Is your skin easily irritated by the use of products or just regular exposure to the elements? Sounds like you may have sensitive skin.
Does it sting when you use certain soaps or cleansers? Do you break out in rashes when your skin comes in contact with clothes laundered in strong detergents? If so, it’s possible that you may have sensitive skin.
What is sensitive skin, and what is the best skincare for sensitive skin? Read on to find out.
Risk factors for skin sensitivity
Women are more likely to have sensitive skin
In many studies, women report having more sensitive skin (1, 2). One possible reason may be that males tend to have a thicker epidermis, or outermost skin layer, compared to women.
Women also tend to use more products, especially facial products, which may increase exposure to materials that create unpleasant skin reactions.
Women also experience hormonal changes that may result in more sensitive skin. For instance, studies have found that a woman's menstrual cycle may affect skin sensitivity. Post-menopausal women have also reported that their skin became more sensitive after menopause (2).
Certain environmental factors may favour the manifestation of skin sensitivity (3). These include low temperature, humidity, strong wind, and sun exposure. Pollution may also give rise to sensitive skin reactions.
Cosmetic product use has been a widely-reported triggering factor of sensitive skin (3). These include perfumes, facial cleansers, cosmetics, hair products, soaps, and deodorants (1). Potentially irritating ingredients such as alcohol, fragrances, propylene glycol, and alpha-hydroxy acids may increase the likelihood of symptoms.
Exposure to household items, such as cleaning products, laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, and fabric softener, may also trigger sensitive skin (1).
The best skincare for sensitive skin
Sensitive skin is usually treated by addressing any underlying causes or triggers. Here are some things you can do as part of skincare for sensitive skin:
Avoid products that may cause irritation
The best skincare for sensitive skin is avoiding known irritants. If you find that a particular product triggers itchiness, rashes, or other unpleasant sensations, try to find alternative products you can use instead (2). Try skin products with milder ingredients.
Using non-irritating moisturisers
Daily use of moisturizer has been found to decrease skin sensitivity (1). Sensitive skin has also been found to be connected to skin dryness, which leads to a greater disruption of the protective function of the skin (1). Skin dryness can be avoided with the use of gentle lotions or moisturisers (4).
Protect your skin from the sun
Part of the best skincare for sensitive skin is avoiding the sun.
Protecting yourself from UV damage is important to protect your skin, regardless of whether or not you experience skin sensitivity. Sun exposure is connected to wrinkles, age spots, and various skin conditions (4). To avoid UV damage, it helps to avoid sun exposure entirely. When you do need to go under the sun, don't forget to use sunscreen with at least 15 SPF. You may need to reapply sunscreen, especially if you have been perspiring or swimming. Wearing protective clothing like hats, long-sleeved tops, and long pants also protects your skin. Get out of the daytime sun and seek shade wherever possible.
Keep your skin nourished with supplementation
The skin needs various nutrients to perform at optimal levels. While these nutrients are best taken in through a healthy, balanced diet, we are not always able to get the vitamins and minerals we need through what we eat. In this case, it may help to take supplementation.
Here are some supplements you can take as part of the best skincare for sensitive skin:
Zinc supports healthy skin by promoting wound healing. It has also been used to help treat some dermatological conditions - always reach out to a dermatologist or skin specialist to understand how zinc could help you (5).
Iron supports skin health by playing an important role in the normal development and function of the skin. It helps support collagen formation by encouraging the proliferation and differentiation of human skin cells (6).
*Iron should only be taken if prescribed by your doctor.
Astaxanthin promotes skin health by inhibiting age-related skin irritation, sensitivity and dehydration (7). It also improves skin integrity and elasticity, as well as reduces oxidative damage (7).
The B group of vitamins is made up of eight water-soluble vitamins that are essential for a variety of bodily processes. Among these, Riboflavin (B2) and Niacin (B3) in particular, help maintain skin health (8).
Vitamin C promotes healthy skin because it is required for collagen synthesis. Collagen is an essential building block of the skin, hair, and nails. Large amounts of Vitamin C are found in the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin and have been found to benefit skin cells (9).
Cranberries contain polyphenols, which have been found to play a role in protecting the skin integrity, skin structure and encouraging skin repair (10, 11).
Collagen is the primary structural protein in the connective tissue that makes up the skin, hair, and nails. Collagen promotes healthy skin by helping improve skin hydration and elasticity. It also prevents wrinkles and dry skin. Collagen further stimulates skin cells to create more collagen, which may help delay signs of skin ageing, and improve the firmness of skin (12).
Biotin supports healthy skin by playing a key role in the synthesis of fatty acids, which the skin needs to help produce a barrier of oil that protects the skin from sun and environmental damage (13).
Sign up for your Vitable vitamins today. Vitable gives you custom vitamin packs for your own specific health concerns. Make use of our vitamins subscription and get your vitamin delivery anywhere in Australia.
Find out more about other supplements that can support skin health:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Farage, M., "The Prevalence of Sensitive Skin". Frontiers in Medicine. Published May 2019 on https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2019.00098/full. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Dyall-Smith, D., "Sensitive skin". DermNet NZ. Published 2009 on https://dermnetnz.org/topics/sensitive-skin. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Duarte, I., et. al., "Sensitive skin: review of an ascending concept*". Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia. Published Aug 2017 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5595600/. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin". Published Jan 22, 2022 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/skin-care/art-20048237. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Gupta, M., et. al., "Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review". Dermatol Res Pract. Published July 2014 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4120804/. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Hirobe, T. "Iron and skin health: iron stimulates skin function". Handbook of diet, nutrition and the skin. Published 2012 on https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.3920/978-90-8686-729-5_12. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Vitable. "Astaxanthin". Vitable. Published n.d. on https://research.vitable.com.au/astaxanthin. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Better Health Channel. "Vitamin B". Better Health Channel. Last reviewed March 2020 on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vitamin-b. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Vitable. “Vitamin C Plus”. Vitable. Published n.d. on https://research.vitable.com.au/vitamin-c-plus. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Khoo, C., Liu, H., "Chapter 8 - Effect of Cranberry Polyphenols and Metabolites on Microbial Activity and Impact on Urinary Tract Health". Polyphenols: Prevention and Treatment of Human Disease (Second Edition). Published 2018 on https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128130087000084. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Afaq, F., Katiyar, S., "Polyphenols: Skin Photoprotection and Inhibition of Photocarcinogenesis". Mini Rev Med Chem. Published Dec 2011 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3288507/. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Vitable. “Collagen”. Vitable. Published n.d. on https://research.vitable.com.au/collagen. Accessed 24 Jan 2022.
- Vitable. “Biotin”. Vitable. Published n.d. on https://research.vitable.com.au/biotin. Accessed 24 Jan 2022