If you feel like your skin is more prone to getting adverse reactions from particular ingredients, you’re not alone. Sensitive skin is a condition that affects roughly 60% of the population.
There are many factors that cause skin sensitivity, such as genetics, hormones, stress, environment, weather, hard water, and household products. While we cannot do anything about our genes, we can take better care of ourselves by avoiding the wrong products and developing better habits.
Here are some tips that can help you soothe red, flaky, dry, or irritated skin:
1) Cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize your skin
Establishing a skincare routine is essential for great skin. Cleansing your skin removes makeup and dirt that clog up your pores, and exfoliating can address a build-up of dead skin cells. However, it’s important not to overdo your skin care routine; you can cleanse your face twice a day and exfoliate twice a week with a gentle exfoliant. Sensitive skin also gets worse when coupled with dryness, so it’s important to keep yourself moisturized — especially when the weather gets cold.
2) Protect your skin from heat
It may feel nice to spend some time in the sun or keep yourself warm by a fireplace during the winter, but staying too long near a heat source can actually dry your skin faster. Super hot water can also strip your skin of its essential oils, so use lukewarm water when you shower or soak in a tub.
You’re more likely to be irritated by sunburn if you have sensitive skin, so stay in the shade and limit your exposure to the sun. As much as possible, wear sunscreen and moisturizer with SPF everyday to protect your skin from sun damage.
3) Hydrate with facial masks
Sensitive skin often requires extra care beyond a normal skin routine; a hydrating mask is great if you want to calm your complexion. Not only will a face mask hydrate your skin, but it can also gently lift dirt and dust away.
Look for products with ingredients that mimic the skin’s natural lipids, like glycerin, niacinamide, or hyaluronic acid to repair the skin’s moisture barrier. Natural, calming ingredients such as shea butter, aloe, jojoba oil, and green tea can also soothe severe dryness.
4) Read the fine print
It’s always important to read up on the ingredients that are included in the products you use. Products that include alcohol, fragrances, or acids should be avoided by people with sensitive skin, as these strip essential oils away from the skin and lead to itching or dryness. Always read the product labels and stay away from synthetic chemicals such as SD alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, linalool, and citronellol; the fewer ingredients listed in the product, the better your skin will be.
On the other hand, it’s also good practice to keep an eye out for ingredients that can alleviate redness and relieve dry or irritated skin when creating a skin care routine for sensitive skin. Peptides and colloidal oatmeal are great ingredients to look for, as are allantoin and gluconolactone. As a rule of thumb, unscented and natural products are best for soothing skin.
5) Do a patch test
Want to buy some makeup, lotion, or soap but unsure about which ingredients you’re allergic or sensitive to? A patch test can help you identify which products are suitable for you.
Dab a small amount of product on your jawline or behind your ears to see how your skin reacts over a period of 24 hours. If there isn’t a reaction, you can slowly introduce this product to your skincare routine. It’s best to add new products one at a time, every two to four weeks to see how well your skin tolerates them.
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