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The Do’s and Don’ts of Skincare for Sensitive Skin

woman with skincare for sensitive skin

Nowadays, there are so many skincare products to choose from, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to resist the temptation of trying a new one from time to time. Unfortunately, if you have sensitive skin, changing skincare products on a regular basis is not really a good idea. Because your skin can easily have a bad reaction, it’s important to develop the right skincare for sensitive skin. You also need to know which sensitive skin products you can always use.

If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to adhere to a routine and avoid putting too much stress on your skin. That said, rest assured that skincare for sensitive skin doesn’t need to be dull — you can also play around with your routine and have fun with it. Do keep in mind though, that you have to carefully choose sensitive skin products — those that are gentle but effective. 

What is sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin is described by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science as “a condition of subjective cutaneous hyper-reactivity to environmental factors.”  This means that the skin reacts violently to substances that aren’t normally considered irritants. 

The term “condition” should be highlighted in this definition. This goes to say that sensitive skin, unlike dry, combination, or oily skin, is not a skin type. The signs and symptoms of sensitive skin have been linked to the menstrual cycle. These have also been associated with potential causes such as temperature, air conditioning, cleaning products, personal hygiene products, and clothing.

Moreover, the skin’s sensitivity to various factors is highly individual. As such, people with sensitive skin may have very different reactions to different substances. Sensitive skin can also strike at any age — you may not be responsive to certain ingredients until later in life. And then you suddenly start responding aggressively to them.

If you’re still not sure whether you have sensitive skin, you can first observe if your skin becomes irritated, itchy, or if you’re experiencing a burning sensation after using some skincare items, such as beauty serum products. Check also how it reacts when in contact with laundry detergents, or when exposed to the sun and UV rays. Erythema, dry skin, and a rash are also possible side effects. All of these may indicate that your skin is sensitive and that you should be cautious about what you put on it.

Skincare for Sensitive Skin: Helpful Ingredients

Those with sensitive skin should build a skincare routine based on very gentle but effective ingredients.

White and green tea extracts, for example, contain powerful antioxidants that protect the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals (which is why they’re also added to sunscreen). Sunflower oil is another perfect ingredient for sensitive skin. This, unlike essential oils, does not irritate the skin. It also has an emollient effect (softens and smoothens skin) and is high in antioxidants including vitamin E.

Last but not least, chamomile extract is a wonderful natural anti-inflammatory product. It’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), making it ideal for anyone with sensitive skin.

Choosing Sensitive Skin Products: Ingredients to Avoid

While it is difficult to predict which ingredients can irritate your skin and cause scratching, tingling, or redness — certain ingredients are best avoided in skincare for sensitive skin. It’s mostly because they can be too harsh on the skin. One of these substances is alcohol. It’s known for causing dryness and stripping the skin of its natural moisture.

This does not have to be the case for everybody, however. Moderate alcohol use, for example, can produce excellent results in people with oily or combination skin, but alcohol is almost always too aggressive for people with sensitive skin. As such, limiting its use in your skincare for sensitive skin is the best option. 

The same can be said for essential oils and fragrances. The problem with them is that they often contain a large number of different chemicals. This increases the risk of a reaction to at least one of them. If you have sensitive skin, fragrance-free items should be your first choice. 

In addition, sulfates are also among the substances that have stripping properties on the skin and disrupt the skin barrier’s balance. Sodium lauryl sulfate is an example of a material that is often used in cleansers but also has the potential to be an irritant.  So it’s better to  look for sensitive skin products that are labelled ‘sulfate free.’

Keep in mind also, that natural and organic ingredients, contrary to common opinion, are not always better for the skin. Some can irritate and cause problems in people with sensitive skin, often even more so than synthetic ingredients. As a precaution in skincare for sensitive skin, make sure to do a patch test first to check how your skin will react.

Create Your Own Skincare for Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, your skin may have an exaggerated reaction to substances that aren’t normally considered irritants. While it may seem that you only have a small selection of sensitive skin products, this is not the case. There are many gentle and safe skincare brands that you can use in your skincare for sensitive skin. To find the products that will work best for you, take note of the ingredients above, and you’ll be on your way to healthy, glowing skin.  

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Katherine Sng

Katherine Sng

I am a single mother living in Singapore. I am an advocate of living a healthy lifestyle through exercise; eating right; keeping a positive and youthful outlook of life; and, to live vicariously while you can. When not spending time watching Bubba grow, I am catching up on the latest news and entertainment gossip. I strongly believe that empowerment is possible for anyone, as long as they believe in themselves and the people around them.

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