The dos and don’ts of treating sensitive skin
What to do (and what not to do) when skin irritation strikes.
Do read the labels
Steer clear of products with alcohol, artificial fragrances, witch hazel, menthol, peppermint or eucalyptus oil, as they can further irritate angry skin. And bypass glycolic acid, microdermabrasion and retinol (unless you’ve got the go-ahead from your derm).
Don’t go too hard too soon
“Overloading sensitive skin with a variety of products will result in further sensitivity,” says Fiona Tuck, nutritionist and skincare expert. “Stick to one or two basic products first and, as the skin becomes more tolerant, slowly introduce more.”
Do take it easy
If your skin is extremely inflamed, tender or itchy, Tuck advises that sometimes it’s best to do nothing at all until it settles – or at least until your dermatology appointment.
Don’t be overcautious
“People have a tendency to opt for bland formulas that don’t do anything,” warns Hobson. “Go for products with active calming and anti-inflammatory ingredients.”
Want to know how to treat it the natural way?
Treat sensitive skin from the inside out with tips from The Beauty Chef’s resident naturopath, Alison Cassar.
BELLY UP: A healthy gut equals a healthy immune system, and since the majority of sensitive-skin disorders are the result of impaired immunity, up your intake of probiotics. Cassar recommends lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis, so nab yourself a supplement that lists one of these guys as their main player.
FUEL STOP: “Reduce inflammation by eating omega-3 essential fatty acids,” says Cassar. Think salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds and eggs, and nosh on avocado and green leafy veg for your omega-7 and -9 fix. On top of this, she also suggests you reduce the breakdown of your connective tissue by munching on protein at every meal.
DETOX ZONE: According to Cassar, “The skin is one of the major pathways of elimination in the body, so if the liver or kidneys are under-functioning, the accumulated wastes and toxins can worsen the condition of someone already [dealing] with irritated skin.” To keep your liver on the right track, minimise alcohol, caffeine, sugar and processed foods.
A version of this story appeared in the March 2017 issue of Women’s Fitness.