Redness, reactivity and irritability are all indicators of sensitive skin. Whether caused by environment or genetics, sensitive skin is a common concern.
WHAT IS SENSITIVE SKIN
Sensitive skin is a broad term for skin types with reduced tolerance to irritants of any kind. The main causes are genetics, environment and age. Redness, inflammation, flaky skin and itchiness are the common symptoms of sensitive skin and are usually triggered by external factors such as a new skincare product, perfume or even laundry detergent.
The spectrum of sensitivity can be different for each person. Environmentally sensitive skin may become red and angry as a result of air pollution or weather changes, while reactive skin only becomes inflamed once it comes into contact with a specific irritant (usually a new skincare product).
Frequent, severe and painful irritation of the skin can sometimes be linked to underlying conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, rosacea or psoriasis. In these instances, it’s important to seek medical attention from a doctor or dermatologist.
WHAT TO AVOID FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
Products containing alcohol, retinoids, and alpha-hydroxy acids should be avoided. Steer clear of physical scrubs as these products use small particles of pumice or seeds to nudge away at the outer layer of skin. Anything that contains sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS) should also be avoided, as SLS is a foaming agent commonly found in soaps and shampoos and is known to cause drying in the skin.
Sun protection is vital, especially for sensitive skin, but opt for physical sunscreen instead of the chemical alternative. The physical varieties are made up of mineral formulations (such as zinc oxide) that sit on top of your skin to physically block the sun. Chemical sunscreens sink in and absorb the UV, so they’re more likely to cause irritation.
Look for fragrance-free products as scent in skincare can trigger reactions. Anything that has been sitting in your cosmetics cupboard too long should also go in the bin, because all skincare has a use-by date.
HOW TO TREAT SENSITIVE SKIN
Find and eliminate any triggers that cause a reaction in your skin. To do this, keep a daily journal of products that touch your skin – from skincare to shampoo, dishwashing liquid to laundry detergent. When it comes to building a skincare routine, slow and steady is the best approach. Introduce new products one at a time, to establish skin tolerance.