When you have sensitive skin, you’re easily prone to redness and irritation from the environment and harsh skin care products. From products to cleansing style, follow these 12 tips to keep your sensitive skin happy and healthy.
Start Nourishing From the Inside
Your skin can reap serious benefits from high quality products, but first you can make your body’s largest organ look great by fueling it with healthy foods. Try nutrition-packed foods such as the following:
- Kale: When you learn about this vegetable's health benefits, it’s no surprise that kale can be found on restaurant menus and in home kitchens around the country. Kale is a great source of both lutein and zeaxanthin, which help neutralize the free radicals caused by ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Kale is also packed with both vitamins A and C, which keep your skin looking and feeling firm.
- Dark Chocolate: Although you’ll probably want to give large quantities of sugary candy a pass, dark chocolate has plenty of great reasons to indulge. Cocoa has great antioxidant properties which help keep your skin hydrated and increase your circulation. Dark chocolate can also keep your skin looking smooth and clear.
- Green Tea: Research has shown that this hot beverage can improve skin elasticity, reduce damage from UV exposure, and increase the flow of oxygen to your skin. Together, these benefits make for a nutritious brew.
Test Products Before Committing
Whether you have your sights set on a sunscreen, moisturizer, or cleanser, test the new product on a hard-to-see patch of skin. A small area on your inner arm generally works well, since you can easily keep an eye on any allergic reactions and cover up that area if necessary.If you’ve relied on the same skin care products for years, you might have grown accustomed to using the same cleansers, creams, and moisturizers without a second thought. However, when you are ready to introduce a new product into the mix, testing your reaction is critical, especially if you have sensitive skin.
No matter which spot you choose, apply a small amount of the product and let it settle for at least 24 hours. Watch for redness or other visible reactions and pay attention to irritation or itching.
If your skin tends to be particularly sensitive, consider testing on a second spot to be sure. Trying a test patch on the sensitive skin near your eye is a smart move before you pursue a new product.
Read and Understand Labels
When your skin seems to react to anything and everything, you quickly become an expert at reading skin care and cosmetics labels. If you’ve perused these labels for long, you’ve probably noticed at least a few words that make claims about health and nutrition. When everything is promoted as a benefit, however, discerning what’s actually beneficial for your sensitive skin can be tough.
The term hypoallergenic, for instance, appears on everything from moisturizer to dish soap and jewelry. This word essentially means that the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, but since its definition isn’t regulated, the exact meaning of hypoallergenic isn’t known. The next time you purchase a new hypoallergenic skin care product, treat it like any other product and test it on your skin to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.
Keep Ingredients Simple
Some lucky people know exactly what sets off their sensitive skin but others deal with skin that reacts unpredictably. When you’re never quite sure what irritates your skin, an endless list of ingredients in a skin care product can read like a nightmare. All of the ingredients might be perfectly fine, or one in the list of 100 might result in a long day of irritated, itchy skin.
When in doubt, opt for the simplest ingredients possible. Not only can you be certain how your skin will react to one or two ingredients, but you can also rest assured that a product with fewer ingredients tends to be less processed.
For this reason, cold-pressed oils are so ideal for sensitive skin. Whether you’re looking for rosehip seed oil, organic argan oil, or jojoba oil, look for oils that are 100% pure certified organic oil. Unlike similar products on the market, cold-pressed oils aren’t diluted and contain vitamins and minerals that keep skin, hair, and nails looking and feeling fantastic.
Avoid the Harsh Products
With so many skin care products on the market, it’s tempting to purchase every product that promises to help sensitive skin. Throughout the course of the day, your skin typically comes into contact with a full range of outdoor and indoor pollutants, so when you're cleansing and caring for your skin, treating it as gently as possible is best.
Using too many products can be much tougher on your skin than simply using gentle yet effective products. Introducing harsh products that make big claims about making your skin look younger and healthier can also have the opposite effect in the long run. Even when you approach anti-aging products with the best of intentions, overusing strongly formulated solutions can upset sensitive skin.
Experimenting with new skin care products can be a great way to keep your sensitive skin happy, especially if you’re not satisfied with the results from your current routine. Once you’ve found what works, however, try to stick with those products. Instead of adding harmful products to your skin care regime, avoid those harsh products and keep the routine straightforward.
Try starting with the basics, including a mild cleanser, a generous moisturizer, and a protective sunscreen. Add new products one at a time, so you can pay attention to how your skin reacts and notice how and whether the products you use ultimately benefit your skin.
Take Care With Cosmetics
Many sensitive skin sufferers opt to go without cosmetics to avoid introducing yet another problematic product. You might be surprised to learn that many cosmetics work well with sensitive skin.
Instead of opting for a foundation packed with preservatives, fake colors, and artificial scents, consider using a natural mineral powder. These products tend to be less irritating for sensitive skin, but these materials can look as great as full-coverage foundations. If you want to use a foundation, go for one with a silicone base. Try to avoid any cosmetics that boast waterproof qualities, since they tend to be much harsher on your skin and can require serious scrubbing to remove.
No matter which cosmetics you choose, be sure to rotate them often and replace them as often as necessary. Even if a product doesn’t bother your skin at first, cosmetics can become more irritating when they’re past their expiration date.
Wash Your Skin Sparingly
If your sensitive skin often reacts to skin care products and environmental stressors, it’s easy to assume that your skin would benefit from more attention and extra washing. Many people’s skin needs only two washes a day and more cleansing can put unnecessary stress on your skin.
Instead of washing more often, be sure to do it right two times per day. In general, sensitive skin benefits from a gentle wash with a mild cleanser. Be sure the cleanser you choose works well for your own skin and doesn’t require you to wash more than once or scrub extra hard. After washing, blot your face dry with an absorbent towel and apply moisturizer immediately. If your skin needs an extra boost, don’t hesitate to use rose water to encourage better absorpotion of your moisturizer.
Use Moisturizer Daily
Sensitive skin tends to react strongly to harsh ingredients but that skin can also get irritated when exposed to extreme temperatures, strong winds, and excessive dryness. One of the easiest ways to combat all the above conditions is to use moisturizer liberally. Start by applying a tested and approved moisturizer in the morning and evening.
If your skin doesn’t seem to respond as positively to moisturizer as it should, consider adding a second product to the mix. A rose water toner can actually help your sensitive skin prepare for moisturizers and other healing serums. Look for 100% pure and natural rose water, without added ingredients or fragrances. Rosew water is known for its ability to calm skin while helping achieve a balanced pH level. As an added bonus, you can also use this naturally scented rose water as a makeup remover for an easy and healthy step in your nighttime routine.
Choose Fabrics Wisely
Focusing on topical products as triggers for your sensitive skin is easy, but don’t forget that the fabrics that touch your skin can also present issues. For the most part, natural fabrics with smooth textures work best for sensitive skin. Try fine cotton for keeping cool in the summer and smooth silk for keeping warm in winter. Since both fabrics have absorbent qualities, they also pull moisture away from your skin, which also helps keep you comfortable.
If you want to branch out, consider fabrics such as rayon, linen, or hemp, which tend to work with sensitive skin despite having a heavier weight. No matter which fabric you choose, be sure to understand whether any harsh chemicals were introduced during the production process. Keep materials loose and give your skin room to breathe.
Don’t Forget Sunscreen
If you spend any amount of time outdoors, irritation and redness from the sun can affect even the least sensitive skin. For those with problem skin, making sure to protect yourself before heading outdoors each day is important. With so many sunscreen products and ratings to choose from, how do you know where to start?
All sunscreen products have a sun protection factor (SPF) ranging from two to 100. The SPF refers to how long a sunscreen product can protect your skin. If you’d normally get red after 10 unprotected minutes in the sun, a sunscreen with SPF 30 can keep your sensitive skin protected for up to 300 minutes.
When relying on sunscreen to keep your skin safe and healthy, be sure to follow the product’s directions closely. Reapply sunscreen as often as necessary and be sure to use as much as the product specifies. If you skimp on sunscreen, you won’t adequately protect your skin from the sun, which means a product with SPF 30 can realistically have SPF 3. When used correctly, a sunscreen with SPF 30 works well for everyday use and is also enough for most outdoor activities.
Know Your Limitations
Your skin can reveal volumes about your overall health and stress levels. When you take good care of your skin, you’ll look better, feel better, and give off a more confident vibe. When you’re dealing with large amounts of stress, however, your skin makes that stress obvious with eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and breakout flare-ups. Taking care of your skin, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly can all help you keep stress under control and make your skin glow.
Keep in mind, however, that even if you suffer the effects of severely sensitive skin or issues such as eczema, these conditions don’t necessarily signal lifelong problems. In fact, children with eczema often outgrow their sensitive skin issues by the time they turn 5 years old, and they have up to a 50% chance of outgrowing eczema by the time they reach their teen years.
Similarly, you might need to treat breakout-prone skin differently during flare-ups but you don't need to worry that you’ll be stuck dealing with problem skin for the rest of your life. Close to 80% of people struggle with breakouts between the ages of 11 and 30, but this problem generally fades away after that time period.
Managing sensitive skin can take a little extra work, along with some trial and error. By reading labels, sticking to simple ingredients, and protecting your skin, you can easily keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.