For people suffering from sensitive skin, every day can feel like a battle against flaking, irritating, burning, redness and inflammation. But there are some common skincare mistakes you’re making that could be the cause of your sensitivity and irritation. We’re here to help you determine if you really have sensitive skin, what to avoid if you do, and most importantly, provide you with a routine that will help calm your skin and boost your confidence.
What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin is characterised as unbalanced skin that is not functioning properly, making it easily reactive to various external stimuli such as the environment, stress, and poorly formulated cosmetics.
There are two types of sensitive skin. The first type is skin that is naturally quite sensitive and reactive to completely harmless ingredients that other skin varieties may have no issue with (such as silicones and essential oils). For people with sensitive skin, using gentle but effective products (even skincare routine products like eye cream could be harmful to all of your skin if used wrong) and being vigilant about avoiding ingredients that upset your skin is essential.
The second type of sensitive skin is skin that has become temporarily sensitive or sensitized by a certain product that has damaged their skin’s protective acid mantle. This acid mantle keeps our skin’s pH in check and retains moisture in the skin - as well as keeping pollutants and free radical damage at bay.
Anyone can have sensitized skin, regardless of their type of skin. Whether you have oily, combination or dry skin, if your skin’s acid mantle becomes damaged you can end up suffering from issues like redness, irritation, inflammation, dryness and breakouts. Thankfully, this sensitivity is temporary - but healing your skin’s moisture barrier can be a lengthy process.
Signs you have skin that's sensitive
Breakouts on the skin such as redness, irritated, flakey and inflamed skin are signs you may have sensitive skin. Causes can include external factors like weather, sun damage, pollution, poorly formulated skin care products as well as internal factors like stress, eczema, allergies and dermatitis.
Symptoms of sensitive skin:
Severe - pain, stinging, burning, hot, itchy, red, irritated, flaky, inflamed skin, rashes.
Medium - Tingling, tightness, feeling uncomfortable, bumpy skin, reacts after a while, blotchy, redness, uneven skin tone.
Mild - Slight tingling, a little tightness from skin dehydration, random reactiveness, some redness in irritated areas.
Common skincare mistakes
By making small changes to your daily routine you can greatly reduce the risk of a breakout. It is important to add calming ingredients to your routine, however, it is just as important to rid yourself of products that irritate your skin further. Stop using harsh cleansing products like face wipes, and cleansers that contain harsh surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. These cleansers can erode the skin’s natural moisture barrier.
- Stop using skin care products that contain drying alcohols like alcohol denat (denatured alcohol), alcohol, ethanol, benzyl alcohol and SD alcohol.
- Avoid products that contain synthetic fragrances which irritate the skin (labelled as perfumes/fragrances). If your skin is very sensitive, avoid using products that contain essential oils..
- Avoid using harsh astringents and toners such as witch hazel, which can strip the skin of essential oils and fatty acids.
- Avoid having hot showers, as very hot water can dry out the skin further and exacerbate irritation - switch instead to warm showers
Skincare routine for sensitive skin
Every morning and night wet your skin with lukewarm water before using a gentle hydrating cleanser - ideally one that contains gentle cleansing agents and humectants that will clean and hydrate your skin. This is particularly great for dry skin. This face wash could be a Your skin without this cleansing in your routine will suffer. Finally, pat dry rather than rub. Better yet, let your skin air dry when you have the time.
Exfoliation is essential to remove dead skin cells, but for some people with severely sensitive skin exfoliation can pose a lot of risk. Avoid physical exfoliants like cleansing brushes and ultrasonic devices. You can use a clean cotton washcloth in very gentle, circular motions over flaky areas of skin - just avoid scrubbing at your skin, which can cause more damage.
If you want to use a chemical exfoliant, look to products that contain more gentle natural AHAs like lactic acid and malic acid. Stick to lower concentrations, and try using them just once a week. If you feel any irritation, stop using the product immediately.
A serum will boost your skin by providing it with much-needed nutrients. Poko Soothing Serum is a calming skin serum specially formulated for people with oily skin suffering from spots. This is a great product to have if you want to have the best skincare routine. The microbial properties of tea tree oil to help fight bad bacteria and the soothing stressed skin.
Soothing Serum also contains aloe vera powder which provides a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants to help keep your skin balanced and healthy while its vegetable glycerin content will keep your skin nice and moisturised. However, if your skin is particularly sensitive to essential oils like tea tree oils, do a patch test to see if this serum is compatible with your skin.
For people with sensitive skin, it is VITAL that they moisturise at least twice a day to protect their skin barrier that is most certainly compromised. The Ultra Hydrating Moisturiser contains gently soothing and hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and CBD to protect skin from environmental pollutants and free radicals.
This moisturiser is perfect for sensitive skin, as it contains skin-loving botanical oils such as apricot kernel oil, olive oil and sunflower seed oil that will lock in moisture while its most active component CBD will help to calm stressed skin. The Ultra Hydrating Moisturiser is also free from synthetic fragrances and essential oils, making it perfect for even the most sensitive skin.
Wearing sunscreen every day is essential for all skin types, but for sensitive skin, it's particularly important. Because many people suffering from this often have a compromised or damaged moisture barrier, their skin is also more vulnerable to sun damage and further irritation.
Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. Opt for a physical sunscreen that contains ingredients such as titanium dioxide, vitamin c and zinc oxide, as chemical sunscreens can often be irritating to more sensitive skin. Zinc oxide also aids skin healing and works to calm irritation, making it particularly beneficial for your skin.
If you follow the advice above you should have the best skincare routine possible. Sensitive skin (along with fine lines) could be a thing of the past. So don't delay and add some of these amazing products to your skincare routine right now.
If you've liked reading this, check out our blog on: Hyperpigmentation: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment