Sensitive skin is a drama queen.
It’s always throwing tantrums for the most random things. But it never tells you what the heck is wrong with it. Once it decides it doesn’t like something, there’s no reasoning with it. Argh!
Dealing with a drama queen is never fun. But when you start listening to it carefully and understand what pushes its button, you can heal your relationship and become BFFs for life.
1. Go Small
The shorter the ingredient list, the better. The less stuff a cream contains, the less likely something in there will bother your skin.
Plus, a short ingredient list is much easier to decipher, so you won’t get a massive headache.
- Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream ($13.49)
- Bakel Jaluronic Serum (£100.00; only 2 ingredients!)
- Sunumbra Sunkids SPF 40 ($33.70)
2. Say Goodbye To Fragrance
Slathering on a cream that smells of roses and raspberries is so much better than using one that smells of, well… you know that faint chemical odour fragrance-free creams have.
But that’s NOT what your skin likes. Dare to put it in touch with fragrance and it’ll repay you with a rash.
Here’s a little secret: fragrances are made up of 100 or more ingredients. Some of them are famous for causing allergies (yes, citronellol and linalool, I’m looking at you).
If you spot anything you like with the words “perfume” and “fragrance” while out skincare shopping, put it back on the shelf. Unless you want your skin to throw another tantrum, that is.Sensitive skin is a drama queen. Avoid its tantrums by going minimal & soothing.Click To Tweet
3. Say No To Essential Oils
Wait, isn’t anything natural supposed to be good for the skin? Not really.
You know those chemicals you hate so much? Well, essential oils are made up of hundreds of chemicals. And some of them can be irritating or cause allergies, too.
Take chamomile, for example. Bisabobol is the chemical that makes chamomile so soothing. But chamomile also contains allergens (about 7%).
So, use the bisabobol and ditch the oil. These days, it’s so easy to extract the goodies from these plants and just put those in cosmetics. That way, you get all the benefits without the side effects.
P.S. It’s not always easy to spot essential oils on the label. Look out for anything that says “leaf oil”, such as thyme leaf oil (“leaf extract” is ok).
4. Stay Clear Of All The Other Irritating Stuff Too
Fragrance and essential oils are the worst culprits, but there’s plenty of other stuff lurking in your lotions and potions that could irritate your skin:
- Alcohol Denat (or Alcohol SD)
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
- Apricot kernels
- Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
- Glycolic acid (may be too harsh for sensitive skin)
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Vitamin A (may be too harsh for sensitive skin)
- Vitamin C (may be too harsh for sensitive skin)
P.S. This doesn’t mean these ingredients are the devil incarnate and should be avoided at all costs. Most skin types can use them safely. It’s only sensitive skin that has to beware of them.
5. Ditch The Bar Soap (And Anything That Foams)
The “glue” that holds bar soaps together are in an alkaline base. That’s scientific jargon for high PH.
When the ph’s too high, your skin’s protective barrier gets damaged. Moisture gets out and bacteria and other nasty stuff get in. Result? Dry, irritated skin.
Foaming cleansers are better, but they too tend to be harsh for anyone who doesn’t have oily skin. They usually remove too much sebum (the skin’s natural moisturizer), leaving skin dry and prone to irritations.
The solution? Opt for cream, balm or oil-based cleansers instead. If you don’t need to remove your makeup, you can get away with a micellar water too.
- Bioderma Sensibio H2O (£7.00)
- Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ($29.00)
- Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser ($17.00)
6. Soothe It Away
Ok, now that you know what to avoid, it’s time to focus on what you can use (finally!).
Opt for products that have plenty of anti-inflammatory ingredients. The best ones are:
- Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream ($13.49)
- Derma E Soothing Toner ($12.56)
- Paula’s Choice Calm Redness Relief Repairing Serum ($34.00)
7. Do A Patch Test
I know, who does those? They sound so lame. But if your skin’s sensitive, they can be a lifesaver.
I mean, if something goes wrong and you end up covered in hives, wouldn’t you rather the damage be limited to a small area, like a wrist, than you whole face?
Thought so. Do the patch test.
P.S. Some ingredients don’t bother your skin immediately. You can use something safely for years and then one day, completely out of the blue, develop an allergy to it. Patch tests ain’t a one-time thing. Do them regularly.
Related: How To Do A Patch Test
8. One Skincare Product At A Time
The reasoning is simple. As tempting as it is to use all your new goodies at the same time, how do you know which one is to blame for that ugly rash?
Use them one at a time. And I don’t mean one a day. One a month, more like. Yep, that’s how long you should wait before introducing ONE new skincare product into your routine.
I know, bummer. But that’s what the drama queen needs.
9. Don’t Munch On Inflammatory Foods
Are you doing everything right and still your skin keeps throwing tantrums? Maybe your skincare ain’t the problem. Maybe it’s your diet you have to change.
Lots of the foods we love (cake, anyone?) can trigger inflammation in the body. And that shows up on your skin in the form of redness, rashes, hives… It ain’t pretty.
The worst culprits?:
- Spicy foods
I’m not saying you should eliminate them from your diet completely (although, sometimes, you just may have to, sorry!), but cut them back as much as you can and see how your skin reacts. Chances are, your skin will decide to behave nicely for once!
The Bottom Line
Sensitive skin is an intense and demanding drama queen. But by avoiding its triggers and focusing on creating a soothing and relaxing atmosphere, you can calm it down and enjoy a loving and beautiful relationship.
Do you have sensitive skin? If so, how do you take care of it?