What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin has different meanings to different people.
Generally it is skin that is predisposed to react adversely to various factors or stimuli. Sensitive skin can be caused by factors, such as: genetic predisposition, climate or other physical factors, medications, emotional stress (including production of the cortisol hormone), fluctuating hormones (primarily estrogen/progesterone), severe skin treatments (like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, laser surgery), household products (cleaners) and even ingredients in cosmetics.
It is usually evident by way of redness, irritation and inflammation.
Most often it is just unbalanced skin, i.e. skin that is not functioning properly. When the skin is unbalanced it is not strong, meaning the barrier function of the skin is weak causing it to be more susceptible to environmental and natural chemicals.
Weak and unbalanced skin becomes sensitive to environmental factors like sun, heat, pollution….and also bad ingredients in skin care products.
Many skincare products claim to be for sensitive skin but what the marketing people claim on the container or packaging is usually not substantiated by the ingredients in the formulation of the product (and can be outright false).
Even balanced skin can respond to certain strong stimuli in skincare products like astringent extracts of peppermint, ginger, eucalyptus, menthol, citrus – too much of anything can be irritating. It is always best to stay away from products that have high levels of fragrance, aroma, and are too ‘invigorating’ on the skin.
Because sensitive skin often has subjective connotations for each individual, I have put together a sensitivity scale that will help you decide what you need to do to help nurse your skin back to a healthier, stronger and more balanced state (see ‘3 levels of sensitive skin’).
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The 3 levels of sensitive skin
Sensitive skin always has subjective connotations for each individual but there are also distinct objective factors that determine levels of sensitivity. Here is a sensitivity scale that will help you decide what you need to do to nurse your skin back to a healthier, stronger and more balanced state.
Determine what level of sensitive skin you have:
1 (severe sensitivity)
2 (medium sensitivity)
Feels like: stinging, tightness, burning, itchy, immediately reactive.
Looks like: red, inflamed, flakey, rosacea bumps or pustules.
Feels like: tingling, tightness, uncomfortable, reacts after a while.
Looks like: red areas, irritated in some areas, dehydrated, blotchy, uneven tone, a few small rosacea bumps from time to time.
3 (mild sensitivity)
Feels like: tingling at times, tightness at times, sometimes uncomfortable, random reactiveness.
Looks like: sometimes red, sometimes irritated, dehydrated patches, blotchy, uneven tone.
Subsequently, your goal becomes the strengthening of your skin’s barrier function…
To achieve this, you will use a gentle (non stripping) cleanser, antioxidants and serums with truly soothing/calming ingredients, hydration gels to help the skin repair itself, a lipid based moisturizer (where needed) to increase barrier strength, and an inorganic (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) mineral-based sunscreen.
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Recommended Sensitive Skin Solutions:
Cool water with Extreme + Sensitive Cleanser (level 1/2/3),
- Gentle + Exfoliate Gel (3 x/week up to 7 x/week for level 3),
- Relief + Serum (level 1/2/3). It may be used before and after Gentle + Exfoliate Gel for level 3,
- Hydrate + Serum (level 1/2/3),
- C + Renew Serum (level 2/3) Use maximum once daily for level 3, and less often (3x /week) for level 2,
- Soothe + Hydrate Mask (level 1/2/3),
- Light + Calm Lotion (or Rich + Calm Cream on dry non oily skin) where needed, depending on your skin type (level 1/2/3).
- Mineral Sunscreen SPF 35 or Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40 (level 1/2/3).
Complete the request for information form in the ‘Contact Us’ section.
You can also purchase online video consultations (via Skype) so that we can talk about your skin and your products. Thereafter we can better advise you as to what ingredients will or won’t work on your skin, as well as how to strengthen it and make it a whole lot less sensitive.
Your skin stays with you for the rest of your life, you cannot buy a new one, so treat it properly. Treat it sensitively.
Sensitive Skin Clinic is intelligent skin care that you and your skin deserve.
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