Why is my skin so sensitive?

Despite working as an anesthetic Nurse Specialist for many years, where dealing with sensitivities and allergies was a big part of the job, when I started Agnes & Me I was taken aback by the sheer number of people who told me they had sensitive skin, allergies to products or just did not use any skincare for fear of reactions.

And these comments and reports ALWAYS become more frequent  in winter, as the cold weather dries out our skin more.

Research shows that sensitive skin is an increasingly common problem, and it does seem to be more common in women which is thought to be because men have a thicker epidermis to protect against irritants and allergens and women tend to use more products on their bodies. As well as skincare think make-up, perfume, shampoos, conditioners, hair dyes, soaps and deodorants. According to the Environmental Working Group, women use an average of 12 products a day, containing 168 different chemicals, men average 85 a day!

What is sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin can be genetic or can be caused by lifestyle and so it can develop at any time. It is a term that covers a multitude of issues including dermatitis, eczema and rosacea.

The skin's purpose is to protect us. When it's healthy it keeps the good stuff (water) in and the bad stuff (irritants) out. It is called a skin barrier for that reason.

So the aim for skincare should be to help keep your skin healthy but when there are so many products out there and people are telling you to use this acid or that peeler, face scrubs, double cleansers, layer your serums it can get a wee bit confusing, unhealthy and your skin can start to suffer and get sensitive.

Signs of sensitivity include itchy, red, rough skin with dry patches, rashes, breakouts, and a stinging sensation when you apply products.

Those with dry skin will always be more prone to sensitivity because the protective barrier of the skin is depleted when it dries out. When the skin is dry the barrier breaks down and you get tiny, microscopic cracks that allow the moisture out and allergens in.

What to do about sensitive skin

I believe that the essentials of any good skincare regime are a cleanser, moisturiser and a sunblock. Everything else is a bonus and sometimes those extra products can tip your skin over the edge. 

Here's some ways to help avoid sensitive skin:

  • Cut way back on exfoliation: This includes scrub exfoliators, cleansing brushes, harsh face cloths and acid exfoliators, especially as the weather cools. If your skin is dry and flaky it needs moisturisation not exfoliation
  • Use a gentle cleanser: This applies to everyone, all the time. Find one that will not strip your skin of moisture or oil. Avoid foaming cleansers, anything with SLS and do not use soap on your face
  • Stop over cleansing: I know I say you must cleanse but do it only at night if you have dry or sensitive skin
  • Use a good moisturiser with repairing oils: This delivers hydration, protection and nutrition
  • Add a facial oil: If you have dry skin (tight, not so smooth, flaky) to help decrease the dryness with powerful fatty acids that feeding and work with the skin barrier
  • But go easy on introducing new products: Only ever introduce one new product at a time and patch test first, which is to apply a small amount of product on a small patch of skin (behind the ear is good) and only proceed with using it if there are no reactions after a day or two. And the more things you put on your face, the more likely you are to react to one of them
  • Find yourself a good broad spectrum SPF: And use it regularly to protect your skin from the oxidation effects of the sun
  • Check ingredients lists : the longer these are the more chemicals you are exposing your body to. All good companies should have these listed clearly on their website. Have you ever checked a hair dye list? It's why my hair is grey.

  • If you ever have any problems with our products  or if you want advice on what to use please get in touch.

     sensitive skin bundle