According to a recent European study over 50% of us class our skin as being sensitive. Even though many of us haven’t actually been diagnosed with sensitive skin we probably err on the side of caution because certain products we have tried may have left our skin feeling uncomfortable, itchy or tight.
When diagnosing sensitive skin dermatologists will look for skin reactions, very dry skin or a tendency toward redness or blushing. It is now known that people with sensitive skin release more neuro-active chemicals into the dermis (the tissue supporting the skin) which can trigger skin reactions.
What Might Trigger Skin Reactions?
The list of potential skin irritants is a long one and what might cause a reaction for one person will have no effect on another.
The number one offender is fragrance which is listed on skincare ingredient labels as fragrance, parfum or aroma. These terms represent an undisclosed mixture of synthetic chemicals. The natural alternative to synthetic fragrances are essential oils but just because they are natural doesn’t necessarily mean that they are suitable for sensitive skin as they can still contain allergens.
Artificial colours are another source of irritation and can be made up of 25 synthetic chemicals which can increase your risk of skin sensitivity.
Another offender is Sodium Lauryl Sulphate or SLS which is an inexpensive foaming agent used in many skincare products including soap, cleansers and shampoos. SLS is a known skin irritant and it may well be the cause of dermatitis or at least it won’t help your condition if you already have dermatitis.
Natural Remedies for Sensitive Skin
Aloe Vera is well known as a natural sunburn remedy and it also benefits sensitive skin. It’s a soothing ingredient for irritated skin and is used to heal chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis.
Calendula is often used for delicate baby skin. It is very soothing and helps to reduce inflammation.
Chamomile Tea that has been left to cool makes a lovely calming and soothing cleanser and it also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. Use the tea bags to soothe irritated and itchy hayfever eyes.
Coconut Oil is a simple and natural moisturiser with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It keeps skin moisturised and helps to prevent dryness which can result in further skin irritation.
Marshmallow is a well-known ingredient for calming and reducing redness.
Rose Water is a really gentle cleanser and toner with cooling and anti-inflammatory properties. It calms and soothes red and irritated skin and even better if used straight from the fridge.
Tips for Sensitive Skin Care
It is always advisable to do a patch test before introducing a new product to your skin.
Keep your skincare routine simple. Minimise the number of products that you use and opt for products with a minimal number of ingredients.
Always opt for products without a fragrance.
Avoid the use of products that contain SLS on sensitive skin.
Avoid harsh cleansing products and don’t exfoliate more than once a week.