If you have sensitive skin, you are not alone. Studies show that more than 50% of women and 40% of men have sensitive skin. For some of us it is a chronic condition; for others it can develop over time or because of environmental factors. Often, sensitive skin is a temporary condition when our health is compromised in some way, or when we are facing an illness.
No matter why we might have sensitive skin, the good news is that it is not always a permanent condition, and there are plenty of safe skin care products out there that you can benefit from and enjoy.
The trick is to buy smart.
With so many cosmetics and skincare products, it is easy to be overwhelmed and spend your money on something that promises relief, but actually does your skin more harm than good. A lot of mass produced beauty products are full of chemicals that can trigger a reaction or compromise your health.
We all know skin is our largest organ and while it is surprisingly tough, it is susceptible to a lot of outside factors. Good news: many of these factors are within our control, especially when it comes to what we put directly on our skin.
So, let’s look at the best ways to choose organic or natural skincare cosmetics for your sensitive skin.
TIP 1: READ THE INGREDIENTS LIST
This is a must if you have sensitive skin. Be empowered and confident by understanding what you are feeding your skin.
What preservatives does this product use? Is it a natural preservative or a paraben?
Does the product contain alcohol? The more alcohol it contains, the more likely it is to irritate sensitive skin.
For your skin’s sake, look for ingredients that are natural. The easiest way to spot natural ingredients is to look for the botanical name listed alongside their common name.
Avoid parabens and alcohol
To improve your chances of finding skincare or healthcare products that soothe and improve your skin, it is important to know which ingredients to avoid (such as parabens and alcohol). Read on for help in identifying some of the other worst skincare ingredients for sensitive skin out there.
TIP 2: CHOOSE NATURAL INGREDIENTS OVER CHEMICAL OR SYNTHETIC INGREDIENTS EVERY TIME
Chemical ingredients are synthesized in factories or laboratories and can include the following:
A lot of the most commonly used ingredients are petroleum-based; meaning they are derived from crude oil. This is great if you want cheap products that will last a long time!
But if you care about your health and the environment, these ingredients are not good news for sensitive skin. These harsh ingredients can cause inflammation and increase irritation. Do your health a favour and avoid the following petroleum-based ingredients
- Mineral Oil or Parafﬁnum Liquidum
- Petrolatum or Petroleum Jelly
- Propylene Glycol, PEGs (Polyethylene Glycol)
- Polysorbates and DEA/MEA/TEA
The earth will thank you too!
Sulphates are found in most mass-produced haircare products and soap. They are the foaming and cleansing agent. Even though some sulphates are derived from natural ingredients such as coconut or palm oil, sulphates have been proven to irritate sensitive skin. There are plenty of sulphate-free shampoos and soap.
Your natural sulphate-free products may not lather up as you’re used to, but they will clean just as well, and are kinder to your skin. Check the ingredients list of your skin care products and choose one that is sulphate-free. Common sulphate ingredients to look out for are:
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
- Sodium laureth sulphate (SLES)
TIP 3: CHECK THE SMELL
It seems that more people are developing sensitivity to scents these days.
Quite simply, we don’t need fragrance added to our skincare products. Even though that cream may smell divine, it’s best to keep it simple. Especially when your skin is compromised or sensitive.
Look for products that are ‘fragrance free’. This is different from ‘unscented’.
An ‘unscented’ product may actually contain more artificial ingredients to mask other smells!
In its truest sense, ‘fragrance free’ means that nothing has been added to produce a divine fragrance. The fragrance free product may still smell – but it will contain natural fragrance from some of it’s natural ingredients. This is decidedly better than something created to have no smell at all!
TIP 4: Beware of trendy ingredients
Watch out for trendy ingredients such as Vitamin C or Lemon Juice. Did you know that Vitamin C was one of the most searched for beauty products of 2017?
There is a lot of hype around these ingredients as skincare products - some of it rightly deserved - but remember that by their very nature, these two ingredients are acidic and can cause flare ups for sensitive skin. There are plenty of articles touting the benefits of Vitamin C as a skincare ingredient but there are plenty warning of its dangers as well.
Perhaps the safest way to benefit from these natural ingredients is in your diet. Following the adage that “we are what we eat”, you can be sure they will still benefit your skin!
Interested to know what foods you can add to your diet to improve your skin? Check out one of our earlier blog posts on this topic here.
Ultimately, you need to find the products that work best for you. After all, not all sensitive skin is created equal. With these tips though, you will be better equipped to spend your money wisely on skincare or beauty products that will benefit, rather than worsen, your sensitive skin.
If “certified organic” or “natural” products are important to you, understand just how natural or organic the product really is - there is a lot of greenwashing going on in the skincare and cosmetic industry. We will address this issue in an upcoming post, but for now, remember these four tips for the best way to buy skincare products for sensitive skin:
- Read the ingredients list
- Look for ingredients that are natural as opposed to synthetic or chemical
- Beware of added fragrances – go ‘fragrance free’
- Don’t fall for the hype