A few small adjustments can give your skin less to work against. It's not just sensitive skin that benefits from being treated with care - all skin will appreciate this, especially in colder weather.
1. Use lukewarm water.
Though using a hot wash cloth may feel therapeutic, it isn’t the best way to treat your skin, particularly if it’s prone to dryness and sensitivity.
Hot water disrupts the skin barrier, whose role is to lock moisture in and irritants out. Stick to washing with lukewarm water anywhere your skin is on the dry or sensitive side. If you like your shower at a higher temp than lukewarm, wash your face afterwards with cooler water.
2. Apply moisturiser as soon as possible after drying.
The moisture in your skin evaporates quickly after washing, even in the first 60 seconds. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying moisturiser within 3 minutes of washing, and as soon as you've patted your skin dry. Applying a moisturiser this way will help lock hydration in and increase your moisturisers’ efficacy. Hydrated skin tends to be more resilient and looks healthier.
Even a gentle shampoo may be too harsh for the skin on your face. Unfortunately, some of that shampoo will end up drifting over your face in the shower if you’re not careful.
Select the most gentle shampoo you can, preferably also fragrance free, and consciously avoid your face coming into contact with your shampoo and conditioner while you’re rinsing.
If you've ever found yourself with irritation after washing your hair, applying a face mask or an oil beforehand will also help to provide an extra physical barrier.
AHA’s have increased in popularity over in recent years and have become a staple for many people. Some may be able to tolerate this but if you’re finding an increase in redness or sensitivity it may be a sign to dial it down. Find the tipping point between benefit and irritation and keep your AHA use below this. If you do want to keep using them, switching to a more gentle option such as Lactic acid may also help.
Fragrances are volatile components, which means they're highly unstable. Whether they're synthetic or natural makes no difference, they move around, and that's how we're able to smell them.
In general, the less stable an ingredient is, the more irritating. Some high fragrance ingredients are more likely to cause a reaction than others. As a rule though, you’re better off without them if you’re reaction prone. Most of the time they’re added for feel-good factor and marketability rather than having a positive effect on the skin.
Save the essential oil heavy lotions for body products if you’re able to tolerate these, dabb your favourite perfume on your neck, use candles - you don’t need fragrance on your face.
And there it is. Is there anything you’ve learned along the way about curbing sensitive skin issues?