Friday, January 17, 2014

What NOT To Do If You Have Sensitive Skin

[As published on HERE]
It’s not easy being a woman with sensitive skin. Having more-fragile-than-normal skin means you can’t try out products on a whim, which kind of takes the fun out of having a beauty routine. Even if you come across a ‘Holy Grail’ status product that women around the world swear by, you’re not 100% sure if it will work for you, or just make you break out in rashes.

According to Dr. Ilyse Lefkowicz, a New York-based dermatologist, sensitive skin is a symptom caused by an underlying condition like eczema, rosacea or irritated skin. (source) Different people experience sensitivity in different ways. Similarly, different people have reactions to different ingredients. For instance, aloe vera is said to be a great remedy for sensitive skin, but it makes my skin itch and swell like crazy, so I stay away from aloe-based products. I asked my mother, and she told me aloe vera does the same to her skin.

So how do you know if you have sensitive skin?
  • Your skin turns red or stings easily, even with minimal stimulation (ie. sunlight/heat)
  • The skin on your face feels taut and stretched after cleansing
  • Spraying perfume on your skin causes itching and redness
  • Scented body shampoo makes your skin itch
  • New beauty products often give you tiny rashes and bumps
  • You have flaky bits around the nose and mouth
  • You have tiny broken blood vessels on the sides of your nose/cheeks
Caring for sensitive skin requires lots of patience and diligence. Here are some pointers on what not to do to further aggravate your delicate complexion.

DON’T scrub or exfoliate your skin raw
It feels so good to scrub away all the gunk from your pores (figuratively speaking) after a long, hot, sweaty day, but sometimes we get carried away and exfoliate too harshly and too often. If your skin is sensitive, stay away from grainy scrubs that will do more harm than good.

DON’T use foaming cleansers
Foaming cleansers draw out moisture from your skin, so use sparingly. If possible, switch to a non-foaming cleanser that doesn’t contain any sulphates. Liquid, cream or lotion-based cleansers remove all traces of makeup from your skin without leaving it taut and dry. Of course, remember to give your skin a good rinse-off.

Limit usage of foaming cleansers if you have sensitive skin. 

DON’T skip sunscreen – ever!
Sensitive skin tends to itch or sting when exposed to sunlight, so protect your skin with a zinc oxide or titanium oxide sunscreen. These are naturally-occuring ingredients that are safe for sensitive skin, so your skin stays protected without being irritated.

DON’T buy beauty products without checking the ingredient list
If you know what makes you flare up, then avoid it at all costs. That cream that everyone’s raving about? If it contains that ingredient, then you should fight the temptation to buy it, because it will most likely cause a reaction, and your money ends up going down the drain. If the sales assistant isn’t sure about the ingredient content, but keeps telling you that she thinks it’ll be fine, don’t believe her. Always do your research first.

DON’T try new skincare products on your face
If you’re able to try out a certain product before buying it, even better. But remember – don’t try it on your face! It’s common practice for counter brand beauty consultants to offer you a makeover if you’re interested in their products, but if you aren’t sure, you can turn down the offer. Instead of trying it on the back of your hand, try it on the inside of your upper arm, where the skin is thinner.

DON’T use products with strong fragrances
Products with strong fragrances often cause sensitive reactions, especially if they’re artificial fragrances. Man-made scents are made from a cocktail of chemicals, and there are more than 5,000 synthetic fragrance compounds used in the beauty industry. The most common reactions caused by artificial fragrances (upon contact with skin) are redness, burning, itching and swelling. That said, you should also be careful with natural fragrances, as some people are also sensitive towards essential oil.

DON’T use products with acids (Vitamin C, AHA, glycolic acid) 
Many beauty brands promote Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) as a beneficial ingredient for sensitive skin as it helps slough off dead skin cells without physically disturbing the skin’s surface, but that’s not necessarily true. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acids like AHA and Vitamin C should be avoided if you have sensitive skin, as it can make your skin even thinner and more fragile. Tell-tale signs of over-indulging on acids include redness, peeling, flaking and itching.


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