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Naturopath Makoto Trotter recommends his top solutions for sensitive skin.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE SENSITIVE SKIN?

Sensitive skin is associated with inflammation of the skin, which may or may not be visible. It can present as redness on the skin or even as a rash or hives. But it may not appear as visible lesions and instead present as an irritation or burning sensation.

You might experience general sensitivity from underlying skin conditions like rosacea, eczema or psoriasis, which may be prone to flaring up with the wrong skincare products. That said, even without these conditions, if you have sensitive skin, you may react to certain common skincare ingredients, such as fragrance.

RECOMMENDED SKINCARE ROUTINE (FACE)

The most important thing to do is keep your routine simple: cleanse and moisturize.

Cleanse to remove makeup and environmental airborne chemicals and moisturize to hydrate and protect your skin. Also, make sure you moisturize immediately after cleansing. It’s really important to wash your face before bed to remove makeup, impurities, etc., but it’s also a good idea to give your face a light cleansing in the morning. We may call it our beauty rest, but we have our faces pressed against our pillows where we trap sweat. You are likely drooling to some degree too and producing tears.

With sensitive skin, you want to cleanse off these secretions to prevent a break out or flare up. A gentle cleanser or even a rinse just with water will have you covered.

Cleansers Moisturizers

Moisturizers should be simple too and this includes products like:

Remember that the entire point of using a skincare routine is to help make your skin look and feel better! You would be amazed at how many people continue to use products that irritate their skin just because they paid a lot of money for them or because they like the smell of the product or the idea of a certain ingredient in a product.

RECOMMENDED SKINCARE ROUTINE (BODY)

You want to keep things simple with your body too, so it’s most important to cleanse and moisturize as you do with your face.

That said, people with sensitive skin should bathe or sower less frequently because that strips away skin’s natural oils. No matter how gentle a soap is, it’s designed to disrupt the lipid layer on the top surface of your skin and this sets the stage for increased dehydration on the skin’s surface.

Definitely avoid overly hot showers, which increases loss of moisture and can increases itching and irritation for conditions such as eczema. Plus, when we shower, the water evaporating off our skin leads to further loss of moisture, so make sure you moisturize after you shower to prevent excess evaporation.

NATURAL SKINCARE IS IDEAL FOR SENSITIVE SKIN, BUT WHAT DOES “NATURAL” MEAN?

Natural skincare products use ingredients that are natural (i.e., as close to their form in nature as possible) or naturally-derived, rather than synthetic (especially when it comes to preservatives). Additionally, some brands will take it a step further and source natural ingredients for their products that are also certified organic.

Often, “organic” or “natural” skincare refers to the majority of a product’s ingredients being derived from nature, based on some defining parameter (e.g., 70% of ingredients or 95% of its ingredients might be natural or organic).

Look for as large of a percentage of ingredients that are natural or naturally derived. Also, as a general rule, less is more, so search for simpler formulations with fewer ingredients to irritate sensitive skin. And remember that natural skincare products can potentially cause a skin reaction too, so if that happens, stop using them!

It can be overwhelming, so you can go to a larger health food store with experts on staff who are familiarized with safer ingredients to educate you.

SKINCARE INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

  • FRAGRANCE: It’s the number one skin irritant and something you definitely want to avoid if your skin is sensitive. This goes for both synthetic and natural products. Avoid essential oils and alcohol-based products that can both irritate and dehydrate skin.
  • IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA: A common preservative found in skincare. It causes endocrine disruption and may trigger contact dermatitis.
  • SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE or SLS: This is a ubiquitous foaming agent and is a skin irritant. It’s used as an industrial engine degreaser, industrial detergent and is in 90% of foaming soaps, toothpastes and some supplements.

SUPPORTING YOUR SKIN FROM WITHIN

Hydration is very important, and it’s not as simple as drinking water. You do need to drink adequate water, but cells are sacks of fluid with the sacks being made up of fats. We need omega 3s to maintain the integrity and hydration of cells in our epidermis. Eat fish that have high levels of omega 3s, such as salmon, or take a high potency fish oil supplement.

Don’t forget that hydrating water is also found in nourishing soups, fruits and vegetables like cucumber, spinach, celery, bell peppers, strawberries, blueberries, oranges and cantaloupe.

Antioxidant-rich foods like green tea, nuts, seeds and healthy oils are also important to maintain integrity of skin.

Lastly, adequate protein is important as collagen makes up a good portion of our body’s protein requirements. Collagen is a component of supportive tissues in our body because it provides a lot of strength and elasticity. It’s found in ligaments, tendons, fascia, cartilage and skin.