensitivities, which manifest in all sorts of ways, including skin rashes.
You mention using aqueous cream, which I will assume is commercial aqueous cream, and not a water-based (i.e. aqueous) cream made with ingredients that are free from petrochemical byproducts like mineral oil. Some commercial aqueous creams have label declarations that will help you to establish what ingredients they contain. I have yet to come across a commercial aqueous cream that does not contain mineral oil.
Mineral oil-containing products are cheap to produce, and they’re very stable with regard to shelf-life, which is why mineral oils seem to be in most skin and body care products, especially the less expensive ones (though some very expensive creams often list them as an ingredient too). While mineral oil products are effective barriers, they do not actively nourish the skin like vegetable oils can. This ingredient is of little or no concern to many people, but it is not usually acceptable to those who wish to ‘go green’ or use only plant-derived ingredients. (I have relatively strong personal opinions about the over-use of mineral oil in cosmetics, but that’s a topic for another forum!)
In order to establish exactly what is exacerbating your skin sensitivity you would need to stop using all your current products, including aqueous cream and your home-made skin toner, as both lemongrass and cloves contain essential oil chemical constituents (aldehydes and phenol, respectively) that are potential skin irritants. This external elimination process is similar to the elimination diets used to determine food sensitivities. If your skin won’t tolerate a few days of ‘cold turkey’ treatment, you can try using plain jojoba oil as a moisturising agent and see whether your skin reacts to this lovely liquid wax (which is similar to the skin’s natural sebum). Then start reintroducing other products, one at a time for a few days each, taking note of what happens. Make a mild bicarbonate of soda and filtered water solution to use as a fragrance-free toner, or to remove or reduce the jojoba oil effect if you find it too sticky or shiny. You don’t want to alter the skin’s natural acid mantle significantly, so add a few drops of cider vinegar to help balance the alkaline nature of this solution if needed.
Many excellent plant-based oils can be used for natural skin care, and a wonderful plant-based aqueous cream can be made from simple natural ingredients. A caveat, though – anyone with skin sensitivity needs to take care if using beeswax as an emulsifier when making creams or lotions, as it doesn’t always play nicely with sensitive skin (natural and yummy as it can be for other skin types).
If you’d like to learn more about natural skin care and making your own cosmetic products from scratch (i.e. not just adding essential oils, etc. to a pre-made base cream), you are welcome to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org