When you have sensitive skin, you might be tempted to load up on products that promise relief from the redness, burning, stinging, and itching. However, the secret to success often lies in doing less, choosing great products, and creating a routine.
What does sensitive skin mean anyway? It’s sometimes used to describe clinical conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis. Other times it can refer to a general tendency to become irritated by things in your environment or things that you apply to your skin.
That’s why it’s important to see a dermatologist if your symptoms are severe or prolonged. They can help you treat underlying conditions and reduce the risk of developing allergies. They can also test for allergic reactions to foods or medications.
Your specific options will depend on your individual condition. As you’re figuring that out, try these suggestions for soothing your sensitive skin.
How to Avoid Irritating Sensitive Skin:
- Simplify your routine. Many dermatologists recommend that patients with sensitive skin use as few skincare products as possible with as few ingredients as possible. This may be enough to eliminate your symptoms. Make sure you look at your body cleansers and body scrubs when simplifying your skin care routine. Whenever I have skin sensitive I go to basics and use the most natural calming products I can find. For cleansing Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Pure Castile Soap is a favorite.
- Sniff around. Fragrance is the single most common irritant. To be extra safe, look for products that are fragrance free rather than unscented. You always have the option to add fragrance or essential oils to your liquid soap that also calms the skin like Tea Tree, Cedarwood or Lavender.
- Read labels. What about other substances that can serve as triggers? That would be a long list including parabens, sulfates, dyes, and alcohol. Sensitive skin lines can be a helpful starting point, but you’ll still need to monitor individual ingredients. Look for products that include humectants like Vegetable Glycerin or Hydrolonic Acid. Humectants hold moisture close to your skin so it can be absorbed by the skin.
- Do patch tests. Before using a new product on your face or body, apply it to a small area on your inner arm and wait overnight. If it causes no reaction, it may be safe to proceed. With stronger chemicals, you may be able to build up tolerance by using them one day a week at first in small amounts and layering moisturizer underneath.
- Take time to recover. Stop using any product that bothers your skin. Be extra gentle while you’re healing. Give your skin plenty of time to heal. Keep a diary of which products work for you and any essential or fragrance oils you may have added to enhance your experience.
Other Tips for Caring for Sensitive Skin:
- Moisturize lavishly. Sensitivity and dryness are closely associated because weaknesses in the outer skin layer, aka skin barrier, let irritants in and water out. Use deep moisturizing formulas and apply them while your skin is still damp especially if you are using products that DO NOT include water.
- Exfoliate gently. Many adults exfoliate too frequently and vigorously. Once or twice a week is usually enough. Let your fingers do the work instead of a brush, loofah, or washcloth. My go to exfoliator is my Coffee Scrub. It just leaves behind the softest, supple, hydrated, moisturized skin. At 58 I am experiencing the best skin of my life.
- Shower briefly. Over washing is another common culprit. Use warm water instead of hot and limit showers to 10 minutes or less. Using cleansers that are meant to gently clean the skin make a great difference. Think about how we choose to cleanse baby skin. We don’t want to over do it. We should think about our adult skin the same way. Less is more.
- Use sunscreen. Excessive sun exposure can damage all skin types. Look for products with zinc oxide, and an SPF of at least 30. Also, wearing light weight clothes made from linen or light cotton can protect your skin also.
- Check your cosmetics. Choose mineral-based makeup and avoid waterproof items that are more difficult to remove. Throw away any cosmetics that pass their expiration date or start to show signs of wear. Also, if you use a good quality body butter or body oil use it as a makeup remover and to shave with, especially in sensitive areas on your body
- Prepare for winter. Cold, dry weather and indoor heat pose a challenge for sensitive skin. You may need to adjust your skincare routines to keep up. That could mean more moisturizer and lip balm. Again here is where a product that includes water and a humectant will make a massive difference in keep your skin consistently healthy and happy.
- Wear natural fibers. Your clothes can affect your skin too. Garments made of silk or cotton may be more agreeable than synthetics. Some natural fiber materials are cotton, hemp, silk, linen, wool, mohair, angora, jute, camel hair, flax, etc. …Wear natural fiber
- Clean carefully. Some household cleaners contain harsh chemicals you’ll want to avoid. Wear gloves and switch to sustainable products that tend to be milder. Choose things like baking soda, white vinegar, Peppermint Essential Oil, Distilled Water, Lemon Essential Oil and the like. Essential Oils and water especially Peppermint Oil are great for pest control for both crawling and flying insects.
- Eat healthy. Glowing skin starts from within. Eat a nutritious diet rich in whole foods and stay hydrated. It also helps to get your beauty sleep, exercise regularly, and manage stress. Although eating healthy and consuming lots of water are very helpful to skin health once your skin is damaged you will need to have great products to treat your skin barrier.
Make your skin healthier and your life more comfortably. Protect your sensitive skin from daily irritants, pollutants, and moisturize often and thoroughly. If symptoms persist or you’re unsure what to do, talk with your dermatologist. As always you can email questions to email@example.com
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