It can be quite tempting to try out all those myriads of skin care products in the market, each one promising a range of desirable results. But you have to be doubly careful if you have sensitive skin. You don’t want to apply a body wash or a cream that leaves you with a rash or a bout of acne! But does this mean you can’t have fun with skincare at all?
The answer is to first understand what sensitive skin is, whether you have it and what ingredients could be causing the irritation. Then, you find products that avoid those ingredients and build your own skin care routine for sensitive skin. Read on to learn all about it.
What exactly is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin is a skin condition in which your skin tends to overreact or hyper-react to certain environmental elements. These elements are not generally considered as irritants but they cause an abnormal response in sensitive skin. They make the skin inflamed with reactions like swelling, burning, redness, itching and can sometimes also lead to painful lesions and wounds.
Sensitive skin isn’t necessarily a condition you have from childhood. It is something anyone can develop suddenly despite other skin predispositions. Some severe cases of sensitive skin may even demand medical attention.
What kind of products work for sensitive skin?
There are some basic rules of thumb while selecting products to include in your skin care for sensitive skin.
- Always go for fragrance-free products. Avoid synthetic fragrances at all costs
- Products with alcohol are a big no-no as they are very harsh on the skin and can strip away all its moisture and natural oils
- Use gentle and simple formulas with a minimum number of ingredients
- Look for ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties to calm skin irritations
- Try your best to go for real, natural ingredients as they are gentler on the skin and are less likely to irritate it.
Steps for your skin care routine for sensitive skin
If you have sensitive skin, a simple skin care routine should essentially include the following steps that you must follow religiously.
Skin care routines for all skin types, including sensitive skin must begin with a cleanser. Cleansing gets rid of impurities like dust, dirt, makeup, dead skin cells and excess oil on the skin.
Not cleansing adequately causes the pores to become clogged which can cause irritation and breakouts. Clogged pores also make the skin look dull. They also don’t allow for other beneficial ingredients you may apply to penetrate deep into the skin.
For sensitive skin, look for a cleanser that is cream-based with a dense texture and calming ingredients such as aloe vera, witch hazel, chamomile, green tea extract and shea butter. These ingredients not only balance the skin’s pH but also prevent it from drying up. Avoid cleansers that contain sulphate and are rich in botanical oils to keep the skin hydrated
Post-cleanse toning helps get rid of any residual impurities that might clog the pores. It also delivers the skin instant hydration and helps with the absorption of other active nutrients you supply to the skin like retinoids and antioxidants.
Look for a mild toner which is free from ingredients like parabens, salicylic acid and any type of alcohols. Look for ingredients like rose water, honey, glycerin, vitamin C and essential oils like clary sage, lavender, rose, chamomile and neroli.
Hydration is especially important for sensitive skin as moisture plays an important role in maintaining the skin barrier to harmful ingredients. When the skin is dry, there is a higher chance for germs and irritants slipping through. Dry skin has a tendency to become itchy and flaky.
For sensitive skin, look for cream or lotion-based moisturizers that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, petroleum jelly, lipids and ceramides. These ingredients keep the moisture locked in and form a strong skin barrier. Go for products that are non-comedogenic to avoid clogged pores.
Also, look for anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green tea extract, aloe gel, chamomile and polyphenols. Botanical oils like sweet almond oil, merula and jojoba oil are excellent for moisturizing the skin while also protecting it.
One of the major causes of irritation in sensitive skin is exposure to UV radiation. UV radiation is notorious for not only weakening the skin barrier but also triggering inflammation and breakouts.
Exfoliation is something you cannot skip just because you have sensitive skin. It is a process your skin needs to get rid of dead cells and activate the process of rejuvenation. Exfoliating also helps reduce hyperpigmentation like dark spots that usually result from acne and other inflammation. It brightens the skin and makes it look radiant.
Look for a physical sunblock with ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. They reflect the UV radiation and prevent it from penetrating deep into the skin. Chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone and benzophenones that have a tendency to trigger photo-allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. These should be avoided at all costs.
However, you need to be extremely careful with what exfoliator you use when it comes to sensitive skin. Scrubbing and mechanical methods can further irritate the skin and cause inflammation. Look for exfoliators with superfine particles or chemical exfoliators instead. Exfoliate only once or twice a week and never overdo it.
For sensitive skin, one ideal exfoliator is a peeling pad that contains glycolic and lactic acid. If you want to go for face scrubs, look for vitamin B5 and E to smoothen the skin. Look for natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like oatmeal, aloe vera gel and lavender oil to calm irritations.
6 Face mask
Unlike in oily skin where facemasks reduce the shine and oil on the skin, an effective face mask for sensitive skin is one that moisturizes, soothes and heals the skin. Look for hydrating elements such as avocado, cucumber, shea butter and chamomile. For skin brightening, look for antioxidants like vitamin C and A.
You can also use simple kitchen ingredients to make your own soothing face mask at home. An oatmeal-honey mask is excellent as both ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties. They also speed up the skin’s healing process.