You always hear about these amazing skin care products and you watch your friends trying them and loving them. “I should try that,” you say. You give it a whirl and boom: your skin turns into a red hot mess.
If that sounds all too familiar, you might have sensitive skin. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sensitivity is just one of those issues some of us have to deal with more than others.
If your skin gets irritated easily, knowledge is your best friend. Brushing up on why irritation happens and how to keep it to a minimum could be the key to living life without being perpetually frustrated with your skin.
Why Do I Have Sensitive Skin?
There are a few common reasons you’re more prone to redness and irritation than your friends are. One possibility is that you have allergies to one or several ingredients that are in your skin care products.
Believe it or not, dry skin can also lead to sensitivity. When your skin gets too dry, its protective barrier weakens so it can no longer keep the nerve endings out of harm’s way. As a result, any little thing can lead to irritation.
How Do I Know if I Have Sensitive Skin?
Clinically speaking, you need to visit a dermatologist to officially determine if you have sensitive skin. For day-to-day purposes, though, you can rely on your own perception of how easily your skin is irritated.
If you notice redness, itchiness, or similar issues that pop up often, it’s best to take precautions now assuming you have sensitive skin rather than waiting for a true diagnosis.
Tips for Living with Sensitive Skin
You might not be able to do much about the fact that you’re prone to sensitivity. That may just be a burden you’re born with. You do have some control over how often you have symptoms, though.
1. Start Keeping a Skin Journal
The best way to protect your skin from irritation is to avoid anything that irritates. That sounds simple enough, but how do you track down the culprits?
A dermatologist may offer you allergy testing to take a direct approach. If a dermatology appointment is hard to come by or if you don’t want to shell out the money for allergy testing, though, you can become your own sleuth.
Keep a journal of every product your use on your skin, including cosmetic products. Track information about the weather too, how much time you spent in the sun for the day, and anything else your skin encounters.
Along with this, note any time your irritation flares up, gets worse, or gets better. With all this data, you can look for patterns and see if certain circumstances seem to lead to skin issues.
2. Test Every Product You Use
Truthfully, I recommend this to everyone trying a new skin care product, but it’s even more important if you have sensitive skin.
When you get a new product, use it on a discreet “test patch” of skin first, like the area under your chin. Give it a few days to see if your skin reacts poorly. If it doesn’t, you can start incorporating the product into your regular routine.
3. Use Products to Calm Your Skin
When your skin is in the midst of an all-out rage, you don’t have to sit by and wait until it wears itself out. Try products like Dermalogica UltraCalming Serum Concentrate that are designed for the sole purpose of calming angry skin.
While this serum is light and easy, you also opt for something like DCL’s Peptide Plus Cream which soothes skin while also fighting aging.
4. Make a List of “Bad Words”
Everyone with sensitive skin is unique and you probably react to different ingredients than the next person. Still, there are certain ingredients that have long rap sheets as known irritants to many with sensitive skin. Every time you buy a new product, read the label and avoid those ingredients like the plague.
The top ingredients to avoid are fragrances and dyes. Parabens also tend to irritate skin, so if you see that something is paraben-free, fragrance-free, and dye-free, you’re in business.
Another word of caution: don’t assume everything labeled as “hypoallergenic” is safe. This is a pretty broad term and no one regulates what a product needs to exclude to be hypoallergenic, so don’t take the label at its word. Check the list of ingredients instead.
5. Step Up Your Hydration
Remember when I mentioned that dryness makes your skin more sensitive? Moisture is a critical part of your skin’s protective barrier. Even if you don’t normally have sensitive skin, getting too dry will weaken your defenses and make you more prone to a nasty reaction.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your skin hydrated. Use an intense moisturizer like the Biopelle Tensage Soothing Cream Moisturizer. Don’t forget to hydrate from the inside, too, by drinking plenty of water every day.
Making Nice with Your Sensitive Skin
Those of us who are prone to skin irritation tend to have a love/hate relationship with our skin. We love its potential, but those overreactions can be endlessly frustrating.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You might not be able to stop your skin from being sensitive, but you can have more control over its reactions with the tips above and the right skin care products on your shelf.