Sensitive Skin? Stay Away from These Popular Ingredients

Sensitive Skin? Stay Away from These Popular Ingredients

Introduction

If you have ever experienced redness, rawness, and itching after using some products, you probably have sensitive skin. Contrary to popular belief, sensitive skin is not a skin type, and neither is it a medical diagnosis, rather it is just a description of skin that is more prone to inflammation and reactions to products. People with sensitive skin often have strong reactions to products that have fragrances and chemicals, and sometimes even friction from clothing can be a cause of irritation and inflammation. 

Having sensitive skin also means that you have to be super careful with what products you choose, as many skincare products can potentially cause irritation to your skin. Many holy grail skincare products might be too strong for people with sensitive skin, hence instead of the product working the way you might want it to, it might cause increased breakouts of redness and inflammation. In this article, we will go through common skincare ingredients that you should avoid, and what alternatives you can use instead.

Salicylic acid

Why it’s bad for sensitive skin:

Salicylic acid is a very popular treatment for acne as it is very effective at targeting blackheads and whiteheads. Salicylic acid can easily dry out the oils and stuff that is clogging up your pores, reducing the swelling and redness from pimples. 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. 

What should you use instead: 

Witch hazel 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 in the sense that it can unclog the pores through the removal of additional oils and the bacteria that causes acne. Witch hazel is nowhere near as strong as salicylic acid, so you will need to use it more frequently in order to get the desired effects. 

How you can use it: 

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

Why it’s bad for sensitive skin: 

This might come as a piece of sad news for many people. 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. While hyaluronic acid isn’t necessarily a trigger for inflammation in sensitive skin, dermatologists warn that it can potentially cause some irritation. This is because hyaluronic acid works by increasing 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. 

What you should use instead:

Squalene is another super-potent moisturizer that will lower the chances of your skin getting irritated from your other products. Another alternative you can consider is ceramide-3, a well-known mega-hydrator which is very beneficial in strengthening and reinforcing your skin’s barrier. 

How you can use it: 

Apply your choice of ceramide-3 or squalene product morning and night after your serum or prescription medication. It basically works as a moisturizer, so apply it after your lighter products to lock it all in.

Retinol

Why it’s bad for sensitive skin: 

We’re really sorry to be listing every single gold-standard ingredient, but that’s just the way it is! Retinol is one of the best ingredients for your skin — it can help fight anti-aging, acne, and improve collagen production, hence leading to an overall improvement of the skin texture, tone, and look. However, you might be familiar with how retinol often causes breakouts, irritation, and peeling in the first couple of weeks of usage as the skin cells start to renew at a faster rate. This is what makes retinol unsuitable and not recommended for people with sensitive skin as it will only aggravate and cause a lot of inflammation, and irritation. 

What you should use instead: 

You might not have heard of this lesser-known ingredient, bakuchiol. Bakuchiol is a retinol-alternative, as it triggers the same receptors as retinol but it does not cause the same irritation and redness. You will hence be able to get the same benefits as retinol but without the irritation, making it a perfect alternative!

How you can use it:

Like retinol, bakuchiol works most effectively at night when the skin cells are in their nighttime preparation stage. You should hence use your choice of bakuchiol treatment during your nighttime skincare routine.

Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Why it’s bad for sensitive skin: 

AHA’s are well-known for being one of the best exfoliators on the market, but like every other product above, it is just too strong for sensitive skin. The most popular AHAs are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid and they are excellent for exfoliating the skin and giving a much brighter and smoother skin appearance. Unfortunately, these acids will cause irritation for skin that is sensitive and it also makes the skin more vulnerable to the sun. 

What you should use instead: 

A milder acid called polyhydroxy acids is your best option. They work similarly to AHAs by brightening and evening out the skin, but they do not cause the same sensitive reactions that an AHA would. The molecules of PHAs are bigger, so they do not penetrate the skin as deeply, hence making them a much more gentle option for those with sensitive skin. 

How you can use it: 

You can use it as a toner, or find a mask or serum with PHA as an ingredient.

Conclusion

Sensitive skin might seem like a hassle, but it is worth being more careful and using gentler products than trying to use all the popular ones and having inflamed, irritated skin. Consult a dermatologist if you are unsure of what products you should be using, and get a prescription if your skin is particularly sensitive.

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