Most of us have experienced the unpleasant sensations associated with sensitive skin at some point in our lives. For some, that feeling of dry, tight, irritated skin is constant, causing distress and discomfort (read about a customer's journey here).
Sensitive skin is caused primarily by an inadequate skin barrier, which allows irritants to penetrate and set off an inflammatory reaction. We have written a blog about the underlying causes of sensitive skin in this blog.
Because winter is a time when the skin's barrier is at its lowest ebb, we felt that a quick rundown of the do's and don'ts in your skin care routine would be timely for anyone experiencing the beginnings of itchy, irritable skin.
Cleanse using a well-formulated cleansing oil that is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and the barrier-building omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid.
Our Makeup Remover & Cleansing Oil is ideal for this purpose. Its key ingredient is beta carotene-rich pumpkin seed oil together with pore-penetrating oils that cleanse without stripping away important oils. It also includes high levels of linoleic acid, so it will cleanse the skin while fortifying your skin's lipid barrier. Use a luke warm water-soaked cloth to remove the oil.
Avoid detergent cleansers - this includes all water-based cleansers, micellar water, cream cleansers and any oil cleanser that includes a detergent. Detergent cleansers strip away important oils from the skin's barrier, leaving it depleted and open to invasion by irritants.
Avoid hot water when cleansing - hot water will also strip away the skin's lipid barrier. This means you must resist the temptation to stay in a hot shower or bath for a long time - keep the water temperature as low as you can manage and minimise time spent.
A toner should be made with pure botanical ingredients that will not irritate the skin. An acidic pH is also important so that it doesn't disturb the skin's acid mantle, an important part of the skin's barrier. Our Pure Hydrosol Toner is made with skin-soothing rose and melissa hydrosols and has a pH of around 5.
A common addition to toners is alcohol. Alcohol dissolves lipids in the skin's barrier, allowing irritants to penetrate the skin more easily (1).
A range of synthetic ingredients is commonly added to toners - common additives include preservatives and emulsifiers. Avoid these to minimise skin reactions and disturbance to the skin's barrier.
Choose a moisturiser that is rich in the barrier-building omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid, which is found in good quantities in some botanical oils. This fatty acid can be incorporated into the skin's ceramides, a key component of the skin's lipid barrier. Note that not all botanical oils include linoleic acid.
All Mokosh serums and creams include good levels of linoleic acid. We believe this is one of the main reasons our customers report such marked improvement in their skin health when they switch to Mokosh.
We recommend applying moisturiser twice daily, particularly during winter, to ensure the barrier is protected and the skin nourished at all times.
Avoid moisturisers that include synthetic ingredients, because these are the most common causes of a skin reaction, with fragrances, emulsifiers and preservatives the most common irritants. However, emulsifiers and preservatives can also upset the skin's barrier function in their own right, and are common causes of chronically sensitive skin.
Take Home Messages for Sensitive Skin
1) Keep your skin care pure, botanical and free of barrier-disrupting emulsifiers and detergents.
2) Ensure your skin care is well formulated with high levels of linoleic acid, and good quality ingredients that deliver antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules.
3) Don't use products that contain detergents or alcohol.
4) Fragrances, preservatives and emulsifiers are common irritants. Avoid these if you can.
5) In addition, emuslfiers and preservatives can disturb the skin's barrier, another reason to avoid them.
6) Avoid using hot water on the skin for long periods as it will deplete lipids from the skin's barrier.
Not sure which Mokosh product is right for you? Complete our Skin Quiz, choose your products according to skin type or complete our Questionnaire and we'll get back to you with a personalised recommendation in a few days.
(1) Lachenmeier, D.W. Safety evaluation of topical applications of ethanol on the skin and inside the oral cavity. (2008) J. Occup. Med. Toxicol. 3:26