The biggest question for those with sensitive skin? How to prevent skin irritation. Below, our best five tips.
One could argue that people with sensitive skin, as a whole, are one of the most conscientious when it comes to skin care. They must be in order to prevent uncomfortable—sometimes painful—irritation, flare ups, and breakouts. One sideways move can lead to weeks or months of picking up the pieces, so patch testing, label reading, and extended research are all par for the course.
With that said, we imagine that those of you with sensitive skin reading The Klog are already doing a pretty good job of maintaining your dermal health. We want to help you take it one step further, though, by sharing some additional ways you can be even more gentle with your delicate skin.
Be aware of environmental extremes
You’re already wearing sunscreen to shield your skin from the sun’s potent rays, but it’s important to be mindful of other environmental factors, as well.
“Heat, cold, wind and sun are all tough on skin–even when it’s protected by sunscreen,” says Craig Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist. “Outdoor activities are an essential part of work and play for many of us, but it is especially important to be mindful of environmental extremes if you have sensitive skin.”
For example, if it’s cold and blustery outside, extended exposure can lead to wind burn, which can create flare ups and discomfort. The key is to keep as much of your skin covered as possible, and to layer up with moisturizer before and after heading outdoors. One of our favorites for both soothing and protecting the skin is the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream.
Contrarily, prolonged time spent in extreme heat can result in prickly heat rashes or be very drying. A non-occlusive moisturizer is key in preventing rashes, as is placing a layer of clothing between your skin to prevent chaffing, and taking lots of breaks in the shade or AC.
Skip the cotton pad
When applying a toner, essence, or any other thin skin care product, cut out the cotton ball or cotton pad middleman. Instead, pour a small amount of product into clean hands and gently pat the product into your face. Not only will you prevent irritation from the cotton rubbing against your skin, you’ll also get more product on your face.
Don’t rely on cleansing wipes
“Resist the urge to substitute cleansing and rinsing for the quick trick of cleansing wipes,” says Kraffert. “While these can be great in a pinch and at times for makeup removal, they do not clean exceptionally well or exfoliate thoroughly, and they leave chemicals on the skin which can be undesirable.”
He explains that makeup wipes have certain inherent issues for them to be effective.
“Due to the need to apply concentrated surfactants and emulsifiers for best results, they can be drying and irritating,” he says. “Also, due to the nature of makeup wipe packaging and the product itself, high levels of preservatives are generally required to ensure long shelf life. These preservatives may also trigger irritant and allergic reactions.”
Interestingly, Dr. Kraffert notes that makeup wipes are actually falling out of favor in the Korean skin care market, and are instead being replaced with other handy, but much safer and gentler, options. For example, foam cleansers, powder cleansers, and cleansing sticks that are easy to apply, easy to remove, and easy to travel with. We recommend the Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick or Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser. Both are super gentle on skin but harsh on dirt and sebum pore-clogging elements.
Say no to microdermabrasion
A visit to the spa is always a treat, but make sure to stay away from aggressive forms of dermabrasion, including microdermabrasion and potent chemical peels. The goal of these treatments is to break down and resurface the skin barrier, but sensitive skin is sensitive precisely because the barrier is already very fragile. Whether at home or at the spa, opt for mild forms of exfoliation—ideally light peels or facials peels with ingredients you know are safe for your skin. Also, you should do these sorts of treatments this less frequently than other skin types.
Be kind to yourself
It’s possible to have a firm handle on your skin care regimen. However, when you don’t have a handle on other things going on in your life it can disrupt your skin just the same. It’s no secret that stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and a poor diet can wreak havoc on your physical wellbeing, and that includes your skin! When you’re stressed, overworked, and/or undernourished, your skin becomes more reactive and underlying conditions can flare up.
Make sure you’re not overcommitting, taking important breaks for yourself, eating well, and surrounding yourself with people and things that bring you joy instead of stress.