Sensitive skin is a blanket term most of us use without much thought, but it is not a diagnosis per se. It signifies various things to different people. For some it might represent breakouts, others might experience extreme dryness. Or it could be a reaction to an ingredient or a product. Sensitive skin means your skin is easily irritated.
The causes of sensitive skin might vary. If you got a bit too enthusiastic with your acids, for example, you might have overexfoliated your skin. The moisture barrier is disrupted, and even the gentlest of products sting on contact.
Some people are more genetically predisposed to having reactive skin. If you are pale and have thin skin, chances are your skin will be more reactive.
We’d like to focus on heat-induced sensitivity. There were several heat waves this summer, and you might have observed an increase in redness. If you are anything like us, it took a while for us to cotton on. Our routine is consistent and made out of products that never bothered us before. And yet, the redness stayed. Then the light bulb went off – heat-induced sensitivity. With heat, the blood flow to our capillaries increases. They, in turn, dilate and presto redness.
Sweltering summers aren’t necessarily the sole cause. Heat-induced sensitivity can happen after a particularly strenuous workout, or if you like to frequent saunas. Likewise, sun exposure can also be one of the causes.
How can you prevent and ease the symptoms of heat-induced sensitivity?
Adjust your skincare routine accordingly. Use your gentlest, blandest cleanser that will keep your skin clean and comfortable without stripping it. Look for skin-replenishing ingredients like ceramides that will reinforce the skin barrier, as well as emollients and humectants to keep your skin well hydrated. It is worth considering putting your actives on hold until your skin is back to its normal self. Products to avoid during this period would include the ones that contain harsh surfactants, fragrances, alcohol, and possibly even botanical oils. Even though these might be unproblematic for you in normal circumstances, when your skin is easily irritated, it is best to avoid them.
Avoid the sun if possible. Alternatively, if you have to go out, try to avoid the period between 10:00 and 17:00 when the sun is at its strongest. Always make sure to wear your sunscreen.
If it is already hot, try avoiding strenuous exercise. If that is not an option, try adjusting your workouts. For example, go for a run early in the morning when the temperature is cooler. Or find the nearest gym with the air-conditioning. Swimming is another excellent option that will keep you cool.
If you love your hot showers and/or baths, adjust to a tepid temperature. Likewise, when you cleanse your face, use cold water.
Keep your skincare products in the fridge. Clearly, your cleanser doesn’t need to be refrigerated. But products like masks (or sheet masks if you use them), mists, essences, serums, or even moisturisers can feel heavenly right from the fridge.
Diet and alcohol consumption can also play a part. Spicy food can trigger redness while alcohol can also dilate the blood vessels.
Have you ever had a problem with heat-induced sensitivity? How did you ease the symptoms?