In the never-ending attempt to improve our skin, there is always the risk that we are, in fact, causing more harm than good! Is Your Skin Sensitive or Sensitised? Do You Know The Difference?
Self Help or Self Harm?
The progression of at-home skincare has given us high strength acids, retinol, and serums to put layer upon layer of cosmetics on our faces. We’ve become our ‘own’ Dermatologist and Aesthetician mixing bespoke skincare routines in an attempt to find a cure for urgent skin care issues.
There seems to be a real correlation between the advance in our home skincare and the onset of skin sensitivity.
There is one problem with this home treatment. We literally don’t know what we’re doing! With this comes a feeling of uneasiness as to the damage we can be causing to ourselves.
A recent medical study published in 2019 found that 60-70% of women reported having sensitive skin, which was portrayed by itching, burning, stinging, tightness, or dryness. If this has a familiar tone to it, you are not alone! The study stated, “There is evidence that the reported prevalence of self-perceived skin sensitivity has increased steadily over time.”
Sensitive or Sensitised?
Noticeably, these skin reactions affect women much more, whose skincare regimens routinely point towards a much more rigorous and intense application than men.
But, what does it tell us that the research is saying ‘self-perceived’?
Skin Sensitivity is subjective, ‘based on inner experience rather than fact,’ it isn’t easy to diagnose correctly. Specialists are observing that what we deem to be ‘Sensitive’ skin may be ‘Sensitised.’ As we apply more cosmetics to our face as part of our skincare regimen, we could be causing more ‘reactivity’ to our skin than we realise.
*Reactivity – the tendency of a substance to undergo a chemical reaction, either by itself or with other materials.
Sensitive skin is naturally reactive. If your skin flares up because of certain foods, ingredients, or pollen, it’s likely to presume it is ‘sensitive.’
The symptoms of sensitive skin can be controlled by using a definitive skincare routine. You should use products which help to calm and soothe the complexion. Avoid any treatments that may thin out the skin further, such as acids or peels. Instead, you aim to use hydrating, calming products that do not damage the skin barrier.
In contrast, ‘Sensitised’ skin is principally the result of injury from your skin care program. Sensitised skin is the result of having too many of either Lasers, Peels, Dermarolling or even retinol, which can inflict damage to the skin on the face.
Sensitised skin is when it is reacting to something that has changed in your surroundings or lifestyle. One way to deal with this is to keep your skincare routine simple and eliminate anything that could irritate it. Re-hydrate and replace the skin’s natural barrier is an essential way of treating sensitised skin.
Is It Self Inflicted?
So, what can be causing these high numbers of delicate skin? One common reason is pollution; especially among city dwellers, it tends to irritate and inflame skin is well documented. The number of people having too live in illegally high levels of pollution is only going to worsen and not going away any time soon.
Then there’s the rise in potent ingredients. Ironically, the products we’re applying to improve our skin – retinol, AHA’s, and highly potent serums – may have a detrimental effect.
To compensate for the sensitivity people feel to their skin, they are looking for products that protect and repair the damage facial skin is encountering daily.
Shopping For Cosmetics:
Shopping for cosmetics and beauty products carries a lot of hidden problems and dangers. If you pick up the wrong sunscreen, there could be flare-ups, the wrong cleanser, or face wash leads to pain and stinging with your evening cleanse.
We know that products that contain ingredients such as acids and retinol do fantastic work at removing dead skin. They increase cell turnover and improve the look and texture to the surface of our skin. However, it’s all about balance. The skin needs to build some resistance towards these potent cosmetics.
As you start adding these to your skincare routine, it’s imperative to begin slowly and sensibly. Consider doing a skin test on a sensitive part of your arm to see how you react to these products. When you start applying to the face, pause after the first couple of applications to see if it agrees with your skin. If you use a retinol every day, chances are you won’t need a harsh exfoliator on top.
If you’re using these powerful formulas that, through use, can break down or weaken your skin barrier, you need to help replenish it. Look for ingredients like ceramides, omegas, and peptides, as they specifically assist skin that’s been agitated by overdoing things. They can create a ‘liquid’ second skin, by building your barrier function and protecting your natural skin beneath.
Educate And Eliminate!
If you do overuse facial products, you must educate yourself on what to do next. When skin is stressed, please don’t use harsh detergents that contain SLS on the skin. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a chemical agent that strips the skin of its natural oils. When this happens, it causes dry skin, irritation, and allergic reactions, and disrupt the microbes living on the surface of the skin. Choose options that are non-stripping and nourishing.
One other thing people tend to forget is to keep the skin hydrated. The skin needs water to maintain optimum skin moisture and to deliver nutrients to the skin cells. It helps with replenishing the skin tissue and elasticity.
Trying something new never comes with a guarantee. Still, you can improve your chances of finding something to benefit your skin by identifying possible triggers. It would be best if you kept a lookout for products containing alcohol and fragrances, even ‘essential’ oils have been known to be irritating.
Too often, people are tempted to rush and move quickly to reach the desired change as soon as possible. They ignore instructions on how often to apply or use the product, don’t do ‘patch’ testing, and then wonder why they are not getting the results they want!
Have you considered if your skincare routine is causing your skin to react? Is Your skin sensitive or sensitised? Do you know The Difference? What are the problems you have met when trying to improve your daily skincare regime? Have you found any of the advice offered here to be helpful? What changes will you be making to how you care for your skin? Please leave any comments or questions below, and I will be happy to discuss them with you.