Sensitive Skin or Sensitized Skin?
Do you suspect you have Sensitive Skin? Does it seem to react to everything? Does your skin burn, sting, itch, or become inflamed when you apply cosmetics or skin care products? Do you flush, or turn red easily? Perhaps you burn in moderate sunlight? Do you have thinner, fairer skin, Northern European ancestry? Is there a family history of hay fever, asthma, or eczema?
If you answered yes to these questions you probably have Sensitive Skin which is an actual inherited skin type.
Then again you may have environmentally Sensitized Skin – not a type but a condition brought on by environmental triggers. Sensitized Skin is in fact the most rapidly growing concern among those seeking advice from a Skin Care Therapist, It can affect any age or race, and any skin type, from dry skin to acne.
Our skin, quite literally, is under attack from environmental pollutants and chemicals in the atmosphere, from irritants found in many cosmetics and skin products, from harsh scrubs, and from improper cleansing habits at home. With continued assault the skin’s natural defense barrier (comprised of lipids and natural moisturizers) begins to break down and skin becomes more permeable to potential irritants.
Whether sensitive or sensitized, treatment is very much the same. And in either case the “less is more” principle applies. It is essential that proper, gentle home care be established. Avoiding certain irritants and triggers, and habits that damage the skin is critical.
Cosmetic ingredients such as fragrances, D&C color, preservatives, S.D. alcohol, and formaldehyde cause irritation and are often potentially harmful to the skin.
Harsh scrubs and over-exfoliating can weaken the skin’s barrier function. And for men, incorrect shaving can do the same. Be wary of home dermabrasion kits and nut shell or apricot kernel scrubs; they have the potential to irritate and damage your facial skin. Enzyme microfoliants are much gentler, removing dead surface cells while keeping the barrier in tact.
Hot water and soap are damaging to the skin’s barrier function. Instead use lukewarm water and a pH balanced, ultra calming cleanser, with a soft facial chamois to cleanse your skin.