“The best product for sensitive skin.”
“Specially formulated for those with sensitive skin.”
“.….for sensitive skin that intensively moisturizes, protects and repairs.”
‘Sensitive skin’ is a phrase that we all come across quite frequently these days. Whether it’s talking about one’s skin woes, or it’s something we read off product labels, or just a topic that is being constantly researched, discussed, and talked about, it is pretty much everywhere. So what exactly is ‘sensitive skin’?
Dr. Jessie Cheung, a recognized leader in the field of dermatology says, “Sensitive skin is skin that is more reactive than usual. Elements such as wind, sun, heat or cold, soaps, detergents, and even fragrances in topical products can easily irritate it. Even a sudden fluctuation in hormones, lack of sleep, or air pollution can potentially trigger it, causing sensitive skin to burn or sting, turn red, or otherwise feel very uncomfortable.”
Dr. Amy B. Lewis of Lewis Dermatology & Associates shares, “Sensitive skin is caused by nerve endings in the top layer of the skin becoming irritated. Irritated nerve endings occur when the skin’s natural barrier is weakened or have been broken down by triggers.” She adds that skin sensitivity isn’t just bothersome and uncomfortable, but it could also be a signal of an underlying skin condition such as eczema, rosacea, or an allergy.
The four different types of sensitive skin
Here’s a more in-depth, deeper insight into what sensitive skin may be. It can be branched out into four main categories:
1. Naturally sensitive skin
This is often linked to inflammatory skin conditions like Eczema, Rosacea, and Psoriasis. It is genetic, or in other words; hereditary.
2. Environmentally sensitive skin
Just like what the title says, this type of sensitivity is triggered by the environment. Sun exposure, heat, cold, you name it — anything your skin comes into contact with might send it into chaos.
3. Reactive skin
Reactive skin can be seen when it becomes irritated, red, warm, and inflamed by certain products. Some will even notice papules or pustules forming where the irritant was placed.
4. Thin skin
As we age, our skin will naturally become thinner, and as we know, thinner skin tends to get irritated or inflamed easily. There is no cure for this as it is just the chronological ageing of the skin; collagen and elastin naturally start to decline when we’re older
Ingredients those with sensitive skin types should steer clear of
Everyone is different – this applies to skin sensitivity as well. It varies from one person to another, the severity of it, and what causes the trigger.
So you see, sensitive skin is indeed a complex and confusing condition. There isn’t ‘one definition’ or a specific phrase that can be used to describe it, so the best bet would be for you to figure out your individual triggers.
Dr. Morgan Rabach, a certified dermatologist recommends those with sensitive skin to go for products that do not contain fragrances and dyes as this can cause a reaction. What’s best is to go for products that are formulated especially for sensitive skin. On top of that, Lewis adds that she persistently reminds her patients, those suffering from sensitive skin to avoid sulfates (the foamy lather you get from facial cleansers, body soaps, etc.), alcohol (also known as ethanol), parabens, and retinol. Simply put it, the fewer ingredients your product has and the less you put on your skin, the less likely you are to have a reaction.
When sensitive skin comes to mind, people often only focus on the ingredients in products they apply ON their skin such as lotions and beauty products used. This thus limits their attention towards similar ingredients in commonly overlooked household products they would inevitably come in contact with daily such as dish-washing liquids, laundry detergents, or even floor cleaning solutions they clean their entire living space with which are oftentimes the silent culprits triggering Eczema or reactions on sensitive skin. The next time you go shopping, look out for household products that are safe for sensitive and Eczema prone skin.
Living with sensitive skin certainly isn’t easy, not to mention the uneasiness and sometimes, even pain it can cause.
“More than half of my patients, around 60% of them would describe their skin as sensitive in some way.” says Dr. Ellen Marmur, founder of MMSkincare.
Many dermatologists would advise undergoing a skincare history analysis and/or a patch test. This will help you eliminate likely future triggers. By doing this, dermatologists can help to prescribe medicine that would help you calm your skin. They would also advise and suggest possible treatments.
- Try to avoid using too hot of a water for bathing or for washing any parts of the body
- Try to avoid harsh fragrances, alcohol, sulfates, or any other bad chemicals in products you use
- Try making a switch to Skincare and Household products that are fragrance-free, and contains no colouring, dyes nor Parabens, such as dish-washing liquids, facial cleansers and household detergents for sensitive skin.
- Practice patting your body dry with a towel rather than rubbing harshly
- Try to moisturize right after you shower
- Try keeping the weather in mind and dressing appropriately to your skin condition. Wear what helps your skin like a hat for sunny days, to long-sleeved clothing on a cold day
- Try to practice doing a patch test of new products on a small area of your skin before applying them to more extensive areas