Caring for sensitive skin requires a conscious effort to soothe,
cleanse, and moisturize rough and inflamed patches on the face and body. There
is nothing worse than the feeling of dry, itchy, and tight skin on the face or
body, shiny from irritation and even experiencing periods of cracking and
Caring for sensitive skin can be a ‘sensitive’ topic – it can be frustrating to see your formerly pink and supple skin turn red, arid, and inflamed. Some of the most common advice from the past can actually harm dry and/or sensitive skin, so it pays to check into the current best practices to find out how to best care for your sensitive skin.
What is sensitive skin?
Different people experience sensitive skin in different ways. Some people find that they have flaky or patchy areas, while others have itchy, dry, and red skin all over their body. These bouts of sensitive skin can be caused by dermatological conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, or by an allergic reaction to detergents, pollens, or soaps.
While some people find that their sensitive skin results in oozing or ‘mushy’ patches of skin, others experience dryness and cracking. While figuring out what is causing the problem can be difficult, once you figure it out, you can address it in the correct way. Avoid your trigger irritants, cultivate good skincare habits, and choose the best products for your skin.
Choosing products for your sensitive skin
If you do not know exactly what is causing your sensitive skin, you should begin an ‘elimination diet.’ Remove one soap, shampoo, detergent (including clothing and bedding detergents and fabric softeners), moisturizer, and make-up product per week, and see if your skin improves. If not, it is time to start choosing soothing and healing skincare products to use moving forward.
Use scent-free products – You may love the floral smell of your shampoo or fabric softener, but your skin may have the opposite opinion! Many soaps, lotions, and detergents include harsh perfumes that can wreak havoc on our skin. Instead, choose products that have no added fragrance.
Don’t use products that contain dyes – While you might love the bright pink or blue color of your soap or shampoo, remember that it got its vibrant hue from artificial dyes. These dyes can be harsh on your skin and will cause real problems for your sensitive skin. While these dyes might make the products look more appealing, give them a miss in favor of natural products.
Say ‘no’ to acidic products – You might be drawn to acids in certain skincare products because of their potency and efficacy, but people with sensitive skin should steer clear. While these acids might be great for people with more robust skin types, they can cause real problems for dry and sensitive skin. Avoid alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), beta-hydroxy acids (BHA), glycolic acid, ascorbic acid, lactic acid, and kojic acid.
Alcohol is not your friend – Many skincare products designed to cleanse and tone the skin include alcohol as a drying agent. This can be a real problem for those with sensitive and allergic skin – skip products that include ethanol or ethyl alcohol.
Now that you have chosen the right products for your sensitive skin, you also need to learn how to protect it from the elements.
Always wear sunscreen – While you should avoid being out in the sun, a good rule of thumb should be, ‘if you are leaving the house, you need to wear sunscreen!’ Wearing sunscreen, especially on your face, is a must – always liberally apply an SPF of 30 or higher. Remember to avoid sunscreens that contain perfumes, dyes, and alcohol.
Wear natural materials – Clothing made from natural materials (such as cotton and silk) is always better for sensitive skin than synthetics like rayon or spandex. The one main exception is wool – while this is a natural material, it can scratch and irritate sensitive skin.
Avoid certain metals – While silver, gold, and platinum can be worn by those with even the most sensitive skin, wear nickel with extreme caution. This is especially important when you consider that most cheap jewelry is made from nickel, and it causes itching and redness and can turn your skin green.
The issues around sensitive skin can be managed
While you might feel like you are destined to a life of itchy, dry and painful skin, if you follow the tips listed above, you can manage your sensitive skin.