It’s not acne, it’s not fungal acne, it’s not rashes. For some reason, you cannot put a finger on what it is, all you know is your skin is not looking right, so you just call it out. ‘I must have sensitive skin’.
Sensitive skin is probably one of the most complicated skins to deal with. You feel like you are tiptoeing around skincare products. Every new product you apply to your face, you think this can either make or break it. Literally almost everything can irritate sensitive skin, from the environment, to your pillow case, to products you apply on your skin.
And in most cases with sensitive skin, when it starts acting up, you’re not even sure what it is. You start going in circles, trying to brainstorm, what or where you went wrong this time. It can be pretty overwhelming, I knowww.
Before we get into how to create a skincare routine for sensitive skin and how to remedy it so that you are not losing your mind. We need to first of all acknowledge what sensitive skin really is. What do dermatologists actually consider sensitive skin?
What is sensitive skin?
The term sensitive skin needs to be defined because, oftentimes people throw the term around without really knowing what it means. Not to mention, it is such a blanket term, so many things fall under sensitive skin. In order to really treat a situation, one must first understand what the problem is.
According to dermatologists; sensitive skin is not exactly a medical term, therefore it is not a diagnosis a doctor will give to you. However, the term is now widely understood to mean, a skin type that is easily irritated. This means that sensitive skin reacts very quickly to things it comes in contact with.
Some confuse skin sensitivity with skin conditions such as eczema (an atopic dermatitis, which can cause dry, itchy, inflamed skin), rosacea (characterized by red skin, swelling, and visible blood vessels), psoriasis (patches of scaly, dry skin and rashes), or contact dermatitis (rashes triggered by contact with irritants or allergens.
How to tell if you have sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin as explained earlier reacts very easily. You know you have sensitive skin when your skin has some redness, stinging, burning, itchiness, and general discomfort. This will usually happen when your skin comes in contact with products it reacts to or just other environmental factors that trigger it.
Sometimes it’s not sensitive skin!
If you have ongoing skin issues, you may have any of the underlying conditions mentioned earlier and it’s time to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis.
Skin condition symptoms also vary with severity, they are extreme redness and irritation, painful burning or stinging, itching, blistering, rashes, scaling, pus-laden bumps.
Sensitive skin does not make your skin act up 24/7, only when it comes in contact with something it reacts to. A skin condition is continuous, no matter the products you use. While sensitive skin acts up once in a while, and if cared for properly, never.
What causes sensitive skin?
There are several factors that play a role in triggering sensitive skin. First, you must understand that different people have different triggers, all of these may not necessarily apply to you. This list gives you something to focus on and factors to look out for. It makes it a lot easier to find out your skin triggers.
The triggers can be environmental, biological or a topical product.
- Sun exposure
- Exposure to air pollution
- Frequent changes in temperature
- Cold, harsh weather
- Hard water (water with higher mineral content)
- Very hot water
- Lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle or pregnancy
- Stress and late nights
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Dry skin
- Contact dermatitis (contact with something)
- Allergic dermatitis (contact with substance)
How to properly care for sensitive skin
General rule of thumb, try to look for products that have relatively few ingredients.
It is advised to cleanse with a mild face wash, nothing too vigorous, preferably soap free cleansers. You are required to cleanse twice a day, in the morning and at night before bed time. Make sure you wash any traces of makeup especially at night to avoid bacteria buildup.
No need to scrub harshly, just apply the cleanser in circular motion with your fingers and rinse with cool to lukewarm water. Avoid products with alcohol, benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Exfoliation removes the ead topmost layer of the skin revealing a new fresh layer. However, if done in excess it can irritate the skin and cause it to act up. Avoid using chemical exfoliators to reduce irritating the skin. Exfoliate nothing more than twice a week and do not use a brush or anything that could cause friction on your skin.
Vitamin A, C, and E
Vitamins boost the vitality of your skin. Whether you ingest these vitamins or find products that are infused with them, vitamin a, c, and e can really change the game for you. In very rare cases people react to vitamin c, unless that is the case for you, it is advised to have it in your routine.
Moisturizing keeps your skin hydrated and soothes the skin when it is acting up. Dry skin easily triggers sensitive skin, so the more hydrated and moisturized your skin is, the less irritated it will be. Use anything from a mild to heavy moisturizer.
Fragrance free products
Sticking to products that are fragrance free, both for your face and your body. Even the products you use to wash your clothes and beddings can all have an effect on your skin. Fragrances can always cause an allergic reaction to people with sensitive skin. Buy products that say ‘fragrance free’ and not just ‘unscented’. It is also helpful to find products that are made specifically for sensitive skin.
Oats can be tremendously helpful for someone who has sensitive skin. A study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology showed that applying colloidal oatmeal to the skin helped with symptoms such as rashes, dry skin, and eczema.
As someone with sensitive skin, patch tests should naturally be a part of your routine. When you get a new product and you are not sure how your skin will respond, just apply it daily, on your inner arm and watch for 3 to 5 days.
If you don’t react, then you can try a little area on your face for at least 48 hours before going over your entire face. You can also test on your face if you are scared of having a reaction. Just in case you do get a reaction, it’s okay. Just stop using the product, your skin will eventually calm down and you can try something else again.
Let your skin rest for at least a week or 2 weeks. Don’t apply different products back to back. Let your skin breathe.
As someone with sensitive skin, you cannot skip sunscreen. Apply sunscreen every time you are about to leave your house. Go for a perfume free sunscreen as that may irritate your skin, preferable 30+ SPF or higher. Remember sun exposure can trigger irritation, so the best you do is to block the effect of the rays with sunscreen.