It can be easy to feel frustrated and ‘left out’ of the beauty game when you have a sensitive skin. Redness, itchiness, even breakouts or rashes are always a looming possibility every time you reach for a new product or try a new treatment. When it comes to choosing skincare, it may leave you feeling like you don’t have a lot of options, but the key to getting control of your sensitive skin is to firstly understand that sensitive skin is very rarely a ‘skin type’ that you have been cursed with for all eternity… sensitive skin is most often an acquired ‘skin condition’... and that, beauty lovers, we can definitely work to improve.
Why is my skin sensitive?
The surface of our skin plays one of the most important roles in the human body. Like your own pose of private bodyguards, the Stratum Corneum (a specialised layer of keratinised skin cells) together with the Acid Mantel (a thin film made up of lipids and amino acids secreted from the skin’s oil and sweat glands) and our Microbiome (a diverse collection of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and mites that live on our skin) team up to form a natural, invisible shield that acts as an interface between you and the world.
When healthy and balanced, this skin barrier not only protects our insides from environmental assaults (think sun, wind, heat) but it also secretes natural moisturising factors (NMF) that keep your skin soft, supple and hydrated as well as enzymes that break down excess sebum and antigens that retard the growth of bad bacteria. And because bacteria thrive in an alkaline environment, the skin cleverly sits at a slightly acidic PH of around 5.5.
This perfect skin biome is powered by your skin’s metabolism; skin cells communicating and working together underneath that protected surface, to produce collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid as well as fresh new baby skin cells that will eventually work their way to the surface to become part of your protective skin barrier.
Skin sensitivity is caused when your skin’s barrier function is interrupted. You may have heard of it referred to as an ‘impaired barrier function’. This impairment can be caused by external factors such as extreme temperatures, sun and pollution or by tipping your skin’s PH to alkaline through the use of soapy cleansers and aggressive astringents. It can also be caused by medications, diet and lifestyle choices such as smoking.
Once the barrier is compromised, the cells beneath the surface stop communicating efficiently and the whole metabolism slows down causing the barrier to become thin, weak and dehydrated, opening the door to allergens and irritants that cause skin reactions and sensitivities as well as inflammatory skin disorders such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.
How do I restore my skin’s barrier function?
Although the makeup of your skin’s natural barrier is partly up to genetics and most definitely affected by climate, two things that you can not control; there are some steps you can take together with healthy lifestyle choices (such as not smoking, cutting back on sugar and other inflammatory foods and drinking more water) to actually restore and strengthen your skin’s barrier function.
The right kind of cleanser:
Start by using a PH balancing cleanser. Air pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can have damaging effects on cell function and while it’s important to ensure these pollutants are not left to build up on your skin, it’s equally important to ensure you are not using harsh soapy cleansers with aggressive surfactants that will cause an irritating ‘PH shift’ and cause your skin’s PH to become alkaline.
Try the Rejuvenating Foaming Cleanser or Radiant Cream Cleanser from ASI. These cleansers both contain EFA (essential fatty acids) in the form of Avocado Oil and Macadamia Oil that have a chemical profile similar to that found in human skin. They are able to nourish and relieve skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis as well as normalise the skin’s barrier integrity by maintaining a balanced PH.
Send your skin a message:
Peptides are one of the most exciting revolutions in skin care because they work by actually telling your skin to produce more collagen. Made up of short chains of amino acids, Peptides are the building blocks of proteins and have the ability to penetrate through the skin barrier, diving deep into your living skin cells and commanding them to regenerate collagen and other proteins such as elastin and hyaluronic acid. It’s the perfect pep-talk a skin with an impaired barrier function needs!
Try ASI’s Multi-Peptide Serum, full of hydrating hyaluronic acid and Oligopeptide; a strong anti-inflammatory that calms redness and sensitivity as well as helping to prevent hyperpigmentation by controlling melanin production.Read more about the amazing anti-ageing and skin healing benefits of Peptides on my blog: Pep-talking Your Way To A Younger Looking Skin!