Sensitive Skin: What It Is, How to Cope, and the Best Products for You

Updated: Nov 4

In the world of skincare, being “sensitive” doesn’t mean that your feelings are easily hurt. Instead, it means that your skin can be easily affected and has a definite set of characteristics that require special care.

If you think you may fall in the sensitive realm, read on.

What is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin is easily “bothered” by things. Sun exposure, wind, heat and cold, chemicals in products, and other similar factors can all cause this skin type to react. The reaction may vary, but the skin is often reacting to something.

What Causes Sensitive Skin?

There can be several causes. You may have been born with sensitive skin. Maybe your mom or dad had it, or one of your grandparents. Either way, it’s been that way since you can remember, and you’re stuck.

There are other things; however, that can cause your skin to become more sensitive. These include:

Allergies—if you are allergic to certain things, your skin may react sensitively to them.

Dry skin—dry skin types are often sensitive as well because of the thinner outer layer.

Excessive exposure to environmental factors, such as the sun, wind, or harsh chemical irritants

If you have any of the above skin conditions, you qualify as a sensitive skin type.

Sensitive skins usually notice these types of problems:

• Occasional redness

• Sunburns and windburns easily

• Occasional blotchiness

• Dryness

• Oily skin

• Clogged pores

• Tight skin

Most Sensitive Skins Have Triggers

If you have sensitive skin, you may already know some “triggers” that create reactions on your skin. There are some common ones; however, you may not be aware of it. Some well-known triggers that can make sensitive skin react include:

• Temperature changes

• Chemical and/or synthetic fragrances

• Dyes

• Cosmetics and soaps

• Preservatives

• Propylene glycol and ethanol

• Fragrances (the #1 allergen and irritant in cosmetics)

• Bismuth oxychloride and mica (light-refracting ingredients found in makeup)

• Hormonal imbalances

• Lanolin

• Rubber latex

• Chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides

• Menthol and peppermint

• Gold and silver metal

Some people who have allergies to natural trees and grasses, such as ragweed, can also develop allergies to essential oils like chamomile and calendula since these are cross-reactive ragweed allergens.

Check your labels!

Others can gradually become sensitized to certain skincare products that have formaldehyde, particularly after using them for a while. Always be careful about the ingredients in your products as some harsh chemicals and preservatives can sometimes create skin sensitivity over time as you use them.

“Women are using more anti-aging products than ever before,” says Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, M.D., a dermatologist from Miama, “and the potent exfoliants in them can irritate. So more women are experiencing the symptoms of sensitivity.”

Lifestyle Factors to Help Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin types can benefit from some lifestyle changes that may help protect your skin. First, if you have allergic reactions, check with your allergy doctor. A patch test may reveal what ingredients you are allergic to, so you can avoid these in the future.

Other steps you can try to protect your skin include:

Protect

Think of sensitive skin as fragile skin—it needs protection always. Use hats, clothing, and safe sunscreen. Protect from the wind with scarves.

Detox

Not in your body, necessarily we are talking here about your home. Get rid of the toxic elements as much as you can, as the more you cut back, the less likely your body (and skin) will be to react. Get rid of chemical and environmental irritants in your care items, laundry items, household cleaners, or paints.

Moisturize

Sensitive skin is typically dry, so it’s vulnerable to attack. Keep it moisturized always.

Always take your makeup off.

Do not sleep in your makeup! Even the most natural products can become clogged in your pores and irritate your skin. Use a gentle cleanser and then put on your moisturizing night cream, so your skin recovers.

Be wary of bacteria

Replace your washcloth and pillowcase more often and tossing out old makeup and cosmetic products. Wash your makeup brushes often and let them air dry.

Consider a shower filter.

Many sources of city water may contain chlorine or other chemicals that can cause your skin to react. A shower filter can help cut down on your exposure to these chemicals.

Test

When you’re trying a new product, always test it on your wrist, arm, or behind the ear first before putting it on your face or your body.

Avoid your triggers

As much as you can, avoid triggers like lanolin, harsh soaps, alcohols, chemicals, and fragrances. Learn to read labels on your skincare products.

Use a humidifier

Unless you live in a humid climate, use a humidifier to help your skin stay moisturized.

Don’t be fooled

Any manufacturer of personal care products can put “hypo-allergenic” on their label. It doesn’t mean you will not have an allergic reaction to it, so always test it first.

Daily Routine for Sensitive Skin

With sensitive skin, the keys are “gentle” and “non-toxic.” Keep these two terms in mind whenever you’re shopping for new products or thinking about trying home-based remedies.

Wash gently and naturally

Try to avoid harsh cleansers, particularly soaps and cleansers, that have sulfates, alcohols, and preservatives in them. These can not only make your skin react but will contribute to dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles. Try a gentle, natural formula that will clean while soothing and calming.

Natural cleanser

Don’t tone—rebalance

Sensitive skin types should stay away from regular toner, as it’s usually drying, irritating, or harsh. Instead, what you need after cleansing is something that will help restore balance to your skin that cleansing disrupted.

You can also try our NEW rosewater and aloe, which are both helpful for occasional redness and is soothing and gentle, yet balancing.

Moisturize and calm

Like dry skin types, sensitive skin needs regular moisture. You need ingredients that will calm. So you’re looking for your moisturizer to hydrate and soothe.

You can also try our Jojoba and Frankincense Herbal Oil for the skin or Aloe Vera oil formulas, or look for calming moisturizers like chamomile, shea butter.

Sensitive skin

Add to your weekly routine.

In addition to your daily routine, take these steps every week for more glowing, hydrated skin:


Exfoliate with the utmost caution!

All skin needs exfoliation, but it can further damage sensitive skin types if you’re not careful. Avoid harsh scrubs and choose natural exfoliators like our Brown Sugar and Coconut Oil Facial Scrub.

This product helps exfoliate while still moisturizing and soothing. You can also use oatmeal and water. Try once or twice a week, depending on how your skin reacts. Avoid microdermabrasion and other harsh treatments, however.

Nourishing mask

Sensitive skin needs nourishment even more than other skin types. Here again, the key is “soothing.” You want a mask that’s going to calm and balance. You can also try mixing plain yogurt with oatmeal and leaving on the skin for 10-15 minutes or mix heavy whipping cream with brewed tea and honey.

Gently Care

Sensitive skin ages just like other skins and often shows fine lines and wrinkles even more quickly. Try mixing strawberries with yogurt instead, and leave that on your skin for a few minutes. Strawberries have natural hydroxyl acids. You can also try salicylic acid, as it’s gentler than the other types.

Do you struggle with sensitive skin? How do you cope? Please share any tips you may have.

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