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Facial care for sensitive skin

Let’s talk science03.06.22 8 min. read

If your skin is a little fussy, it needs a lot of rest, respect and love. A new detergent or cosmetic product, sun, wind or cold and it reacts with an unpleasant feeling. Sensitive or delicate skin reacts to external stimuli not only on the face, but mostly on the whole body. It reminds you to be especially careful and shows you exactly that it is in distress and that something is missing. What you can do against its sensitivity, so that it comes back into balance, you will learn in the following article.

 

Facial care for sensitive skin

If you have a sensitive skin type, you feel every little change. The skin can be taut, itchy, show rough spots and/or scales and spots, burn and be reddened. On the face, this particularly affects individual areas of the skin, such as on the nose and cheeks [1]. Feelings of tension together with roughness and redness always occur especially when your face is exposed to temperature fluctuations or freshly washed.

On the other hand, cosmetic products that are unsuitable can cause burning, itching and also small pimples [2]. Unfortunately, sensitive skin usually ages earlier than, for example, oily skin, because it lacks important structures. Thus, it also develops wrinkles earlier [3]. Sensitive skin does not always have to be visible from the outside. What it does cause in any case, however, is a subjective discomfort.

Causes of sensitive and hypersensitive skin types

The triggers are not always easy to determine. There are various possible influences, such as: 

  • Your skin dries out quickly due to various environmental influences such as UV rays or the change from cold winter air and dry heating air.
  • You suffer from a skin disease such as neurodermatitis or couperosis.
  • You have an intolerance or allergy to environmental stimuli or ingredients of cosmetics such as fragrances.
  • You wash your face too often, treat it too aggressively or too much too often with unfavorable cosmetic products.
  • Persistent stress, an illness or hormonal fluctuations can change the skin's appearance.
  • After washing, residues of dirt, sweat or make-up remain on your skin.
  • You change your skin care products too often (for example by using different samples).
  • Your diet is too one-sided, which can cause skin problems.
  • You have inherited this skin type or you are at an advanced age and naturally produce less oil and moisture factors [1; 3; 4].

     

    The tendency to over-care sensitive skin reduces the natural skin processes. Its stratum corneum can swell due to too much care, which causes the protective barrier to become porous and moisture to evaporate - making the skin taut.

    Constantly reapplying cream only worsens the vicious circle. In addition, if the symptoms appear shortly after using a cosmetic product, you seem to be sensitive to certain ingredients. Then the easiest method is to change the product, preferably with the support of a cosmetician. However, if they persist despite discontinuation or change of your usual care, you should definitely have the cause clarified by a dermatologist [2].

    Why does your skin react in a sensitive manner?

    Regardless of the cause, the skin barrier (the so-called hydro-lipid layer) of your sensitive skin is disturbed. This is because it lacks important building blocks, making it permeable to dirt, free radicals and germs. Missing lipids in the barrier mean that the skin cells in deeper layers have become vulnerable, water can escape and skin damage and inflammation can occur more quickly [5]. The holes in the barrier layer need to be plugged, so to speak, so that your skin is protected from environmental irritants. 

    Empfindlicher Hauttyp: Reinigung und Pflege

    Sensitive skin types: cleansing and skin care

    What your face needs now is a proper velvet patch treatment. It starts with cleansing. Your skin care routine should start with a mild cleansing product with a milk, gel or cream base [2]. It should be as free as possible from detergent substances (surfactants) and at most contain sugar surfactants (such as betaines). They avoid irritation and do not dry out the skin.

    If you notice that your cleanser foams strongly, this means that it contains synthetic ingredients. What happens then is that your skin becomes dry and you put cream on it. Then it becomes impure and you wash it and the vicious circle starts again until it even reacts irritated to water. The same applies to aggressive peelings with abrasive particles or strong acids. It's better to avoid them now, because they can further damage your skin barrier and lead to further irritation [3].

    Oil cleansers especially for the sensitive face are more helpful. They have a moisturizing effect and protect your skin barrier. Below we explain which oils are suitable for this purpose. If you don't feel like you need to reapply your cream immediately after cleansing, then you've done everything right. 

    The emergency solution: time for regeneration

    In acute cases, your sensitive skin areas need a lot of time to regenerate. Even if it sounds hard, this means completely avoiding day creams, night creams, serums, toners and the like.

    After washing with lukewarm water, dab your skin gently without rubbing. Do not use make-up and try to bear it if your skin condition worsens. At night you don't have to protect it from environmental influences, it doesn't need endless ingredients that will only irritate it at this point.

    Give it the opportunity to balance itself out and return to the skin's own natural processes by avoiding any products for a few days. The longer you hold out, the better the regeneration process will work. After this time you can slowly start again with a gentle facial care. 

    Facial care for sensitive skin

    Of course, skin care should take into account the cause of its sensitivity, so that it can also serve its purpose. Your goal should be to rebuild and strengthen the skin's protective barrier so that it can better withstand the triggering stimuli. To do this, it needs lipid and moisturizing care.

     

     

    As before, the motto is: less is more. The care should be natural, high quality, low in irritants and hypoallergenic and should be applied sparingly. When choosing products, pay attention to the ingredients and make sure that

    • it contains only a few, manageable substances,
    • reflects the skin's own pH value of 5.5,
    • does not contain high-dosage active ingredients such as fruit acids,
    • is free from artificial additives, fragrances, emulsifiers, solvents, preservatives such as silicones, polyethylene glycols (PEGs), sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (SLSs), 1,2-hexanediol, butylene glycol, dipropylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, methylpropanediol and propylene glycol, and
    • provides adequate UV protection [2].

     

    Good for your skin are small amounts of natural, non-comedogenic oils combined with moisture, antioxidants and healing ingredients. Suitable for this purpose are for example: 

    • Bisabolol to soothe the skin and against inflammation.
    • Thermal water, hyaluron, urea, aloe vera, shea butter as moisturizers
    • Panthenol (provitamin B5), vitamins A, C, E and coenzyme Q10 as antioxidants
    • Evening primrose, almond, jojoba or squalane oil as lipid donors for skin barrier repair and against inflammation [2].

       

      So that your skin can absorb oils well, they must always be applied together with moisture. In winter, your skin care may be a little richer ( more oily), because the skin at this time of year produces less sweat and is generally drier. 

      Tips for facial care for special skin needs

      You may have other special skin needs in addition to your sensitive skin, for example because it is impure or mature. In this case, the facial care may still contain ingredients specifically tailored to these needs. Beneficial for facial care can be for example:

      • Sensitive skin over 50: Brown algae for collagen stimulation and as a moisturizer, such as in our night care The Evening Glow, skin-firming hazelnut oil and collagen-stimulating, antioxidant vitamin C as in the facial oil The Morning Glow.
      • Sensitive skin with redness: Bakuchiol to soothe and provide antioxidant protection, as in our night cream The Evening Glow.
      • Sensitive skin over 40: Green microalgae to improve skin elasticity, as a moisturizer and antioxidant, as in The Morning Glow day oil.
      • Sensitive dry skin: Shea butter as a moisturizer as in our products The Good Night, The Glow or camellia seed oil as a plant lipid to strengthen the skin barrier as in The Glow.
      • Sensitive blemished skin: antimicrobial and moisture-retaining Ceylon Cinnamon Bark as in our product The Glow or antimicrobial, also anti-acne, Lemongrass and Sunflower Oil as in The Morning Glow.
      • Mature sensitive skin: Buriti oil against sun damage and regenerating and nourishing as in The Morning Glow.

         

        Care routine for extremely sensitive skin

        If you have extremely sensitive skin, you need to be even more careful with your skin care routine than you already are. It should be treated with very few and preferably consistent products and not contain any synthetic additives. Samples are taboo.

        Wash your skin only once a day, ideally in the evening, and gently pat it dry. It is also very important to provide sufficient moisture and lipids as well as daily sun protection.

        If possible, avoid stimulants such as smoking and alcohol and make sure you eat a healthy, vitamin-rich diet and maintain a good work-life balance. A skin diary, in which you note down the cosmetic product you use and how your skin feels in each case, can help you to identify factors that are unfavorable for your skin.

        And don't forget: The skin also reflects internal stress. Therefore, make sure you take enough breaks in your daily routine and allow yourself some self-care time now and then. Mindfulness exercises, meditation, lots of exercise in nature will have a positive effect on your skin condition and strengthen the resistance of body and soul.

        FAQ

        Which skincare is suitable for sensitive skin?

        Sensitive skin needs products with high moisture and lipid content. It should be free of synthetic additives such as fragrances and artificial preservatives, emulsifiers and silicones. Organic oils supplemented with antioxidants and soothing, firming and/or anti-inflammatory substances, depending on the skin's needs, are ideal. In the morning, it is enough to clean the face with lukewarm water. In the evening, you can use oil cleansers to rid it of dirt and sweat. Your skin will not tolerate aggressive, foaming surfactants. This is because they additionally weaken the skin barrier, which has already become porous.

        Welche Produkte für empfindliche Haut?

        The products for your sensitive facial skin should contain as few, manageable, non-comedogenic and natural substances as possible and be applied sparingly. Good are substances such as oils in combination with moisture, antioxidants and soothing active ingredients that nourish and give the skin back what it lacks. Suitable substances include anti-inflammatory bisabolol, moisturizers such as thermal water, hyaluron, urea, aloe vera and shea butter, antioxidants such as panthenol (provitamin B5), vitamins A, C, E and coenzyme Q10 and, as a base, oils such as evening primrose, almond, jojoba or squalane oil, which replenish the missing lipids in the hydro-lipid film.

        How to care for sensitive skin?

        Sensitive skin should be treated with extreme caution. It does not tolerate aggressive products and treatments such as peels with abrasive particles or strong acids. Frequent changes of care or too much of it also tends to irritate it. It is important to protect it from damaging influences. This includes daily UV protection and a healthy diet and lifestyle. If your skin is acutely dry and inflamed, you should give it a few days of rest by not using any facial care products and giving it time to revive its natural, skin-own repair processes. After the regeneration phase, you can cleanse and care for it with non-comedogenic organic oils without synthetic additives.

        What cream for irritated facial skin?

        If you have irritated facial skin, you should avoid products that contain potentially allergenic ingredients. It is best to consult a cosmetician or dermatologist to find out which cream is most compatible. Refrain from trying out samples, because the constant change of active ingredients overburdens your facial skin. Facial oils that contain few, manageable and natural substances can restore the density of your already damaged skin barrier and ensure that aggressive environmental factors can no longer attack the lower layers. What it needs now are lipids, moisture and soothing substances that counteract inflammation.

        Sources:
        1. Dumpling, Julia, Sensitive skin: tips and possible causes, 29.03.2020 in Utopia. More Info
        2. Sensitive skin: the skin guardian angel method for sensitive skin, in skin guardian angels More Info
        3. Henkel, Jan, Sensitive Skin: Causes, Symptoms and Care Tips, Skin Health Advisor. More Info
        4. Duarte, Ida et. al, Sensitive skin: review of an ascending concept, August 2017 in An Bras Dermatol; 92(4): 521-525, doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.201756111 More Info
        5. Pinto, Pedro et. al., Is there any barrier impairment in sensitive skin?: a quantitative analysis of sensitive skin by mathematical modeling of transepidermal water loss desorption curves, 20.01.2011 in Skin Research and Technology, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0846.2010.00478. More Info