If you have sensitive skin, you aren't alone. Research shows that 62% of women and 52% of men have self-reported skin sensitivities. This includes documented skin diseases, as well as conditions like dry skin, flushing and acne. But thankfully there are plenty of actionable steps you can take to avoid flare-ups and become more comfortable in your own skin.
Having sensitive skin requires you to carefully think about every decision you make. The following tips will ensure you're able to live life as normally as possible:
1. Test Before Applying
Never apply a new skincare product without testing it out. The best strategy is to apply a small amount — perhaps the size of a quarter — in an inconspicuous place on your body. Then observe this area for at least 24 hours for any signs of redness, irritation, itching, etc. If this experiment goes well, try a small amount of product on the desired area and observe. Still clear? Proceed to use the product as directed
2. Identify Your Triggers
Nothing is more frustrating than having skin sensitivity issues and not knowing the cause. Your best path forward is to identify your triggers so you can be more aware of how your daily decisions are impacting your health and well-being. Sometimes it's easy to identify the ingredients, while other times it takes a lot of trial and error.
3. Always Read Labels
Be meticulous about reading the labels of products that you apply to your skin and/or wear. Keep an eye on the ingredients/materials list to see if any of your triggers are present.
As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid products with lots of fragrances. U.S. law does not require manufacturers to list ingredients used in fragrances. The formulations are proprietary and the government can't compel companies to reveal their trade secrets. Unfortunately, we know a lot of these fragrances contain phthalates.
According to the CDC, "Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown. Some types of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals."
It's simply not worth it. Buying and using products that are free of fragrances, dyes and parabens will save you a lot of discomfort.
4. Learn How to Shave
Few things are more irritating to the skin than shaving. But believe it or not, you don't have to cut and nick your skin every time. With the right products and techniques, you can enjoy a smooth and refreshing shave.
Experts recommend avoiding multi-blade disposable razors and instead going with a single-blade safety razor. This wet shaving guide will help you choose the right razor, soaps, aftershave, etc.
5. Be Smart With Baths and Showers
Want to know something shocking? You've probably been bathing/showering wrong your entire life. And if you have a sensitive skin condition, it's not doing you any favors.
"During bathing, I recommend limiting soap to a single fragrance-free bar soap that should only be used in the armpits, groin and buttocks, as these are the only areas with the odor-producing sweat glands (apocrine glands)," Dr. Jules Lipoff advises.
While lathering soap all over your body might make you feel good, it has very little hygienic benefit. It just causes your skin to dry out and itch. Go easy!
6. Watch What You Eat
Your diet may be having a direct impact on your skin. If nothing else, it's affecting the appearance of your skin.
Be mindful of what you eat. Drinking alcohol may temporarily cause your skin to flush. Chronic drinking can lead to long-term damage to blood vessels and skin pores.
Smoking is another bad habit. It leads to wrinkles and can exacerbate certain underlying skin sensitivities (like redness, dryness and itching).
Make it a point to stay hydrated and to limit processed foods in your diet. A fresh diet of fruits, vegetables and lean meats is ideal.
7. Buy the Right Bedding
For those with sensitive skin, the right bedding can make all the difference. If cotton and silk don't work for you, bamboo sheets are worth a try. They're naturally antimicrobial, hypoallergenic and antibacterial. This means there are fewer elements to potentially irritate your skin.
Listen to Your Body
No two people have the same skin. Even if you have the same skin condition as the next person, how you address your skin sensitivity and/or discomfort will be highly dependent on a variety of personal factors.
Use these tips with the guidance of your dermatologist and see what works! Hopefully a few of the suggestions will be of value to you and your well-being.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. Read Larry Alton's Reports — More Here.
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