Have you ever experienced redness, itching, stinging or dry and flaky skin? These are all signs of skin sensitivity. Understanding whether or not you truly have skin sensitivity is the first step in perfecting your skincare regimen.
What Is the Skin's Barrier?
Our uppermost layer, the skin barrier is a living organ and is designed to protect us from the perils of the environment like UV, pollution, infection, toxic chemicals and so on. Much like a security guard for your skin, the skin barrier detects everything that comes in contact with your skin and stops potential problems from passing through. However, a thin, weak or damaged skin barrier allows irritants in - causing skin sensitivity.
What Causes Skin Sensitivity?
Aside from age or coloring, we expose our skin to many environmental stressors that can dry our barrier out or weaken it. Here are 5 well-known triggers that can make sensitive skin react with redness, acne and inflammation:
- The environment - outside and in
Changes in the weather don't just affect your wardrobe; they affect your skin too. Differences between temperatures or use of air conditioning and central heating can cause skin to become dehydrated and potentially more sensitive.
- Dirt and pollution
Exhaust fumes, smoke and dust - these can leave your skin feeling irritated and dirty and are pretty hard to avoid. Throughout the course of the day, surrounding pollution sticks to your skin and can irritate and weaken the skin's natural barrier over time.
Fluctuating hormonal activity can not only cause the characteristic monthly break-outs but can also increase skin's sensitivity overall.
Stress can be caused by many things such as problems at work, lack of sleep or poor diet. The hormones that are affected by stress can decrease skin barrier function and its ability to recover.
- Ingredients in skincare productsNavigating product labeling can be a bit of a minefield, but artificial fragrance, dyes and harsh chemicals like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and petrochemicals are all known to irritate skin.
How to Repair a Damaged Skin Barrier
The need for a strong skin barrier applies to everyone. No matter what type of skin you have, your barrier is your skin's primary defense from the outside world. Without a strong barrier, you can't have healthy, beautiful skin. Follow these steps to help maintain or build up your skin's natural barrier:
- Shop for the right ingredients
Pare down your beauty routine and get rid of products with harsh chemicals and astringents. Read the labels of your products and get the ingredient building blocks you need to strengthen your skin's barrier. Prebiotics is a great ingredient to try - it rebuilds and improves your skin's natural protective barrier. Try: Inner Strength Soothing Serum and Skin Recovery Moisturiser.
- Cleanse gently and naturally
Stay away from harsh cleansers and exfoliators that will contribute to dryness. Use a gentle formula that will clean makeup and impurities while soothing and calming your skin. Try: Inner Strength Soothing Cleansing Balm, which uses omega rich essential oils to soothe inflammation and naturally restore skin's moisture levels.
- Keep it cool
Cleanse with tepid water - hot water will only strip the skin and damage the skin's surface even further.
- Don't stress
Building up your barrier is not as simple as using the right skincare - you need to feed its strength from the inside and out. Stress is proven to slow down the skin healing process, including skin barrier recovery.
- Wear sunscreen
One of the easiest ways to protect your skin's barrier is by wearing a daily SPF. Try finding one full of antioxidants that not only defend your skin against the damaging UV rays, but also protects your skin from other environmental stressors.
Do you struggle with sensitive skin? How do you cope? Please share any tips you may have.