The only thing probably worse than hypersensitive skin is not knowing what to do about it! Fortunately for you, Lovoir Beauty is, once again, here to save the day!
Why is my skin so sensitive?
First things first, it’s important to note that sensitive skin – in of itself – is not actually a condition. It’s usually a symptom of something else, and you probably won’t even realise you have it until something triggers it off.
Hypersensitivity occurs when the fatty outer layer of the skin – the lipid barrier – is damaged somehow, resulting in it being weaker or thinner than it should be. This then compromises its ability to keep the good stuff (water) in and the bad stuff (UV rays, extreme temperatures and chemicals) out. Thus, irritants are freer to penetrate the skin, causing all kinds of problems.
Most of the time, it’s connected to an allergy of some kind, in which the skin reacts to a stimulus by the activation of the immune system when it senses a threat.
The good news is that the conditions that cause sensitive skin are rarely serious. The bad news? It’s just so goddam uncomfortable!
What causes hypersensitivity?
Sensitive skin reacts to certain things, such as:
- Extreme temperatures
- Hard water
- Certain foods and spices
- Certain fabrics
- Stress and anxiety
There are eight main skin conditions that carry hypersensitivity as a symptom, too:
- Dry skin
When skin loses too much water or oil it can cause itchiness, peeling, roughness and bleeding. Together, this makes a cocktail of the perfect ingredients for hypersensitivity.
Also known as atopic dermatitis, this condition affects your skin’s ability to protect you from irritants, meaning you’re extra sensitive to products that others wouldn’t be. Symptoms include dryness, itchiness, small bumps and raw, cracked skin.
There are two types:
- Irritant Contact: A red itchy rash that develops when the protective layer of your skin is damaged by something it touches.
- Allergic Contact: Less common but more pervasive, this occurs when you have an allergic reaction to a specific substance, such as soap, fragrances and jewellery.
A common skin disease that affects the face, Rosacea – which is characterised by red patches and small bumps – can cause extreme sensitivity.
There are two types of Urticaria – also known as hives:
- Contact: This is the result of direct contact with an irritating substance, such as plants, fragrances and various cosmetics, and symptoms include itching, burning, tingling, redness and swelling.
- Allergic contact: Hives that are caused by exposure to heat, cold and chemicals.
An abnormal reaction to sunlight, where the UV rays trigger the immune system to cause rashes, blisters or scaly patches of skin.
- Cutaneous mastocytosis
A condition in which too many mast cells (part of the immune system) accumulate in the skin, releasing chemicals that cause chemicals on sensing a threat. It is triggered by irritating substances and usually characterised by flat, red spots.
- Aquagenic pruritus
A very rare condition in which the touch of water causes immediate itchiness.
Sensitive skin treatment
It’s not all doom and gloom if you have sensitive skin; there are lots of things you can do to minimise the discomfort!
Have a gentle cleansing routine
Equally important to the ingredients contained in your face wash is the frequency in which you do it! Don’t overdo it – too much cleaning can just make your sensitive skin even worse as it can further break down an already-compromised lipid barrier.
Applying a moisturising cream or ointment two to three times a day will help, but make sure it’s gentle and fragrance-free to prevent further irritation. Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, coconut oil and Shea butter are just some examples of sensitive-friendly ingredients you should look out for. As ever, drinking water is vital to the health of your skin, too.
When it comes to cosmetics, make smart choices:
- Face powder has fewer preservatives, thus minimal risk
- Choose a silicone-based foundation
- Avoid waterproof makeup as you’ll need a special, harsher remover
- Stick to black eyeliner and mascara as they have been proven to be less allergenic than other colours
- Replace all cosmetics – along with brushes and sponges – frequently
As well as going fragrance-free in your cosmetics, watch out for other known irritants, too, such as laundry detergents and hand soap. A gentle, hypoallergenic, pH-balanced choice should be favoured. Sulphates, dyes, preservatives, alcohols and emulsifiers are not your friend. The simpler the better – always. Also, don’t be fooled by a label that says ‘unscented’ – this doesn’t always mean it’s fragrance-free!
If you suffer from sensitive skin, this piece of advice is going to be invaluable to you (we promise!): No matter what the product, always test on a small, inconspicuous area of skin at least one day before you plan to apply fully. When you do decide to introduce a new product into your repertoire, build it up gradually so your skin can develop a tolerance and mix with a moisturiser to help create a barrier.
This is one of the worst things you can do to sensitive skin, so limit to no more than twice a week and do it gently.
Be weather aware
Wear gloves when it’s cold and slap on the sunscreen (minimum SPF 30) when it’s hot. Never overheat your homes, either, as this can worsen already dry skin.
Choose comfortable clothing
Smooth, soft, natural fabrics – such as cotton and silk – are best for sensitive skin. Make sure it’s as loose-fitting and breathable as possible.
Be shower sensible
Try to limit to five minutes with warm – not hot – water. Gently pat yourself dry afterwards instead of rubbing.
A cool oatmeal bath can soothe sore, blistered skin. You can even make your own by grinding oatmeal into a fine powder. Aloe Vera – a natural gel – is another great remedy to help soothe burning skin, as is green tea and chamomile.
Over the counter remedies
There are a range of OTC treatments you can try, such as a steroid, like hydrocortisone, numbing creams and antihistamines – both oral and topical – as well as pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, to help reduce inflammation.
This is where we come in!
Our range of three Janesce facials – Petite, Spa and Relaxation – gives a hydrating botanical boost through a cleanse, exfoliation and peel to address every unique skin need. Read more about them here to decide which is best for you.
You may also want to sign up for our popular LED light therapy facial – a highly recommended treatment for hypersensitive skin. Read more about it here
Featured image: Good Free Photos