Tricks of the Trade: How to deal with sensitive skin

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I think I have sensitive skin. What can I do to treat it? Are there any products you can recommend?

I recently had a chat with my dermatologist about sensitive skin, and what she said really stuck to me. She said that more people are coming to her now with complaints of skin sensitivity, and most of the time it is self-inflicted— meaning her patients’ skin reacted to a product or treatment they were doing at home, and then they diagnosed themselves as having sensitive skin.

I don’t blame them at all. There are just so many products in the market to choose from. And whether it was your best friend who coaxed you to buy that particular product or a magazine or celebrity, you are essentially taking a risk by buying it. Because, of course, we all have different types of skin, which react differently to different kinds of skincare products and treatments, and some of them can make our skin go haywire.

If you’re unlucky enough to encounter one that isn’t compatible with your skin, that might be the cause of your skin sensitivity. Apparently, there is more than one kind of sensitive skin. Surely you’ve experienced at least one of these: tightness, redness, irritation or flaky skin. These are signs of a skin allergy caused by a product or treatment (or in some cases, it could be due to sun exposure, pollution or extreme weather conditions). One way to pinpoint the culprit is by process of elimination. Remove one product from your regimen until your skin clears up. This will allow you to find which one is doing the damage. Or you can go through this list.

Symptom: Too tight and itchy skin

What is likely causing it: Your cleanser might be too harsh for your skin. If you are using a soap or cleanser that makes your skin feel squeaky clean after, it may be time to switch. Your skin should feel clean after washing your face, but should also remain soft and moisturized. Some products (especially ones made for oily skin) strip the skin of moisture, causing it to feel tight (and not in a good way) and itchy.

Skin solutions: Make sure your cleanser is soap-free and has a moisturizing element to it. Or wash your face only at night before going to bed. In the morning, you can go straight to moisturizing your face to prevent skin from getting too dry.

Symptom: Flaky, rough patches

What is likely causing it: Eczema—or itchy, red, dry skin caused by inflammation. Most people have this as babies, and some never outgrow it. If you have it, sadly, this is a permanent condition you’ll have to live with. But keep in mind that there are products you can use to help manage this skin condition. But see a dermatologist so he or she can tell you what is happening to your skin, and can offer solutions.

Skin solutions: Assess your skincare arsenal and makeup and check one by one which ones you can continue using. If you’re having a difficult time with this, get the help of your dermatologist.

Symptom: Burning or stinging skin

What is likely causing it: Your anti-aging products might be reacting against each other. Yes, it can happen. Using two or more anti-aging creams can wreak havoc on your skin, especially if ingredients are essentially the same (you could be exfoliating your skin twice). Also, there’s a chance your anti-aging creams might be a mismatch with a skincare treatment you’re doing. It’s best to consult your derma on this.

Skin solutions: Stick to just one anti-aging cream at a time. Allow it to work its magic on your skin without any “help” from other creams and serums. Most of the time, we are overeager to see results and end up making things worse. When it comes to skincare, a little goes a long way most of the time.

 

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