If you're reading this article, you probably know how big of a commitment sensitive skin is. Skin sensitivity can leave you frustrated, afraid, and always on edge. You can't try new makeup or skincare products without reading the ingredients list first. And you can't scratch your face because it's likely to leave a red mark. You can't use normal laundry detergents, and you can't just enjoy the change of seasons - you have to adjust your skincare routine to them.
But you're not alone in this daily struggle. Around half of the population is estimated to suffer from chronic sensitive skin.
You're probably wondering if there's anything you can do to combat this skin condition. We have everything you need to know about sensitive skin causes, symptoms, and proper treatment.
Before you start treating sensitive skin, you need to know if you have it. There are a couple of sensitive skin symptoms you need to watch out for. If you're experiencing most of the following, then your skin is probably on the sensitive side.
Now that we've covered all possible symptoms of this skin type, let's delve into the probable causes. And don't worry - there are many things you can do to ease symptoms of sensitive skin.
Harsh skincare products can cause damage to the protective skin layer and make your skin more sensitive as a result. These harsh products often include ingredients incompatible with your skin or incompatible with each other, which causes a bad skin reaction. It might cause allergic contact dermatitis (otherwise known as allergic reactions).
So, how do you solve this problem? If you notice that a skincare product is giving you redness, stinging, burning, itching, irritated skin, or other symptoms right after you apply it, it's probably a sign you need to stop using it.
Always listen to your intuition. If your dermatologist prescribes a product for your face, they probably believe you will benefit. But what if your skin doesn't agree with it? Should you go against your dermatologist's orders?
If you feel a product isn't right for your skin, speak to your dermatologist. Your skin might just need some time to get used to it. However, there's a chance the product and your skin might not be a great match. If the latter is true, the symptoms won't disappear.
Using natural skincare and at-home remedies isn't always a good idea. Some people don't benefit from using only natural ingredients on their skin. Others might find that combining chemicals with natural ingredients is useful. You have to figure out what works best for you, but to do that, listening to your skin is crucial.
Exposing your skin to the sun can also cause it to become more sensitive. UV rays put the skin under a lot of stress, which, in turn, weakens its protective layer. The sun can also make your skin dry, irritated, and more prone to premature signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. Whichever way you put it, the sun is not a friend to your skin.
If you suspect the sun and its UV rays are causing skin dryness and irritation, limit your sun exposure to a minimum, especially during summer and between 10 am and 4 pm.
If this isn't an option, you'll need a sun protection factor. Wear a cap and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen (ideally SPF 50) before leaving the house. This will go a long way in relieving dry skin.
Sudden temperature changes can also cause havoc on your skin. Excessive cold and dry winter air can cause damage, while heat can make you more prone to sweating. This results in dry skin after the sweat evaporates. Airplane air can be a trigger for some people because of the low humidity inside the plane.
Although there's nothing you can do about the weather, try giving your skin's protective barrier some extra love during these periods. Soothe dry skin by applying a hydrating mask or treating yourself with a nice serum. You could also try an over-the-counter cream or ointment recommended by your healthcare provider.
And make sure to wear gloves to keep your hands from becoming sore and cracked.
Water isn't created equally. If you've ever observed the changes tap water makes to your skin and hair, you've probably noticed that your reactions differ according to the place you're at.
Hard water (water with high mineral content) can make your skin more sensitive. This can cause changes in texture after you're done with your skincare routine or right after you get out of the shower.
Along with hard water, washing your face with scorching hot water can burn your skin's barrier and irritate sensitive skin. Lukewarm water is best for washing your face if you have sensitive skin. Always use a soap-free cleanser and apply moisturizer afterward.
Unfortunately, certain skin types are overly sensitive to chlorine in swimming pools. Always wash your face right after you get out of the pool. If this option isn't available, use a face wipe meant for people with sensitive skin conditions. When you get home, use skin care products to treat dry skin.
Skin conditions and skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and acne can make the skin more sensitive to harsher chemicals such as alcohol and silicones. A low immune system or an untreated skin condition can also lead to dry patches of skin.
Many different skin care products can help you manage symptoms of these conditions, such as cream for eczema and Misumi's Retinol Intense Repair PM Creme for acne. Always seek advice from a doctor or healthcare provider if you think you may have an underlying health condition. Treatment becomes easier with a medical diagnosis.
Shaving can cause skin irritation and dry skin. Not just because of the shaving process but also because of some of the beauty products used afterward, which might cause irritation in people with skin sensitivity. If you have scaly patches or dry skin after shaving, your skin might lack moisture. Make sure you invest in a good moisturizer.
You've heard about all the benefits of 'beauty sleep' by now, so there's no need to go on and on about how important an adequate sleeping schedule is. Chronic lack of sleep can seriously damage the skin, especially if your diet isn't healthy and you aren't properly hydrated.
People who suffer from allergies (allergic contact dermatitis) are more prone to having sensitive skin due to the allergens penetrating deeply into it. This is why doing a patch test is always important, as you don't want to end up with a severe allergic reaction.
If you develop severe allergic contact dermatitis, seek emergency medical attention. You'll most likely be given an oral antihistamine to stop the immune response.
It's a fact that certain skin care ingredients can cause skin reactions in some people. In the worst-case scenario, they will cause a breakout or irritant contact dermatitis.
It's hard to notice a pattern since skincare products have so many ingredients nowadays. But, generally speaking, sensitive skin types should avoid alcohol, silicones, mica, talc, fragrances, and colorants. If you have an allergic response to a product, seek advice from a doctor. They might give you anti-itch creams to soothe irritation until your skin heals.
Even if the product boasts all "fragrance-free" and "all-natural," certain plants, oils, or other ingredients might contribute to your sensitive skin.
Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are amazing treatments for most people. But if you have skin sensitivity, it might not be the best idea to incorporate them into your acne routine very often.
This is because chemical peels and microdermabrasion remove the outer layer of the skin. This is great news if you have some wrinkles and fine lines you need taking care of, but it's most certainly bad news if you have sensitive skin. They may cause itchy skin, burning, and redness.
If you notice a change in texture, getting these treatments more sporadically is probably a good idea.
If you've found your trigger in the causes mentioned above, don't worry! Although some can't be directly treated, you can help your sensitive skin repair itself to a certain extent.
If you're a fan of at-home treatments, then you'll love this! Yes, OTC products can be equally effective, but who doesn't love a good face mask for at-home pamper sessions? These home remedies are cheap, effective, and take no time! The best part is – you don't even have to get out of your house to do them.
Here are some of the best treatments for sensitive skin.
Did you know that mango contains many nutrients which are crucial for healthy skin? This sweet and delicious fruit isn't just good for fruit salads - it's also an amazing ingredient for face masks. It contains vitamins A, C, and E, high amounts of beta-carotene, and antioxidants.
For this mask, you’ll need:
Combine the ingredients in a blender until they form a paste. Apply the paste to your skin and let it sit for 20 minutes. Wash your face off afterward and use a moisturizer suitable for sensitive skin, such as our best-selling,non-comedogenic moisturizer. It's best to add this mask to your routine no more than three times per week.
Oatmeal makes for a great breakfast option - we all know that. But applying it to your skin brings certain unique benefits as well, such as absorbing excess oil and nourishing your skin with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. So try out this super simple face mask. It's perfect if you have a sensitive skin type.
Blend together half a cup of oatmeal and one tablespoon of honey. If you feel like going all out, you can also add a couple of drops of vitamin E oil. After blending, apply the mixture to your face and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash your face thoroughly afterward since the oatmeal can leave residue on your hair and face. You can apply this mask two to three times a week.
We've laid out all the benefits of tea tree oil here. To sum up, it's an antioxidant powerhouse with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits that protect and treat the skin wonderfully. It's been successfully used as a spot treatment by many people who suffer from acne. Not to mention, it makes for a great facial toner as well.
After you've washed your face, dilute some tea tree oil with water. The ratio should be 1:9. Put the mixture on a cotton pad and apply it all over your face. You can leave this to work overnight or, if your skin is sensitive, wash it off after a couple of minutes. Either way, expect to see major improvements in your skin and spots (if you have any).
If you're into skincare, you've probably tried a couple of toners in your regular routine. Unfortunately, industrial toners oftentimes contain many harsh ingredients inside, which can definitely aggravate sensitive skin. So, should you avoid toners altogether if you have sensitive skin?
The answer is no! There are many options that don't involve harsh products your skin might not like. You could even make these toners at home!
Here are the best DIY toners for sensitive skin.
Packed with antioxidants and anti-aging properties, green tea makes for an excellent toner option. It clears clogged pores and can protect the skin from redness and sun damage.
You can either use the tea from tea bags or prepare your own leafy green tea.
If you're using tea bags, squeeze the residue after you're done stirring the bags in the mug. You can either squeeze it in a small bottle or put it directly on a cotton pad. Apply it directly on your skin after you've washed your face and before you put on your moisturizing cream.
Consuming green tea will also help with skin issues.
Rose water is an amazing option for a toner since it contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antiseptic properties. It can help balance your skin's pH levels and reduce the production of excess sebum. On top of that, it has incredible anti-aging properties too. What's not to love?
You can purchase rose water in most drugstores and health and beauty supplies stores. Put a few drops of rose water on a cotton pad and massage it gently onto your skin. Make sure to moisturize afterward for the best results. You can even use it as a makeup remover.
We've all heard about this ingredient before. It's commonly used in OTC products because it's packed full of skin-healing benefits. Witch hazel can reduce inflammation and skin irritation. It protects the skin against sun damage and can even fight acne and infections. The list of benefits seems to go on and on!
Witch hazel can be easily found in drugstores, pharmacies, and health food stores. Place a generous amount of it on a cotton pad and rub it all over your face. It can be used a couple of times a day.
Now that we've covered all the causes and sensitive skin treatments let's go over some of the methods, habits, and techniques you can use to ensure your condition doesn't get worse. Remember, prevention is much easier than treatment when it comes to sensitive or reactive skin.
If you apply makeup regularly, chances are, there's an ingredient in your makeup products that isn't suitable for sensitive skin. It's best to use natural or mineral makeup, but if this isn't an option, here are a few common triggers you can avoid:
When it comes to your everyday skin care routine, choose products and ranges specifically targeting sensitive skin. The fewer the ingredients, the better. It's always good to opt for fragrance-free products, as those with fragrances can cause skin reactions and encourage dry patches of skin. Salicylic acid treatments should only be used in moderation, whereas you might find that hyaluronic acid and vitamin C serum work wonders.
Wash your face twice a day and choose a suitable moisturizer. When leaving the house, make sure you apply SPF.
Drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. Water will keep your skin hydrated from the inside out, and exercising regularly is a great option for stress relief. In addition, make sure you sleep at least seven hours a night.
Include food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Adding anti-inflammatory food to your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and nuts, will also help.
When it comes to habits, don't wash your face with boiling water or use high temperatures while you shower. If the outside temperatures are too extreme, avoid staying outdoors as much as possible. Do an allergy test if you haven't done one already, and stay away from allergens as much as possible to avoid an allergic reaction.
Dealing with sensitive skin is not a walk in the park. It can make many aspects of your life more difficult. You'll need to pay extra attention to what skincare and topical products you use in case they cause an immune reaction.
Certain factors can worsen sensitive skin, such as climate changes, other environmental factors, stress, hormonal changes, certain medications, insufficient sleep, and the quality of the water you use to wash your face. There also might be an underlying cause. If this is the case, visit your healthcare provider so they can diagnose any medical condition that might be causing your skin sensitivity.
But worry not! There are many precautions and habits, and lifestyle tweaks you can make to get your skin back to normal, and the best time to start is right now.