How to get Healthy & Beautiful Skin
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Most women shy away from being called
“too sensitive.” According to the American
Academy of Dermatology, at least 40%
of women believe they have sensitive
skin, although most dermatologists report
that only a fraction really do. Sensitivity is defined as skin that’s prone to irritation
from products, weather, or stress –
is a real condition. It’s not the same
as an allergy. It means you have a lower
tolerance for irritating ingredients,
such as fragrances and dyes. The evil
twist here is that the more skin reacts,
the more sensitive it becomes. Imagine
normal skin having a natural barrier
like Saran Wrap. People with sensitive
skin have a disrupted barrier all the
time. But by identifying what disrupts
that barrier and protecting it with
the right moisturizer, you can develop
a thicker skin.
1. Read Labels before buying and applying
creams, lotions, or makeup, read the
ingredients list. The fewer ingredients
on the label, the better. All beauty products
and formulas should be free of fragrance,
dye, and isopropyl alcohol (commonly
known as rubbing alcohol). And beware
of botanical ingredients and oils. Test
each new product on the side of your
neck for a few days before using it
on your face.
2. Cleanse your face with a milky,
non-foaming liquid cleanser or a soap-free
bar. Do not use a washcloth or any rough
scrubber, which can be too abrasive
for sensitive skin. Rinse face well
by splashing with lukewarm water and
pat with a soft towel, leaving skin
slightly damp. There is no need to use
a toner, which generally contains drying
and irritating isopropyl alcohol.
3. Moisturize your face by dabbing
moisturizer onto damp skin in the morning
and night. Look for one that contains
ceramides, fatty acids, or cholesterol,
all of which help form a protective
barrier against irritation. In the morning,
when the moisturizer is absorbed, apply
a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher.
The sunscreen should also contain zinc
oxide or titanium dioxide, which are
least likely to cause reactions.
1. Choose the right products. “Allergy-tested”
means it doesn’t have ingredients that
cause common reactions. “Non comedo genic”
means it won’t clog pores.
2. Read labels. Not everyone with
sensitive skin is troubled by the same
thing, but the most common irritants,
in order, include fragrance, isopropyl
alcohol, dyes, PABA, lanolin, sorbic
acid, formaldehyde, and benzoic acid.
3. Don’t assume that natural products
are safe. Some botanicals such as rosemary,
sandalwood, arnica and essential oils
like jojoba, tea tree and lavender may
actually irritate the skin.
4. Test samples of product on the
neck for several days. If they don’t
irritate your neck, they probably be
fine on your face.
5. Don’t try an arsenal of new products
at once. Similarly, if skin breaks out,
stop using everything, and reintroduce
products one by one.
6. Be as gentle as possible. Use a
creamy, liquid cleanser or a soap-free
bar and rinse with lukewarm water. Avoid
Buf-Pufs and washcloths. Pat with a
towel and leave skin slightly damp.
7. Moisturize with a product for sensitive
skin, or one that contains fatty acids,
cholesterol, and ceramides.
8. Every day apply a PABA-free sunscreen
that contains titanium dioxide or zinc
1. Wash with a milky, non-foaming
2. Use a soap-free formula with oatmeal
that calms dry and itchy skin.
3. For day, use a fragrance-free moisturizer
containing a non-irritating sunscreen.
At night, smooth on a noncomedogenic
formula that helps fortify the skin’s
barrier while you sleep.
4. Dermatologists say that sensitive-skin
sufferers are more likely to avoid using
sunscreens, associating them with past
reactions to PABA. Choose one that won’t
5. It’s not just what you put on your
face. Hair spray can cause breakouts
along the hairline. Use an allergy-tested
and keep the hair off the face whenever
1. To soothe redness, dermatologists
recommend using a fragrance-free treatment.
A dime-size dab of an over-the-counter
1% hydrocortisone cream also relieves
2. For dryness on the body, increase
resistance to the environment with a
product containing lipids, which is
safe for sensitive types.
3. To treat blemishes, start with
an irritant-free face lotion that minimizes
blotches with vitamin A. Follow with
a concealer that won’t aggravate acne,
which does double duty by helping clear
and conceal blemishes.
4. Dermatologists like products that
get their color from iron oxides, which
are less likely to cause reactions.
They’re also talc-free, which means
they won’t rob skin of the moisture
Tricks of the Trade
1. Don’t shower or bath for more than
20 minutes, or you’ll dry out your skin.
Use lukewarm water.
2. Don’t start any aggressive treatments
during the winter, when skin is dryer
and more sensitive because of low humidity
and indoor heating. A humidifier helps
skin from becoming parched.
3. Grainy or chemical exfoliants can
cause breakouts. Excessive daily scrubbing
rubs the sebaceous glands, which can
clog pores. Use a clay or mud mask to
slough off dead cells instead.
4. Facials are trouble unless they’re
simple, steam-free, and employ fragrance-free
5. Avoid chemical peels and laser
treatments if you’re sensitive to exfoliants
and skin-lightening creams.
6. If acne medications irritate your
skin, ask your doctor about taking oral
antibiotics or birth-control pills,
which can help minimize blemishes.
7. Keep Retin-A treatments to no more than
once weekly. Dilute the strength by
mixing it with your moisturizer.
8. For skin that seems provoked by
everything, ask a dermatologist about
cleansers and moisturizers that are
normally prescribed for hypersensitive
post surgery and recent skin-peel patients.