It’s a widely acknowledged fact that taking care of sensitive skin is a delicate balancing act. Everything is a potential risk for setting off a reaction — from purchasing unsuitable skincare products, to a change in weather, or even being around animals!
If you’re exhausted from this constant game of Russian roulette, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The best way to handle your sensitive skin? Understanding it better, of course.
Which is why Daily Vanity has this sensitive skin guide for you, detailing everything you need to know about sensitive skin, sensitive skin causes, and sensitive skin symptoms. Ready to be an expert on your skin type just yet?
What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin is often referred to as skin that is reactive, or skin that is easily affected by a wide variety of emotional and environmental factors. Don’t worry, it isn’t a disease, or a condition that has to be treated.
In fact, sensitive skin is usually a symptom of another underlying condition at play here. More often that not, the underlying condition isn’t serious in the slightest, and most people actually don’t realise that they have sensitive skin until they have a bad reaction, whether it is to a cosmetic product or something in the environment.
What causes sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin occurs when the nerve endings in the top layer of your skin becoming irritated due to its weakened natural barrier function. You might be wondering: what caused this weakened state, then? Well, that really depends on what factors are your triggers.
Here is a list of common triggers that causes sensitive skin:
- Overly dry skin
- Sun exposure
- Exposure to air pollution
- Frequent changes in temperature
- Harsh weather
- Very hot water
- A lack of sleep
- Hormonal changes during menstrual cycle or pregnancy
- Chlorine in swimming pools
A particularly common trigger, for instance, is overly dry skin. When your skin is too dry, it begins to peel, flake, itch, or even crack and bleed, which, in turn, causes skin to become further sensitised and more reactive than before. Plus, when your complexion is overly dry or injured, it is also unable to protect your nerve endings, which leads to even more sensitivity than before. Yikes!
What are the symptoms of sensitive skin?
You may not have experienced a bad skin reaction just yet, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have sensitive skin. Here are some common signs and symptoms that are associated with those that have sensitive skin:
- Skin often feels tight, dry, and uncomfortable.
- Skin is sore and sensitive to touch.
- Skin flushes easily after exertion.
- Skin is uneven, with patches of dryness and flakiness.
- Skin becomes irritable after washing with hot water.
- Skin feels itchy after coming into contact with certain skin irritants.
- Skin begins to sting or feel irritated after applying certain skincare or makeup products.
Still unsure as to if you have sensitive skin? Well, you can try this method which has worked on several others: simply brush your fingers against the side of your face with light to medium pressure, and see if your skin turns red almost immediately after. If it does, that’s a good indicator as to the sensitivity of your skin.
If you have darker skin, try the patch test method. After applying commercial makeup and skincare product, observe to see if your skin starts to sting or itch.
What keeps sensitive skin from getting worse?
The last thing you would want is for your natural skin barrier to be further weakened or for your skin to get more sensitive than it already is. Keep the situation from worsening by employing these useful tips instead:
1. Keep your hands squeaky clean
And while you’re at it, refrain from touching at your face constantly or scratching it, either! You never know what kind of bacteria you can pick up from your surroundings, and by touching and scratching, you’re essentially putting – who knows what kind of – bacteria on your face. Pump some soap onto your palms, and scrub carefully for about 20 seconds each time to ensure your digits stay clean.
2. Apply high protection sunscreen to your skin
Keep from further irritating your skin by protecting it from the harsh UVA and UVB rays of the sun! This is especially important considering the impossibly hot weather in Singapore. A lightweight formula that contains at least SPF30 is the way to go when it comes to making your pick.
Still apprehensive as to which sunscreen is the best pick for you? Check out this episode where we hunt down the best sunscreen in Singapore to get some ideas!
3. Check the ingredients list before purchasing any skincare and makeup products
This especially applies to you if you feel that your skin is reacting to any kind of makeup or skincare in your daily routine! Identify the common ingredients between all the products you frequently use, and try to see if there’s some kind of pattern as to what ingredients are causing these flare-ups.
Here’s a handy guide you can refer to for how to understand the long list of ingredients normally found at the back of all your favourite beauty products.
4. Opt for dermatologist-approved, hypoallergenic beauty products
Hypo-what? Hypoallergenic products — also known as a god-send, for those with sensitive skin — are actually products that manufacturers claim produce fewer allergic reactions compared to other beauty products out there. That’s not to say that they won’t cause flare-ups or reactions, entirely, but there is a significantly smaller chance of it happening with these products. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
You can also opt for dermatologist-approved products, if you’re looking to cover all your bases. Most of the time, it is advertised on the products itself, so they’re pretty easy to spot. Some brands that fit within these two categories are: Eucerin, Cetaphil, and SkinCeuticals for instance.
5. Opt for warm showers instead of steaming hot ones
No more steamy hot showers, missy! Go for lukewarm showers instead, and remember to pat at your skin gently with a towel after. Keep from vigorously rubbing the towel all over your body, and apply moisturiser right after your shower to ensure that your skin doesn’t dry out too much.