Caring for Sensitive Skin

Woman applying lotion on her hands.

If you have sensitive skin you know what a struggle it can be to find products that effectively cleanse your face without causing flare-ups or irritation. When caring for sensitive skin, the keyword is gentle, for everything from the product formulation to drying your face. Keep reading to find out other important tips on caring for sensitive skin.

Read Ingredients, Not Just Labels
If you’ve ever picked up a skincare product because the words “dermatologist tested” or “hypoallergenic” were present, you got suckered into marketing hype, which happens to the best of us. The reason that these words are nothing more than clever advertising is that there are no federal standards set for what hypoallergenic really means, so anyone can use the term on a product and while dermatologist tested sounds great, it usually means nothing more than the product was patch tested on a small surface of the skin. Always check the ingredient list and stay away from products containing alcohol, fragrance or anything abrasive like pumice or apricot kernels.

Woman using a cleanser.

Cleanse Correctly
Sensitive skin care isn’t all about picking the right products, your washing technique also can have a significant impact on the health of your skin. First, get rid of any products with harsh abrasives or irritants and pick a gentle cleanser. Next, beware of cleansing brushes and washcloths because sensitive skin may not be able to handle the level of intensity that these cleansing aids produce. Using your fingers with light pressure and a circular upward and outward motion is the best way to wash your sensitive skin. Cleanse your face with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel to avoid irritation.

Keep it Simple
All of the fancy cleansers and creams that come jam packed with cutting edge ingredients sound exciting, but products that contain too many ingredients can be quite damaging to sensitive skin. A general guideline is the more complicated the ingredient list on a product, the more potential it has to irritate sensitive skin. The American Academy of Dermatology actually suggests that you use products with less than 10 ingredients if you have sensitive skin to minimize the risk of aggravating your skin.

Woman moisturizing.

Moisturizer is important to sensitive skin and not just because sensitive skin can dry out easily. Your skin is subjected to irritants daily in the form of environmental factors and in order to keep the damage minimal, you need your skin to perform its barrier function properly. If you have sensitive skin, your barrier function is already damaged, so you want to be sure to nourish your skin with hydration to increase and improve your barrier. Use moisturizer morning and night and for the greatest hydration look for products containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, lactic acid, ceramides or urea.

Choose Physical Sunscreen
Because the barrier function of your skin is weakened with sensitive skin, sunscreen becomes an absolute essential for healthy skin, but it is often skipped because many sunscreens are notorious for irritation skin. Sensitive skin is irritated by many skincare ingredients and when it comes to sunscreen, the active ingredients in chemical sunscreen like oxybenzone and octinoxate can be a major source of flare-ups for your sensitive skin. Instead of skipping sunscreen altogether, switch from a chemical sunscreen to a physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens use the active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are generally tolerated by sensitive skin.

While caring for sensitive skin can be frustrating, once you know some tips and tricks and how to select the right products, it gets much easier. Stick to a simple routine of cleansing, using sunscreen and applying moisturizer twice a day and you’ll start to more even, calm and healthy skin.

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