Hands up how many of you have been left with some super sensitive skin after Winter!? Heating, cold weather, wind, long sleeved jumpers and tight jeans, plus sudden temperature changes, can all be culprits. Though some other hidden nasties can be too…
Sensitive skin is on the rise, regardless of the time of year. 60% of Australians are now affected by skin sensitivities, according to the 2011 TNS Skincare Usage & Attitude Study in Australia. Just imagine what that figure is now!
But don’t fear, we’re here to make sure you’re fully informed on what to look out for when it comes to sensitive skin. We will also explain ways you can calm down any sensitivities that may be flaring up and causing you discomfort.
Read on, read on!
The Lowdown on Sensitive Skin
What is sensitive skin?
When your skin appears to be “bothered” by something it is most likely due to sensitive skin. Sensitive skin can present itself as itching, rashes, skin cracking, flaking, small bumps, red or brown patches and tenderness. Although these symptoms may not be highly dangerous, they can be extremely uncomfortable and upsetting if you experience them.
Why do skin sensitivities occur?
Skin sensitivities can be caused by a variety of factors including wind, cold, heat, sun exposure, chemicals in products and allergies.
The root cause of sensitive skin however is when your skin’s defense system is no longer doing its job correctly. When skin is healthy it has a protective barrier that acts like a shield, preventing irritants and bacteria reaching the deeper layers of your skin. This barrier will also retain moisture, which is critical for maintaining your skin’s elasticity, firmness and comfort.
When you have sensitive skin though, this barrier is weakened. Your skin is left vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity, as well as exposure to “nasties”. When your skin is then overexposed to environmental changes, irritants and bacteria it thinks it is in danger and sends out warning signals such as flushing, burning and stinging.
Causes of Sensitive Skin
According to an observational study led by La Roche-Posay on 3,800 patients in 8 countries these were the top ranking causes of sensitive skin:
Environmental Factors such as sun exposure, temperature changes, pollution and pollen. (59.8%)
Skincare Products which often contain irritants such as artificial fragrances and colourants. (55.1%)
Internal Factors including psychological stress (34.7%), in addition to spicy foods or alcohol.
How can I treat sensitive skin naturally?
Sensitive skin can be overwhelming, leaving you with the feeling that everything is irritating. Thankfully, making a few changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your symptoms.
To start, it helps to identify what type of sensitive skin you suffer from…
By having a better understanding of what triggers your sensitive skin type you are able to begin avoiding irritants that are most likely to exacerbate your sensitive skin woes. Using a process of elimination can also help you get recognise specific triggers.
It is also wise to remember that it’s not only what comes into contact with your skin that may cause irritation. Lifestyle factors such as stress have a role to play in your skin’s ability to defend itself. Taking time out within your day to relax and re-centre your mind and body through yoga or meditation will reap rewards for you, both physically and mentally.
Top Tips for Calming Sensitive Skin
- take short showers with warm — not hot — water, to prevent disrupting your skin’s natural protective barrier
- avoid harsh astringents and exfoliants
- use a mild, fragrance-free soaps
- avoid perfume, use essential oils instead
- choose a gentle, fragrance-free laundry detergent
- go to a dry-cleaner that offers Sensitive Skin Dry-Cleaning
- use organic or non-toxic cleaning supplies within the home
- pat yourself dry after a shower (instead of rubbing) and apply moisturiser right away
Common Triggers to Avoid
Watch out for these triggers, often found in many parts of your daily skin care and cleaning routines…
Chemical and/or synthetic fragrances
Formaldehyde (and formaldehyde releasing preservatives like urea, quaternium-15, and DMDM hydantoin)
Propylene glycol and ethanol
Bismuth oxychloride and mica (light-refracting ingredients found in makeup)
4-tert-butylphenol in cosmetics (lip liners), plastics, and lacquers
Chemicals used in pesticides and herbicides
Menthol and peppermint
Do I need to see a doctor?
The lists above are certainly not exhaustive when it come to factors that can cause sensitive skin. Certain conditions can cause skin sensitivity and may require more serious and diligent treatment than others. If you have any specific concerns about your skin, or think that your symptoms may be part of an allergic response, consider visiting your doctor or an allergist.
A Sensitive Skin Product Guide
Now that you know more about the ins and outs of sensitive skin it’s time to start upgrading your beauty regime and cleaning cupboard with gentle products that shouldn’t cause any inflammation.
At elaundry we’re dedicated to encouraging the use of natural products that are not only good for your skin, but for the environment too. We are also the only dry-cleaner in Brisbane to offer Sensitive Skin Dry-Cleaning – the new earth and skin friendly dry-cleaning alternative. Learn more about it here.