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A no-nonsense skin care guide for sensitive skin

March 10, 2021
Skin, How To
Photography - Chermiti Mohamed
Contributor - Mallory McLane

If you’re anything like us, you’ve got no time to waste when it comes down to understanding and working with your skin type, so, we’ve created a simple guide to follow in the morning and evening according to what your mama gave ya…

First things first, let’s straighten things out. Skin type and skin condition are often used interchangeably, however, they are two totally different things and you work them in different ways.

Let’s keep it simple, shall we?

Your skin type is what you were born with ­– it’s your genes. It’s what your parents gave you. Understanding the types begins with knowing the four categories; dry, oily, normal and combination.

A skin condition, on the other hand, is what occurs as a result of your lifestyle or as a symptom of your skin type. Where the confusion usually comes into play is that most brands will try to sell you products based on your skin type when they should be targeting your skin condition.

Here, we break down the sensitive skin type, defining what it is and how to make it work.

How do I know if I have sensitive skin?

Believe it or not – there is no fixed dermatological definition of sensitive skin; it depends on how the individual reports the sensations of their skin. It is definitely a recognised skin type characterised by facial redness, burning, itching and dryness to varying degrees.

If ever in doubt about your sensitive skin, we encourage you to seek advice from a dermatologist, especially in the case of facial redness and sensitivity, particularly if this is an ongoing issue.

The medical reasons for sensitive skin are rather lengthy, a few include rosacea and eczema, in addition to allergies, and let’s not forget that products you may have been applying could also be the reason for a sudden change in colour and sensitivity. With that being said, a dermatologist will be able either to diagnose and treat or to exclude these concerns. Contrary to popular belief, there are many people with sensitive skin who do not have an obvious underlying skin disorder.

If sensitive skin is what you’re working with, it’s important to identify your triggers and to then avoid them as much as possible. Since skin sensitivity can be unpredictable, so understanding triggers can be hard to manage. What you can do is to avoid harsh soaps, toners and astringents at all costs. Watch out for sodium lauryl sulphate, ammonium lauryl sulphate, salicylic acid, AHAs and alcohol. Fragrances can be a common culprit of irritation and the use of facial oils to combat dryness in this context can potentially make things worse. Sunscreens with zinc or titanium (mineral based sunscreens) are your best friends. Avoid sunscreens with chemical filters as they have the potential to increase sensitivity rather than to just do their job in protecting your skin.

Your basic guide to sensitive skin:

AM routine

  • Cleanse
  • Eye cream
  • Hydrating serum if dryness is a problem
  • Moisturiser
  • Sunscreen
  • Makeup

PM routine

  • Cleanse
  • Eye cream
  • Moisturiser if needed
  • Word to the wise – avoid exfoliating products as these can aggravate sensitive skin
March 10, 2021
Skin, How To
Photography - Chermiti Mohamed
Contributor - Mallory McLane


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