How to deal with sensitive skin: 5 simple hacks

Sensitive skin can really be troublesome. Your skin looks red and easily freaks out. Washing your face makes your face feel tight and itchy. Know the feeling? Well you are not alone. Here are five simple tips that can step you in the right direction.

Hack 1 – pH balanced skincare

The skin surface is usually slightly acidic, as this helps protect our skin from bacteria. The pH is around 5.5. Whenever we use a product that lowers the pH dramatically (like a strong AHA) or raises the pH (like Soap), our skin will sting or breakout or become red as it tries to get the skin pH back to 5.5 again. Look for skincare products that are based around the pH of 5.5 to keep the skin surface as normalised as possible.

Hack 2 – Eczema and psoriasis strategies

Sensitivity can also occur with immune conditions like eczema and psoriasis, where the skin barrier and surface is impaired. Seeing a dermal therapist or dermatologist would be beneficial so you use the best products for your skin. There are so many great products on the market these days, that not everyone needs or wants pharmaceuticals. They have their place, but many people are very conscious of what they use, so cosmeceuticals are definitely worth considering.

Hack 3 – Keep your protective barrier intact

We all have a protective fatty outer layer on our skin. This is often called the lipid (fat) barrier, and it performs two main jobs: keeping water in, and keeping potentially damaging things, like UV rays, wind, heat, and harsh chemicals, out. In people with sensitive skin, this barrier is typically weaker, thinner, and more easily damaged, making it easier for irritants to penetrate the skin and cause inflammation. This fatty layer can be stripped from the skin by over-exfoliating, using harsh cleansers. This makes the skin less resistant to the environment

Hack 4 – Avoid fragrances

One of the most irritating ingredients within skincare (especially some of the big name brands) are fragrances – including essential oils. I know it makes the product smell good (and make the product smell expensive), but those pesky ingredients can cause skin irritation that can be very troublesome. The ingredients you do want to see are those that retain moisture (including emollients and humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid) and replenish the the lipid barrier (including ceramides and fatty acids). We want to try and trap in the moisture and create a protective layer. Fragrances do nothing for us, and usually are the single most irritating ingredient for our skin.

Hack 5 – See a professional dermal therapist

A dermal therapist can really help steer you in the right direction. People with sensitive skin need to be careful with products that contain strong active ingredients. We love skincare that contains vitamin c and vitamin a (retinol), but we (dermal therapists) usually select out those products that do not contain high percentages of those, so that we gradually introduce the skin to becoming more active. Generally, you should start using a new product gradually so your skin can build up a tolerance. Select a lower concentration, use a small amount, and only use it every two or three days at most. Then, as your tolerance grows over time, you can start to gradually increase the frequency and apply the product directly, before your moisturizer.

Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!

Written by Giulia D’Anna

BDSc (Melb), MRACDS, Honorary FIADFE (NY), Graduate Diploma Dermal Therapies (AACDS), Cert. Practice Man (UNE), Editor APJ (APAN) + | + 3 Belmore Road, Balwyn North, Victoria, Australia 3104 + | + Founder of iDental and Dermal Distinction

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