It’s red. It stings. It tends to over-react to most skincare products. This is sensitive skin, and it is not like the other types. But what makes sensitive skin sensitive? How can you soothe and protect your sensitive skin—and enjoy a lot more good skin days?
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SENSITIVE SKIN?
How do you know for sure if you have sensitive skin? While many may think this is their skin type, what helps us classify sensitive skin are these skin symptoms:
- Stinging and/or burning sensation when your skin comes in contact with certain products, environmental pollutants or skincare regimes
- Easily irritated by lifestyle or environmental factors
Need help determining your skin type? Take our skin care quiz so we can help you find the best products for your skin type.
WHAT MAKES SENSITIVE SKIN SENSITIVE?
There’s a reason why sensitive skin is prone to flare-ups: a thin lipid barrier. The lipid barrier is a thin protective film on the outside of your skin. Its job? Keep water in and potential irritants out.
When your lipid barrier is thinner, products are absorbed more deeply and that means more of a reaction. This thinner lipid barrier is really what causes sensitive skin. It also means more opportunity for moisture to escape, which is why sensitive skin and dry skin often go hand in hand.
So, caring for sensitive skin is all about protecting that lipid barrier. What does that mean for your daily skincare routine?
WHAT SKINCARE ROUTINES ARE BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN?
Choose a gentle cleanser
Harsh soaps can strip away your lipid barrier, leaving your skin irritated and red. That’s because some soaps, especially foaming soaps, contain sodium lauryl ethel sulphate, a surfactant and anionic detergent that peels away at the lipid barrier when that’s the opposite of what your skin needs.
A gentle soap-free cleanser, however, nourishes, hydrates and supports a healthy skin barrier while washing away daily pollutants and oils that can trigger sensitive skin reactions.
Wash only with water at the right temperature
While it can be tempting to wake up or warm up by washing your face with hot water, resist the urge. Hot water also strips your lipid barrier away. Cool or lukewarm water is ideal.
Don’t overdo it with washing and exfoliating
Abrasive scrubs and mechanical exfoliants (versus peels) can cause tears in the delicate outer layers of your skin. Using gentle cleansers only twice daily and gentle exfoliants just once a week is best for sensitive skin. Learn more in our article Exfoliating: Myths and Truths of this Crucial Skincare Step.
Avoid astringents containing alcohol
Alcohol-containing astringents can make already sensitive skin even more irritated and dry. To help keep your lipid barrier strong, go for toners that use more natural ingredients to gently balance your pH. Learn more in our article The Low-down on Facial Toners & Why to Avoid Alcohol-based Toners.
Pro skincare tips for sensitive skin: When you’re trying new products, keep it simple. Test one at a time so you can pinpoint which ones are causing irritations and which ones are compatible. If you have severely sensitive skin, we recommend doing spot tests on your inner arm a few days in a row before applying to the face.
Are you looking for totally clean plant-based skincare products that have been crafted for care just for your skin type? Shop Om Organics products by skin type and discover our mini face care kit for sensitive/blemish prone/combination skin—the perfect way to try eight products designed to nourish and soothe your delicate skin.