A major component for feeling beautiful is being comfortable in your own skin. Treating dry and reactive skin can be dreary… where achieving normalcy can make a world of difference. Dry or irritated skin can be caused by a laundry list of factors- extreme weather conditions, contact allergens, diabetes, psoriasis, eczema, urticaria, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies and etc. Zeroing in on the cause is critical in returning your skin to its happy place.
Your skin is full of moisture- after all, we are more than 70% water. The challenge is retaining that moisture. The skin is also full of oils and lipids that are designed to retain moisture, but sun exposure, ageing, temperature extremes, and other aggressors (alcohol, detergents or other chemicals) can dry out our skin. Irritations also interferes with the skin’s barrier function, which is why dryness and sensitivity are so intertwined, usually one leading to the other. Therefore, it is very important to use detergents or even fabric softener sparingly as this too may cause skin irritations over time. Inflammation usually builds on by itself, so ignoring the problem and leaving your skin alone is not a solution. At times, dietary habits can also expedite such problems.
So, what is the best way to sort out your dry + sensitive skin issues?
Here are a few tips:
Your choice of cleansers are extremely important especially for those who are suffering from dry and sensitive skin. Pretty much anything that lathers is a big no-no. Lather equals detergents in most cases. Conventional “moisturising” body washes for example combines moisturising ingredients with detergents (not to mention perfumes, which can further compromise your skin’s natural protective barrier). Consider oils, creams and balm cleansers (preferably non-toxic) and consider cleansing less.
Morning cleanse: Your skin is definitely not dirty in the morning so you could skip the cleansing step. Just wash with cool water and wipe off with a toner. Finishing it off with a moisturiser and sunscreen.
Evening cleanse: Double cleansing with micellar water is recommended as our skin has been exposed to pollutants all day. Make sure to wash off micellar water as to some extend, the micellar water will continue to break down dirt when left on the skin.
Be sure to stick to cleansers which are 4.5-5.5pH to ensure the integrity of your skin’s protective barrier.
Tone, Tone, Tone-r!: It is important to always tone your skin. If you suffer from extremely dry or sensitive skin, it is recommended to stay away from any from of acid toners (glycolic, lactic, salicylic) or anything that is astringent (witch hazel, alcohol) as it will be too harsh for your skin. Stick to something soothing such as Rose Water.
3. Facial Oils
Oil em’ Up!: When you experience dry or sensitive skin, it is because the lipids of your skin has been compromised. Therefore, facial oils are an excellent to not only nourish the skin but also helps soothe any form of itchiness. Sea buckthorn oil is a miracle worker for sensitive skin and especially eczema, while Rose Hip is great for ageing skin which needs helps with skin cell turnover.
Rebuild the barrier: One of the best key ingredients for moisturisers is ceramides. Ceramides are amazing for dry/sensitive skin. Think of it as an invisible film that replaces the compromised skin barrier. It does not necessary moisturise the skin but it definitely locks in all the other serums/ facial oils that have been applied on to your skin previously.
Exfoliations: Skip physical exfoliants and settle for chemical exfoliant instead. Physical exfoliants (scrubs) actually create micro tears on the skin, further sensitising already sensitive skin. If you look under a microscope, the effects of physical exfoliants look like sandpaper to wood.
Supplementing Supplements: Another thing to consider is taking supplements which are rich in omega oils- from salmon to cod liver oil to flaxseed and evening primrose. It may a few months to see a noticeable difference, but whatever you put into your body would show on your skin. Keep oils fresh in the refrigerator, and be sure to get fish oil capsules (especially) from reputable providers. New studies have shown that rancid fish oils can cause inflammation.