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What is Sensitive Skin?
Many people tell us they have sensitive skin. The question is...sensitive to what? Sensitive skin is a lay term rather than a medical diagnosis.
Some people are simply born with sensitive skin, and research shows this skin type is often genetic. For many, the causes of sensitive skin can be traced back to skincare.
If you notice redness, burning, itching or stinging after applying a product, your skin could be reacting to something in the ingredients list.
Some people truly have thin or a fine-textured sensitive skin. Since it reacts quickly to both heat and cold, sensitive skin sunburns and windburns easily. It is often dry, delicate and prone to allergic reactions.
Other people have skin that is simply sensitive to its environment. Seasonal temperature and humidity changes, very hot water, detergent soaps, synthetic fragrances and colors, preservatives, alcohol (used on the skin), and other artificial additives cause irritation or inflammation, which leads to red, blotchy, and itchy skin.
For a more extensive list of soaps for sensitive skin, please read Help Me Choose Soap.
For special products for sensitive facial skin, read Help Me Choose: Facial Skin Care
Dry, Itchy, Tight, Flaking Or Peeling Skin: This is usually due to dryness, common causes of dry-skin itch are cold, dry weather, wind, harsh skin care products and washing with very hot water.
Redness: This can take the form of a red rash, red bumps, blushing and flushing.
Stinging & Burning: Especially when using detergent based soaps or gels, products with alcohol or artificial fragrance, and strong acne or anti-aging products.
Helping with Sensitive Skin
Use Simple Natural Soap & Skin Care
Simple, natural soap is best. We suggest that people with sensitive skin begin with soaps that contain no essential oils. Soaps like the Goat Milk Oatmeal, Carrot & Honey, Milk & Honey Baby Soap, Chamomile Calendula Soap. Some people have also found the Sea Buckthorn and Neem and Tea Tree soaps to be very helpful.
Simple, wholesome skin care is best. Choose skin and hair care products carefully. Read labels and choose products that have simple, natural ingredients. The fewer ingredients in a skincare product, the better it is for sensitive skin.
Some with sensitive skin do better with unscented soaps. For a more extensive list of soaps for sensitive skin and soaps with "no added scent," please see our Help Me Choose Soap page.
If you are not sure how a product will react with your skin, do a patch test before applying.
Sensitive skin is even more prone to problems from environmental elements like pollution, dry air and wind.
Sensitive skin is also often dry. Moisturizing helps protect skin from water loss and maintains a healthy barrier from environmental factors.
It is important to choose moisturizing products with simple, natural ingredients that will hydrate and soothe skin.
Always apply creams to warm and damp skin. Creams are better able to lock in moisture when the pores are open after a warm wash. After you finish, gently pat your skin dry.
All skin needs exfoliation, but sensitive skin types can be damaged by ingredients in many scrubs.
Avoid scrubs with harsh acids, salt, or large particle ingredients, especially for facial skin. Small granule facial sugar scrubs are often best for sensitive skin.
Remember, the goal is to eliminate dead skin cells and encourage cell regeneration all without leaving the skin raw or irritated.
Choosing a simple natural exfoliator like Adzuki Micrograin Scrub will gently exfoliate without irritating sensitive skin.
Simple exfoliation occurs every time you wash your face from the friction of rubbing your skin with your hands, washcloth, or gentle facial pad.
For more information read our blog, "The Nitty Gritty of Exfoliation"
Old fashioned ointments or salves are great for spot treatment of sensitive skin areas.
Natural salves are used to soothe, protect or promote healing of the skin. The concentrated organic formulation of nourishing oils and the healing power of herbs acts as a barrier on the skin’s surface.
Organic herbal salves are a convenient way to bring the healing and soothing properties of herbs deep into the tissues.
For a comparison of all of our salves please read "Help Me Choose Salves."
Soaking in a warm bath can help soothe sensitive skin. Here are some tips:
- Add oatmeal, natural bath oil, or a natural bath salt to a warm bath water.
- If you are sensitive to scents, try our unscented Simply Salt Bath Salts
- Organic herbal bath teas are a soothing addition to a warm bath and can also be used as an "herbal washcloth." Our Soothe My Skin Bath Tea is a gentle blend of skin soothing and softening botanicals, oats and Himalayan Pink Sea salt.
- Gently pat skin dry after a bath or shower. Vigorous rubbing can irritate sensitive skin.
- To get the most from a moisturizer, use it immediately after a bath or shower.
Things to Avoid
HOT BATHS OR SHOWERS
To soothe skin, take shorter showers in warm — not hot — water. Use mild soaps that skip perfumes and other fragrances, and be particularly careful with red areas, open cracks, sores, or rashes.
Synthetic fragrance is a leading cause of contact dermatitis and can even lead cause an increase in skin sensitivity, especially for folks with sensitive reactive skin.
Those with sensitive skin often find significant relief just by switching to fragrance-free products. Look for products that are labeled "fragrance-free," and not just "unscented." Unscented products may still contain synthetic fragrances added to neutralize natural scents created by other ingredients. When checking ingredients avoid products that contain "fragrances" or "parfums."
According to the Mayo Clinic, next to fragrances, preservatives found in cosmetic and skin care products are the most common allergens and irritants for people with sensitive skin. Any product that contains water must also contain some type of preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Since most commercial skin care products contain water, it can be difficult to find products that are preservative-free..
HARSH CHEMICALS & SYNTHETIC INGREDIENTS
Avoid using skin care and cosmetic products that have alcohol, harsh exfoliants, harsh detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate, petrochemicals, and artificial colors or synthetic fragrances all of which can irritate sensitive skin. Research ingredients carefully. For example, two common ingredients found in many anti-aging products, retinol and glycolic acid, can be very irritating to sensitive skin.
Your skin needs to breathe, so avoid foundation if possible. Foundation, especially when applied as a thick film, can interfere with the ability of the skin's natural cell turnover process, the ability to shed old skin cells and to renew cells.
If your sensitive skin symptoms do not improve or you feel they could be due to a more serious allergic reaction, talk to your health care provider. For most people with sensitive skin a little extra TLC can help prevent or ease irritation.
People with severe allergies—please note: If you have severe anaphylactic-type reactions to ANY of the ingredients in ANY of our products, please do not buy our products. We have dedicated soap rooms and product rooms that are kept meticulously clean, but we cannot guarantee against possible cross-contamination of individual ingredients.
Chagrin Valley Soap & Craft is not responsible for any individual reaction to any particular ingredient. Each product description on our website includes a complete list of ingredients. People with sensitivities to any listed ingredient should not use the product. In case you are in doubt always try an allergy patch test and if at any time irritation occurs, discontinue use of the product.
The content and information on this website, provided by The Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Company, is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended and should not be construed as medical advice to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information regarding folklore or health-related benefits of certain ingredients is for educational purposes only. The information provided is not intended to prescribe or be taken as medical advice.
The information provided is not meant to substitute the advice provided by your personal physician or other medical professionals. Do not use the information found on this website to self-diagnose any medical conditions or treat any health problems or diseases. If you have medical concerns regarding yourself or your family you should seek the advice of qualified, licensed health professionals. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Read our Full Medical Disclaimer.