Guest post by Kristin Cristiano - Director of Education
What are some common ingredients to avoid with sensitive skin?
In addition to carefully picking and using appropriate ingredients, it is equally important to avoid certain things. Abrasive, mechanical/physical exfoliation ingredients of any kind are to be avoided. If Hydroxy Acids are used, they should be infrequent, at low percentages and only those with large molecules for slow absorption are recommended. Lactic and Gluconic Acids are good examples. Mild enzymes can sometimes be tolerated to remove dead skin because they don’t alter the pH of the skin or absorb, they simply break down the superficial dead skin cells on the outermost surface.
Soap and harsh detergent cleansers absolutely must not be used. The alkaline pH of soap will strip the skin and cause more problems. Instead a milky cleanser or cream-gel cleanser that is designed for the face and has hydrating properties is preferable. The pH of the cleanser should be within the 4.4 to 5.5 pH range in order to leave the barrier intact. A clay mask or any thick product that is difficult to remove should not be used because of the adverse reactions to rubbing and friction.
There are certain ingredients that are notorious for causing reactions in sensitive skin and some that are less apparent. Artificial fragrances have the reputation for being the #1 skin irritant. Ingredients that “heat” or have a “cooling effect” should not be used. For example, Menthol and Camphor may be too stimulating.
Should I use natural ingredients to treat sensitive skin?
Many people are under the misconception that if an ingredient is “natural” then it will be milder. But, essential oils such as Bergamot and Citrus, for example, can be irritating. Lanolin, which is an ingredient derived from sheep, has been used for centuries as an emollient. Now it is recognized by dermatologists for its potential as a major allergen. Sometimes, an ingredient that is lab synthesized is less likely to cause problems because it has been created in a controlled setting and is purer.
How should aestheticians treat patients with sensitive skin?
Aestheticians need to screen their patients ahead of time before performing any types of treatments or making recommendations on homecare. If there is a history of allergies, hives, etc, a patch test is critical before administering a peel. Even steam or heat can be too much for this skin. It is usually what these clients avoid that is more important than what they do.
Unfortunately it is often trial and error before the right strategy is found to keep skin in a happy, balanced place. While we don’t understand everything about sensitivity, there is enough information on what to avoid and what to use to make life a lot easier for this client. For those who experience occasional or infrequent sensitivity, it is less difficult because it is usually possible to isolate and identify what is causing the problem. As with any health issue, greater understanding will make coping much easier. Anyone with sensitivity issues should make every effort to seek information and educate themselves about the causes and treatments. We suggest using the American Academy of Dermatology
as a resource.
Learn more about glo's Sensitive Skincare products here