Sensitive skin can be a pain to look out for. Here we have five easy to follow sensitive skin tips that’ll make bearing with it that much more easier.
1. Only Use Gentle Products
Let’s start with the basics.
While every skin type can benefit from avoiding overly harsh cleansers, facial peels, and exfoliators, with sensitive skin you have the most to gain and absolutely need to stay away from these types of products.
If your skincare products are making your skin irritated or inflamed — stop using them. It’s actually better to just throw them out or give them away and not use anything at all than to continue with something that’s doing more harm than good.
What’s worse, harsh products tend to mess up the pH balance of your skin and wreck its natural protective lipid barrier. This barrier helps retain moisture (more on why that’s important in tip #2), and it keeps all the bad stuff from the environment like grease and grime off and away from your pores. Repairing and maintaining your skin’s barrier will do more for sensitive skin then practically anything else.
So how do you know if what you’re using is too strong? Look at how your skin reacts. Does it burn or sting immediately afterwards? Do you breakout about a day later? Does it turn red? Does it completely strip away all the oils off your face leaving it dry as a desert?
If it does any of the above, it’s probably too strong for your skin.
Use a gentle, non-foaming cleanser, and avoid clay and mud masks in favor of cream based facial masks instead if you’re going to be exfoliating.
2. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
For whatever reason, most people with sensitive skin also seem to have dry skin. This isn’t a rule — it’s definitely possible you have sensitive skin alongside an oily or combination skin type but this is the trend we notice. Dry skin has many of the same symptoms that are also common in sensitive skin types like…
Being easily irritated, flaky patches, cracking, feeling skin “tightening” after using a cleanser — if you have any of these problems it’d be best to follow a routine designed for dry skin types rather than for oily or combination skin.
Anyways, keeping your skin moisturized will help manage these symptoms whether your skin is dry or not. If your skin is missing the suppleness or bounce that healthy skin has you should be diligently moisturizing because moisture will restore elasticity and make your skin more resilient to external triggers which can cause it to act up like the environment and troublesome skin care products you might be using.
Simply put, well hydrated skin will keep sensitive skin from flaring up and will greatly reduce the chances of what we like to call “skin emergencies” from happening.
3. Read the Product Labels (and between the lines)
Please do yourself a favor and before you decide on a new skincare product, read what it actually says on the packaging or bottle itself! This information is valuable and will give you clues on whether it might be right for you.
These are some words to look out for:
- Fragrance Free
Here’s a little warning though: Just because it says these words, that doesn’t mean they’re actually true! Claims made on skin care products aren’t well regulated which is why most brands stock up on buzzwords like the above to help less informed buyers choose their product.
Since you’re reading this and you’re on this site, we do not want you to be a naïve or uninformed buyer.
The real thing you should be looking at is the ingredient list. If you know what most of those long, unpronounceable chemical names listed at the back do, you’re way ahead of most people.
Remember, you’re only a quick Google search away from finding out whether an ingredient listed is a known irritant or causes people problems.
By the way, we created a helpful guide of some of the more commonly known irritants all people with sensitive skin should avoid so check that out to help steer you in the right direction.
4. Pay Special Attention To What You’re Eating
It’s no secret that what we eat affects the way we look. It seems like whenever we talk about skin we also end up talking about food. Even though most people think about food affecting their body composition and weight, it also has a large effect on the appearance and health of our skin. We wrote up a large guide on the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that most benefit your skin in this handy guide and we have a top 10 list of the most beneficial skin healthy foods here.
So why mention it again? Think of managing sensitive skin as walking on a tightrope. You have to try to keep it in balance or else you’ll just fall off and have to pay the consequences (in this case inflammation, breakouts, redness, and more unpleasant things). Since it’s so easy to lose this balance when you have sensitive skin, you have to try your best to maintain equilibrium and stay in that perfect sweet spot.
One way of accomplishing this is by eating foods that help your skin instead of harming it. If you have known problem foods, stay away from them even if they taste good, as hard as it may be.
Dairy for example seems to be a serious problem for many people. Try cutting out all dairy products from your diet for a month and see if it makes a difference. For others this might be nuts, greasy, fatty foods, chocolate, or something completely different. Find whatever’s giving you trouble and drop it from your diet.
Sensitive skin is more prone to being affected by the food you eat so be extra careful to make sure the food you’re eating isn’t ruining your skin’s delicate balance.
5. Do a Test Run
Reading the ingredients list and any labels before you buy a new product is great.
But if you have the opportunity to try before you buy, well that’s even better.
Many companies now offer free or low cost samples through their online stores. Even some retail stores (Sephora for example) let customers try their products before they buy them. Take advantage of these opportunities and see how your skin reacts to something before you splurge on it and then finding out it breaks you out or your skin burns after using it because by then it’s too late.
While you won’t be able to filter through every troublesome product using this method (sometimes the consequences aren’t seen until hours or days later), if you see an immediate negative reaction on your skin then you know it’d be best to stay away.
If you have a sample with you at home, wait at least a full day before coming to any conclusions about what works or doesn’t.
To test a new product, use you can always apply a small amount in a less visible area so if anything bad happens it won’t be as noticeable. Behind the ears are common spots but if you’re at home and won’t be going out we recommend testing it somewhere directly on your face because the skin on your face is slightly different than the skin on the rest of your body (if it’s a product meant for the body then behind the ear would be fine).
So there you have it. 5 simple tips everyone with sensitive skin should keep in the back of their mind.
Have any of your own tips you’d like to share? Let us know @maxmylooks.