Skin irritation and redness on the face can be a year-round problem, but an exceptionally harsh winter has bumped these concerns to the top of nearly everyone's list. Yet, even though so many people are experiencing excessive dryness, flaking, flushing, and touch sensitivity, treating Sensitive skin can still seem like a mystery. My inbox is full of emails from people who say they've never had Sensitive skin before, but now are experiencing redness or irritation for the first time. Here are 4 simple steps to solve your sensitivity issues, tame redness, and calm your skin.
1. Understand your sensitivity.Here's a test: use a q-tip to make an "X" on your neck. If it leaves a red mark, you're sensitive!Those who are genetically sensitive generally tend to have drier skin that can easily flush or swell to the touch. While they more often have fair complexions, darker skin tones can also have Sensitive skin, but it can be harder to detect since symptoms are not always readily visible. No matter what, genetically sensitive skin is like eye color – you're born with it, and need to care for it differently, just as someone with an Oily or Combination skin type would.
However, if you've ever wondered why you have sensitive skin some days and not others, you don't actually have genetically Sensitive skin. You have sensitizedskin. Sensitized skin is provoked by environmental factors like sun, wind, artificial fragrance or colorants, over-exfoliation, bathing in water that's too hot, smoking, and medications. Someone with Sensitive skin might always have a flush in their cheeks, while someone else with sensitized skin will only notice occasional redness on the face – primarily around the cheeks and nose since those are the highest points of the face, and are the first to risk overexposure to common sensitizers like wind and sun.
2. Avoid your triggers.If occasional sensitivity is your main concern, the first thing you need to do is identify what's provoking it, and how to stop it. Some skin-sensitizing triggers are completely avoidable – stop smoking, don't tan, and stick to skin care that doesn't contain artificial fragrance and dyes. Others are a little more difficult – avoid over-exfoliating your skin by choosing a chemical exfoliant over a physical scrub, bundle up when spending extended periods of time in cold/windy weather, and always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen.
A true Sensitive skin type needs to not only know what triggers skin irritation, but also keep their skin's hydrolipidic barrier strong. In addition to avoiding known irritants, maintaining a daily Sensitive skin care agenda formulated with ingredients that calm, soothe, and protect is the best way to help prevent and minimize redness and irritation.
3. Strengthen with a serum.Once you've identified your skin sensitizing triggers, take care of any existing irritation by incorporating a facial serum packed with skin-soothers and antioxidants into your daily agenda. Bioelements Stress Solution contains licorice root and cornflower oil to calm, green tea to strengthen, and dimethicone to instantly smooth skin's texture.
4. Book a Calming Facial.For stubborn or persistent irritation and redness, book a Calming Facial at a spa near you. Your esthetician is trained to know how to coax skin into shape without over-stimulating, and has access to professional-strength products with clinical redness-reducing, skin-calming ingredients. She can help you identify the source of your irritation, and provide you with an at-home skin care agenda to better manage it.
Still have questions about your Sensitive or sensitized skin? Ask in the comments below!
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