When we say sensitive skin what does it exactly means? Sensitive skin is a condition wherein the skin is hyperactive or reactive to environmental, topical and internal factors, to which other skin types are usually well tolerant. The question now arises how does one identifies whether his/her skin is sensitive or not. If one notices facial discomfort with stinging, burning, itching caused due to all kind of factors including; environmental factors (wind, sun, cold weather, fast changes in temperature), topical factors (hard water, skincare products and cosmetics) and internal factors (stress and spicy food) then it is clear that he/she has a sensitive skin. Here are a few points to ponder for those with this type of skin condition:
1) Choose skincare products that are fragrance free and contain low sensitivity or no preservatives. Read the labels carefully to check that none of the products have alcohol, harsh exfoliants or irritating surface active agents in them.
2) Perform a patch test before using a new skincare product. The test should be done 24 to 48 hours before usage. If you feel redness, burning, itchiness it means your skin is sensitive to that particular product and it shouldn’t be used.
3) Follow a proper skincare regimen everyday to keep skin woes at bay. Sensitive skin is vulnerable to environmental factors so cleansing it without fail becomes even more necessary. Keep the pores and skin free from dirt and sweat by cleansing it with a gentle cleanser twice a day.
4) Keep it hydrated from inside out. Drink 8-10 glasses of water daily irrespective of season. And for outside hydration dab a conditioning moisturiser twice a day to protect your skin from environmental stressors like wind, sun, cold weather and pollution.
5) Exfoliating the skin once a week is essential to remove the dead skin cells. Use peel off masks instead of harsh scrubs as peels exfoliate the skin without causing irritation.
6) Sun-protection is an important part of daily skincare regimen. Sun protection is complete with use of umbrella, scarf and sunscreens like zinc oxide if planning to stay in sun for longer hours. A person with sensitive skin shouldn’t step out in sun without applying a sunscreen. A sunscreen with SPF 15-20 on daily basis will be fine but if you are going to a beach then opt for one with SPF 50. Change your sunscreen texture as per the weather, in summers use spray ones while in winters cream based sunscreen should be used. Sensitivity of the skin can be a problem for sunscreens containing cinnamates so avoid these.
7) Cosmetics should be picked up wisely. The topical application of makeup products that don’t suit your skin can give allergy and breakouts. But this doesn’t means you can’t wear makeup you need to be careful while choosing them. Avoid waterproof mascaras or liquid liners as they require harsh cleansers to be removed. Hypoallergic makeup is the one that doesn’t have fragrance so try and use such products. And remember to change your makeup products with change of season, use water based products in summers and oil based products in winters.
8) Eat a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients and doesn’t includes spicy food. Spicy food is rich in capsaicin which increases problems for sensitive skin. Vasodilators like caffeine and tannins also contribute to sensitivity. Either avoid them or add milk to neutralize their effect, so if you’re having your Latte there is no need to worry.
9) Avoid factors like hot baths, saunas, hammans, alcohol and sudden changes in temperature that aggravate the itchiness or allergic reactions.
10) One should avoid sitting for prolonged hours in air-conditioned or heated atmosphere. Sensitive skin is the worst sufferer in such condition; it turns tight and can also become itchy. In air controlled atmosphere like long flights keep moisturising your skin and use thermal water sprays to sooth the skin.