Sensitised skin is a common skincare challenge that is the result of skin which has been overstimulated by the use of too many or harsh topical products. This is as opposed to sensitive skin, which is the result of genetics, age and thin skin. Whether it relates to redness, rashes or a change in texture, most women across all age groups face skin sensitivity at some point in their lives. For some women, it requires life-long care. But for those with sensitised skin, it is something that can be improved by reviewing your skincare routine and making a few essential changes.
What is sensitised skin?
In order to find out exactly what is causing your sensitive skin, it can be a good idea to visit a dermatologist. From a visual diagnosis to allergy testing, medical consultations can help to pinpoint your personal triggers and guide you nourishing your skin back to its best health.
What causes sensitised skin?
With so many different products on the market, the challenge of sensitised skin is common. However, despite this, everyone experiences sensitivity differently.
The biggest cause of most sensitive skin is a compromised skin barrier. We all have a lipid (fat) outer layer in our skin, which prevents potentially harmful chemicals from entering our skin and keeps our skin hydrated by keeping the moisture locked in. When our skin becomes sensitive it means that the barrier is weaker and more permeable, so irritants can more easily penetrate our skin, resulting in inflammation.
It also means that moisture is lost more easily, resulting in drier skin which is even more sensitive and irritable. In people with chronic skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, the vicious cycle of sensitisation and dryness can make the condition worse. That’s why it’s important to work on restoring the skin barrier, by giving it the nutrients and moisture it needs to repair.
How can you nourish it back to health?
Even if you don’t have sensitised skin, we all have sensitive areas where our skin is thinner, such as the skin around our eyes. That’s why one of the most important ways of supporting your skin and managing skin sensitivity is by repairing your skin barrier. There are several questions to consider when it comes to tackling or preventing skin sensitisation. These include:
What’s in your products?
One of the biggest causes of sensitised skin is the over-use of skincare products that include retinol, acids, or alcohol-based ingredients. Although the intention is to improve the health of your skin, these can actually be too harsh and compromise the skin barrier if over-used. Other common irritants include sulphates, dyes, preservatives and fragrances.
What is your skincare routine like?
Are you over-washing or exfoliating too often? Both of these things can aggravate the skin barrier and result in sensitisation.
How many products are you using?
When it comes to skincare for sensitised skin, fewer products are always better than more. Sometimes using too many ingredients that work against each other can be the reason for sensitised skin. If you are interested in trying a new product, carry out a patch test over a period of time, before applying it all over your face.
Skin care for the future
Once you have your skin sensitisation under control, set a plan in place to keep your skin nourished going forwards.
If you’re thinking of changing up your skincare routine and the products you use, look for ingredients designed to rebalance, nourish and soothe skin, which will also restore the skin barrier. Products like micellar water, an oil-based cleanser or those which contain protective vitamin E are great options. Also, step away from ingredients like vitamins A and C, at least until your skin feels stronger. This can take up to three months of starting your new routine.
Finally, break the habit of touching your face. It can be easy to rub your eyes and touch your face throughout the day when skin is feeling sensitised, and transfer bacteria and dirt onto your skin. Avoid touching your face to minimise the risk of redness and irritation.