Skincare Experts On How To Treat Sensitive Skin
6 minutes read
The subject of sensitive skin and how to treat it has become more prevalent in the past few years. If you search the term #sensitiveskin on Instagram, you’ll find it has almost 1.3 million posts and 210 million views on TikTok. No wonder there’s a sensitive skincare interest and product boom.
According to the Dermatology Times, a survey found that 70% of women and 60% of men reported having sensitive skin. So how do we treat this increasing phenomenon and do you have it? Let’s take a look…
What is sensitive skin?
The basics of sensitive skin are this: ‘fragile skin with a low tolerance threshold to various elements’.
These elements include temperature changes, stress, pollution, sun and unsuitable cosmetic products. Interestingly enough, your skin can be sensitive no matter your skin type –dry, oily, combination or normal.
How to check if you have sensitive skin
Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager says, “There are numerous reasons for sensitive skin, and it’s important to define why your skin is sensitive – is it as a result of a product, or something more serious?”
Adding: “It could also be reactive because of a skin condition, like eczema. Caused by a broken skin barrier, acne, or acne treatment. Or perhaps your skin is playing up due to over-stimulating ingredients or treatments.”
A Researchgate study describes sensitive skin as “hyper-reactivity to environmental factors – dry and cold or hot climates and cosmetics, soaps and sunscreens as well as dry and cold climates. Itching, burning, stinging and a tight sensation are constant indicators.”
Sometimes substances that are not commonly considered irritants can cause skin sensitivity. Other offenders include fragrances, detergents and household products.
To combat these effects, global skincare companies are producing many products that balance sensitive skin, rehydrate it, protect it and restore its cutaneous barrier so that it can return to its former radiance and beauty.
How to check if you have sensitive skin
Here are the tell-tale signs:
- Redness after washing
- Skin that feels tight when the weather is too hot or too cold
- Tingling after applying certain cosmetics or skin products
- Flushing when you feel emotional.
Is your skin sensitive or allergic? What’s the difference?
There is a distinct difference between sensitive and allergic skin, according to McHale.
“While sensitive skin reacts to various daily factors, allergic skin is an entirely different ballgame.”
Experts say when an allergen (can be a plant, pollen, or other foreign substance) is responsible for triggering an immune system response, the irritation is an allergic skin condition such as hives and allergic contact dermatitis.
If you have an allergic reaction to any product, stop using it immediately and consult a doctor or dermatologist.
Also read: The Best Make-Up For Sensitive Eyes
How to treat sensitive skin
The best skincare products for sensitive skin are products specifically designed to soothe, hydrate and protect the skin, no matter your skin type.
McHale’s exact range of choice? The Clarins Calm Essential range for sensitive skin, which can be used as both a “permanent or temporary calming measure.”
The new range is made specifically for people with weakened skin. All four products boast a minimum of 95% natural ingredients. The key ingredient, clary sage extract is proven to harmonise with the skin and allows it to be instantly soothed and protected increasing skin’s tolerance.
Another powerful plant extract used in sensitive skincare products is vegetal squalane, which reinforces the skin and protects it. It works by reducing the appearance of dryness and preventing moisture loss.
Tips and lifestyle changes to alleviate sensitive skin
There are other lifestyle changes you can make to minimise the effects of sensitive skin. The Academy of Dermatology advise:
- Keep baths and showers to less than 10 minutes.
- Use warm, not hot water for washing your face and body.
- Choose gentle, fragrance-free soaps or cleansers.
- Use hypoallergenic cleaning products to tidy and sanitise baths and showers.
- When you towel dry, don’t rub the skin – instead, pat it.
- Moisturise the skin after a bath or shower.
- Before buying new sensitive skincare products, test these on a small area of your skin to see if you get a reaction.
- Dairy can be a trigger. Take note of any reactions.
7 Ingredients to avoid if your skin is sensitive
It’s a known fact that various toxic chemicals and contaminants do appear in some personal products. But when you have sensitive skin, the list increases.
- Alcohol (or Ethanol): A harsh substance often found in toners. Strips skin of moisture.
TRY: A toning lotion that uses natural origin alcohol, distilled from beetroot and wheat – it’s very well tolerated and doesn’t cause dryness or irritation.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA): An anti-ageing ingredient that can irritate the skin.
TRY: Anti-ageing skincare with natural ingredients. Double Serum, £85, is not only a game-changer and a cult product, it’s the most powerful serum designed to give your skin a more youthful, radiant complexion. It contains 21 active plant extracts including star ingredients like turmeric, known for its exceptional anti-inflammatory properties.
- Benzoyl Peroxide: Very drying, can cause skin irritation.
TRY: A natural skincare product that visibly dries up blemishes and imperfections, such as My Clarins CLEAR OUT, £16, targets Imperfections. This treatment gel has a special nozzle tip that targets blemishes and imperfections and visibly dries them up, calms irritations and offers spot-on results. With Meadowsweet extract, salicylic acid and soothing Purslane extract, it glides over the skin to create a transparent finish.
- Lactic acid: This ingredient helps eliminate dead skin cells on the epidermis, but can be very harsh on sensitive skin.
TRY: Gentle Peeling Smooth Away Cream, £26, a gentle ‘peel’ face mask that smoothes away skin impurities with natural clay. It is ideal for all skin types including sensitive skin.
- Glycolic Acid: This anti-ageing ingredient can irritate sensitive skin.
TRY: A product that uses an alternative such as a derivative of salicylic acid. Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser, £24, uses a salicylic acid derivative. It is enriched with the gentle complex from Domaine Clarins – organic yellow gentian, lemon balm and organic meadowsweet extract. These natural ingredients are really beneficial and non-irritating on the skin.
- Petrolatum: Used for moisturising effects, but can cause skin breakouts and irritation.
TRY: A barrier protecting cream like this Hydra-Essentiel Silky Cream SPF 15, £38, for normal to dry skin that locks moisture into the skin and hydrates no matter the circumstances. Organic leaf of life extract is the wonder ingredient that triggers the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin, leaving your face instantly quenched. Make sure to use a different sunscreen, ideally with higher SPF, for daily sun protection against UV damage, and other environmental aggressors such as pollution and blue light.