When you have sensitive skin, you might be tempted to load up on products that promise relief from the redness, burning, stinging, and itching. However, the secret to success often lies in doing less.
What does sensitive skin mean anyway? It’s sometimes used to describe clinical conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, or contact dermatitis. Other times it can refer to a general tendency to become irritated by things in your environment or things that you apply to your skin.
That’s why it’s important to see a dermatologist if your symptoms are severe or prolonged. They can help you treat underlying conditions and reduce the risk of developing allergies.
Your specific options will depend on your individual condition. As you’re figuring that out, try these suggestions for soothing your sensitive skin.
How to Avoid Irritating Sensitive Skin:
- Simplify your routine. Many dermatologists recommend that patients with sensitive skin use as few skincare products as possible with as few ingredients as possible. This may be enough to eliminate your symptoms.
- Sniff around. Fragrance is the single most common irritant. To be extra safe, look for products that are fragrance free rather than unscented.
- Read labels. What about other substances that can serve as triggers? That would be a long list including parabens, sulfates, dyes, and alcohol. Sensitive skin lines can be a helpful starting point, but you’ll still need to monitor individual ingredients.
- Do patch tests. Before using a new product on your face or body, apply it to a small area on your inner arm and wait overnight. If it causes no reaction, it may be safe to proceed. With stronger chemicals, you may be able to build up tolerance by using them one day a week at first in small amounts and layering moisturizer underneath.
- Take time to recover. Stop using any product that bothers your skin. Be extra gentle while you’re healing.
Other Tips for Caring for Sensitive Skin:
- Moisturize lavishly. Sensitivity and dryness are closely associated because weaknesses in the outer skin layer let irritants in and water out. Use deep moisturizing formulas and apply them while your skin is still damp.
- Exfoliate gently. Many adults exfoliate too frequently and vigorously. Once or twice a week is usually enough. Let your fingers do the work instead of a brush, loofah, or washcloth.
- Shower briefly. Over washing is another common culprit. Use warm water instead of hot and limit showers to 10 minutes or less.
- Use sunscreen. Excessive sun exposure can damage any type of skin. Look for products with zinc oxide, and an SPF of at least 30.
- Check your cosmetics. Choose mineral-based makeup and avoid waterproof items that are more difficult to remove. Throw away any cosmetics that pass their expiration date or start to show signs of wear.
- Prepare for winter. Cold, dry weather and indoor heat pose a challenge for sensitive skin. You may need to adjust your skincare routines to keep up. That could mean more moisturizer and lip balm.
- Wear natural fibers. Your clothes can affect your skin too. Garments made of silk or cotton may be more agreeable than synthetics.
- Clean carefully. Some household cleaners contain harsh chemicals you’ll want to avoid. Wear gloves and switch to sustainable products that tend to be milder.
- Eat healthy. Glowing skin starts from within. Eat a nutritious diet rich in whole foods and stay hydrated. It also helps to get your beauty sleep, exercise regularly, and manage stress.
Make your skin healthier and your life more comfortable. Protect your sensitive skin from daily irritants and moisturize thoroughly. If symptoms persist or you’re unsure what to do, talk with your dermatologist.