Recognize sensitive skin and what to do about it

Every wonder why your skin always seems slightly pink or reactive to a large amount of products on the market? Or have you noticed an increase in inflammation after a move, new job or a change in your lifestyle? Chances are you're suffering from sensitive or sensitized skin.
There are two classifications when determining why skin is reactive. Someone who's skin type is classified as sensitive, is often due to genetics, chronic acne, or other underlying skin disorders (Eczema, Rosacea). However, in most situations your skin has become sensitized.

This condition is often a results from:

over exposure to ingredients in cosmetics or skincare products
Nerve response (nervousness, anger, embarrassment, stress)
Over processed/exfoliated skin
The number of people suffering with sensitive/sensitized skin is growing.  The changes in our lifestyle and global  climates has taken its toll on the bodies largest organ. 56% of Canadian women suffer from sensitive skin while 46.4% of women with sensitive skin also suffer from dry or dehydrated skin; a common culprit in the battle for healthy, beautiful skin. The skin requires an equal balance of water and oil to stay healthy, hydrated and strong. When the skin is lacking one of these essential components it becomes weak, creating micro tears. These tiny microscopic tears in the top layer of our skin allows all that wonderful hydration we need to escape, creating the appearance of red, inflamed and flaky skin.

Unfortunately if sensitized skin conditions go untreated, they can actually cause premature aging!  Scary right? The loss of all that hydration, not to mention the constant creation and heeling of micro tears can cause permanent damage to the skin's collagen. The best approach in this case would be to treat your sensitized skin, and in return you'll be preventing premature aging!

If you're wondering why your favorite go-to product that has been your old faithful for years is suddenly giving you grief, this is considered sensitization. Most likely, sensitivity to that particular product/ingredient has always been there, but because the immune system was doing its job, the reaction fell below your skins visible tolerance level (the level in which your skins reaction is no longer microscopic). The repeated exposure to these sensitizers created enough irritation and inflammation to cross that threshold, becoming a now visible reaction. I suppose now would be a good time to find a new facial cleanser!

I could go on and on about neurogenic(nervous system) inflammation and immunogenic(immune system) inflammation but I would be here for hours. Bottom line is, when you're seeing this type of inflammation, it means your body is in the healing process.  However, it sometimes needs a little help, and that is where I come in!  Unfortunately there isn't much we can do in terms of the weather or mass amounts of pollution. However, there IS a lot we can due to help  alleviate any sensitized skin reactions and combat those outside elements.

If you suffer from sensitive/sensitized skin, try the following:

If you're exfoliating everyday and you can see visible signs of irritation, try bringing down your exfoliation to 2-3 times a week.
Too much spicy food and drinking alcohol can cause skin inflammation. You don't have to cut it out completely, but consume both in moderation.
Stress is bad! Do what you can to alleviate as much stress as possible. A nice relaxing skin treatment is one way!
Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate!  Hydration is key to not only a healthy body, but a healthy skin as well. Use products with water as a main ingredient and drink your 8 glasses a day!
Eat foods with lots of antioxidants! These little life savers help the overall health of your skin, and are good for preventative aging.
Spray your perfume in your clothes!  If you notice your chest seems more irritated, it could be due to the 300 chemicals needed to create one artificial fragrance.
Spring for a skincare line directed towards calming sensitized skin.  I recommend Dermalogica's Ultra Calming System.
Finally, avoid ingredients such as Nickel, Lanolin, PPD in hair dyes, Artificial fragrances(in cosmetics) and colors and hydroquinone. These are common skin irritants/allergens.
Living in our beautiful province of Nova Scotia can have its drawbacks. Our cold dry winters and drastic fluctuations in temperature can play havoc on our skin.  Changing up your skin care regimen in the winter can help keep your skin looking healthy and feeling great. As annoying as sensitized skin can be, it's not the end of the world. Discovering the cause and finding the solution is only half the problem. If you are having trouble, come in and see one of our professional skin therapists and ask for recommendations. Just be sure you follow those recommendations and keep up with your skin care regimen.

A little work is worth a lifetime of healthy skin!