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All You Need to Know About Sensitive Skin
Do you experience any kind of peeling, redness, or irritation from time to time? Do certain makeup and skincare products cause you to break out in acne or rashes? Does your skin flake and feel tight after you wash it? That is probably a sign that your skin is sensitive.
First things first, sensitive skin isn’t a skin type the way dry or oily skin is. It just means that your skin is prone to irritation and allergies, some of which you might not be aware of until you try a product. Sensitive skin is pretty annoying to deal with because you might not be sure of which products you should be using. And it also differs from person to person. What you have an allergic reaction to might not cause another sensitive-skinned person the same reaction, or they might have a different kind of reaction. All in all, sensitive skin needs to be treated on an individual basis, and here is a guide to everything you need to know about sensitive skin — what causes it, how you can prevent it, and what to avoid.
What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin isn’t a disorder or skin type that you can be diagnosed with. It is usually a symptom in itself of an underlying skin condition. It could be due to allergies in response to certain ingredients and formulations. The good news is that sensitive skin isn’t usually a sign of a very severe skin condition, and if you are careful to use the correct products for your skin, you should not run into too many problems with your skin.
What are the causes of sensitive skin?
1. Dry skin
Having dry skin is often accompanied by a sensitivity of the skin that results in peeling, redness, irritation, itching, tightness, and flaking. Dry skin is a skin type in which an individual’s oil glands do not produce enough oil. Oil, or sebum, is important for keeping the skin well-moisturized and soft, and if you lack sebum in your skin, your skin barrier is compromised and will result in the loss of water and moisture from the skin cells. This causes the skin cells to be dry and die out, leading to redness, irritation, and flaking.
How to combat it: You should incorporate a potent moisturizer that can make up for the lack of oil in your skin. You can also consider using a hydrating serum to add back the water you lose, then follow up with a thick moisturizer to seal it all in.
Eczema is a pretty common chronic skin condition that is a result of a weak skin barrier. When the skin barrier is weak, it is unable to protect itself from irritants in the environment, causing itching, redness, and inflammation of the skin. One sign of eczema is crusting of the area that is irritated. There might be an irritant in your surrounding or an ingredient that is causing your eczema to flare up.
How to combat it: You can go to a doctor to get some medicine prescribed. Doctors often prescribe an antihistamine to combat eczema, but this differs from person to person. It is always better to get a diagnosis than trying to treat it yourself.
Rosacea is another skin condition that has unknown causes but it is basically a disease that affects that face causing extra sensitivity. The typical symptoms of rosacea are small, red bumps filled with pus that occur during flare-ups. Rosacea usually occurs on the nose, cheeks, and forehead areas. During a flare-up, the affected area will be very sensitive and one might even experience some kind of burning or stinging sensations.
How to combat it: You will want to get long-term prescription medication from your doctor to treat rosacea effectively. Since rosacea flares up every few months, it will require a long-term treatment rather than a one-off medication. If you are conscious of how the redness looks, you can try using green-tinted makeup primers to color-correct the areas with redness before applying makeup.
Should I avoid particular ingredients if I have sensitive skin?
There are certainly some products that will aggravate your skin if it is sensitive. Here are some common ingredients in skincare products that you should avoid and their alternatives.
Salicylic acid, use Witch hazel instead
Salicylic acid is a popular acne treatment as it is very effective at targeting blackheads and whiteheads. Salicylic acid dries out the oils that clog up your pores, hence reducing the swelling and redness. However, since it is so strong it has the potential to over-dry the skin which might result in irritation and dryness for people with sensitive skin. The alternative is witch hazel, which is a really good natural alternative that is a lot gentler and calming on the skin. Witch hazel is known for its properties of soothing and healing the skin, while also cleansing it. It works similarly to salicylic acid by unclogging the pores through the removal of additional oils and the bacteria that causes acne. Choose a witch hazel toner that has other calming ingredients such as rosewater and aloe vera. Use a cotton pad to apply the toner twice a day by gently patting it into your skin.
Hyaluronic Acid, use Squalene instead
Hyaluronic acid, also known as H.A., is one of the best hydrating ingredients for the skin. Its’ potency is attributed to its ability to retain up to a thousand times its weight in water. You can find hyaluronic acid in many skin care products today, and one of the most popular products is a hyaluronic acid serum which is meant to impart lots of hydration into the skin. However, hyaluronic acid can potentially cause irritation because it increases the penetration ability of other products for your skin to better absorb them. While this would usually be a good thing, remember that sensitive skin is well sensitive, so this added absorption ability might in fact increase irritation. Squalene is another super-potent moisturizer that will lower the chances of your skin getting irritated from your other products.
Sensitive skin can be difficult to manage, but if you pay careful attention to how your skin reacts to products and identify what might be causing your irritation, you will be able to reduce the instances of inflammation. As always, if you are unsure, get a doctors’ advice on your skin and they can more effectively prescribe treatments that work.
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