Oh hey there. You with sensitive skin. Do we need to talk?
It’s a topic where I‘ve tried to bite my lip, but 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 skincare 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 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.
Were you really 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 primarily 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 sensitive skin is indeed something that has developed from birth and maybe even before birth. But, that is a vast 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 and an inability to cope with dry winter conditions, too much sun, pollutants, lifestyle choices, (smoking, too much alcohol, and poor nutrition).
Along with the use of the wrong products for your skin type, or the products you used way-back-when, you were a teen or young adult which were often too harsh and rarely gave the solutions you thought you’d get. Don’t worry we’ve all done it, and sadly often wreak havoc with the skin many years later.
Whatever the reason, the skin develops problematic symptoms ranging from a little pink and irritated to extremely red with raging irritation, sensitive to touch and very often sensitive to any skincare 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 as it should, and will reject most product formulations.
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 will render the stratum corneum permeable. A weakened lipid barrier and low levels of ceramides, leading to abnormal skin penetration of external irritants will be the result. In other words, everything is finding it’s way into the lower dermal layer of your skin where it 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 its 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 it 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 non-foaming cleanser, a moisturiser that 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.
I talk about this in much greater detail here and here.
Getting the help you need.
Get back to the basics first with high-quality skincare. If your skin is susceptible as I’ve described here today, then it might be time to visit a Skincare Professional such as a Dermatologist or a Skin or Dermal Therapist.
Getting professional help will help break the cycle of dysfunction.
Your skin needs to be brought back to its former self to function correctly once again.
Finally, we get to the reason why this is Part 3 in The Peel Series. I thought it was essential to explain a few things before you jump into the next bit.
I want what she’s having.
Yes, all your girlfriends have peels, but they don’t have the same sensitive skin issues as you. No need to feel miffed that you’re missing out.
You may think a chemical peel would be the absolute last thing on the menu for your skin. But 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 precisely 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 stronger, resilient skin.
Good news if your skin is sensitive and weakened and lacking its 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. 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 skincare professional.
Get your skin properly diagnosed and follow all post-peel advice.
You can find my chemical peel checklist 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 hoping for.
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