62% of women and 32% of men say they have sensitive skin – skin that is reactive, irritable and intolerant to all cosmetic or skincare products, even water.
Technically, the dermatological definition of “sensitive” skin is skin that gets flushed, itchy, and easily inflamed. This can be due to environmental factors like extreme weather changes, genetics, or simply by using the wrong products for your skin type. Sometimes the cause can be the iron and calcium content in hard water – leaving your skin tight and irritated each time you wash.
There are not many visible signs of sensitive skin like peeling, redness, flushing, desquamation (peeling, flaking). Often, sensitive skin is simply a tight, burning feeling that gets worse after each application of a cosmetic or skincare product. This feeling can become permanent and unbearable over time.
Today, with the trend toward DIY facials, at-home LED treatments, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels, skin irritations and sensitive skin concerns are on the rise – and they are usually self-inflicted. Over-use or misuse of home treatments due to a lack of understanding or information about how the skin works or how a product affects the skin, can trigger irritation, sensitivity and red, flushed skin.
If you have sensitive skin, the key to keeping it calm is to minimize your skincare regimen.
- Eliminate all factors that trigger or aggravate hypersensitivity
- Limit consumption of alcohol, coffee and spices – these cause flushing and can exacerbate sensitive skin conditions
- Avoid temperature extremes and exposure to wind and sun
- Stop using products that contain cortisone – this is common among people with sensitive skin – initially cortisone calms the skin, but over time, cortisone will weaken and thin the skin and can lead to allergies.
- Minimize use of cosmetic products. Avoid products that contain fragrance
- Choose products that are specifically formulated for “sensitive skin”
- Avoid soaps or cream bars
- Switch to moisturizing creams with light textures, cold creams and non-irritant hair products
- Avoid skin cleansing, exfoliating masks and anti-ageing products
- Switch to a chemical-free sunblock (look for a mineral formula containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide).
Stick to this scaled-back regime for two to four weeks – allowing the skin the calm down and for pH balance to return. Then gradually reintroduce one product at a time and monitor your skin’s reaction to each product to determine which products trigger a reaction in your sensitive skin. (Read more about maintaining pH balance in your skin).
For those with chronically sensitive skin, select mild products with minimal active ingredients and beware of natural and organic products. There is no doubt that soothing green-tea moisturizers, and calming aloe vera gels are beneficial to sensitive skin, but natural products can also irritate sensitive skin – test all products (even natural products) before using.
DID YOU KNOW…?
For extreme inflammation, a compress of milk, water, and ice will calm irritated skin and relieve itching and burning.
Learn more about Sensitive Skin: