Being a sufferer of sensitive skin, and a surviver of the angry wrath of perioral dermatitis and various other skin rashes, I know that skin can change out of the blue. You may think your skin is non-reactive, but it can actually take weeks or months for your skin to make up its mind about a product, as in, produce a reaction. In fact, 1 in a 100 young women get perioral dermatitis at some point in their life, and believe me, it isn’t pleasant. If it can be avoided, do everything you can to!
I never used to think for even a second about what I was putting on my face. I would always experiment with new products, and would usually buy incredibly cheap items. After using a Sanctuary Spa cleanser my facial skin exploded into a spotty, itchy rash. I had been using it for a while, but I had noticed that my skin felt strange after using it, dry and irritated. Young women should take precautions by not using products with a million and one ingredients, most of which are totally unrecognisable. You wouldn’t put these things in your mouth, so why on your face?
Here are my top tips for maintaining (or achieving) healthy skin and keeping it soothed, smooth and breathable. Ultimately, treat your skin as you would the skin of a newborn baby. It is the largest, and one of the most significant organs of your body (yes, skin is an organ)!
1. Hypoallergenic products are beneficial for all skin types: If you are prone to dry skin, spots, skin conditions, or even if you are conscious of nasty ingredients in products, use hypoallergenic products! There is no harm in trying, and they are much better for you skin and general health in the long run. La Roche Posay’s Toleraine Dermo-Cleanser is dually cleansing and soothing, leaving skin feeling soft and replenished with moisture, as its top ingredient is Thermal Spring Water. That may sound silly, but the best and most sensitive products are water-based rather than oil-based. La Roche Posay’s products are all created on the basis of dermatologist’s recommendations and dermatologically tested. La Roche Posay’s Toleraine Riche Soothing Protective Cream is a great companion for the cleanser, and protects the skin from irritation.
2. Mineral Makeup is better for your skin: Particularly if you have skin problems, such as rosacea or intolerant skin, mineral makeup is very calming and non-reactive. However, mineral makeup should be the protocol for anyone’s skin mantra. It shouldn’t be isolated to those that have irritated skin already, but a preventative and protective measure. BareMinerals is the best mineral makeup I have encountered, and they have every product you could possibly want. If you want to continue to use normal makeup, be the most careful about eye makeup because eyes are extremely delicate.
3. Natural Products are high on the list too: If you don’t want to use specifically hypoallergenic products, but you still want to look after your skin carefully, go natural! REN does a brilliant facial cleanser, REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk, that is made of pure and regenerative natural ingredients to replenish your skin. As stated in its description, ‘Developed for those whose skin suffers from redness, blotchiness, extreme dryness and irritation, REN’s Evercalm range is completely free from known allergens and potentially detrimental ingredients.’
4. Ingredients to avoid: For those who are concerned about the ingredients in their products, or think they may be allergic, there are an abundance of ingredients that should be avoided to achieve calm skin. Parabens, sulphates/sulfates (esp. SLS), mineral oils, petrolatum, silicones, synthetic colours or fragrances and chemicals. Alcohol is also on the list, although some ingredients that say ‘alcohol’ are actually natural, so it can be misleading. To check, look up the ingredient on EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. For instance, Cetyl Alcohol is fine and used in a lot of hypoallergenic products. You could also patch test products on a small area to see if they irritate your skin, instead of whacking it all over your face.
5. You are what you eat and drink: This is probably an obvious point, but you should (religiously) drink plenty of water and herbal teas. Don’t eat too much (if any) fried and sugary foods, as what happens in the gut tends to resurface on the skin. Foods rich in natural fat, like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado are great for the skin, as well as foods with high antioxidants, such as blackberries and blueberries. In general, eat a well-balanced nutritious diet full of veg, fruit, protein and natural fats.
6. Cleansing and makeup removal are essential: Cleanse in the morning and evening always, and with lukewarm water as opposed to hot. Think of it as just as important as brushing your teeth. Removing makeup after a day or night out is also a must. Letting it sit on your skin is bad enough as it is, but leaving it overnight to allow it to sink into your pores is a no-no! Another key point is not to use makeup wipes, they are too aggressive and do more negative than good. In that train of thought, always pat dry after cleansing, rather than rub, as again, rubbing is too aggressive.
7. Wear sunscreen, even in winter and when its not sunny: Getting moisturiser or foundation with SPF 15-25 is beneficial, or you could wear sunscreen underneath your other products. This is crucial if you have rosacea, as sunlight could be a trigger. However, it is a significant skincare element for all skin types. As stated in this helpful Vogue article, ‘as any dermatologist will tell you, the need to protect your skin against UV damage is a year-round commitment.’
I hope this helps young ladies (or any ladies) who are looking for experienced advice on skincare from the perspective of someone who has been unfortunate in the skin department and has had to learn from it.