Is your skin rough, itchy or flaky? Chances are, you have sensitive skin. Learn about the top causes, plus ways to counter them.
If you’ve ever experienced a tight, burning sensation on your face after applying some products, you would have an idea of what sensitive skin feels like.
Besides that prickling feeling, you may notice rough patches or bumps on your face. Your skin may also appear flushed – but not in a good way.
While the bad news is everyone’s prone to sensitive skin at least once in their lifetime – yes, even if they are blessed with healthy skin – the good news is that you’re reading this, and there are ways to prevent it.
1. Dehydrated skin
When your skin is overly dry, it can no longer protect the nerve endings. Prolonged exposure to sun, wind and even an air-conditioned environment can dehydrate your skin. Alcohol too, dries up your skin and can cause flushing.
Tip: Moisturise your face throughout the day. Besides applying products after you wash up, it’s a good idea to have a facial mist on hand which you can conveniently spray on your face for an instant boost of hydration. Remember to apply and re-apply sunscreen too, even if you’re indoors or if the sky is cloudy. UV rays are highly penetrating and can damage your skin without you realising.
2. Hormonal changes
It’s not uncommon for your skin to feel more sensitive during certain times of the month. As hormonal levels fluctuate along with your menstrual cycle, you may find yourself breaking out or having a bad reaction to some beauty products. Menopause, as well as pregnancy, can cause your hormones to go haywire too.
Tip: Go easy on your beauty regime if your skin starts feeling flaky or inflamed. Consider switching to lightweight products that are free of harsh chemicals. If your sensitive skin persists, your doctor might prescribe hormone medication.
It’s not just your facial muscles that tense up and make you look much older when you’re stressed – your skin suffers too. Whether you’re bothered by problems at work or home, the nasty stress hormones produced by your body slows down your skin’s repairing process, weakening the barrier overtime and leading to sensitive skin.
Tip: Manage your stress level by scheduling time for relaxation every day. Even five minutes count! Meditate, do yoga, read your favourite book, or take a leisurely walk outdoors during those pockets of free time. Going offline for just a while will relieve you of those worries (temporarily is better than not at all), and enable you to face them with a clear mind later on.
4. Undiagnosed skin conditions
Sensitive skin may be a warning sign of an underlying skin condition like eczema or rosacea. Eczema can occur at any age, even if you’ve not had it before. With rosacea, you’ll notice redness on many parts of your face, including the forehead, nose and chin, and perhaps even bumps that look like acne. While there may not be a specific cause for these skin conditions, genetics often plays a part.
Tip: Consult a dermatologist if your skin irritation persists. She will be able to properly diagnose and prescribe the right treatment for you.
5. High-sugar diet
Guess what, your skin is a reflection of your diet habits too. Sugary stuff like cakes, pastries and sweetened drinks is one of the worst offenders. Refined sugar causes your blood sugar levels to spike, increasing inflammation in the body. That triggers the production of enzymes that break down collagen and elastin – proteins that are responsible for keeping your skin plump and healthy.
Tip: If you can’t swear off desserts, have them in moderation – twice a week and no larger than a palm-sized portion each time. Opt for naturally sweet whole foods like sweet potato, banana and blueberries to help curb those cravings.
6. Damaging skincare routine
You may not realise it, but little things you’ve been doing all this while can contribute to sore and irritated skin. For instance, cleansing your face too often, or using products with harsh ingredients. Picking the right products for your skin type can help to improve your skin condition and reduce sensitivity.
Tip: Space out your exfoliating and deep cleansing routines, as they tend to dry out the skin more than a simple cleanse. Also, avoid products containing fragrances, parabens, dyes, alcohol and sulphates – these are potential irritants. When choosing sunscreen, go for mineral sunscreens instead of chemical ones. The former includes ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, while the latter contains chemicals such as oxybenzone and avobenzone.
As you get older, your skin’s natural barrier function is weakened. This creates tiny, invisible cracks in the skin that allows moisture to escape, causing dry and flaky skin, explains Dr Karen Soh, medical director of Prive Clinic. When this happens, irritants are able to enter more easily. That’s why you may feel a stinging sensation when applying products.
Tip: While there’s nothing you can do to reverse time, you can slow down the effects of ageing by using the right products. Dry, sensitive skin typically lacks an essential ingredient, ceramide, which fills up the empty skin between skin cells to protect the skin from external irritants and moisture loss. Look for skincare products containing ceramides, such as those from Curel’s Aging Care Series.
More about Curel’s Aging Care Series
Comprising a lotion and gel cream or moisture cream, this Aging Care range is packed with a ceramide formula that aims to lock in your skin’s moisture, keeping it smooth and supple.
Made for sensitive Asian skin, the products are free of fragrance, colourant and alcohol. They also contain anti-inflammatory ingredients such as dolabrata extract, allantoin and ginger extract, which soothe the skin and improve resilience.
A controlled clinical trial by Curel found that this series reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the eye and cheek zones after eight weeks of usage.
Curel Aging Care Moisture Lotion ($36.80 for 140ml)
This ultra-nourishing lotion helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and saggy skin. Its gentle formulation means you can apply on delicate areas such as the contours of your eyes and lips.
Curel Aging Care Gel-Cream ($46.80 for 40ml)
With a smooth, serum-like texture, this lightweight cream can be spread easily and evenly over the skin to lock in moisture. It contains firming and moisturising ingredients to make fine lines less obvious.
Curel Aging Care Moisture Cream ($46.80 for 40ml)
A richer, more luxurious version of the Gel-Cream, this one is great for those with severely dry and sensitive skin. It provides an intense hit of moisture while giving your skin an airy after-feel.
The Curel Aging Care Series is available exclusively at Watsons.
Click here to try the new aging care series today!
Brought to you by Curel.