Sensitive or sensitized skin?

Sensitive skin is a skin type a person is born with. It is most common amongst fair skinned individuals and is characterized by easy flushing, low tolerance to sun exposure and is generally dry and fine in texture.

Sensitized skin on the other hand is a skin condition brought on by certain environmental, biological and physiological stressors. While a skin type cannot be altered, a skin condition can in most cases be prevented, and when not, successfully remedied.

Here are some of the triggers that may cause sensitized skin:

-excessive sun exposure
-dry cold weather
-alcohol and cigarette smoking
-diet high in sugar and processed carbohydrates
-surgery and other invasive procedures
-hormonal imbalance
-thinning of the skin's lipid layer due to normal aging
-ongoing use of aggressive skin care products

While some of the above triggers such as normal aging and the natural thinning of the skin are unavoidable, the problem should not be compounded by stressing the skin further through the use of harsh topical products. These would include:
-cleansers with synthetic detergents such as sulfates and lauric acid.
-products containing perfume, alcohol, dyes, coloring, and certain anti microbial ingredients such as phenoxyethanol
-improper application of treatment products with a high concentration of retinoids, hydroquinone and alpha hydroxy acids

Another important culprit is over exfoliation. While appropriate exfoliation every 4 to 5 weeks is a recommended practice because it rids the skin of accumulated dead cells and encourages cell turn over and regeneration, a critical mistake that many people make is over exfoliation. Excessive exfoliation will weaken the skin's barrier and cause an imbalance in its PH level creating fertile ground for skin inflammation and subsequent aging of the skin.

The first step for treating sensitized skin is to notice that you are experiencing it. Clear warning signs will typically be tightness, dryness, redness and possibly swelling of the skin. If you have any of these symptoms, you should of course avoid all the sensitizing triggers mentioned before, but the next action to take is to use the right products:

- Use a gentle cleanser free from alcohol and synthetic detergents. A good example would be Eve Lom or Tracie Martyn Amla purifying cleanser

- Boost the skin's moisture level by applying products containing high concentration of hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate and humectants such as hydroxyethyl Urea, a good example of such products would be prO-care Elixir Cellular Concentrate and prO-care Non Stop Hydration sheet mask.

- Reduce the risk of potential skin inflammation by treating the skin with products loaded with anti inflammatory and pro collagen ingredients. This will help rebuild the skin's internal structure and restore its outer barrier back to health. A good example would be the MedicaRejuv anti aging serum which primary active ingredients have collagen enhancing and anti inflammatory properties while being free from sensitizing ingredients such as perfume, parabens and phenoxyethanol.

The final step in addressing sensitized skin is to use a soothing moisturizer that will protect the skin's outer layer and assist in repairing existing damage. A good example is the MedicaDerm skin repair cream which primary ingredients are centella asiatica, alpha bisabolol, tocopherols and ceramides, all known to protect and heal aggressed skin.

SkinCareaficionado is dedicated to provide its client base with effective yet gentle products that address several skin aging conditions but particularly excel in preventing and/or restoring the skin's condition in the following two areas: dehydration and inflammation, both of which are common manifestation of sensitized skin.

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