Were you? Born this way?
Yes, you there. You with the sensitive skin. Do we need to talk?
I‘ve upset a few people in my time. I’ve tried to bite my lip, but really, for me, biting my lip? Difficult. The words just tumble out. I’m as diplomatic as I can be, but still, the words just blurt on out. It’s not that I don’t care, quite the opposite.
You see, I believe most thin-skinned skin types have acquired their sensitive skin status from this big old world we live in and sadly most of the time believe sensitive skin is something to deal with, or worse put up with rather than fix.
If you have thin, sensitive, fragile skin, then you know how troubling and frustrating it can be. You probably even feel a little bit misunderstood. You’ve searched high and low; you tried organic and relatively pure skin care regimens.
You always opt for the most natural ingredients you can find, you steer clear of anything with a preservative in it. In complete frustration, you’ve even ditched it all in and just gone back to soap or Cetaphil lotion, water and a bit of Sorbelene cream.
But still, your fragile, delicate, sensitive skin continues to plague you. You dream of the day when you can proudly say; I wasn’t born this way. I have a beautiful, strong skin. Amen to that!
While I’m not about to speculate on all the many reasons why you may have a sensitive skin, what I can offer is the reasons why your skin is the way it is and a few possible solutions.
Born this way?
But first, let’s just tackle why your skin is sensitive. Were you born this way? Probably not. Well, alright, alright, that’s not entirely accurate. You were born with a particular skin type, which will be largely determined by your genetic lineage. English rose, Latin lover, Aussie babe, Greek goddess, Asian princess, African beauty. You get it.. we all have a slightly different skin type, and it will impact on how our skin deals with the outside world.
Sure, there are situations where a sensitive skin is indeed something that has developed from birth and maybe even before birth. But, that is a huge subject and one I promise to tackle in a future article. Skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea can be difficult to treat and need the help of a dermatologist.
In the meantime, for the rest of us.
Most of the time, sensitive skin is a combination of your skins genetic disposition. Coping with environmental stressors like dry winter conditions, too much sun, pollutants, lifestyle choices, (smoking, too much alcohol, and poor nutrition) and the use of the wrong products for your skin type, or the products you used a-way-back-when you were a teen or young adult. Often too harsh and rarely the with solutions thought you’d get. Don’t worry we’ve all done it, and sadly often wreaks havoc many years later.
Whatever the reason, the skin develops problematic symptoms ranging from a little pink to extremely red to mildly irritated to sensitive to touch and very often sensitive to skin care products. If that’s not all bad enough, the skin will often look quite dry and even become flaky. Once this cycle is in play, your skin stops responding the way it should and most products no matter how good are rejected by the skin.
If you love a bit of science, read on, or if you’re all about action, you can skip this bit or save it for later when you want to dazzle your friends with your knowledge.
Skin overexposed to harsh products and the daily rigours of the environment leaves the surface layer known as the stratum corneum permeable, resulting in a weakened lipid barrier and low levels of ceramides, leading to abnormal skin penetration of external irritants. In other words, everything is finding it’s way into the deeper dermal layer of your skin where it simply does not belong. The result? Irritation and sensitivity.
No need to be a flake about it.
When things get terrible, when far too much is entering the skin, it can become so troubled, it will start to flake.
When the skin becomes flakey most of us, just want to scrub at it and make all the flakiness disappear. Nice idea in theory, but it’s not going to help.
Your skin is irritated at a dermal level and in the skin’s effort to rid itself of all this irritation, begins to exfoliate more than it should. Adding scrubs to the mix is going to exacerbate the problem. I promise you, nothing about scrubbing your skin is going to fix this.
Listen to your skin.
If your skin could speak right now, it would be saying. I’m irritated because the outside world is getting to me. It’s finding it’s way into my dermis, and I need to push it back the only way I know how, by upping the ante on cell turnover.
Now, this is where is gets a bit confusing because you’ve been told by many, myself included that increased cell turnover is a good thing. True. But like all good things, too much of anything? In this case, your skin is ridding itself or (trying to) of irritants. Not so good.
Okay, so step away from the scrubs.
It’s now time to get gentle with your skin, a gentle nonfoaming cleanser, a moisturiser which includes ceramides, glycerin, and essential fatty acids. All mimic your skin’s natural lipid barrier and begin to protect your skin from the outside world.
Getting the help you need.
Get back to the basics first with high-quality skin care and if your skin is truly sensitive as I’ve described here today, then it might be time to visit a skin care professional such as a dermatologist or a beauty or dermal therapist. Getting professional help will help break the cycle of dysfunction.
Your skin needs to be brought back to it’s former self, it needs to function properly once again.
Enter Chemical Peels.
I know, finally to the reason why this is Part 3 in The Peel Series. But hey, I thought it was important to explain a few things before you jump into the next bit.
I want what she’s having.
Yes, all your girlfriends are having peels, but they don’t have your sensitive skin issues. No need to feel miffed, despite or perhaps in spite of it, you too can and should think about chemical peels.
You may think a chemical peel would be the absolute last thing on the menu for your skin. But, in fact, it could be the best thing you ever do for your skin.
Despite what anyone tells you, chemical peels improve the strength of your skin. If you’re sensitive, it’s exactly what your skin needs.
But not just any chemical peels.
Two chemical peels that are perfect for sensitive skin are Mandelic Acid and Pyruvic Acid. They both have a similar visible result, however, if we take a closer look there are some subtle differences.
Like all peels Mandelic and Pyruvic Acid cause the epidermis to become more refined while at the same time thickening the Dermis. Once again. You want this; your skin needs this!!
Pyruvic Acid – Usually derived from either honey, apples, fermented fruit or vinegar. Once applied, Pyruvic Acid acts quickly on the skin. Converting to Lactic acid and resulting in a stimulation of collagen, elastin and dermal glycoprotein synthesis, which is a fancy way of saying it stimulates your skin’s natural ability to produce hyaluronic acid, providing your dermis with a healthy hydrated environment for your collagen and elastin. All this ultimately means a stronger, more youthful skin.
Good news if your skin is sensitive and weakened and lacking it’s natural ability to retain moisture or has a compromised lipid barrier.
Mandelic Acid – Derived from bitter almonds, is in the AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) family of chemical peels. Like it’s cousins Glycolic and Lactic acids, Mandelic acid improves the overall health and appearance of your skin. It has a larger molecule size which means a slower rate of surface penetration, which significantly minimises the risk and onset of redness, blistering, and other adverse reactions.
A more predictable chemical peel with the added advantage of being better tolerated by darker skins and particularly useful when treating and suppressing pigmentation as there is less of a risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Another reason why Mandelic Acid is perfect for sensitive skins including conditions like Rosacea is due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Worth a look, don’t you think?
Find a skincare professional.
Before you embark on any of these chemical peels, you will need to calm your skin down. Seek out the help and advice of a trusted skin care professional.
As always, Chemical Peels should always be administered by a skin care professional and must be preceded by a full skin diagnosis and consultation.
My chemical peel checklist can be found right here.
Follow all the advice before and after your chemical peel and you will get great results. You could even break the cycle of your sensitive skin issues. Wouldn’t that be great!!
If you find yourself with sensitive skin, it’s not functioning as it should. It’s important to note, sensitive skin is not something to put up with, tolerate or accept. With time and the correct skincare, you can fix it.
I hope this article takes you a little closer to understanding your skin and helping you to find the results you’ve been dreaming of.
And now you?
Having and treating sensitive skin is a big topic, I will write about it again, no doubt. In the meantime, I’d love to know how you tackle your sensitive skin issues or if you are still at a complete loss? Leave a comment below or drop me an email here. I’d love to hear from you.
See you next time,
This article appears as the third of my 4 part series on Chemo-exfoliation using Chemical Peels