Do You Have Sensitive Skin? How to Tell and What to Do About It!
The common signs of sensitive skin and how best to take care of it.
-April Daniels Hussar, sponsored by Simple Skincare
My skin is so sensitive — if I tell it a bad joke I get hives. I thought I was just lucky, but, interestingly, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to HALF of all people have sensitive skin in some form or another. Woah! What exactly does that mean? How can you tell if you have sensitive skin — and how should we be taking care of it?
According to Dr. Glenn Kolanskys, a board certified dermatologist in Red Bank, NJ, “sensitive skin” just means skin that often becomes inflamed. “It can react to common household products or cosmetics or temperature changes,” he says. “The skin becomes red or inflamed, and has a burning or stinging sensation.”
According to HowStuffWorks.com, “People with sensitive skin are more vulnerable to acne, rosacea, eczema and contact allergens.” Lucky us! And Amy J. Derick, M.D., member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, told me that, in her opinion, “Sensitive skin means that your skin is irritated easily, whether by creams, soaps, lotions, or the environment.”
So, basically, the way your skin looks and feels isn’t just affected by genetics and your skincare routine, but also by the way you live your life. If you have sensitive skin like moi, you know it gets irritated easily, and might react to anything from ingredients in certain skincare products to stress to the weather!
TeenVogue.com also notes, “Blushing, itching, and easily sun-burning are all tell-tale signs of sensitive skin.”
Oh yes. The blush and the sunburn at the drop of a hat. Good times.
Thankfully, I can use a fair amount of makeup (thank the sweet Lord), but pretty often, when I try a new skin care product, my skin will get VERY ANGRY WITH ME. And stays that way for a couple of days. This anger can take the form of puffy eyes, a rash, or a weird, red welty situation. It’s not pretty. Oddly, though, this doesn’t stop me from trying new things — partly because I write about beauty products and partly because I’m just a beauty product junkie, through and through. (The first step is admitting you have a problem…)
Common signs of sensitive skin include redness or irritation, says Dr. Kolanskys. “Some people develop bumps, or hives (urticaria) or a stinging sensation upon exposure to certain products.” Yes, that would be me.
“Deodorant soaps or products with fragrance can cause irritation in some people,” Kolanskys continues. Yes — sigh — me again. Some things with fragrance I can use; some I can’t. It’s always a craps shoot, as they say.
So, what’s the best way to take care of our sensitive skin?
Dr. Kolanskys gives these tips:
- Use mild soaps or emollients. Soap-free cleansers usually have a lower pH (more acidic than basic) and are less irritating to the skin, he explains. Super-fatted or hydrating cleansers are less irritating to the skin.
- Look for fragrance-free products
- Avoid washing with water that is very hot or too cold
And, I can add, from my own personal experience and research:
- Always spot-test a new product and NEVER TRY A BUNCH OF NEW PRODUCTS AT ONCE! You’d think this would be obvious, but it’s not — even to me, who has done it a million times. “Hmmm … there’s that weird hivey welt situation again … I wonder if it was the new cleanser, the eye cream or that bronzing lotion? Only time will tell!” (DUH!)
- Try a skincare brand designed for sensitive skin. I tried one that I liked so much, I’m now brand ambassador for it — Simple Skincare. It’s the The UK’s No. 1 facial care brand (who knew?!) that just launched in the U.S. It’s currently available on drugstore.com and also debuting in beauty aisles this February. It’s working well for me!
- SPF is your BFF. So are hats. If you must be golden, fake-bakes and bronzers are the way to go — not just to keep your delicate little face wrinkle-free, but cancer-free. Plus, whenever I do accidentally get a little burned, my skin is uber, uber extra sensitive.
- Water is your friend. Drink it!
- Don’t over-cleanse your face and dry that poor baby out. As TeenVogue says, you can strip your skin’s protective mantle by over-drying the skin’s surface through the use of stripping soaps, alcohol, scrubs, acids, etc. Not the protective mantle!!
In other words: Treat your skin like the big baby it is, and you will make it happy — and purty!
April Daniels Hussar is BettyConfidential’s Executive Editor. This post was created in connection with my appointment as an Influencer in the Simple® Skincare Program. The views and opinions in it are entirely my own, visit www.facebook.com/SimpleSkincare to share your story on sensitive skin.