Friday, October 16, 2009

Part III: Living (Happily Ever After) with Sensitive Skin

When I experience a skin flare up, I want to quickly pinpoint its trigger (see yesterday's post on common ingredient triggers) and then treat the issue immediately. Through the various adventures with my sensitive skin, I've tried anything and everything (often applying multiple products simultaneously), to gain relief. Unfortunately, I often invoked more problems by not following the basic rule — less is more. Well...I've recently changed my approach.

Instead, I now follow these five steps to soothe my skin after experiencing any sensitivity.
  1. Put out the fire: First things first, stop the redness and pain. If there is an immediate flare up after using a product, I'll wash my face with a gentle cleanser and/or jump in the shower to remove the product from my body. If the sensitivity appears gradually, you'll need to treat it over a longer period of time. I'll add a soothing facial cleansing water (Avene Thermal Sprint Water) and or oatmeal bath (Aveno Soothing Bath Treatment) into my routine for several days. I may also take an antihistamine and apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the irritated areas. If the reaction is severe, make an appointment with your dermatologist ASAP.

  2. Sniff out the source: Carefully analyze your routine and identify any new (or recently replaced) items. Be sure that you consider shampoos, conditioners, and laundry soaps as they are often the "mystery" culprits. If you've added more than one new item to your routine, you may have to remove one item at a time to get to the source.

  3. Disinfect: If I experience an irritation on my face due to an irritating cosmetic item, I'll try to remove any traces of the product from makeup brushes, sponges, etc. A simple washing will do. If the problem area is on my body, I'll re-wash my clothes, towels, and sheets and include a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. I may also change my laundry soap if I suspect that it is the culprit. 

  4. Stick to the basics: When you're going through a sensitive spell, you'll want to keep your beauty routine as simple as possible. Skip the exfoliation and special acne medication. Simply cleanse, moisturize, and apply SPF. Avoid waxing, facials, peels, and other beauty treatments. The same goes for your makeup...keep it simple! You need to let your skin breathe and calm down.

  5. Be patient: Sometimes you'll never know the real source of the problem. Maybe you ate or touched something that triggered the reaction and it will only occur once. While this is frustrating, try to resist the urge to throw out everything and start from scratch.

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