by Dr S Virmani, MBBS, MD. LLB (Copyright protection)
What is sensitive skin?
People with sensitive akin often complain that they cannot use products, as products sting or they have breakouts with products.
When we assess you for sensitive skin, we look for:
- Very dry skin
- Excessive blushing
- And skin reactions
- Skin disease such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea
- And signs of skin abuse such as beach and skiing holidays
If you are not sure about your skin, come in for a consultation and analysis. Sometimes you need allergy tests to aid diagnoses. However, it is a difficult diagnosis to make, as several factors determine skin sensitivity.
What can you do about your skin?
Soap is not for your face! Use gentle soap free face washes. They kill bacteria and remove dirt without insulting your skin.
Moisturise! You do not want to dry out sensitive skin! Choose moisturisers with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to restore your skin.
Make up may not work for you but a mineral based organic make up line might be a good idea!
Do’s and don’ts
Use products with only a few ingredients and no fragrance. Use black eyeliner and mascara; they appear to be least allergenic. (Coloured pigments are a source of allergies) Do not use antibacterial or deodorant based products, alcohol-based products and retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids. Do not use waterproof cosmetics; you need a special cleanser to remove them. Pencil eyeliners and eyebrow fillers are a better option as liquid eyeliners may contain latex and may cause an allergic reaction. Do discard old cosmetics as they can spoil and cause reactions or become contaminated and cause infections.
Using a new product
If you are starting a new skin care product, test it!
For 5 days, apply a small amount behind an ear and leave it on overnight. If your skin does not become irritated, repeat this process on an area alongside an eye (away from lashes and lid margins) for the next 5 days. If you still don’t see irritation, the product should be safe for you to apply on any area of your face.
Protect your sensitive skin
Wear a sunscreen every single day. (See our blogs on sun protection).
Use a SPF 30 or higher sunscreen with titanium dioxide, which is a physical sunscreen not a chemical one. It deflects sunlight off your skin and you are highly unlikely to have an allergic reaction to it. Avoid sunbathing and tanning. In the winter, do not let your skin dry out. Do not overheat your home, avoid hot showers and baths and use gentle cleaners. Cetaphil is a good option. Pat dry your skin and moisturise while still moist. At all times, use loose fitted clothing made of natural fabrics such as cotton and silk.
What about regulation of what is sold in shops?
Medical grade products are FDA controlled and are licensed to enter your skin and change skin structure. Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate cosmetics in the same way. Cosmetic makers are not required to provide manufacturing data on their products or report cosmetic related side effects. The FDA cannot force them to recall products either.
Hypoallergenic skin care products are not necessarily safer for sensitive skin. Again, there is no FDA standard regulating the use of the word “hypoallergenic.” So, it can be used by anyone for anything they desire!
If you want to make sure a product is ok for you then check up the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Specialized Information Services
as they maintain a Household Products Database online. You can look up products by brand
name to see what’s in them and whether anything they contain could irritate your skin. Be
careful as you may not find all products in their database!
My Personal Favourite Products
Within the Obagi Medical System, there are many products that are designed for, or that
can help people with sensitive skin. Both the Obagi Nu Derm and Obagi C systems are
available in sensitive skin versions.
Obagi Hydrate is a rich hydrating moisturiser that is gentle on the skin. When coupled with
Hydrate Luxe, as a night time hydration treatment, sensitive skin can benefit from
The two other wonder products I often recommend are:
Tebiskin® Cera-Boost which replenishes all 9 key skin ceramides and improves skin lipid
density, excessive skin dehydration and flakiness. It is also useful in relieving eczema
symptoms and also helps to slow down excessive oil production.
Tebiskinฎ HYAL is a key product to be used pre and post any skin changing procedure to
improve and maintain results. Tebiskin HYAL delivers a new patented Carnosine
Hyaluronate that increases hyaluronic acid levels in the skin. This improves skin function,
plumps the skin and also prevents ageing and damage.
Ref : Obagi UK, SkinMed UK,WebMD