My guide to sensitive skin
‘Sensitive skin’ isn’t really a clinical skin condition, it’s more of an expression for a skin that’s easy to irritate. If you came in to see me with your sensitive skin, I would take it that your skin has a tendency to be more reactive than average. It would mean that your skin is easily irritated, either by environmental things like sun, wind or cold freezing weather. Or it could aggravated by skincare products that contain fragrances or bad chemicals.
What does sensitive skin look and feel like?
The irritation usually manifests with symptoms like redness, stinging, burning, itchiness and just feels sore after your skin comes into contact with a particular ingredient or environmental trigger.
Anyone’s skin can react to certain irritants, but if you frequently have sensitive skin, this is probably an underlying skin condition. Just because your friend can use a certain cleanser regularly with no bad effects, if you have a sensitive skin, chances are you will take a reaction to it.
How do you know if you have a serious skin problem?
What if you have ongoing sensitivity? If that is you, it may indicate that you have an underlying condition like eczema, rosacea or psoriasis. So if your skin has persistent symptoms such as extreme redness, irritation, painful burning or stinging, itching, blistering, rashes, scaling, pus-laden bumps – that have come out of the blue. Chances are that your skin has a real diagnosable skin issue.
What Skin Aestheticians believe is the cause of most sensitive skins
We have a protective barrier on the outer layer of our skin. This lipid (fat) barrier has two main jobs. Number one is to keep water inside your skin and number two is to keep damaging things like UV rays, wind, heat and harsh chemicals out. In those of us with sensitive skin, this barrier is typically weaker, thinner and more easily damaged – making it easier for irritants to penetrate the skin and cause inflammation.
Think of the outer layer of skin like a brick wall put together with mortar between the skin cells. The mortar is made up of your own moisturisers or lipids called ceramides. In sensitive or damaged skin, the mortar is weak or missing in some spots making the barrier more permeable and that makes the skin underneath more vulnerable. People who have a thin lipid barrier absorb products easily and deeply which actually makes them more reactive to ingredients. On the flip side, people who have this thin lipid barrier means it also easier for their own moisture to escape – another name for this is TEWL – Trans Epidermal Water Loss! This is why dry and sensitivity usually accompany one another.
What ingredients should you avoid?
Perfume or fragrance, soap or hand wash that contain too much sodium laureth sulphate, alcohol and finally parabens, which are harmful chemicals put in products to enhance the shelf life.
What ingredients in skincare can help sensitive skins?
Chamomile is known for its soothing, anti-inflammatory skin benefits.
Calendula Oil which is thought to be better than Aloe Vera as a skin soother.
Honey which is soothing and anti-bacterial – good to eat and in skincare!
A final thought is try our Essential Moisturiser which is adding lipids to your protective layer. A terrific moisturiser for all you sensitive types!