Avoid Harsh Cleaners
I am sure I have mentioned this before but using harsh detergents wreaks havoc on the natural balance of your skin. Cleansers and body washes with sulfates should be avoided. I know they don't foam up quite as much but roll with it. Looking for ones that have additional moisturising/protecting ingredients in them are bonus (see my How to: Wash Your Face! 6 ways!). Some people find skipping washing helps (if it isn't a bacteria related issue) or using waterless cleansers. You can also try using a thermal water spray instead with your cleanser if your water is particularly hard. Also consider what detergents you use for everything else such as laundry soap and be careful while you are cleaning.
Stay Away from Fragrance
If your skin is having true issues, stay away from fragrance (at least for awhile). I am not one to hate on scented products because they do add some spice to life but when you are having issues (eczema, rashes of any sort, cuts) its not helpful. It has a tendency to sting if the skin is broken as well if you have itched said rash. Not fun. I have basically given up on scented body creams because of my on going dry skin and eczema. The best I have found is a cream made for eczema from La Roche Posay. I use it or its ex foliating counterpart on a regular basis, eczema or not, although it does help with the itch if that is the case. It is also kind of nice because it doesn't interfere with the scent of my regular perfume. So there is some upside. It does smell kinda nasty when you first up it on, but it works.
|La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume AP|
Natural Isn`t Always Better
Natural products can be good because they contain less preservatives and synthetic fragrance. However, just because something is natural does not mean that you are not going to be allergic or be sensitive to it. My favourite example of this is a Clarins toner I was demonstrating that contained Mixed Grasses. I applied it to the back of my hand and it instantly erupted in hives. I have a grass allergy, yes this product is natural but I am also super allergic to it. Make sure to watch for things that you know you are allergic to in your face products. There are potential allergens present such as nuts, wheat, grasses, fruits and other botanicals in many products that are allergens to some people. If you are allergic to it when you eat it, its probably not a good idea to slather it on your face. Dermatology products, generally are tested for allergies and are probably a safer bet if you don't know what is irritating you.
Avoid Trying (or Using) Too Many Products
This sounds funny coming from a beauty person who is trying new things all the time but I must resist the urge or (literately) face the consequences. Try only one new product at a time so if your skin is being irritated you do know which one the culprit is. It is so tempting to try your entire drugstore haul the next day I know. Just bare with me. I would say try skin care for at least a week, preferably two before adding another new product to your regime so you can see if a) there is any benefit to the product and b) know if you have any issues with it. I find it takes a few days sometimes to make myself sensitive to a product. I try and keep my routine simple for this reason (and because I am lazy); there aren't as many possible irritants hanging out on my face. I have heard from the Shiseido people that in Asia everyone does many steps (and products) and that its expected (is this true?? somehow I don't buy it), but I think if you have sensitivity issues, combating one problem at a time is the best plan, not layering a bazillion serums.
In case of allergic reaction (or in cases where I didn't listen to my own advice), I keep one of these around, another thing from La Roche Posay. There are no irritants whatsoever in this and it is hermetically sealed, so it brings your skin back to normal and helps it recover from what you put it through. It also works great in case of accidental abuse such as sun or wind burn.
|La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra|
If You Still End Up with a Rash...
Try and keep calm (and carry on). There is some link between stress and skin, sometimes you just cant help it and beating yourself up won't help. Drink lots of water, and go see a doctor/dermatologist. Don't try scads of new products (obviously). If you know what is is and you have seen it before (hello eczema my old friend!) ask your pharmacist about some of this Spectro stuff. It is a low dose of what your doctor would give you but I find by the time I finally get into a doctor I have either scratched myself silly (don't! it causes scarring) or it has pretty much cleared itself up. Its is my cream in case of emergency dermatitis or eczema.
|Spectro EczemaCare Medicated Cream|
Over the counter emergency fix
So What do you use for your sensitive skin?
What issues are you plagued with?
Any horror stories?
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