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Understanding and Living with Sensitive Skin

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

Welcome to my blog, where I share skincare advice, tips, tricks and research! This blog is helping those who live with sensitive skin! Please note a few things before we dive in! *Please note* this blog is strictly talking about sensitive skin that flushes / reddens easy. This blog is not specifically covering sensitive skin that has chronic inflammation such as rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis or contact urticaria. What will be mentioned can be transferable and helpful if you deal with such conditions, but please be reminded this entry is not focused on those conditions. I may also be referencing the skin as face skin throughout this blog, but many of these tips and tricks and information can relate to body skin too! Please also take note, the more I learn and the more research that becomes available will help me help you and will be updated to this blog! These blog entries are forever evolving!

Hopefully the information provided is enough to give you some general knowledge on what sensitive skin is, what triggers it and how it can be soothed, calmed and potentially even treated. If you have any questions or concerns after reading my blog, feel free to contact us for further guidance.

In addition, I also have a podcast called Inspirations Beauty Show which is often updated with episodes and different topics, some that may help support your sensitive skin or other skin concerns. For example, I have an episode specifically about sensitive skin. Here is the direct link so you can tune in and listen to an episode specifically on sensitive skin, it pairs well with this blog entry. If your skin concern and sensitivities are more surrounding Rosacea, Here is the link to that podcast episode and here is the link to the mini blog thats paired for that episode. Oh, and one more thing! I also have a "how hard water influences your skin" blog; as hard water is one factor that influences skin negatively and is critical for sensitive skin. I have attached that here for convince to learn about that. I told you we have multiple resources for you!

Don't forget, reaching out, booking a treatment or consultation is also always an option too!

Anyway; Happy learning!

What is Sensitive Skin? Sensitive skin has many definitions, which makes it difficult to identify what exactly represents sensitive skin. However, generally speaking, sensitive skin is defined to be more prone to break outs due to disruption to the barrier which heightens irritations from products and the environment. The symptoms from an irritation or sensitivity can range from itchy skin, stinging skin, flaky/dry skin, redness, puffiness, acne or all of the above. Sensitive skin can be caused from external and internal factors. External factors to consider would be things such as products, incorrect routine, harsh treatments, environment, pollution, sunburns, hard water and even weather. Internal factors would be things like medication, poor diet, stress, hormonal disruption and illness. It is also important to know that sensitive skin is also strongly influenced by genetic predisposition. For example fair individuals or those with red hair are more likely to have or eventually have sensitive skin or skin sensitivities. When sensitivities are more genetically induced, it does make it harder to treat. NOTE, not impossible, just will require more adjustments, more patience and more time. We are here to support you through the journey no matter what is triggering your sensitive skin. We are holding your hand and rooting for you!

Contributing Factors

Genetics: Unfortunately, since genetics are out of out control, this is what makes it harder for us to treat. That being said, there are always ways to lessen the severities of the sensitivities! Please keep in mind, genetic influences to sensitive skin varies person to person.

Environmental:Environmental factors cause skin sensitivities due to over exposure to environmental changes. For example over exposure to sun, pollution, and even dry cold temperatures can damage the skin, which will likely influence the skin and cause sensitivities down the road. Take sun exposure for example. Constant sun exposure without proper protection won't necessarily cause an issue immediately, but undeniably in years to come hyperpigmentation will be evident and the skin would be sensitive and more susceptible to damage. Each sun burn to the skin compromises the cells, especially if the same area gets burnt, thats a recipe for disaster. It often catches up to us without us even noticing, this is because its gradual over time. During those summers where you "didn't burn" and didn't wear sunscreen because "you don't need it" those were the moments your skin was being damaged which is likely what you are dealing with now. It's not until approximately 8-10 years after our last sun exposure will the damage show on our face. Damage can mean hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, thickened skin, wrinkles, broken capillaries and overall sensitivity and permanent redness and flushing. If you want to learn more about the importance of sunscreen and what product is my favourite, check out my podcast episodes, I have 4! Thats how important this topic is! SPF & UV Harmful Truths SPF PART 2

Diet:Diet influences skin more then we can appreciate. For example, spicy foods can influence flare-ups in the skin, especially if you have rosacea. It is important to notice what foods or beverages influence skin flushing or any other symptoms. The more balanced your diet, the more balanced your skin, which intern lowers your likelihood of reacting or simply lowers the severity of your reactions. If you can it is best to avoid inflammatory foods. One meal I know that supports my skin and general health is my beloved smoothie! It is also fun because you can change the flavour and ingredients each morning if you so wish! If this interests you, check out Skincare and Smoothies, maybe this is exactly what you need to jump start your low inflammation diet.

Learning the general information on gut health, inflammation in the gut and skin and all that is tied up with sensitive skin, this is another phenomenal resource for you! It was so fun having Jacky as guest on my podcast and I know this episode will serve you well!

Stress:Stress does wild things to our skin. Not just to sensitive skin, but to any and all skin types. Stress interrupts neurotransmitters. Neuropeptides are small protein like molecules that communicate with the brain; so when the mind is in distress, it sends negative signals to the body and of course this impacts the skin. Some people experience more redness and flushing in their skin, they may notice their skin holds heat, may experience a cold sore or two, even rashes or dryness. For me, I have recently noticed when under severe stress my eyes get crazy dry! Not just the eye ball itself, but around the eyes gets super flaky and sensitive. Keeping an eye (no pun intended) on your symptoms can help learn how to treat the skin or avoid the root cause. The more information we have with what we are trying to heal, the more success we will have!

Products:Products... ohhhh baby!! Products I would say is one of if not the biggest influential factor to sensitized skin. This is somewhat good news, becuase this means you likely dont have sensitive skin, but rather the routine you have in place and the products you are using are causing the sensitivity. Over the counter products are typically loaded with synthetic fragrances, preservatives, alcohols, dyes and other nasty ingredients that are extremely astringent for our skin. Especially when using these products daily it strips our skins barrier which leads the skin to many issues. Two example's that immediately comes to mind is St. Ives apricot scrub. This product is loaded with ingredients that will strip the skin, disrupt the acid mantle (this is what balances out skins natural production of oil) which leads to broken skin that faces redness, flushing and blemishes. The other example I think of is "acne kits" Those pre packaged kits that have a foaming tea tree oil cleanser, with the benzoyl peroxide toner and serum paired with the salicylic acid moisturizer, clay mask and harsh exfoliant. This is marketed to clear acne, where to me.... this is literally a recipe to exacerbate the acne AND cause long term sensitivity, flushing and dryness. Again, when looking for products especailly if dealing with sensitive skin avoid ingredients such as Fragrances AKA perfumes. This is a mega ingredient that is the main source of many irritations. This is because in order to create the fragrance in cosmetic products multiple chemicals are mixed together to create such a smell. Since so many chemicals are combined it is always hard to decipher which ingredient caused the reaction in the first place. It is a good rule of thumb to just avoid any products with heavy smells and any ingredients or labels that refer to perfume.

Here is a list of ingredients that is best to avoid if you can!

Ingredients:*avoid all the listed ingredients, as they contribute to negative factors and to sensitive skin* - Alcohol (incredibly drying and disruptive)

- Dimethicone (a silicone used as a filler in products)

- Perfume (highly reactive, causes rashes, bumps and more)

- Lanolin, Bio Oil & Mineral Oil (creates a barrier which does not allow for other products or ingredients to penetrate the skin, causes suffocation)

- Body Soap (highly disruptive to the pH of the skin)

- Sodium lauryl suphate / sodium lauteth sulphate (foaming agent, used as a filler, highly toxic)

Season:Skin tends to be happier in the summer or in warmer climates in general. Summer/tropical environments provide our skin with more vitamins than in the winter (as I am writing this in the depths of a Canadian winter). These vitamins from the sunshine feed our skin, however it is still important to be very careful about sun exposure. You know me, I always have to give a shout out to SPF! The sun may provide us with vitamin D but it can damage our skin even quicker than feeding it. It's all about that healthy balance. In the winter our skin tends to be drier and tighter and we lack essential vitamins. It is important to note that just as it is important to protect your skin in the summer it is also important to protect it in the winter, the sun still shines, don’t forget your SPF! The sun bounces off the snow and can burn the skin just as likely as you laying on the beach. Sure the UV is not as high, but just because the UV is low does not mean the damage to the skin is low. Also, in the winter skin is more susceptible to dry scales, dry patches, cracks, wrinkles and sensitivities. This is highly due to our cells having nerve damage from severe cold temperatures, winds and constant change in temperature (going from indoors to outdoors- the temperature change could contribute to skin sensitive’s, redness in skin, dry skin and dilated capillaries) Speaking of temperatures; avoid using hot water, try to use lukewarm water, as this prevents dryness and scaling of the skin, it also helps maintain the skins natural pH levels. These few tips and tricks will help control your skins reactions. Keep these tips for your routines no matter the season! You will see success and feel the sensitivities lessen.

Lack of Sleep: Not sleeping restfully for enough hours will negatively influence the skin. Interrupting a full nights sleep can contribute to many skin conditions, complications, problems or reactions. Sleep is important for all skin types, not just sensitive skin. You will notice if you don't sleep well or get a full nights rest, the skin shows it.

Washing to Often: With sensitive skin it is important to wash your face once a day, I recommend once at night. Over washing disrupts the pH balance in your skin, especially if you are over washing with the wrong products. Over washing your skin can leave it drier and tighter which leads to cracks, redness and other symptoms that screams sensitive skin. Did you know that you can give yourself sensitive skin by washing too often? It's not a threat, it's the truth! Please listen to the cleanser episode on my podcast. I will explain the best way to cleanse your skin and you will likely learn a thing or two on how to cleanse or what to look for in your cleanser due to your skin concerns, conditions or desires!

Complex Skin Routine:With sensitive skin you want to keep it simple. This is because then it is easier to decipher what causes your sensitivities (if any occur). It is also important to simplify your beauty routine because this limits the number of products you use, which limits the chemicals and ingredients that could potentially come in contact with your skin. Here is the best episode to listen to, it will answer so many questions and help establish a routine just for you!

Essential Oils:This is dependent for the individual, since everyone’s skin responds different. However, sometimes essential oils can cause sensitivities because the scents are so potent, and or because essential oils are over used in each product. The other issue with essential oils is sometimes the essential oil mix is to astringent and strong, creating to harsh of a response. For example using tea tree oil and lavender, or lemon and rosemary. These essential oils both have highly active properties which sometimes is to much commotion for the skin to handle, Although, essential oils can be great for some people, its not so great for others So like stated above, keep your beauty routine simple and to a minimum with ingredients. Keep in mind; everyone’s skin is different. This is just ONE out of MANY potential negative influential factors contributing to sensitive skin.

Acrylate: This is an ingredient that has recently been brought to my attention by a lovely client. A client who has dealt with sensitive skin for years, we would have progress and positive change from a few adjustments we would make, but we both knew we didn't get to the root issue. An acrylate allergy was the culprit. This is a common ingredient in nail products, like nail polishes, gels and builders as well as in lash adhesives. This is a perfect example to shed light on how many things can be factoring into skin conditions and how it isnt always the obvious thing right in front of our eyes. This may be worth while for you to consider.

Sometimes there is no Rhyme or Reason:This one is a hard one to explain, it is so confusing and frustrating for people (and for myself as a skin therapist). However, unfortunately it is true. Sometimes sensitive skin can just happen. In this case, it's about finding what helps relieve the skin the most. What provides the best result and what keeps the sensitivities as calm as best as possible.

How to Help PREVENT and SOOTHE Sensitive Skin:

Moisturize:Always moisturize after you wash your face and especially after the bath or shower. Water evaporates off your skin SUPER fast. So applying moisturizer when your skin is still damp is ideal. Applying the proper moisturizer will also help maintain hydration in the skin and hopefully balance out the pH, try to choose a natural, preservative and fragrance free option.

My favourite moisturizer for sensitive skin is Sheald Recovery from iS Clinical.

Make-Up:Don’t use waterproof makeup; this is because it can be harsh on the skin (mostly because of the removal part). If you are going to wear makeup search for mineral powders, as mineral powders will lessen the likelihood of irritations and or reactions.

Seek out a Professional Opinion:Going to a doctor, dermatologist or even your local aesthetician. At Inspirations Beauty Clinic Inc. we offer multiple skin consultation options. Skin consultations are a good option because we will sit with you and explain in detail what we believe is happening with your skin and why. In these consultations it will provide tips and tricks for you to try and add to your daily routine in order to treat and care for your sensitivities. If you learn better from listening, you can tune into this episode!

Regular Facials:Regular facials are important for so many reasons, but specifically speaking for sensitive skin facials will help maintain the skins acid mantle, which will keep the skin balanced. Facials also provide lots of hydration, which can often be beneficial for sensitive skin. Throughout my facials I also provide information I believe is important and give you home care instructions to help with whatever is happening with your skin.

Throw out Old/Expired Cosmetics: Expired products can worsen your condition. If you check on your product there will be a graphic of an open container with a number small in the right corner, this will indicate when the product needs to be discarded.

Wear Sunscreen: Wearing sunscreen all year round will protect your skin from more then just skin sensitivities. Wearing sunscreen is important in preventing sensitivities due to protecting your skin from over exposure and other environmental factors. Sun burns damage the skin and thin out the skin, so long term speaking it negatively effects the skin and your skin will be more susceptible to other burns and other irritations. Remember, we have 4 episodes on the podcast talking about SPF! You can refer to those episodes here !

Pat Your Skin Dry Rather Then Rubbing it: After a shower, bath, and swimming – you name it, make sure you pat your skin dry with a microfiber towel or even a tissue. Rubbing your skin in general (let alone with a harsh towel) can cause irritations and can contribute to redness and POSSIBLY (depending on the pressure you are using to dry your face) could cause micro tares/cuts in your skin. Micro tares are great sources to spread bacteria, contributing to more blemishes and or dry patch breakouts. I retail microfibre face cloths that I love and swear by! They are super soft and affordable!

Product to Suggest to Sensitive Skins:

Just to name a few (ALL very affordable)

- Cetaphil Gentle Facial Skin Cleanser

- Arbonne’s Super Calm Facial Care line

- CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

- Amama Rosemary Creamy Cleanser

- Shea butter (Good option for the body, potentially to rich for the face)

- iS Clinical Creamy Cleanser

Here are the sources that helped me complete this blog on sensitive skin and how to live with it! Be patient as I continue to learn and research about such topics. Hopefully for now this was enough to get you started in your skin care journey!

Much love and soothing, calm vibes sent to you and your skin!

Blog Entries:

Podcast Episodes:


Beyond Soap – The Truth About What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful Healthy Glow By Dr. Sandy Skotnicki

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