You will recognise having sensitive skin if your skin has disproportionately negative reactions to products, heat and humidity. You might have one or many of these skin issues:
- Dries out very easily
- Itchy or light burning
Many people will notice that they have skin irritation once in a while. Our skin protects our body from everything in the outside world, and can even reflect what is happening inside our bodies. In our busy lives our skin has to protect us daily against anything and everything - the clothes that we wear, the weather on the way to work, the pollution that we come in contact with. It is also at the mercy of our genetics.
Sensitive skin could therefore either be your skin type - what you were born with - or a skin condition - coming from something internal or external. With either a sensitive skin type or a skin condition, both result in your immune system being activated, and having an effect on your skin. The good news is, you can help to avoid a reaction altogether, or treat the reaction and calm it down.
Is it because of your genetics?
If you are born with the genetics for sensitive skin, you could either have allergies, a weak skin barrier, or just thin skin.
- Skin Allergy - you might have an allergy to an ingredient, and should stop using it, or you could have an overactive immune system, which could be a condition not only affecting your skin. Generally there will not be a simple ‘cure’ if skin is predisposed to being sensitive, but the symptoms can be reduced with the right combination of products and lifestyle. Some ingredients, although considered safe, can result in reactions in some people - a statistical inevitability within a population. Some such ingredients are sulphates, fragrances, alcohol, and preservatives.
Our natural soaps are not formulated with sulphates, alcohol or preservatives, indeed natural soaps don’t require such ingredients. Our fragrances are only natural essential oils and not synthetic fragrances, and under 3% of the soap oil weight, which is considered safe for temporary skin contact. Two of our soaps are not formulated with essential oils at all - our Nettle Natural Soap and our Shea Butter Natural Soap - they both smell great without any essential oils! Our Nettle soap is especially calming for irritated skin.
- Thin skin and weak skin barrier - some of us can also be predisposed to having thin skin or a weaker skin barrier. Age can also be a factor - as we age our body produces less collagen, which the skin needs to stay plump and keep moisture inside, and our skin becomes thinner. Thin skin cannot hold as much water or can simply lose more to evaporation due to less oils in the skin. Less oils in the skin results in a weakened skin barrier, letting water escape and irritants can aggravate the skin more easily. This can result in dry and itchy skin.
It is important to treat thin skin and a weakened skin barrier with humectants and oils. Humectants, depending on their size, can enter the skin and hold water there. Glycerine, for example, is a humectant which can enter the skin. Hyaluronic acid, for example, is a humectant which is too big to enter the skin, and just sits on the surface. Glycerine will actually treat dry skin, whereas hyaluronic acid could be drawing moisture out of the skin, giving a temporary plumping effect but in the end be drying. Our natural soaps, as indeed all natural soaps, contain the full amount of glycerine created during the soaping process. Cheaper industrial soaps have had their glycerine removed to be used in skin creams and hair products. Our natural soaps also have superfat oils - oils which have not been turned into soap - which will support the skin barrier without feeling oily.
Our Shea Butter Natural Soap is especially great for dry skin and a weakened skin barrier - it is an especially effective emollient which keeps water in the skin from evaporating. It also has calming and anti-oxidant properties, which helps to restore your skin to a healthy state.
Our Nettle Natural Soap contains shea butter and is also supported by the calming properties of nettle.
Is it because of an external or internal factor?
You may not have the genetics for sensitive skin, but something has happened to dry out your skin or damage your skin barrier. Maybe one of these is the culprit?
- Showering too long or too hot
- Using products which strip away too many oils from your skin, such as Synthetic detergents, SLS and SLES (Shower gels, foaming cleansers)
- Dry climate
- Poor diet
- UV exposure
- Over-exfoliation, especially with physical exfoliants
What all these triggers have in common is that they either reduce your skin’s water content, or they reduce your skin’s protective oils - reducing its ability to retain water and block out irritants. Physical exfoliants, such as salt, sugar, coffee grounds, jojoba beads, and even strawberry seeds can make many little scratches in your skin, which can make big gaps in your protective barrier. Physical exfoliants should be avoided if you have especially reactive skin, and are anyways generally not recommended, especially on the face.
To remedy these skin issues, you will want to create a lifestyle and skincare routine which promotes moisture in your skin and a healthy amount of oils in your skin’s barrier. You may be able to remedy your symptoms with lifestyle alone, and not need any additional skincare. We do however recommend always protecting your skin from UV rays - wearing a UVA and UVB sunscreen daily is a must, even in cloudy conditions! Another great place to start supporting your sensitive skin is when cleansing - not stripping away too many oils, replacing the old dirty oils with oils which support your skin barrier, and keeping your skin hydrated with small-sized humectants such as glycerine. Natural soap does all of this!
Our Nettle Natural Soap is especially calming for aggravated skin, and the shea butter that it contains is especially effective in supporting the skin barrier.