On the other hand, when we have clear, radiant, healthy looking skin, it can make a big difference in how we feel about ourselves, and can give us the confidence we need to go out and accomplish great things.
In our last installment on sensitive skin, I’m going to give you some basic, all-around tips for taking care of it.
1. Watch your diet.
Yes, this is number one! You may not realize how much your diet affects your skin. I know I didn’t until I started making changes like cutting back on sugar, meat, and dairy, and drinking more water.
Studies have shown that high-glycemic foods, like baked goods, sugary treats, sugar-sweetened beverages, white bread and rice, cakes and more, can lead to more skin problems like acne, redness, and inflammation. These foods break down quickly in the body, spiking hormonal changes that affect the oil production in skin. Eating a healthier, high-fiber diet helps keep blood sugar levels more stable, which will not only improve your overall health, but your skin’s appearance and health as well.
For your best baby skin, cut back on:
- Dairy products
- Red meat
- Fast food
- High-sugar cakes, cookies, and treats
- Fried foods
2. Ditch the fragrances-and not just in your skin care.
Fragrances are one of the most common skin irritants. Most people with sensitive skin have experienced a reaction to fragrances. They’re typically made with a mixture of synthetic chemicals, and there’s no way to tell what these chemicals are, as so far, companies are not required to disclose their proprietary formulas.
You may already be avoiding fragrances in your skin care products, but what about in other areas of your life? To baby your sensitive skin, avoid synthetic fragrances in:
- Laundry detergents and softeners.
- Dryer sheets.
- All skin care products, including body washes, perfumes, sunscreens, makeup removers, moisturizers, cleansers, self-tanners, and more.
- All freshening products, including home air fresheners and car fresheners. (Find some other options for freshening here.)
Be careful, as well, with dry cleaning-the chemicals on the clothes can irritated your skin. Choose wet cleaning or air out the clothes before bringing them in and wearing them.
3. Choose sensitive-skin-friendly makeup.
Have you looked at the ingredient list on your makeup lately? You’re likely to see a list of hard-to-pronounce chemicals, including silicones, talc, petrolatum materials, preservatives, dyes, and more. These can all be irritating to sensitive skin.
When shopping for makeup, look for the following:
- Organic formulas: Yes, there is organic makeup out there! You owe it to yourself to try it. An example: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Cosmetics.
- Dimethicone: This is a silicone ingredient that’s in most foundations, primers, and other makeup products these days. It helps the product go on smoothly and sit above the skin, but a lot of people are sensitive to it. If you react to makeup, avoid products with this ingredient. (Read more here.)
- Hypoallergenic: This isn’t a fix-all, but it will help identify formulas that may be less likely to irritate your skin.
- Fragrance-free: We covered this one above-no synthetic fragrances.
- Try mineral makeup: It’s often better for sensitive skin since it has fewer irritants and dyes. Plus you apply it with a soft brush, so you’re not tugging on your sensitive skin. Find more tips on mineral makeup here.
4. Get into a healthy daily routine.
Have you noticed that your sensitive skin does not like changes? Therefore, it’s key to find a healthy skin-care routine and stick with it. This will involve some changes at first, as you’ll have to determine which products work for you, but once you find them, try to stick with the following basic routine so your skin doesn’t have to adjust to so many changes.
- Gently cleanse morning and night. Note the word “gently” here as that’s very important, but you need to clean your skin. It’s actually the most important part of your skin care routine as it sets the stage for everything to come. Try to cleanse at about the same time every day, and use a moisturizing formula like Desert Essence Gentle Nourishing Organic Cleanser.
- Tone immediately after cleansing. Don’t wait and allow your skin to dry out. Apply a gentle, moisturizing toner immediately after you pat your face dry. Try Acure Organics Facial Toner Balancing Rose & Red Tea.
- Moisturize immediately after toning. Again, don’t wait and allow your skin to dry out. Immediately after toning, apply a gentle, hydrating and protective moisturizer. Try CV Skinlabs Calming Moisture for Face, Neck, and Scalp.
- Exfoliate one-to-two times a week. Exfoliating is critical for keeping your skin in good shape. You need to get rid of the dead skin cells so they don’t clog over on the surface and cause acne and dry patches. Try Pai Skin Care Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator. (Avoid harsh exfoliants as they increase irritation and the risk of breakouts.)
- Apply a hydrating mask a couple times a week. Alternate this step with your exfoliating to drench skin in moisture. Try Aubrey Organics Calming Skin Therapy.
Follow these basic steps every day and every week, without exception, and you will notice your skin settling into a calmer, less reactive condition.
5. Reduce stress.
If you have sensitive skin, you know how it reacts when you’re stressed: Redness, breakouts, inflammation, and general chaos.
We all want to reduce the stress in our lives, but we rarely make it a priority. If you want clear, radiant, skin, you must work stress relief into your schedule. Every day, find a way to unplug and relax. Some suggestions:
- Yoga: This one is my favorite. As I stretch my body and breathe deeply, I relax my muscles and detox myself through the breath.
- Meditation: Just 10 minutes of quiet meditation can do wonders for your stress levels all day long.
- Exercise: This is the best way to get rid of angry, irritated, and pent-up energy. Plus it helps you sleep better, which is definitely one of the best stress relievers.
- Do something you enjoy: Most of us area so scheduled that we rarely take time to just enjoy ourselves. Again, make an appointment. Lunch with friends, a walk in the park, time with a beloved pet, a nice warm bath, or a pampering trip to the spa.
Do you take the time to baby your sensitive skin? Please share your tips.
Picture courtesy marin via freedigitalphotos.net.
Mark Hyman, M.D., “Acne: Are Milk and Sugar the Causes?” Huffington Post, February 12, 2011,http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/do-milk-and-sugar-cause-a_b_822163.html.
Anahad O’Conner, “The Claim: Sugar in the Diet Can Lead to Acne,” New York Times, February 23, 2009,http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/health/24real.html?_r=0.
“Sugar Intake Increases Inflammation in the Body,” Ground Floor Health, January 16, 2006, http://www.groundfloorhealth.com/diabetes/sugar-intake-increases-inflammation-in-body/.