Dermatologist-Approved Tips to Living With Sensitive Skin

Dermatologist-Approved Tips to Living With Sensitive Skin

Introduction

One of the biggest challenges you will face when having sensitive skin is how volatile your skin is. Sensitive skin is super unpredictable — one day you might go out, perhaps to a nice garden for a picnic, and all of a sudden the wind blows some invisible little pollen bits into your face, and the next thing you know, your skin has become itchy, red, and stinging. It’s a cruel world out there if you have sensitive skin. Since sensitive skin differs from individual to individual, and there is no actual diagnosis for what causes sensitive skin, there’s really no knowing what will trigger a reaction from the skin. 

We hear and feel you. People with normal non-sensitive skin already have so many problems finding products that work for them without the potential of an ingredient causing irritation. The struggles of sensitive skin are definitely up there on the list of “Unfortunate Skin Problems”. We’ve put together a handy guide of dermatologists’ top tips to maintaining and managing your sensitive skin so you have a better idea of what to avoid and what you can do to keep your skin irritant-free more often!

Keep your skincare routine to a few products with as little ingredients as possible

If you have sensitive skin, the rule of thumb is “less is more”. The fewer products you use on your skin, the more your skin will thank you. The principle is pretty simple: sensitive skin is triggered by irritants that cause a reaction from the body. We often don’t know what exactly is an irritant that can trigger a reaction, it can be anything from a single ingredient in one of your serums, or maybe the particular formulation of a product does not agree with your skin. The fewer products you have, the less you are exposing your skin to the chances of an irritant. The same goes for ingredient lists. The longer the ingredient list, the higher the chances of encountering an ingredient that causes a reaction. Hence, try to use clean skincare products with short ingredient lists so you can better identify what is causing your irritation should it cause you any. As a sensitive-skinned person, all you really need is a very basic and simple routine — a gentle cleanser that does not contain sulfates and hence does not foam, a good moisturizer, and sunscreen with minimal SPF 15 is pretty much all you need for a daily basis. Avoiding cleansers with grains and beads, harsh exfoliants, and strong topical creams with chemicals is the best way to go.

Don’t over-cleanse or over-exfoliate as this will only increase your skin’s sensitivity

Overcleaning your skin is one of the worst things you can do to sensitive skin. Too much cleansing can further strip your already weak and thin lipid barrier. Get a super gentle cleanser and pick one with no sulfates. Sulfates are usually found in cleansers that can foam up and lather, so try to steer clear of them. Micellar water is another good option for removing makeup gently. Don’t use hot water on your skin either as this can “melt” the lipid barrier. Lukewarm water is the best temperature. Also, don’t wash your face more than once a day. Keep the cleansing for at night when you need to remove all the build-up on your face. Exfoliating too much will also increase the sensitivity of your skin. Exfoliating too much can thin out the skin barrier, making the skin even more vulnerable to irritation. Keep exfoliating just once a week, and don’t forget that the skin is able to clean itself! Our skin has natural processes that allow it to shed dead skin cells and renew itself, so don’t worry about it. Let nature do its thing.

Make patch testing new products a habit

Yes.. we know… patch testing is an absolute pain, but trust us your skin will thank you later. Whenever you get a new product, always test a little bit on the inner part of your arm first to gauge how your skin will react to the product. If your inner arm is not red and irritated after a week of trying it, you can test it on the side of your neck. Should there be some irritation and redness, stop using the product as it is a sign that you are allergic to it. You will be able to figure out what formulations cause you irritation through patch tests. If you are not sure or don’t want to go through the long process of testing out every single new product, go to a dermatologist who can prescribe you the most suitable products for your skin. They will be able to identify what ingredients might be too harsh for your skin to handle. Patch testing can also help your skin build up tolerance and resilience to stronger products such as retinol and exfoliators. Hey, this will save you lots of time and money trying out new stuff then discarding it because it irritates you!

Take short showers and avoid using hot water

If your skin is sensitive, it is likely applicable to your whole body and not just your face. Therefore it is super important that you are gentle with the rest of your body too! Make sure that your body washes and bath soaps are all fragrance-free. Also, this might sound strange but only use your body soap on the areas that produce odor and have sweat glands, such as the armpits, groin area, and buttocks. It might feel unhygienic and unclean not to use soap all over your body, but using soap all over will excessively dry out the skin of sensitive people. Steer clear from loofahs and cloths that can further aggravate the skin. And don’t take hot showers! Hot water is extremely drying for the skin. It feels really great at the moment but once you get out your skin will be red, raw, and maybe even peeling. Once you get out of the shower, put on a thick body moisturizer that can really lock in all the moisture from the water.

Conclusion

Living with sensitive skin can be a pain, but if you follow these simple steps and take extra caution, you can avoid the irritation and discomfort much better!

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