Sensitive skin is a layman term freely used to describe a number of different skin conditions. Generally sensitive skin is skin that easily reacts to external impacts such as environmental changes, beauty procedures or certain skin care products. Visible signs of sensitive skin vary greatly but dryness, diffused redness, peeling or flaky patches, blemishes, pustules or rashes are not uncommon.
Sensitive skin is easily irritated and can result in sore, tingling, tight or itchy skin that stings or burns- sometimes with a scaling look or visible veins and capillaries under the surface of the skin. With eyelids being particularly vulnerable, sensitive skin tends to be thin and delicate with fine pores and an overall fine texture.
Sensitive skin can develop from genetic heritage, allergies, stress or intolerance to certain skin care or make-up products. Known to sunburn easily, sensitive skin should be protected using oil-free sunscreens with a SPF of at least 30.
Examples of external factors that can cause or contribute to sensitive skin are:
Exposure to wind or sun
Extreme temperature and humidity changes
Skin care products containing commonly used chemical irritants
Food additives (e.g. preservatives, flavour enhancers, soy, food colouring etc)
Tip: Artificial fragrances are well-known to cause skin irritation and should be avoided. Before applying a new product to your face apply a little on to your wrist and wait for 24h to see if your skin reacts to it. This can be a helpful test for both skincare and make-up products. Always discard these products once they have exceeded their best before date.
Did you know? Occasional blemishes are often referred to as ‘PMS blemishes’ due to an increased release of the male hormone androgen pre menstruation. Androgen is known to alter the skin’s pH which causes an increase in sebum production and hence can cause blemishes when pores become blocked.
To care for sensitive skin try to drink at least 2 litres of water per day to ensure your skin is sufficiently hydrated. Consumption of foods rich in carotenoids and Vitamin C are said to help improve sensitive skin. Carotenoids can be found in spinach, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots. In order to get the most carotenoids out of these foods eat them raw or lightly steamed rather than cooked. Acting as antioxidants, carotenoids can protect your skin form free radicals while Vitamin C is an essential component for the production of collagen – a protein needed for the skin’s healing process and the maintenance of skin suppleness.
Note: If you experience extremely sensitive skin please consult your GP to check for underlying skin disorders or allergic skin reactions such as eczema, urticaria, rosacea, allergic contact dermatitis or intolerance to certain foods, e.g. gluten.