At some time in our life, we all experience it: Our skin feels sensitive, irritated, even angry. There you have it: at some time or other, all skin can feel sensitive. For one reason or another, the number of people reporting to have sensitive skin is rising yearly.
This can be attributed to external factors in our environments like pollutants, the weather, and the climate. With the advent of social media and blogs (such as this one – do you see the irony?), there is so much more information out there. So, people are using more beauty products containing actives like retinol, vitamin C, AHAs, and BHAs. All of these mentioned active ingredients can lead to skin irritation.
It can also be that you’re genetically more prone to irritation. If you exclude products containing actives that are applied to the skin, acne, and rosacea are also known culprits to cause skin sensitivity, especially when coupled with weather changes like a temperature rise. But fret not, even if you can’t change the weather, you can still try a few things.
What does it even mean if you have “sensitive skin”? As it happens, sensitive skin is used to describe a variety of symptoms ranging from redness, dryness, breakouts to rashes, and more. As you see, it’s more like an umbrella term and can refer to your skin stinging, becoming bumpy to genetic ailments like eczema and rosacea, to allergies. Sensitive skin can change over time: it can change seasonally and also in different parts of your life. Lastly, sensitive skin can also change over time with the products being used.
What Can You Do?
Let’s get this good news out first: The healthier your skin is, the less it will flare up, meaning that environmental chemicals and biological irritants can’t easily get into dry and injured skin. To keep your skin in mint condition, use a gentle cleanser or forgo it all together on days you’re not wearing makeup and swap it with a konjac sponge. When cleansing, use lukewarm water.
Try not to introduce a batch of new products into your routine as tempting as it sounds. In rare cases, your skin looks and feels fab. But more often than not, you may not like how your skin reacts. Even if it’s tedious, patch test a new product before including it in your regimen.
Stay clear of heavily fragranced products. That not only includes skincare, beauty hair care, and personal care products but also laundry detergents.
If possible, choose a physical over a chemical sunscreen. Physical SPF contains ingredients like titanium oxide and zinc oxide. Both are more inert and generally won’t cause a skin reaction. Read the product label to find out more about your product. In general, if you find you’ve got sensitive skin, it’s a good idea to look at the skin ingredient. This may give you insight, into what ingredient your skin might act up and what is safe to use.
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. This can’t be repeated enough, since it’s particularly important with sensitive skin which needs the water to be sealed in to prevent it from drying. The simplest moisturiser would be one that is made of molecules that are also found in the skin.
If there’s an ingredient that’s naturally occurring in the skin, the probability of it being sensitising is very low. Did you guess what ingredient or ingredients that could be? Betaine and hyaluronic acid. Both molecules attract water and keep the skin hydrated. Both can be found in a slew of topicals like sheet masks, creams, and gels.
You’ll want to treat, control, and if possible get rid of acne. Analog to the ideal ingredients for moisturisers, azelaic acid is found naturally (in wheat for example). Hence, its probability to irritate your skin is practically 0 – there is always an exception to the rule – but it’s so safe that it can even be used during pregnancy. Azelaic acid is often used to treat rosacea and acne, as well as enhance and improve skin quality, that is evening out skin tone.
Calm And Soothe
If your skin is sensitive and irritated you’ll want to calm it down. Often, you’ll find products geared towards people with sensitive skin-type containing centenella asiatica that already went viral a few years ago.
Niacinamide, a water-soluble vitamin (B3) goes beyond anti-inflammatory (read calming and soothing). It will help your skin retain water and moisture as well as protect your skin barrier. A functioning skin barrier is essential to healthy and happy skin. Once the skin barrier is compromised, that can be due to scratching, zits, and so on. Vitamin B3 can boost the synthesis of ceramides in your skin. The ceramides are lipids – think of them as the mechanism that holds the skin barrier together.
Do you have other tips to take care of sensitive skin? Let us know in the comments.