You have never considered yourself as someone with sensitive skin, but all of a sudden your complexion begins reacting in a way that’s foreign to you. Maybe it’s developing redness, tingling, burning, or flushing… but overall its become a reactive, hot mess. “Why is my skin so sensitive all of a sudden?!” you think as you try pinpointing the trigger.
Before we start going over the potential culprits to your suddenly sensitive skin, let’s talk about what it means to have sensitive skin. If you have a true sensitive skin type, it’s something you’re born with, passed down by your family genetics. However, if your skin has become increasingly more sensitive or has new sensitivity, you may be experiencing sensitized skin. The majority of people aren’t born with sensitive skin and instead have acquired sensitized skin.
All skin types can become sensitized, but not all skin can be sensitive.
For our skin to suddenly become increasingly sensitive, there’s likely a culprit to the madness. To help your skin recover, it’s essential to do some detective work to find your trigger. You could have one or multiple aspects affecting your skin. But there’s good news! Once you pinpoint what’s sensitizing your skin, you can prevent it from happening again in the future. Here’s what you should evaluate to help your skin get back to it’s healthy, happy self…
Botanicals And Essential Oils
While we love green beauty, we’re optimistically cautious of botanicals and essential oils. Typically, natural ingredients have a higher success rate of causing sensitivity compared to traditional synthetic ingredients. Very often, essential oils are written off for anyone prone to sensitivity, however, it’s not so simple. In our experience, essential oils cause irritation when they’re used in large quantities or aren’t diluted well in a formula. Usually, small amounts of essential oils won’t cause issues. That said, each of us has skin with its own unique tolerance, and it’s possible to have skin that doesn’t tolerate botanicals and essential oils well.
The Aging Shift Of Skin Chemistry And Hormones
As we age, we experience many changes. For women, hormones are one of the most apparent and can have a direct impact on how our skin looks, feels and behaves. But a less recognized change that impacts our skin as we grow older and wiser is a shift in skin chemistry.
Many of us know collagen production begins slowing down around age 30. However, another shift begins around 40: our skin slows down lipid production. Skin lipids keep our complexion hydrated and youthful. When our skin is deficient in essential lipids, we experience increased sensitivity, inflammation, excessive dryness, dehydration, and even accelerated signs of aging. This is why many women experience more sensitivity as they age.
Oils Disrupting Your Skin Barrier Lipid Balance
Not all oils are created equal and sometimes they can disrupt our skin barrier balance, leading to increased sensitivity. It’s wise not to replace your daily moisturizer with oil, and instead use face oils as supplemental moisture. However, some products, like serums and moisturizers, have oils added to them and can cause the same problem as using oils alone. Don’t let this deter you from enjoying a lovely face oil, just practice caution, keep an eye on your skin for changes in sensitivity, and practice moderation.
Over Exfoliating And Overusing Active Ingredients
One of the most common culprits of newly reactive skin is over-exfoliating, something we talk about a lot here at YGG! That’s because it’s one of the biggest skincare mistakes we see people make all the time. But it doesn’t stop there. Overusing retinoids, whether prescription or over the counter, can cause similar unwanted symptoms. The same is true of using too many actives in your routine.
If you’re using a number of products in your skincare regimen, pay attention to the ingredients in individual products. Not only do you want to pay attention to advertised ingredients, but the full ingredient deck. You may unknowingly be combining individual products that have acids, retinoids, or other actives in the formula, contributing to your skin sensitivity.
Your Skin Doesn’t Tolerate A Particular Ingredient
Now, what if your skin doesn’t tolerate a specific ingredient… but it’s unusual to cause issues, so it’s not on your radar? This is definitely rare, but not impossible. And, it will take more investigating to find the offender. If you think this could be the case for your skin, we suggest logging the products in your skincare routine so you can evaluate ingredients and narrow down the culprit.
Lifestyle And Changing Of Seasons
Lifestyle and changing of the seasons all have a direct impact on how our skin looks and feels. When the air becomes drier and cooler, our skin also becomes more dry and prone to dehydration. If left unchecked, this can cause sensitivity. The same is true of frequent travel.
But we should consider our lifestyle choices as well, including our diet. A deficiency in Vitamin D can correlate to skin issues, along with poor diet and a lack of essential fatty acids. Nightshades are known to cause problems for those prone to rosacea. An anti-inflammatory diet may be a route to consider depending upon your unique circumstances.
So how do you fix your newly acquired skin sensitivity?
Let’s say you suspect a particular product or ingredient is the cause of your irritation. In this case, remove the product in question, allowing your skin a break from it for a few weeks. While doing so, make sure you’re using a product that will help soothe and support your skin barrier. Once you have given it ample time to heal, reintroduce the product and keep an eye on your skin. You may find it’s a combination of products or an individual one causing issues.
Healing sensitized skin caused by topical products is simple. More often than not, you should practice the same steps as if you were restoring your skin from over-exfoliation. On the other hand, if you suspect your sensitivity is from changes caused by aging, you will benefit most from adding skincare to your routine that replenishes lost lipids.
Finally, if diet or lifestyle seems to be the root of your sensitivity, make adjustments as needed. You may want to consider working with a doctor or naturopath. This could look like adding a supplement, eating better, or ensuring your skin is well hydrated while traveling.