Sensitive Skin Sucks – But There Are Things That Help
Sensitive skin is the traffic to a fun road trip, the bloating to a good pasta and the sunburn to a weekend away. Basically, it ruins a lot of fun things, i.e., makeup, skincare… and general daily life and happiness (Dramatic? Who me?!).
All hyperbole aside, sensitive skin is difficult, but there are things that can be done to manage it. But before you start shopping retinols and Active serums, we have to first address what sensitive skin even is and if YOU have it? The word sensitive gets thrown around more than ‘gluten’ and it’s just as confusing. But to help clear it up, there are two types of sensitive skin. There’s sensitive skin (duh) and then there’s sensitised skin. The latter being the most common.
First, what is ‘sensitive skin’?
‘Sensitive skin’ is a skin type, commonly genetic. It’s prone to clinical diagnoses such as eczema, rosacea and a whole lot of other painful inflammatory and allergen responses.
What to do If you have sensitive skin
• Always patch test products on a hidden patch of skin on your body before trying something new on your face. Even super natural and gentle makeup like our Mineral Foundation Powder or our Earth Cream Tinted Moisturiser.
• Keep your skin hydrated – both internally and externally, this will help your skin respond better if exposed to irritants.
• Support your protective barrier by using ceramides – the building blocks for your protective barrier.
• Look at ingredients – Get familiar with long ingredient names, and google them to learn more.
• Choose beneficial ingredients like Nigella sativa and Manuka Tree Leaf Oil that are soothing to inflammatory skin conditions such as our Earth Cream.
• Watch what foods you eat - sometimes sensitive skin can be caused by allergens.
What is Sensitised skin?
Now that we know what sensitive skin is, let look at ‘sensitised skin’. Sensitised skin is the more common of the two but just as painful. It’s the perfect imitation of sensitivity and that’s why most people say they have sensitive skin! (we’re guilty of this too). But it’s not all gloom and doom, sensitised skin is much easier to manage than genetic sensitivity
What to do if you have sensitised skin?
• Patience – you have to give your skin time to heal itself.
• Cut back all products back to basics. A gentle cleanser, moisturiser and SPF are all you need until your skin is ready to accept more.
• Make sure everything that touches your skin has a gentle profile. That means no SLS or other cheap detergents (best to stay away from these altogether).
• Hydrate – hydrated skin is happy (not irritated) skin.
• Use ceramides to build a protective barrier – just like you would for sensitive skin.
What not to do if you have sensitive skin or sensitised skin
• Don’t use harsh exfoliants
• Don’t use fragrance – try and limit it to your body as well, if you can.
• Don’t use harsh washing cleansers – Looking at you SLS.
• Don’t use scrubs - you aint no scrub, so don’t use them either
• Don’t have long hot showers (as nice as they are)
What causes these sensitivities?
Well, genetic sensitivity is caused by, you guessed it, genetics! It’s an inflammatory or allergic response with side effects ranging from itchy, dry skin and redness to burning and breakouts. If you’ve had issues like that for as long as you remember, then I’m afraid your sensitivity may be genetic. Sensitised skin, on the other hand, can happen later in life from external factors, like environmental stressors, sun exposure, pollution, or overuse of active skincare.
How to overcome both
To overcome sensitivity, you have to rebuild your protective barrier (the outer layers of your skin). Your protective barrier is the bouncer to the party that is your skin, stopping gate crashers (irritant, pollutants and allergens) in their destructive little tracks.
You can think of your skin barrier like a brick wall put together with mortar (concrete) between the skin cells. That intracellular lipid mortar is partly composed of a form of lipids called ceramides. With sensitive or damaged skin, that mortar is weak or missing in some spots like a wall that’s missing some bricks. If skincare goes on top of that, it penetrates through those gaps and causes irritation and a whole riot of other painful issues. That being said, if you strengthen the wall and fill in the gaps, skincare will sit happily on the layers it’s meant to. Basically, grow a thicker skin and stop being so sensitive! (literally).
And lastly, use products that understand the struggles of sensitive skin. Our Mineral Foundation Powder and Earth Cream Tinted Moisturiser are specially designed, light foundation bases that comfort rather than irritate. Our entire range from Blushes, to Bronzers and Vegan Edible Lipsticks are 100% natural and irritation free as well so there’s one less thing to worry about. Because it is possible to love and wear makeup with sensitive skin.
Recap: Focus on clean healthy skincare ingredients, keeping your routine minimalist and paying attention to what’s not in your products as well as what is. Use ceramides to rebuild those bricks and wear SPF protection every day. Supporting your barrier function, along with the do’s and don’ts listed above and you’ll be well underway to combatting sensitivity.