Sensitive skin is prone to redness and flushes. The higher histamine level in the body makes the skin sensitive and more susceptible to inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, Resaca, and eczema.
Sensitive skin is one which is unable to tolerate any unfavorable conditions (environmental/other), and which easily gets irritated on contact with foreign materials (including skin care products). For this reason, some products are especially labeled as sensitive skin care products. The degree of sensitivity can however vary from person to person (and depending on that, the sensitive skin care procedures vary too).
Generally, all skin types respond negatively to detergents and other chemical based products. However, the damage starts generally beyond a defined threshold (or tolerance level). This tolerance level is very low for sensitive skin types, leading to skin getting damaged very easily and quickly. Sensitive skin care products either avoid the potential irritants or keep them at very low concentrations.
Many people say they have sensitive skin because:
• Certain skin care products, or household products that contact their skin, cause stinging, burning, redness, and/or tightness.
• Although they have no visible effects after contact with a product, it always makes their skin feel uncomfortable.
Dermatologists, doctors specializing in skin, consider the diagnosis of sensitive skin when they:
• See skin reactions such as pustules, skin bumps, and/or skin erosion.
• Observe excessively dry skin, which doesn’t adequately protect nerve endings on the skin and may lead to skin reactions from cosmetics or skin care products.
• Notice a tendency to blushing and skin flushing, which may also be signs of sensitive skin.
Sensitive skin is usually quite fine in texture, with a tendency to be rosier than usual. Easily irritated by products and external factors, it’s also prone to redness and allergy, and may have fine broken veins across the cheeks and nose. There are varying levels of sensitivity. If you feel you can’t use any products on your skin without irritating it, cleanse with whole milk and moisturize with a solution of glycerin and rosewater. These should soothe it.
Sensitive skin needs extra-gentle products to keep it supple and healthy. Choose from a wide range of hypo-allergenic products that are specially formulated to protect sensitive skin. These products are free of common irritants, such as fragrance, that can cause dryness, itchiness or even an allergic reaction.
Characteristics of Sensitive Skin:
If you have sensitive skin you will find that skincare or make-up products are very hard to use, creating itching, flaking, reddening or flushing. Eighty per cent of women think they have sensitive skin, though in reality only 10 to 20 per cent show the true characteristics. If you’re one of them, you’re likely to have fair skin or red hair, be prone to flushing easily (red veins and high color are signs of potential sensitivity) or suffer other types of allergy like hay fever or asthma, as these cause the release of histamines which make your skin more reactive. Stabilizing the skin and treating it with products that won’t cause these reactions are the way to get it looking good.
Causes of Sensitive Skin:
1.Hereditary: You may have been born with a genetic predisposition to sensitive skin, such as thin, fine or light skin that is susceptible to sunburn. In this case, there is nothing you can do to “cure” it, you just need to learn how to reduce the irritants in your life and then learn to cope with it.
2. Sensitivity to A Product: Certain products can cause your skin to react due to certain irritants present in it. Such products can be detergents, certain skin care products, Fragrances, Bleaches, Sunscreens etc.
3. Certain Foods and Vitamins: Try to avoid foods with hot spices curries or peppers. Be very careful not to touch the juice of fresh peppers (wear gloves if you are making salsa) because it may cause your skin to burn. Very hot foods and liquids can also cause painful flushing of the skin. Caffeine and alcohol also cause vasodilatation resulting in a flushing overheated and itchy feeling skin. Test yourself with these various foods and drinks, but keep in mind that while one food might not cause problems alone, in combination with others it can really irritate your skin. Some vitamins can also increase skin sensitivity. People with sensitive skin should avoid high doses of Niacin (Vitamin B3) because it releases histamines to the skin causing vasodilatation.
4. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors such as cold, wind, rain, sun and heat can cause allergies that manifest themselves through blotchy skin or hives. This irritated skin has a heightened sensitivity.
5. Some Treatments: Waxing, laser treatment, chemical peels and dermabrasion and even shaving can irritate the skin. Hot showers, saunas and Jacuzzis (chlorine in pools and Jacuzzis can also dry and irritate the skin).
6. Underlying skin disorders or allergic skin reactions related to immune system dysfunction such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives), rosacea, or allergic contact dermatitis.
7. Overly dry or injured skin that can no longer protect nerve endings, leading to skin reactions.
8. Excessive exposure to skin-damaging environmental factors such as sun and wind, or excessive heat or cold.
9. Less well defined are genetic factors and age, gender, and race differences in skin sensitivity. For example, a type of eczema called nummular dermatitis is most commonly found in men over age 60.
Do’s and Don’ts of Sensitive Skin:
1. Normal soaps can dry the skin, be sure to use a moisturizing soap. Wash your face with mild baby soap.
2. Use a homemade night cream, before retiring to bed for the night.
3. Limit your exposure to things which usually irritate your skin.
4. Wear gloves to protect your skin, especially when washing dishes or cleaning the house. If you wear plastic or rubber gloves, be sure to take breaks to wipe the sweat away from your hands as it too can irritate them.
5. Keep your showers or baths short and use only lukewarm water, followed immediately with a moisturizer that locks in the moisture.
6. Use a moisturizer designed specifically for sensitive skin.
1. Never use any makeup or perfume without first trying a little of it on the inside of your wrist to see the reaction of your skin to it, for very few items of makeup agree with a sensitive skin.
2. Don’t scratch or rub your skin. This not only irritates your skin, it can also break the surface of the skin enabling irritants or bacteria to become trapped, resulting in further irritation.
3. Stop smoking, this dries and irritates your skin.
4. Don’t get too stressed as this also further irritates your sensitive skin.
5. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
How to Care For Sensitive Skin:
Firstly, eliminate any unnecessary products from your skincare regime. The average woman uses five to six skincare products, so exposing her skin to more than 100 chemicals a day – and you could be sensitive to any one of these. All you really need for good skin is a cleanser, a moisturizer with a sunscreen and, depending on your age, an eye cream. Everything else is superfluous – and, in the case of harsh products like alcohol-based cleansers and toners, retinols and alpha-hydroxyl acids, may cause more problems than they solve.
Secondly, make sure you avoid products containing ingredients most likely to cause sensitivity. These are usually fragrances, colors and preservatives (particularly formaldehyde), though technically you could be sensitive to anything. One relatively painless way of reducing the risk, is to use only those products from ranges that say they are hypoallergenic. Natural products may suit you, as they often containing calming ingredients like chamomile, cornflower, milk and liquorices’.
Thirdly, treat your skin with care. Make sure you cleanse gently to remove make-up at the end of the day as reactions tend to occur when you overexpose your skin to any product. Use very light, creamy cleansers or, preferably, facial wipes, which minimize your contact with product ingredients. Restrict cleansing to once a day to help maintain the skin’s own protection. Use a specialist eye make-up remover, as facial cleansers may include ingredients that will irritate your eyes.
Moisturizing is important: the drier the skin, the more prone it is to sensitivity. Apply a light moisturizer twice daily. To treat other problems like ageing or spots, do it just once a week and stick to one product. If your skin reacts, water down the dose by mixing it with a moisturizer or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. If you still get a reaction, stop.
If choosing a skin care product for a sensitive skin one should search for the following ingredients:
• Only a few ingredients
• Little or no fragrance
• Methylparaben or butylparaben as preservatives
• Use face powder, which has few preservatives and minimal risk of skin irritation.
• Use a silicone-based foundation for minimal skin irritation.
• Do not use waterproof cosmetics, because you need a solvent to remove them.
• Use products with fewer than 10 ingredients.
• Use black eyeliner and mascara, which appear to be least allergenic.
• Use pencil eyeliner and eyebrow fillers; liquid eyeliners contain latex and may cause an allergic reaction.
• Use earth-toned eye shadows, which are generally less irritating to upper-eyelid skin than darker colors such as navy blue.
• Throw out old cosmetics, which can spoil or become contaminated.
• Do not use nail polish if there’s any risk you’ll touch your eyes or face with it before it dries.
If you have sensitive skin, avoid products containing:
• Antibacterial or deodorant ingredients
• Retinoid or alpha-hydroxyl acids.
Tips for protecting sensitive skin against Winters & Summers:
The use of sun-screen lotions year round is recommended by leading dermatologists and the American Academy of Dermatology. Use a product with at least a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 rating, and use it every day that you will be in the sun for longer than 20 minutes.
Also to keep in mind, the sun’s skin-damaging UV rays are strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Avoid going out in the sun during these hours whenever possible — any time of the year.
In winter, to help prevent skin dryness, flaking, itching, and cracking:
• Don’t overheat your home.
• Take warm, not hot, baths and showers — and fewer of them — and use a soap-free cleanser.
• Minimize skin dryness after bathing: Pat your skin dry and apply moisturizer while your skin is still moist.
• Use a moisturizer containing petrolatum, mineral oil, linoleic acid, ceramides, dimethicone, or glycerin.
In summer, keep in mind that tanning actually damages your skin — don’t lie out in the sun, even if you’ve applied sunscreen.
If you do go out, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and tight-woven clothing that covers your arms and legs, apply your sunscreen 15 minutes to 30 minutes before going out, and reapply it every two hours or after swimming or if you’ve been perspiring heavily.