Do you Suffer from Sensitive Skin?
How do you know if you have sensitive skin? Sensitive skin is actually thinner skin, with blood vessels and nerve endings closer to the surface, which is usually more reactive to stimulants and irritants. It is typical of Fitzpatrick Type I or II skin (light skin that always burns or sunburns easily). Sensitive skins can also result from the overuse of cleansers, exfoliants, or harsh peels that strip the epidermis of barrier lipids that normally protect the skin from irritants and inflammation.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of treating sensitive skin:
Don’t Strip the skin. It’s best to use only non-foaming or low-foaming cleansers. Sensitive skins suffer from impaired barrier function- a lack of lipids between the cells in the epidermis, which allow for easy irritant penetration and water loss (deyhydration). Avoid traditional cleansers with lauryl sulfates and avoid alcohol-based toners.
Do use ingredients that support the barrier function. Restoring the barrier function of the epidermis greatly reduces redness. Ceramides and other essential lipids are important ingredients for sensitive skin types. These ingredients patch the epidermal barrier, increasing hydration, making it less susceptible to environmental damage and decreasing redness.
Don’t expose sensitive skin to heat sources, including the sun. Heat causes vasodilation, increasing blow flow and redness. Avoid heat treatments including heat-producing masks, infrared light treatments and excessive hot steam treatments. People with rosacea have higher skin temperatures which cause certain bacteria on the skin leading to the production of more proteins which can produce inflammation. Stay cool and wear your sunscreen daily.
Do use treatments that cool and soothe redness prone skin. Cool steam, cool compresses, cold “cryo” globes used over gauze for penetrating moisture products and cooling gel masks are great for sensitive prone skin. Soothing, calming massage with cooling hydration products can calm nerves and redness.
Don’t use scratchy mechanical exfoliants. Scrubs, especially ones with rough granules (ie. Nut shells) can degrade the fragile barrier function of sensitive skin. Microdermabrasion should be avoided.
Do use products that contain calming agents. Ingredients that help reduce redness include allantoin, aloe, bisabolol, licorice root, green tea extracts, matricaria extract and sea whip. Peptides like acetyl dipeptide-1 cetyl ester, dipeptide-2, and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3 help to lessen redness.
Don’t use known sensitizers or common allergens. Sensitive skin should avoid fragrance, dyes, and formaldehyde-releasing preservative such as ureas. Beware, some essential oils may be very stimulating and not appropriate for sensitive skin.
Do keep the skin well moisturized. Dry skin has been documented to contain more cytokines, which are immunoproteins that can signal cells to produce inflammatory reactions. Choose fragrance free moisturizers containing ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, sodium PCA and seaweed extracts, that will help to keep the skin hydrated.
Daily sunscreen a must! Sensitive skin types should use a daily sunscreen developed for their skin. Best sunscreen ingredients for sensitive skin are those with physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which reflect and disperse UV light instead of absorbing it, thus decreasing heat to the skin.