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Your Sensitive Skin Survival Guide
Having sensitive skin can be such a hassle. When most people try out a skincare product, it can take two weeks or even more to see whether it breaks them out or if it works for them at all. For people with sensitive skin, things happen faster than that. Some people with sensitive skin experience redness or irritation right away, some experience the appearance of pustules not even a week into trying out all the new skincare products they’ve acquired.
Having sensitive skin and dabbling in beauty is like having a field of landmines laid out in front of you and you have to tiptoe around to avoid a landmine — or product — than can either help or break your skin. It’s frustrating to deal with, and certainly can have one wishing that they were blessed with a trouble-free skin type instead.
While it may be frustrating and tricky a lot of times, there are still ways for people with sensitive skin to thrive and find what’s best for their delicate skin. In this article, we’re aiming to help in easing out all your worries about having sensitive skin! Learn care tips and tricks in this sensitive skin survival guide!
Causes of Sensitive Skin
Skin problems such as redness, stinging, burning, itchiness, and discomfort when using a skincare product can be a sign of skin sensitivity. Sensitive skin can be due to a number of factors, such as bad side effects to a skincare product or makeup, outside factors like the environment, or an underlying problem. While there are several causes of sensitive skin conditions, they are all rarely serious. With a proper skincare routine and management, you’ll be able to keep your symptoms under control and won’t feel like it’s a hassle at all.
Skin sensitivity has a lot to do with the lipid barrier or fat barrier of the skin. The lipid barrier is the surface that locks moisture in the skin and keeps out damaging factors. In individuals who have sensitive skin, this barrier is weaker and thinner, causing it to be easily damaged and leading to a more reactive skin.
Having a thin barrier means that moisture is almost always lacking, hence why a lot of sensitive skin types of people experience unwanted skin texture, dehydration, and dryness. Those who have thin lipid barriers also absorb products more deeply, which is the reason they’re more reactive to ingredients in beauty products.
The environment is a big factor too for sensitive skin types. Since the skin barrier is thin, all outside factors such as air pollution, smoke, smog, UV rays, wind, temperature, and toxins penetrate the skin easier. These deplete the skin of nutrients, making the skin more irritable and prone to issues.
Sensitive skin can also be a sign of an underlying skin condition, such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, or allergy. These conditions can make an individual extra sensitive to care products that normally aren’t a bother, such as soaps, makeup, cosmetics, and the like.
Can sensitive skin be cured?
While there is no actual “cure” to sensitive skin, it can be managed with the right skincare products and skincare routine at home. Avoiding irritants and using gentle skin care products can help a lot in keeping sensitivity under control.
What should I avoid if I have sensitive skin?
While the world of skincare may seem like a minefield of triggers for those with a sensitive skin type, it’s not all that bad. There are just a couple of things here and there that one must avoid or reduce to keep their skin in check.
One of the first things that you should do if you have sensitive skin is to check information on the label of your products or makeup and identify the ingredients. From there, you can compare with other products that have triggered irritation or issues on your face and narrow down which ingredient may have kicked off the sensitivity symptom. Once knowing which ingredients you’re sensitive to, you can take note of them, search for them, and avoid products that contain those ingredients.
Speaking of skin care products, it will be best for sensitive types to avoid products that contain common irritants like sulfates, dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers, alcohols, and botanical oils. It’s also good to steer clear of abrasive exfoliants and scrubs as these can cause tiny tears on the skin, leading to acne and irritation. Scented products should be avoided as well as these can be too potent for some skin types and can lead to breakouts and inflammation.
Another thing that you should avoid is washing the face way too frequently. Sure, washing the face is a great thing, in fact, it’s a vital skincare step that one shouldn’t miss, but over-washing and over-exfoliating can lead to the skin feeling stripped, resulting in sensitivity. Soap and hot water can diminish the lipid barrier of the face. Instead of washing the face with hot water, use cool or lukewarm water instead.
While it can be very difficult to avoid the environment itself altogether, there are still steps that you can do to protect your face from air pollution, weather, and other outside stressors. You can start by avoiding going out when pollution is high in the atmosphere. If you do go out, maybe use a lightweight face covering and remove it once you make your way to a less-stressful and less polluted indoor area.
What is the best skincare routine & skin care products for sensitive skin?
There may be a number of things to avoid when you have sensitive skin however, fret not, for there are still a ton of products out there that can accommodate and manage sensitivity. When you have sensitive skin, it’s ideal to have a skincare routine that’s absolutely pared down. Less is more, as they say. With having a basic skin care routine, you can make sure that you aren’t overloading your face with too many items that can irritate your skin.
Since sensitive skin means having a damaged lipid barrier, it’s ideal that the products you search and acquire are of the moisturizing or hydrating type. This can help in building up your barrier and reducing the sensitivity you experience.
First up is a cleanser. Leftover makeup and pollutants sitting on your skin are big no-nos. Not only will this result in sensitivity, but it can also become a breeding ground for acne. Having a gentle cleanser to wash your face with can definitely help a lot in reducing sensitivity. Try to use a cleanser that doesn’t contain alcohol, fragrance, essential oils, or other irritants. You can use hydrating cleansers that can plump the skin and restore moisture to your damaged barrier. For sensitive skin-specific cleansers, you can try:
- Cerave Hydrating Cleanser
- Hada Labo Gokujyun Super Hyaluronic Acid Foaming Wash
- Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser
Next step is a moisturizer. Now, moisturizers are highly important because these can truly help repair the lipid barrier that’s been damaged. Moisturizers can also aid in replenishing the skin texture. They can make your skin look plump and youthful too! A fragrance-free and irritant-free moisturizer will be the most ideal to use to avoid acne and inflammation.
Moisturizers often come as cream or gel types, and their use can depend on the weather or the amount of moisture one needs. Cream types work well for those who have intensely dry skin as cream contains plenty of lipids and oils for hydration. Cream ones are also thicker and more occlusive. Gel types are light on the face and are usually used by those who live in warmer, hotter climate locations since they sink into the skin faster and are cooling on the face. Here are some of our moisturizer suggestions for sensitive types:
- Etude House SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream
- Neutrogena Oil-free Daily Facial Moisturizer
- Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Baume
Lastly, get your hands on sunscreen! Sensitive type or not, never ever skip sunscreen. Skipping sun protection is the very last thing you’d want to do. UV rays can not only cause sensitivity, but they can also cause deeper skin issues that can increase the risk of skin cancer. Paying attention to using sunscreen can help reduce the damage both on the outer and inner layer of the skin.
There you have it! Sensitive skin may be a hassle, but with the right products and routine, you’ll be able to manage these symptoms and give your skin the care that it truly needs.
Share your sensitive skin experiences in the comments below!
Ira Arellano graduated with a degree in Multimedia Arts from the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. When she’s not busy writing, Ira uses her remaining free time fawning over groups with too many members, reading three books simultaneously, crying over animated shows and fictional people, and being salty over her lack of gacha luck.