Dry, blemished, itchy, and easily irritated skin are all signs and symptoms of having sensitive skin. These symptoms can be uncomfortable and can cause unflattering blemishes.
So, what is sensitive skin and what skincare regimen can you practice if you have it?
Let’s start and answer the common questions first.
What is sensitive skin?
When the skin shows a reaction after having been in contact with a certain material, your skin's reaction may be an indicator of sensitivity. The material in that case would be considered an irritant. The skin tries to defend itself or show signs that it is unfamiliar to the exposure. Skin bumps, dryness, flakiness, a burning feeling, and discoloration are all forms of skin reactions.
Some skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and contact dermatitis are manifestations of having sensitive skin.
What causes sensitive skin?
Anything that comes into contact with the skin and causes irritations can be considered a trigger. Rough, synthetic textiles, harsh chemicals, and abrasive materials can trigger skin reactions. Environmental factors like heat and cold can also cause skin reactions like sun and wind burns.
Age, gender, and genetic factors can play a role in determining skin sensitivity too. Skin sensitivity also occurs when dried out and damaged skin exposes the free nerve endings found in the middle of the epidermis to more contact.
Do I have sensitive skin?
The most common reason why people think they have sensitive skin is that they are experiencing the accompanying symptoms of it. Once they feel an uncomfortable reaction to a product or material their skin comes in contact with, they think of it as having sensitive skin.
This does have some truth in it. However, it is important to look into what causes these reactions. Your skin may be sensitive to a product or material due to its nature or ingredients found in it. In such cases, the only way to find out if your skin is sensitive to something is to do a patch test.
If your skin reacts to a multitude of products commonly used by others without any reported issues, it would be advisable to pay a visit to a dermatologist. Dermatologists can help determine if you have sensitive skin or if there are particular causes to these reactions such as skin condition and allergies to specific ingredients or materials.
Should I Worry About Sensitive Skin?
Don’t panic. Sensitive skin is not considered a disease. It can be a symptom of other health conditions but they are rarely serious and can be managed by following a simple skincare routine.
Following are the long awaited seven ways to manage skin sensitivity:
1. Gentle Cleansing
If you have sensitive skin, letting dirt, oil, and dead skin cells build up on your skin will only cause more irritations. Keep your skin clean and free from impurities.
When washing, use lukewarm water instead of hot water. Hot water can cause your skin to dry out and get damaged. Be kind to your skin! Also, use a mild cleanser that won’t mess with your skin flora.
Never sleep with makeup on and opt for a gentle way to remove your makeup. Try to avoid makeup wipes as they tend to rub into the skin too much and most wipes have alcohol and harsh chemicals that strip away moisture and hydration in the skin.
It’s also better to use gentle makeup removers to dissolve eye makeup first so you can later wipe makeup away with a soft towel soaked in mild soap and lukewarm water.
2. Find the Right Moisturizer
Moisturizing sensitive skin is still important because it keeps the skin soft and hydrated. Hydrated and soft skin helps maintain collagen and elastin. It is also better protected from external irritants like pollution, harsh weather, and harmful chemicals.
Find a non-comedogenic moisturizer that won’t block your pores and keep your skin feeling bouncy and hydrated.
3. Include Probiotic Skincare in Your Routine
If you have sensitive skin, it is even more important to take care of your skin’s first line of defense against irritants. This is your skin microbiome.
Keep your skin microbiome balanced to protect your skin from bad bacteria by including probiotics in your skincare list. When your skin flora is taken over by bad microorganisms, your skin finds it harder to combat inflammation and irritations.
4. Choose Makeup Wisely
Watch out for makeup containing too many preservatives. Mineral face powders are often better options.
Waterproof cosmetics are also harder to remove so they might require heavy cleansing that can damage and irritate sensitive skin.
Check your makeup for expiration dates as well. Do not use makeup more than the time indicated.
In general, powders are good for up to two years. Creams only last between 12 to 18 months. Lipsticks are okay for about a year. Eye products are safer when used within 3 months.
Always keep your makeup products clean as well. This includes all your brushes, sponges, and even your carrier.
5. Go Artificial Fragrance-Free
Some artificial fragrances can cause skin sensitivity and trigger allergies. If you want to be super safe when it comes to choosing the products that come into contact with your skin, go for artificial fragrance-free products.
6. Do a Patch Test
Before introducing a new product to your skin, do a patch test first.
Apply a small amount of the product on your wrist or behind the ear and leave it overnight. Observe for any skin reactions that may occur even several days after.
If no negative reactions or skin irritations occur, then the product may be okay to use. However, anytime you notice a skin reaction occur, immediately stop using the product. It is better to be safe than sorry.
7. Relieve and Reduce Skin Redness
Blood rushes to the skin’s surface when skin irritation occurs. This is the body’s way of combating irritants and healing inflammation.
When this happens, don’t worry. You are not doomed! Cleanse the area and try holding up a cool towel against the skin. This soothes the skin and allows it to calmly heal.
Our final thoughts: sensitive skin is something that can be managed. Listen to your body and find out what it needs.