How to care for sensitive skin?
If your skin is prone to redness, reacts quickly to sun exposure or contact with new substances, or is dry or prone to breakouts, chances are you fall within 70% of the population that claims some form of skin sensitivity.
Skin sensitivity may arise from genetics and some among us could have been suffering from a young age from conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. However, signs of sensitive skin may be triggered by a variety of factors: From hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menopause or fluctuations during a woman’s menstrual cycle (or overproduction of testosterone in men which leads to overactive oil glands); to the use of face masks, and, increasingly often, the wrong use of skincare products.
This multitude of factors causing sensitivity may also explain why a skincare product or ingredient you once could use would now bring about a skin reaction, or why some people may experience breakouts due to sun exposure when they were once die-hard sun goddesses!
When skincare causes sensitivity
In a quest for baby soft skin, products packed with chemical exfoliants have been trending in recent years. AHAs like glycolic acid and BHAs like salicylic acid are miracle workers when it comes to getting rid of dead skin cells and unclogging acne-causing pores. However, long-term usage of products containing high concentrations of such ingredients may lead to increased skin sensitivity.
Some signs indicating that you may have been overdoing your favourite peeling serums, toners and other exfoliants are skin flakiness, redness, or a bumpy skin texture. You may also notice that other skincare products now cause irritation like a stinging sensation, and a tendency to burn more easily or develop pigmentation after sun exposure.
These symptoms may all indicate a compromise in your skin’s natural moisture barrier. This is because your skin is unable to produce new cells that are constantly being sloughed off by exfoliating products.
Develop a habit of patch testing
If you’ve noticed your skin becoming more sensitive, it’s imperative to patch test any new skincare product. In fact, this is a good habit to keep even if you have otherwise normal skin. This habit applies to natural products as well. For example, even though The Skin Firm formulations are tested for non-irritation, everyone’s skin is unique. So it’s always important to patch test whenever possible.
Ideally, apply the new product on a patch of skin on the inside of your elbow. Wait 24 hours before applying it to your face. Do also note that the skin on your face is more delicate than the rest of the body, so you may want to use the new product on just a small area - say, on the jawline, before proceeding to apply all over your face if you have extra sensitive skin.
It’s also good practice to introduce just one new product at a go, however tempting it may be to slap on a bunch of products from a new skincare regimen you’ve been wanting to try. That way, you may assess how the product interacts with other products in your current skincare routine, and zone in on any sensitivity issues.
The good news is that sensitive skin - especially in cases caused by overzealous use of exfoliating products - can be healed. Hydration is your best friend when you feel that your moisture barrier is weakened, so pick products that are highly hydrating, with a lower concentration of active anti-ageing or anti-acne ingredients. Also, steer away from products that cause skin dryness such as foaming cleansers that may slow down your recovery.