Did you know that women of color are twice as likely to have sensitive skin? By taking a gentle approach to skincare, women of color can avoid inflammation caused by skincare products and practices that irritate sensitive skin and lead to hyperpigmentation.
What Is Sensitive Skin?
If you have allergies to triggers like fragrances, pollen, dust or animals, it will come as no surprise if your skin is sensitive too. There are many ways your skin can show it is sensitive. If your skin is dry, irritated or itchy then it may be mildly sensitive and reacting to products you use. More obvious signs of sensitive skin include redness, swelling, or blisters after exposure to irritating chemicals. In addition, clinical conditions like rosacea and eczema are more serious forms of skin sensitivity that often require skin treatments from dermatologists. People with all skin types can have sensitive skin because the sensitivity is a reaction to different ingredients, while your skin type is due to the amount of oil you produce. So, sensitive skin can be found in people who have dry, oily or combination skin.
Eight Tips on Caring for Sensitive Skin
- Read the labels of all the products you use. Different ingredients will make your skin react and everyone’s allergies are different. By reading the labels of your products, you will see specific ingredients that repeatedly irritate your skin and will be able to avoid them in the future. People with sensitive skin often look for clean beauty products because they focus on ingredients for healthy skin and are transparent in listing ingredients to help consumers make the best purchases for their skin.
- Avoid fragrances and dyes. These are the most common ingredients that cause skin reactions. You can certainly look for synthetic fragrances, but some natural ingredients --like lavender, lemon and orange oil – are also used to add fragrance to products. This is especially common in natural skincare products. In addition to avoiding fragrances in cosmetic and skincare products, look for fragrance-free versions of soaps, detergents and other products that come into contact with your skin.
- Be careful with natural skin care routines. You may love the idea of using natural beauty products made with organic ingredients. However, just because something comes from nature doesn’t mean it is gentle or good to use in a sensitive skin care product. Natural products often have very active ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin. Instead, look for products made specifically for sensitive skin.
- When shopping for soaps or moisturizers for sensitive skin, look for products labeled as “hypoallergenic”. But, be careful because there are no standards set to define what can be labeled as hypoallergenic, and any manufacturer can claim a product is hypoallergenic. While looking for skin products with a hypoallergenic label is a good start, it is not a guarantee your skin will not react. Again, read the labels so you know which ingredients work with your sensitive skin.
- Look for skin changes over time. Children can have sensitive skin they outgrow. And at the other end of the spectrum, adults can develop sensitivities as they grow older. If your skin is suddenly irritated from products you were able to use before, you may be developing a sensitivity. Some breakouts may appear to be acne, but if your skin is also itchy or irritated you may be having a skin reaction rather than an acne breakout. At the same time, manufacturers change their formulas all the time. If a product you used before with no problem is suddenly causing breakouts, compare labels from old bottles to see if there has been a formula change.
- Hydration. Hydration. Sensitive skin is often dry and benefits from gentle hydrating moisturizers. First, try to not remove too much of the natural protective oils from your skin. When cleansing, people with sensitive skin should use lukewarm water, rather than hot, so as not to strip away too much oil. After washing, follow immediately with a good moisturizer for sensitive skin to seal the water into your skin. All skin types benefit from hydration, and the best moisturizer for you will depend on your skin type.
- Know the difference between gels, lotions, creams and ointments. These labels are used for cleansers and moisturizers, as well as some over the counter medications. Gels have little to no oils and sometimes contain alcohol. These products are best for people with oily skin. Lotions are a mixture of oils and water and tend to be liquid. Creams are also a water and oil mix but with higher proportions of oil and are often solid. Lastly, ointments contain very little water and are often made with petrolatum, which is an effective emollient for very dry skin. Your skin can be sensitive and dry or sensitive and oily. So, understanding these different formulas will help you select the best moisturizers to keep your sensitive skin hydrated and calm.
- Explore options for sunscreen for sensitive skin. There are two types of sunscreen ingredients – chemical and physical. Chemical ingredients are clear and look good on people with darker skin tones. However, people with sensitive skin can have reactions to these chemicals. On the other hand, physical sunscreens are soothing to use and great for people with sensitive skin. However, they include ingredients that give a white cast to your skin and leave people with darker tones looking ashy. Again, read the ingredients labels for your sunscreen so you understand which ingredients works best – and look best – for your skin.
Maybe Your Skin is Not Sensitive, But Sensitized
Sometimes you can cause your own skin sensitivity. Your skin has a protective natural barrier called the acid mantle which is made of phospholipids. If you use products with sulphates or acids to aggressively cleanse your skin, you run the risk of damaging that natural barrier and irritating your skin. It will feel dry, irritated and in need of extra protection. People with oily skin often run into this issue when they use alcohol-based toners, or strong exfoliating acids to clear away breakouts and excess oil. The good news is you can rebuild your skin’s protective barrier by taking a gentle approach to skincare and using cleansing and hydrating products that focus on skin health. The AbsoluteJOI Ultimate Cleansing Kit is great for skin health because the oil cleanser does not over strip your skin, while the foaming cleanser has no harsh sulphates and contains glycerin to hydrate the skin. Finish with the pH balancing toner with aloe and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and calm.
Finding the right approach to sensitive skin care can be a challenge. When you learn to avoid the ingredients that make your skin react and can take a healthy approach to cleansing and hydrating your skin, that can go a long way towards getting a non-irritated calm and even complexion.
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