Sensitive skin is caused by irritation in the nerve endings in the top layer of your skin and happens because its natural barrier function has been weakened for one reason or another.
Some of the things that are known to trigger sensitivity include:
Exposure to sunlight and air pollution
Temperature fluctuations (going from a hot office to cold outdoors for example)
Cold, windy, and wet weather
Using water with a higher mineral content
Cleaning your skin with very hot water
Not getting enough sleep
Hormonal changes – pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause
Chlorine in swimming pools
Naturally dry skin
A recent European study found that up to 52% of people surveyed reported that they had a skin sensitivity of some kind. This can be anything from an occasional flare-up to the kind of extreme sensitivity that can make life (and skincare) difficult.
An everyday sensitive skin can leave you with dry, flaky patches, itchiness and discomfort, blemishes and redness, and this can be serious enough to affect your confidence and self-esteem.
Can feel tight and uncomfortable a lot of the time
May be sore or sensitive
Needs extra hydration, especially in winter
Dries out easily but tends to be oily in summer
Often flushes after drinking alcohol or eating spicy foods
Tends to have red patches that may not fade
Has uneven texture, dryness and flakiness in places
Reacts to some skincare products
Is often itchy or develops a rash after contact with certain substances
Itches after contact with some types of fabric
Dries out quickly after a hot shower or bath
5 Tips for looking after your sensitive skin
1. Treat your skin kindly
Always look for products that are gentle and designed to not irritate your skin. Avoid higher concentrations of strong ingredients like niacinamide, retinol, vitamin C, BHA (salicylic acid), or AHA (glycolic or lactic acid). If you have sensitive skin, always read the label before using a new product.
2. Stay moisturized
Moisturising is even more important for you if you have sensitive skin. Ask your esthetician for advice, or as a general rule, opt for a gentle, long-lasting moisturizer that’s designed to keep sensitive skin hydrated throughout the day. Make sure that it doesn’t contain any irritating ingredients or ingredients that you know will cause your skin to react.
3. Keep it simple
Most dermatologists recommend a simple three-step regime for sensitive skin: Cleanse, Moisturise, Protect. Don’t get stressed about the latest 10-step skincare menus and multi-tasking products; with sensitive skin, less is more.
4. Always stay protected
Keep your skin protected at all times, from sun and environmental damage. Wear gloves to protect your hand when you are doing the laundry and household tasks. Always wear a sunscreen suitable for sensitive skin and use extra hydration when you expose your skin to harsh weather and temperatures.
5. Stay away from the perfumed products
Don’t use perfumed products. Research has shown that fragranced beauty and skincare products are one of the most common causes of negative skin reactions, so while the unscented skincare products may seem a little dull, you know that your skin will thank you for using them.
If in doubt – ask your esthetician for advice on the perfect products and treatments for your sensitive skin.