Skin Sensitivity and What to Avoid

Sensitive skin has been described as unpleasant sensory responses to stimuli that should not provoke such sensations. Objectively measurable signs of irritation are not always present in individuals with sensitive skin, however, subjective sensory effects such as, itching, burning, stinging, tightness, and dryness, are consistently present. According to the National Institute of Health, 60-70% of women and 50-60% of men report having some degree of sensitive skin. 

If you have sensitive skin, it's important to be cautious about the products and ingredients you use to avoid any potential irritation or adverse reactions. Here are some things you should generally avoid:

  1. Harsh Cleansers: Stay away from harsh soaps, cleansers, or face washes that contain sulfates, fragrances, or alcohol, as they can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause irritation.
  2. Fragrances: Avoid skincare and cosmetic products that contain artificial fragrances, as they can be irritating to sensitive skin. Opt for fragrance-free or products with natural fragrance alternatives.
  3. Alcohol-based Products: Alcohol can be drying and irritating to sensitive skin. Avoid products that contain high amounts of alcohol, such as toners or astringents.
  4. Exfoliants with Rough Particles: Avoid using physical exfoliants with rough particles like apricot kernels or walnut shells, as they can cause micro-tears in the skin. Instead, opt for gentle chemical exfoliants with ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs).
  5. Harsh Scrubbing or Rubbing: Be gentle when cleansing or drying your skin. Avoid scrubbing too vigorously or rubbing your skin too harshly, as it can lead to irritation.
  6. Certain Preservatives: Some preservatives commonly found in skincare products, such as parabens and formaldehyde-releasing agents, can be potential irritants. Look for products labeled as paraben-free or opt for natural preservatives.
  7. Irritating Ingredients: Certain ingredients can be particularly irritating to sensitive skin. These include retinoids, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), and some essential oils. If you want to use these ingredients, start with low concentrations and patch-test first to see how your skin reacts.
  8. Overly Hot Water: Avoid using very hot water when washing your face or taking showers, as it can dry out and irritate your skin. Opt for lukewarm water instead.
  9. Rough or Scratchy Fabrics: Avoid clothing or fabrics that are rough or scratchy, as they can cause irritation and friction against sensitive skin. Choose soft, breathable fabrics like cotton.
  10. Stress and Poor Lifestyle Habits: While not directly related to skincare products, stress and poor lifestyle habits like smoking and inadequate sleep can negatively impact your skin's health and increase sensitivity. Managing stress and adopting a healthy lifestyle can help maintain better skin health.

Remember, everyone's skin is unique, so it's important to pay attention to how your skin reacts to different products and make adjustments accordingly. If you're unsure about a product, consider consulting with a dermatologist for personalized recommendations.