Jessica Chastain once famously discussed her sensitivity in real life: “I cannot not cry if someone around me is crying. I will start to cry if someone is crying, even if it's not appropriate. I have that thing in me, a weakness or sensitivity.”
When it comes to sensitive skin however, few people look at their “weakness” in a positive light, or are focused on its refashioning into something glorious. We would argue we should start doing just that, and look on the bright side. Actually, we always argue this as we are eternal optimists here.
Sensitive Skin – The Bright Side
While today over 70% of women describe their skin as sensitive, the range of what this means varies greatly 1. The one true positive about skin sensitivity is we get direct immediate information on when something is wrong. The skin has been famously linked to digestion and one’s internal health, very well described as a “doughnut” by aesthetician Ally Draizin. It is a continuous loop of your internal and external state. Allergic to MSG? Intolerant to dairy or wheat? Allergic to an ingredient in your skincare? Hormonal issues? The good news is you will receive a hint of this very quickly. The bad news is this info can come in the form of a giant zit on your chin.
- See a doctor. Amazing how often it seems a better (or more fun idea) to shop at CAP Beauty or Sephora than to spend some cash to see a doctor. But every person should see their dermatologist for annual skin cancer screenings, or more urgently for something else. Come with a list to discuss, as unfortunately many doctors are pressed for time, and it might be a good idea to bring the products you are currently using on your face with you. Follow up with a specialist if necessary.
- Look at your diet. Keep a food diary for two weeks and note your reactions to common culprits like MSG, dairy, wheat, sulfates in wine, etc. Because the skin-digestion link is so profound, this is something that can take a while to figure out.
- Always do a patch test before using something new. We recommend putting a product on the inside of your arm and waiting for 24 hours to make sure there is no reaction prior to first use for all of our beauty oils.
- Beauty products are not drugs. We doubt one cream can solve acne or serious irritation, this is why seeing a doctor should be a first step to correct self-care. Good well tested skincare products maintain healthy skin appearance, moisturize, brighten, etc. but they are not magic. Although many are well researched, like Passion Fruit Seed Oil, our top seller for sensitive skin, their use should never substitute for medical advice or care.
- Check your beauty product ingredients. Some common source of allergens include artificial fragrances and certain preservatives. Look for products described as gentle or as formulated for sensitive skin.
- Maintain your skin's moisture barrier, being careful with physical scrubs or harsh cleansers. This is especially important for those with oily skin, who might be tempted to be too aggressive when a flair up occurs. The skin’s moisture barrier is a natural defense that should be carefully maintained for optimal health.
- Consider paring down your beauty routines as too many products with too many active ingredients may increase sensitivity.
- Become an educated consumer. There are some excellent online resources about ingredients, wellness, and diet, including in the luxury space.
- Don’t equate natural with being above reproach when it comes to product reactions. Many drugs are based on plant actives, and many many plants can cause sensitivity or worse. Essential oils improperly diluted or added to fragrance can cause irritation.
- Remember not all products work for all people. This is why aestheticians and makeup artists study different skin types, and ingredient manufacturers perform tests on them as well.
When sensitive skin is calm and happy, it is a joy to behold. And we can all get there.
1 Some describe their skin as sensitive because it feels somehow wrong or unfeminine to be anything else (and we do blame marketing in the beauty industry for some of this).