Care mistake no. 1: too much cream
You might be thinking to yourself: wait a minute! Doesn't my skin need a lot of care if it's sensitive? Shouldn't care products protect and soothe them just then? You're right, protection and rest are exactly what she needs at the moment. But be careful, this can quickly backfire. Therefore, in this article you will learn how to avoid the three biggest pitfalls when caring for sensitive skin: 1) irritating ingredients, 2) over-care and 3) choosing the wrong care products.
Cosmetics are the main triggers for sensitive skin
Studies show that hypersensitive skin is primarily promoted by cosmetics. 1 In a study by the renowned British Journal of Dermatology, over 50% of women said they had sensitive or very sensitive skin. 2 Further studies, including those in Germany and Austria, showed that sensitive skin is becoming more and more common.
☝️ Japan 1 is the leader, which is interesting because the multi-layering trend originated in Japan and Korea. Up to 10 products are applied one on top of the other. The skin comes into contact with 100 or more ingredients.
Your skin is not lifeless matter, but your largest organ. It balances internal and external influences without a break and your skin interacts with every single substance that is fed to it. At some point she will reach her limits. If it becomes too much for her, she becomes irritated.
How to recognize hypersensitive skin
You can actually be proud of your skin, because it has a backbone: if it gets too much, it will let you know. As uncomfortable as their cues are, they will give you a clear indication of when it's time to make a change. Skin tightness , burning or itching sensations or a dry skin feeling are among the signs. Although they can appear anywhere, the face is most commonly affected, particularly the cheek and nose area.
In addition, sensitive skin reacts particularly quickly to climate changes . The cold and the lower humidity in winter bother her, as does exposure to the sun. Stress and spicy food often leave their mark.
Reading tip: With sensitive skin caused by over-care, a minimalist skincare routine is key to bringing your skin back into balance.
In the case of sensitive skin, a distinction is made between the so-called objective and subjective characteristics. The sensitivity of the lenses is visible to the naked eye, for example through pustules or reddening. This form is favored by an existing disease such as acne or neurodermatitis.
With subjectively sensitive skin, the problem is invisible from the outside, but noticeable . If you are affected by this, you may experience skin tightness, a feeling of dryness or itching.
How Sensitive Skin Happens
Although genes play a role, skin hypersensitivity usually starts somewhere. And, to put it bluntly, with a perforated skin barrier. 3 If this natural protective layer becomes permeable , the skin's balance changes from a supple tightrope walk to an uneven tremor.
You can imagine the skin barrier as a wall. It is made of bricks held together with mortar. The bricks are your skin cells (the corneocytes) and the mortar are your skin fats (or lipids). Just as wind and weather erode the mortar in a wall over time, the putty in your skin barrier can also leak.
How does this happen? Many creams advertise that active ingredients can be smuggled deep into the skin. To do this, they need auxiliary substances that make the skin barrier passable (i.e. leaky). Alcohol, for example, liquefies the layer. 4 It is one of those ingredients (trap number 1) that are too aggressive and unsuitable for the care of sensitive skin. Emulsifiers and washing gels containing soap also attack your skin barrier. Avoid such substances in skin care.
However, an intact skin barrier is not only the basis for healthy skin, but also the best protection against premature skin aging and impurities . But once the gate is open, it works both ways. In this way, not only certain ingredients penetrate in a targeted manner, but also undesirable substances such as bacteria that cause pimples. At the same time, essential substances evaporate faster. Water, which keeps tissues looking fresh and plump, escapes, leaving dry, sagging skin.
Treatment of sensitive skin
Because nothing is as difficult for us when it comes to skin problems as waiting and drinking tea, we definitely want to do something. Apply a thick layer of lotion, massage in a few serums and, to top it off, a face mask on top, according to the motto: a lot helps a lot.
We mean well with our bitchy skin, and how does it thank us: not at all... If we apply too much cream, we stop our skin from regenerating itself (case no. 2). Dermatologists recommend a cosmetic zero diet as a first aid measure for irritated skin: avoiding cosmetic products for two weeks . 1,5,6 You can find instructions and tips in the article The drastic cure – the emergency plan for your stressed skin .
Even when your skin has calmed down, it pays to be discerning when it comes to skin care. If you just go back to your old skincare routine with lots of products and even more ingredients, your skin will soon feel overloaded again (Trap #3). Instead, rely on natural care products with few but high-quality ingredients to permanently reduce the stress on your skin.
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Bye bye sensitive skin
Admittedly, doing without is not that easy and might be a completely new approach for you. But being brave is worth it. Promised. Give your skin time to repair its barrier and become more resilient.
To help you better understand why your skin gets irritated by one thing or another, and how to calm it down, we wrote an article on the basics of minimalist skincare . In it you will learn:
- Why you should only wash your face with water in the morning
- Why you can safely do without the rich night care
- Why you shouldn't apply creams too thickly
Yours, Anna, founder of FIVE
-  "Sensitive skin: review of an ascending concept", published by Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia (ABD), 2017;
-  "Sensitive skin: an epidemiological study", published in British Journal of Dermatology, 23 December 2001;
-  "Is there any barrier impairment in sensitive skin?: a quantitative analysis of sensitive skin by mathematical modeling of transepidermal water loss desorption curves", published in Skin Research and Technology, Volume 17, Issue 2, 2011;
-  "Ethanol perturbs lipid organization in models of stratum corneum membranes: An investigation combining differential scanning calorimetry, infrared and (2)H NMR spectroscopy.", published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Biomembranes, Volume 1818, Issue 5 , May 2012, pages 1410-1419;
-  Lev-Tov H, Maibach HI. "The Sensitive Skin Syndrome." Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2012 [cited 2018 Oct 4];57:419-23
-  "Sensitive skin: perceptions, evaluation, and treatment.", published in the Department of Dermatology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, 1997