Owing to a variety of factors, about half the population today has experienced skin issues like redness, irritation, burning, itching and peeling more than once in the course of their lives. More often than not, these symptoms lead us to label our skin as sensitive, which in turn pushes us to navigate the skincare landscape with much fear and hesitation. However, dermatologists suggest that what many people believe to be sensitive skin, is actually sensitized skin.
What’s the difference? Let’s deep dive.
Sensitive skin is purely genetic. The trouble here is that the epidermal lipid barrier (i.e. your skin’s surface) isn’t as adept at naturally blocking irritants and allergens as other skin types. Ailments like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis are common symptoms/manifestations of sensitive skin, and on-going issues like these should never be left unchecked. Your immune system could also be causing skin sensitivity – especially if you experience redness, pain, peeling, itching and inflammation during particularly stressful moments.
How to care for sensitive skin:
- Choose fragrance- and alcohol-free products
- Avoid astringent and exfoliating products
- Wash your face only once a day with normal or lukewarm water
- Use an extra-mild, non-foaming cleanser
- Look for products with Ceramides – it can help form a protective layer on your skin
- Incorporate products gradually, with lower concentration and in small amounts, so that your skin can build up tolerance
- Patch test, ALWAYS!
- NEVER skip sunscreen *( Unless you are sensitive to some sunscreen ingredients. In that case opt for a large hat or umbrella)
Where sensitive skin is genetic, sensitized skin is acquired. Genetically, your skin may be dry or combination, but has become sensitized due to damage to the lipid barrier. You may remember a time when your skin was normal, but over the years started to act sensitive – becoming easily inflamed, irritated and itchy. There are a variety of factors responsible for this, internal as well as external.
Pollution, excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking, chronic mental and physical stress, lack of sleep, imbalanced diet are some of the most common culprits that cause skin sensitization.
Other equally notorious factors include:
- Skincare practices like, over-exfoliation, using strong peels and scrubs too often
- Products with synthetic fragrances, lanolin, mineral oil, hydroquinone and denatured alcohol
- Hot showers, spicy foods, frequent air travel, extreme temperatures, vigorous rubbing and scrubbing
How to care for sensitized skin:
Luckily for you, sensitized skin can be reversed and taken back to it former glory via the simply process of elimination among the factors we can control.
- When you consume alcohol, you fast-track your skin to dehydration. So, remember to hydrate double time
- Cover your face, when it’s too cold, too sunny or too windy
- Do not compromise on sleep, nutrition and exercise, to restore balance and revitalise your skin
- You too should choose alcohol- and fragrance-free products. Products formulated to soothe, hydrate and strengthen your skin are ideal
- Use a mild, non-foaming cleanser once a day. Gently massage to slough off the grime. DO NOT scrub
- Use a repairing serum
- Face oils are great for you, as it helps strengthen the skin’s barrier, lock in moisture and minimise redness
- Choose products with Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Vera as some of the active ingredients
- NEVER skip sunscreen