Are you surprised that lately you are more and more often suffering from skin problems? A rash here, a bump there, discolouration, itchy feelings, etc, etc. You know where I am going with this; more than 70% of us claim to have sensitive skin!
Every one of us has a unique limit to their skin’s tolerance to outside factors. Exceed that limit and you are in trouble no matter what magic potion you think you are using on your skin. AHAs and BHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acid & Beta Hydroxy Acids) are great exfoliants but they only operate in the acidic environment, yet not everyone’s skin is happy being exposed to acidic conditions. People whose skin doesn’t respond well to the effective range of these products will experience irritation that can manifest itself as a rash with itchiness.
Let’s start decoding our skin and see if we can spot the problem.
Genetic: We are all unique….yeah….that is, we all have unique genetic codes which translates to our own unique skin structure and each has its limitations as to what irritants or conditions it can tolerate.
Skin condition: The state of your skin can help you understand where your skin’s threshold to other external factors is. For example if you have inflamed skin, acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dermatitis etc. your skin’s threshold is already low and you need to be careful with what products you use on it.
Environment: Low humidity, high humidity, cold, hot, high UV. These extreme conditions all impact our skin differently. Some people may be very happy in high heat and humidity but I personally break out and prefer a cooler climate.
Products: I covered this in my introduction but let me give you another example. If you are over-exfoliating your skin by using acids, enzymes or scrubs that take off your healthy skin as well as your dead ones then you are lowering your skin’s natural barrier threshold. Any product you use afterwards can all of a sudden become an irritant even though on their own they would have been fine to use. This is why I love BOA exfoliant which only takes off your dead skin and not the healthy cells. It tells you when to stop using it! A self-regulating product. I wish we had more of them! It is a fantastic exfoliant for sensitive skin.
Age: Rosacea develops later in life while acne is typically suffered when you are younger. Our skin becomes thinner as we age. It is just a fact of life but we can choose products to compensate for this and consider the biological state of our bodies as we go through different phases in our lives.
The answer? If you don’t know, consult a professional to recommend to you the appropriate product range but make sure you simplify your skin routine. You don’t need a lot of products to have healthy skin. Consider the 4 major steps:
- Exfoliate: choose a gentle one like BOA and if your skin can tolerate it add a BHA to your exfoliation routine (if you don't have sensitive skin).
- Cleanse: Use a mild cleanser that does not strip off your natural sebum and avoid harsh surfactants.
- Moisturize or treat: This is where consultation on the right treatment for you is important. Stay tuned as I will have more information on this topic in future blogs.
- Protect: Use a mineral SPF of 30+. Synthetic sun protection factors can cause irritation but feel great on your skin. Choose the right balance of synthetic vs mineral carefully.