Understanding and Living with Sensitive Skin
Updated: Mar 31
*Please note* this blog is strictly talking about sensitive skin that flushes / reddens easy (not necessarily covering sensitive skin that has chronic inflammation such as psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis or contact urticarial) I may be referencing the skin as face skin throughout this blog, but many of these tips and tricks and information can relate to body skin too! Please also take note, the more I learn and the more research that becomes available I will add and upgrade information.
Hopefully the information provided is enough to give you some knowledge on what sensitive skin is, what causes it and how it can be soothed and treated. If you have any questions or concerns after reading my blog, feel more then welcome to make comments or contact me for further guidance. I also have a podcast called Inspirations Beauty Show and if you go give episode 2 from Season 1 a listen, its called Skin Talks: & its trying to tell you IT NEEDS A BREAK! This will outline MORE about sensitive skin, and is another resource for you to learn. Maybe reading this and then listening to that will provide exceptional tips to help you!! I also have another Podcast (Episode 6 Season 1) What is Rosacea? If you were hoping to learn more about that skin concern and condition, I added a mini blog post to compliment this episode as well. It is under Podcast Support and is called EPISODE 6|What is Rosacea? Oh, and one more thing! I also have a "how hard water influences your skin" blog you can give a read; as hard water also influences skin.... so there are many resources for you! Reaching out to me, booking a treatment or consultation is also always an option!
Anyway; Happy learning!
What is Sensitive Skin? Sensitive skin has many definitions, which makes it difficult to identify what exactly represents sensitive skin. However, generally speaking, sensitive skin is defined to be more prone to break outs due to irritations from products and or the environment. The symptoms from an irritation or sensitivity can range from itchy skin, stinging skin, flaky/dry skin, redness, puffiness and or acne. Sensitive skin can be caused from external factors such as products, environment, pollution and weather. It is also important to know that sensitive skin is also strongly influenced by genetic predisposition. For example fair individuals or those with red hair are more likely to have or obtain sensitive skin or skin sensitivities.
Genetics: Unfortunately our genetics are out of out control, there are ways to lessen the severities of the sensitivities, but unfortunately, there is no way to control or lessen the chances of our genetic predisposition influencing sensitive skin.
Environmental:Environmental factors cause skin sensitivities due to over exposure to environmental changes. For example over exposure of sun or pollution or dry cold temperatures will damage the skin, which will likely influence sensitivities down the road. A one time over exposure from one environmental factor, take sun for example, can trigger responses from other environmental factors such as pollution on a separate occasion, even though sun and pollution are not directly related.
Diet:Diet influences skin more then we can appreciate. For example, spicy foods can influence flare-ups in the skin. It is important to notice what foods or beverages influence skin flushing or any other symptoms. The more balanced your diet, the more balanced your skin, which intern lowers your likelihood of reacting or simply lowers the severity of your reactions.
Stress:Stress does wild things to our skin. Not just to sensitive skin, but to any and all skin types. Stress interrupts neurotransmitters. Neuropeptides are small protein like molecules that communicate with the brain; so when the mind is in distress, it sends negative signals to the body and of course this impacts the skin.
Products:Products are typically loaded with synthetic fragrances, preservatives, dyes and other nasty ingredients that are extremely astringent for our skin. Fragrances AKA perfumes are the main source of many irritations. This is because in order to create the fragrance in cosmetic products multiple chemicals are mixed together to create such a smell. Since so many chemicals are combined it is always hard to decipher which ingredient caused the reaction. It is a good rule of thumb to just avoid any products with heavy smells and any ingredients or labels that refer to perfume.
Ingredients:*avoid all the listed ingredients, as they contribute to negative factors and to sensitive skin* - Alcohol
- Bio Oil
- Mineral Oil
- Sodium lauryl suphate / sodium lauteth sulphate
Season:Skin tends to be happier in the summer or in warmer climates in general. Summer/tropical environments provide our skin with more vitamins then in the winter. These vitamins feed our skin, however it is still important to be very careful about sun exposure. The sun may provide us with vitamin D but it can damage our skin even quicker then feeding it. In the winter our skin tends to be drier and tighter and we lack essential vitamins. It is important to note that just as it is important to protect your skin in the summer it is also important to protect it in the winter, the sun still shines, don’t forget your SPF! Also, in the winter skin is more susceptible to dry scales, dry patches, cracks, wrinkles and sensitivities. This is highly due to our cells having nerve damage from severe cold temperatures, winds and constant change in temperature (going from indoors to outdoors- the temperature change could contribute to skin sensitive’s, redness in skin, dry skin and dilated capillaries) Speaking of temperatures; avoid using hot water, try to use lukewarm water, as this prevents dryness and scaling of the skin, it also helps maintain the skins natural pH levels. These few tips and tricks will help control your skins reactions.
Lack of Sleep: Not sleeping restfully for enough hours will negatively influence the skin. Skin repairs over night (best from 8pm-8am). Interrupting this can contribute to many skin conditions, complications, problems or reactions. Sleep is important for all skin types, not just sensitive skin.
Washing to Often: With sensitive skin it is important to wash your face once a day, I recommend once at night. Over washing disrupts the pH balance in your skin, especially if you are over washing with the wrong products. Over washing your skin can leave it drier and tighter which leads to cracks, redness and other symptoms that screams sensitive skin. You can give yourself sensitive skin with washing to often.
Complex Skin Routine:With sensitive skin you want to keep it simple. This is because then it is easier to decipher what causes your sensitivities (if any occur). It is also important to simplify your beauty routine because this limits the number of products you use, which limits the chemicals and ingredients that could potentially come in contact with your skin.
Essential Oils:This is dependent for the individual, since everyone’s skin responds different. However, sometimes essential oils can cause sensitivities because the scents are so potent. The other issue with essential oils is sometimes the essential oil mix is to astringent and strong, creating to harsh of a response. For example using tea tree oil and lavender, or lemon and rosemary. These essential oils both have highly active properties which sometimes is to much commotion for the skin to handle, Although, essential oils can be great for some people, its not so great for others So like stated above, keep your beauty routine simple and to a minimum with ingredients. Keep in mind; everyone’s skin is different. This is just ONE out of MANY potential negative influential factors contributing to sensitive skin.
Sometimes there is no Rhyme or Reason:This one is a hard one to explain, it is so confusing and frustrating for people. However, unfortunately it is true. Sometimes sensitive skin can just happen.
How to Help Prevent and Soothe Sensitive Skin:
Moisturize:Always moisturize after you wash your face and especially after the bath or shower. Water evaporates off your skin SUPER fast. So applying moisturizer when your skin is still damp is ideal. Applying the proper moisturizer will also help maintain hydration in the skin and hopefully balance out the pH, try to choose a natural, preservative and fragrance free option.
Make-Up:Don’t use waterproof makeup; this is because it can be harsh on the skin (mostly because of the removal part). If you are going to wear makeup search for mineral powders, as mineral powders will lessen the likelihood of irritations and or reactions.
Seek out a Professional Opinion:Going to a doctor, dermatologist or even your local esthetician. I personally (Inspirations Aesthetics) offer complimentary skin consultations. Skin consultations are a good option because I will sit with you and explain in detail what I believe is happening with your skin and why. I will provide tips and tricks for you to try and add to your daily routine in order to treat and care for your sensitivities. I will also go into detail of what you could be doing that is worsening your reactions.
Regular Facials:Regular facials are important for so many reasons, but specifically speaking for sensitive skin facials will help maintain the skins acid mantle, which will keep the skin balanced. Facials also provide lots of hydration, which can often be beneficial for sensitive skin. Throughout my facials I also provide information I believe is important and give you home care instructions to help with whatever is happening with your skin.
Throw out Old Cosmetics:Expired products can worsen your condition. If you check on your product there will be a graphic of an open container with a number small in the right corner, this will indicate when the product needs to be discarded.
Wear Sunscreen:Wearing sunscreen all year round will protect your skin from more then just skin sensitivities. Wearing sunscreen is important in preventing sensitivities due to protecting your skin from over exposure. Sun burns damage the skin and thin out the skin, so long term speaking it negatively effects the skin and your skin will be more likely to other burns and other irritations.
Pat Your Skin Dry Rather Then Rubbing it:After a shower, bath, and swimming – you name it, make sure you pat your skin dry with a microfiber towel or even a tissue. Rubbing your skin in general (let alone with a harsh towel) can cause irritations and can contribute to redness and POSSIBLY (depending on the pressure you are using to dry your face) could cause micro tares/cuts in your skin. Micro tares are great sources to spread bacteria, contributing to more blemishes and or dry patch breakouts. I retail one that I use and love! They are super soft and affordable!
Product to Suggest to Sensitive Skins:
Just to name a few (ALL very affordable)
- Cetaphil Gentle Facial Skin Cleanser
- Arbonne’s Super Calm Facial Care line
- CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
- Amama Rosemary Creamy Cleanser
- Shea butter (Good option for the body, potentially to rich for the face)
Here are the sources that helped me complete this blog on sensitive skin and how to live with it! Be patient as I continue to learn and research about such topics. Hopefully for now this was enough to get you started in your skin care journey!
Much love and soothing sent to you and your skin!
Dr.Diana Howard, scientifically speaking: sensitive VS. Sensitized skin – Living Skin Dermalogica podcast
The Dirty Dozen Chemicals to Avoid in your Skincare - The mind body beauty show podcast
Beyond Soap – The Truth About What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful Healthy Glow By Dr. Sandy Skotnicki