Suffer with dry, damaged or sensitive skin? It might be time to switch up your skincare routine to something altogether more gentle. We spoke to beauty and skincare guru Matt Huxley, to get his expert tips on how to care for sensitive skin, and which products he swears by.
Struggling with skin flare-ups? Whether you suffer with dry skin, mild rashes, eczema, or redness and inflammation, when it comes to self care, sometimes our skin can take a bit of a back seat.
Our skin does a great job of protecting us from all kinds of damaging elements — pollution, free radicals, UV rays, drastic changes in temperature — but like anything else, when it doesn’t get the attention it needs, it doesn’t work as effectively as it should do. And that means your skin can become much more sensitive as a result.
Your skin comes with a natural protective layer — the skin barrier — and whilst it’s pretty darn good at protecting us from all kinds of damaging elements, if it gets damaged, it’s not strong enough to fight off environmental stressors, thus making it easier for bacteria and other pathogens to enter the skin surface more easily. That’s when you’ll start to notice those niggling skin sensitivities like rashes, inflammation, breakouts, and constant flare-ups.
In short your skin’s protective layer needs a little added protection itself to avoid any of these flare-ups.
So how do you protect your skin barrier?
Now when I say protective skincare, what do I mean? Protective skincare is absolutely not a regulated term, nor does it refer to any specific brand or product. I use it to mean notably gentle products for sensitive skin types. Products that go above and beyond in nourishing, hydrating, and protecting the skin. They might not be the most interesting products to use, but you’ll know if you need them if you suffer with any of the aforementioned skin sensitivities above.
How do I know if I need to switch to sensitive skincare products?
If you suffer from severe dryness, tightness, redness and/or irritation, gentle, sensitive skincare is 100% for you. Perhaps you frequently suffer from eczema or dermatitis and need something to use in between flare-ups (where you would use a medically-recommended cream). Almost everyone can benefit from using sensitive products. It’s good to give your skin barrier a breather from harsh products. That way you can help to build it up so it can start to repair itself.
It’s also important to note that if you have a skincare issue that isn’t clearing, appears worse, or is chronic, you should seek advice from your doctor, dermatologist or a pharmacist to advise you further, as you may need a medicated cream. This article is only intended for assisting with dry skin, and isn’t meant to offer solutions for issues like eczema or psoriasis. You can find out more about these skin conditions here.
So which sensitive skincare products should I invest in?!
Washing is, without a doubt, the most irritating thing you can do when your skin is feeling dry. So, to combat any further skin irritation, keep your bathroom topped up with calming, hydrating shower products.
Look for gentle and nourishing formulas. This could be a cream based wash, or an oil. QV is a great brand to turn to. They’ve rebranded, so look for the new purple logo instead of the old turquoise blue.
The Daily Wash with ceramides is a great all rounder for skin irritation. It has a lovely, protective, petrolatum base with glycerin, sodium pca, and lactic acid to deeply hydrate dry skin. It also has niacinamide to soothe, safflower oil to nourish, and ceramides to replenish.
If the thought of rubbing your skin hurts, then a relaxing bath could be a better option. The QV bath oil is fantastic at replenishing and protecting the skin. A super simple mineral oil base for protection, a gentle emulsifier, and isopropyl myristate will deeply nourish the skin, and it doesn’t leave a greasy finish like a lot of oils do — which also means you won't’ have to worry about slipping and sliding in the bath! This can also double up as a body wash too – though you may want to transfer it to a pump package for ease.
Dermaveen is another one of my go-to brands. Their sensitive relief wash is infused with oat extracts for increased soothing. Glycerin and sodium pca deeply hydrate, this time boosted by aloe. Allantoin assists with hydration, but is primarily aimed at skin replenishing. Steer clear of exfoliants, particularly harsh scrubs. A sponge or loofah should be enough to remove any dead skin.
Ego QV Dermcare Eczema Daily Wash 350m
DermaVeen Extra Hydration Gentle Wash 500mL
Ego QV Flare Up Bath Oil 500mL
Stock up on nourishing body creams
Rich, protective creams are the best defence against dryness and skin cracking. Be sure to apply on damp skin before towel drying, you’ll lock in the hydration that way, ensuring ensuring the skin remains hydrated, supple and moist.
Once again, QV sting-free ointment is a great option to reach for. A hydrating glycerin base with a decent whack of petrolatum and dimethicone to lock it all in. Fatty alcohols and safflower oil nourish the skin with lipids.
Another great product is the Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Baume. A glycerine and mineral oil base again but this time with sunflower and canola oil, ceramides and cholesterol, for an additional nourishing kick. Zinc glutonate and rhamnose soothe, whilst xylitol hydrates.
A newer option is the Koena Moisturising Cream. Packed with their patented soothing complex known as Resta-Plex, it also has glycerin and panthenol for hydration, isopropyl palmitate and fatty alcohols for nourishing, and dimethicone to lock all that essential moisture in.
Ego QV Dermcare Sting-Free Ointment 100g
Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Baume 200mL
Koéna Dermaceutical Daily Moisturiser 100g
What about face products for sensitive skin?
The face requires similar care to the body when it’s feeling a bit sore, so always look to soothing cleansers and protective moisturisers.
Cream washes like the Avene gentle milk cleanser are great options for sensitised skins. Thermal water as a base, with mineral oil to form up the emulsion and a gentle glucoside foaming agent to cleanse the skin.
The La Roche Posay Toleriane Caring Wash Cleanser is a slightly more nourishing option, with glycerin and panthenol for hydration, ceramides to replenish the skin and niacinamide for soothing and antioxidant support.
In terms of cream, the protective option would be to go for something a bit thicker like the Avene Cicalfate. Unsurprisingly, it has a thermal water base, with piles of triglycerides, mineral oil and glycerine. Soothing and protective ingredients like zinc, copper and magnesium calm the skin down.
I can understand that this might seem off putting to those with oilier skins. Luckily, QV once has your back with the face rescue gel. Glycerin and silicones hydrate and lock it in, oat soothes the skin down, whilst sodium pca and panthenol boost hydration. Witch hazel helps to regulate the oil level of the skin, allowing the soothing ingredients to get to work.
Of course, every skin, no matter what the issue, should always have sunscreen. Take the time to find one that you love, and that doesn't irritate your skin, and stick to it. Skin cannot and will not improve unless it’s being protected from the sun.
Avene Gentle Milk Cleanser 200mL
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Cleanser 200mL
Ego QV Face Rescue Gel Moisturiser 25g
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