Sensitive skin is a bit of a pain in the—you know. Yeah. To be fair it’s a pain in a lot of senses; it’s, first and foremost, just plain annoying, but besides being that sometimes it can genuinely, physically hurt if you do something even slightly wrong. I’ve been struggling with sensitive skin a lot lately — especially after I hit my twenties, for some reason (probably because I didn’t care for skincare at all before that, let’s be honest here) — and even though the struggle hurt, I’ve learned quite a few very useful tips along the way, which I’m eager to share with those who share my pain.
DO: Specifically choose products for sensitive skin
Yes, I know that this advice sounds way too simple and moronic, but you won’t believe how many people ignore the labels and think that “all skin types” will work for them. It obviously depends on how sensitive your skin is, but usually, it really won’t work. Profoundly sensitive skin reacts badly to a lot of various ingredients, from things as obvious as alcohol to things more varied like different oils (that may even work just fine for everybody else) and scents.
DON’T: Overdo it on aloe
Aloe seems like a very good choice — and it often is, but it can also be very drying when used too abundantly. For instance, overusing an aloe gel moisturiser (a very famous Korean one, no less) made my skin red, flaky and made my eczema (which I didn’t even know I was prone to until then) flare-up. It’s good in moderation, and cleansing products with aloe tend to be very gentle and soothing, but it’s important to watch how your skin behaves.
DO: Moisturise like crazy
This advice is applicable to most people, really, but especially to those with sensitive skin — a lack of moisture can be very damaging, long-lasting and painful, even. That’s the thing that shocked my skin with aloe: despite it being soothing, when used too much aloe is very drying. And sensitive skin, when dry, reacts especially acutely to all kinds of seemingly slight discomforts. In addition to generally being good for the way your skin both looks and feels, moisturiser can also create a protective layer between your skin and the outside influences, even the filthy city air.
DON’T: Go off with clay and seaweed products
Clay is amazing for cleansing; seaweed is fantastic for dealing with oily skin. However, no matter how oily and, seemingly, unclean your pores might be, these ingredients are way too intense. Seaweed especially — it is powerful, which is both good and bad, especially so for sensitive skin. While clay products can be adapted to sensitive skin — but again, depends how truly sensitive it is — seaweed is just way too much for it to handle. Both seaweed and clay masks are very hype right now, but your skin’s health is more important than hype.
DO: Keep it simple
In general, when you’re cursed with the misfortune of extremely sensitive skin, overcomplicating your skincare routine can be your undoing. It shouldn’t be too elaborate with ingredients too exotic and unusual; you shouldn’t have way too many steps in it, simply because it can exhaust your skin; you shouldn’t try new things every week, because that can be too much to handle. I know it sucks when all your friends and beauty gurus do different masks every other day of the week and you can’t, but believe me, it’s for the best.
DON’T: Use products without testing them first
When you get something new — especially so when it has some new, bizarre-sounding ingredients like snail mucus — test it out somewhere. There are a lot of different spots like your neck, inner wrist, the area behind your ear; regardless of where you choose to test it, always do that and wait for any signs of irritation for the next 24 hours. Sensitive skin is a fiend and doesn’t always react immediately, so you can be lulled into a sense of false comfort, which is… unfortunate.
DO: Protect your skin from the sun
All skin suffers from UV rays. Sensitive skin does so especially. Overall, I think, the one thing that becomes obvious once you start studying sensitive skin and the ways to deal with it is that the gist of it all is: it reacts to everything especially strongly. Sunscreen is important year-round, even when it rains — just because the sun’s not blinding you it doesn’t mean that the UV rays aren’t there. They always are. Always watching you. Always damaging your skin, beyond the epidermis, even.
DON’T: Eat mindlessly
It sucks, but it is what it is — what you consume influences your skin a lot. Not only does the food you eat, sometimes, induce breakouts, it can also make your skin way more sensitive. Drink a lot of water for moisture and overall health of your skin (and body), and look at what toxins you might be consuming. On top of it all, smoking can also be damaging, because that’s even more extra toxins for your body to filter through — and your skin suffers from that.
DO: Have a go-to healing saviour
It takes time to find a truly good remedy for when your skin is losing its mind, but it’s worth it. Depending on your skin type the product may vary; from my personal experience, I will recommend FIRST AID BEAUTY. I promise — this isn’t a sponsored ad. I’m just constantly raving about their Ultra Repair Cream because it was the only thing that managed to heal my then insane painful rashes, that I got because of too much aloe (mentioned that above), stress (final uni project) and too little proper nutrience (diet). Not only did it save me, but it did so almost immediately — within a couple of days of using it I was already feeling 100x better, and so was my skin. (On top of it all, even a small 2oz tube will last you longer than you expect.)