Sensitive skin can be debilitating. As someone who has grown up with extremely sensitive skin and experienced many flare-ups, I can absolutely sympathise with how awful it can be.
Thankfully, over the years I have been able to identify what causes a reaction for me, and then how to soothe it. This knowledge means that I can avoid triggering ingredients and products and minimise reactions - both in severity and longevity.
It’s important to first identify whether you are suffering from a sensitive skin type or a temporary bout of sensitised skin as a result of a reaction to something. There are many factors to consider here, from hormonal changes to diet, lifestyle, stress, medication and products/particular ingredients.
I’m a huge advocate for looking at overall health when dealing with sensitive skin, or skin trouble in general.
Our skin is our largest organ, and a visible reflection of what is happening on the inside. Often, people with chronic eczema have impaired gut health, for example.
If your sensitive skin is impacting your life then I absolutely recommend talking to your GP, dermatologist, holistic doctor or a nutritional therapist to help find the root cause. A thoroughly-trained skin therapist should also be able to advise on suitable skin care products and treatments.
Make sure you always do your research before following someone's guidance to ensure they’re properly qualified and know what they’re talking about.
It’s also a good idea to do some investigative work of your own - keep a diary of what you’re eating, how much you’re sleeping and, for women, where you are in your cycle.
Are there any patterns you can identify? If you think something may be irritating you, try avoiding it for a few days and see if your sensitivities settle. Unfortunately, this can be a tedious and long process, but you should eventually be able to build a clearer understanding of what you can and cannot tolerate.
Before even considering wearing make-up, if you’re experiencing a particularly bad bout of sensitivity you need to work on rebuilding and protecting your skin’s acid mantle and soothing the inflammation.
Never apply make-up to broken or sore skin - no matter how tempting it may be - as you run the risk of further aggravation and even infection. Really pare back your skincare routine for a few days and focus on hydration to bring your skin back to normal. Stop using make-up, active ingredients and sun protection factor (SPF) if possible for a few days.
Once you’re confident that your skin can handle some carefully-chosen products, you should start slowly. Ensure your hands and make-up brushes are extremely clean before applying any product.
Make-up products with minimal ingredients will be your best bet as there’s less chance of something causing a reaction. That being said, it’s always a good idea to do a little test patch when trying something new.
Essential oils, fragrance and particular types of alcohol are the most common irritants, but everyone is different and has varying tolerance levels, so finding what does and does not work for you is important.
If your skin is particularly dry or even scaly, cream products will work best and can be layered with a light, hydrating mist to keep things supple. Reapply the mist throughout the day whenever your skin starts to feel a little tight.
Light textures will probably feel more comfortable, so I tend to prefer something like a tinted moisturiser rather than a thick, long-wearing foundation.
So, try to keep things simple and minimalistic. A touch of concealer, cream blush, some brow gel, mascara and a hydrating lipstick will create a polished yet clean look and shouldn’t feel too thick and heavy.
I designed our Luxury Hydrating Lipstick formula with sensitive lips in mind. Almost everyone has experienced dry, sore and chapped lips at some point, and most lipsticks on the market are extremely irritating and uncomfortable to wear.
Our unique combination of gentle plant oils and waxes, vitamin e and botanical hyaluronic acid create the ultimate ‘moisture sandwich’, ensuring your lips are properly hydrated and protected.
As I previously mentioned, fragrance can be very irritating for lots of people and there’s absolutely no need for it in lipstick, so our formula is 100% fragrance-free, too.
It’s also incredibly important to make sure you are thoroughly and effectively removing every trace of make-up at the end of the day.
I like to use an oil or balm cleanser that can be emulsified with water to avoid aggravating the skin from too much wiping and scrubbing, followed by a gel cleanser.
Ensure you are then protecting your skin properly too; like I said earlier, hydration is key. I like to use a simple hyaluronic acid based serum followed by a light, fragrance-free moisturiser and/or a natural facial oil.