How I hit reset to calm my sensitive skin.
Our skin is amazing it has its own personality and will let you know, what it likes and what it doesn't. Our skin can react quickly to products applied to it, and can be temperamental when it has sensitivity, eczema or psoriasis.
Our diet also plays a major role in how our skin reacts to outside stimuli, especially if we are not drinking enough water. Dehydration will lead to dry skin problems and poor diet wont help either as our body will be starved of nutrients. Pollution also effects the skins barrier, the natural oil produced on our skin called sebum protects our skin from the particles floating in the air, eventually this causes clogged pores and will create acne. So what can we do?
The pH (potential of hydrogen) of our skin can change with the use products and can be the cause of some skin irritations. The skins pH ranges from 4.7 and 5.75 which is acidic. Water is 7 so our pH is now alkaline when showering or bathing, and will change again when we add products with different pH(s). Our skin is now reacting to the different pH's and this is just a shower.
Have you ever noticed when we spray perfume onto our skin, the scent is different on another person using the same perfume. It all relates to your pH. I tend to spray it on my clothing as it causes rashes so I don't notice that much. But depending on what you use on your skin, everything will react differently. Think of science class, in high school with litmus paper each chemical gave a different colour and reading right, so will our skin.
Our sensitive skin can be even more reactive for many reasons, so isolating the needs of your skin can be detrimental to a good overall skincare routine. My skin was very volatile and I could not understand why, it was only when I was given a book as a gift I realised the solution was simple. The first few paragraphs of this book inspired me to get to know my skin a little better.
" I'm not writing a book to tell the nation how to get dressed.... I'm all about individuality and making the most of your own look"
"When it come to styling yourself, I think its really important for every girl to strip off and take a long, hard look at herself from all angles in a full length mirror so that she can see what shes got to work with".
- Katie Price Standing out (2009)
Someone once said information is readily available for us to read and learn from, it is only when its written in a format we can relate to, that we will truly understand it.
So I took Katie Price's advice, I wouldn't say that I stripped off in front of the mirror, I wasn't that confident, but I did do an assessment or MOT of my body to access what was going on with my skin. I was suffering with combination skin not just on my face but on my body, randomly experiencing allergic reactions to different products some of which I have used for years, I finally gave in and started to look at what it could be causing it.
I started by changing my facial cleansers to products without alcohol. I saw improvement as the acne started to clear but the dry skin and itching continued.
I had to try a few variations, as some products where very stripping and left scars on my cheeks and forehead. because they contained tea tree oil and I was yet to discover my skin hated it. Until I used a makeup removal facial wipe that felt like I wiped my face with acid paper. It was like my skin was fed up of giving me clues and needed me to pay more attention, It was quite the wake up call.
It has been quite a journey learning what will and will not create allergies and reactions, but I am grateful for it because it has helped me with my children, who were both born with infantile Eczema.
Because of my skin nightmares I manage to control it without the use of topical steroids. Tyrese my son has the worse case of my two children, little bumps covered his entire body it was so sad to watch him try to itch himself. Taking him to a doctor, I was told it was milk rash, I wasn't convinced I went straight to Hospital and saw a paediatrician who diagnosed Infantile Eczema.
We (My ex husband and I) refused a prescription for steroids and although it was expensive to purchase E45 creams, washes and itch relief etc every week it worked. Then finally as we managed to control the worst of it, moving onto natural products I think it worked very well. Even washing their hair with a shampoo made of vegetables not homemade but was amazing called Yes to carrots. We couldn't use anything scented as even my perfumed clothes irritated Tyrese skin.
Now I have incorporated more scented products into their skin care and if we get a reaction we go back to basics and try again.
I have found that when it comes to skincare with sensitive skin, I have no #holygrailproducts. I tend to think about what my skin will need and then tackle it strategically. My skin is clever it gets used to my recipes and products and then my body gets reactive again I once suffered burns on my bum from my favourite bubble bath, so I have to mix it up, so it doesn't know what to expect. My son is a example of this, his skin definitely keeps me on my toes. He had an allergic reaction to grass, another time to kiwis even though he has ate them many times before.
I found whilst doing my research a lot of dermatologists agree that using one particular brand or one product to tackle a skin problem is not advised as most skin issues are multifaceted. It works better when you go in at many angles.
Identifying issues like dry skin could be as simple as your body is dehydrated basically your not drinking enough water. The body will ensure your organs are hydrated before the skin hair and nails are attended to. Transepidermal Water Loss as mentioned in previous blog is also the cause of most skin issues.
So upping your fluid intake which will help flush your kidneys ridding it of toxins which again can also affect our skin. Try cleansing with soap free gentle products to see if you notice a difference. When shampooing especially with clarifying shampoo, try not to let the suds run down your body and face as the change in pH will be massive and can also be affecting the dryness of your skin or increasing sebum production causing acne.
Lean forward when rinsing shampoo and conditioner, these product have been created to cleanse your scalp and hair of sebum and product not to scrub your back. This can also ensure that you can keep track of the pH of skin, not scientifically but it may help.
When its time to remove my makeup I tend to stay away from harsh chemicals. I use unscented baby wipes which work great. I have found combining with the use of a rose water toner on cotton wool, my skin is more supple and I don't get patches of eczema or burning that I used to get on my cheeks, It has improved the texture of my skin and my acne scars are fading. My pores have actually tightened too. My skin is the best it has been without makeup. #nofilter
Exfoliating your skin doesn't have to mean scrubbing at your skin with seeds, brushes and textured sponges, in fact if you have acne prone skin this will serve no purpose, It has the opposite affect actually, It will increase the sebum production on your skin increasing your acne.
The best way to exfoliate if you have acne prone skin is with a gentle exfoliates. Clay's are actually a really good for this but like everything they all have different strengths. Bentonite clay is the strongest and if you suffer with dry skin as well as acne probably best avoided. This was a purchased face mask in the picture below, it worked but it burned. I wouldn't say I won't use it again, I think it was more effective than I needed it to be.
(The dark shadow on my neck on the right is the beginning of a reaction to a hair product)
Pink and Green clays are great for sensitive skin, they are full of nutrient skin loving ingredients and I find that Green clay is stronger more potent than Pink Clay. The best overall clay if you are unsure how your skin will react, is Kaolin clay as it is gentle on sensitive skin and is very nutrient rich.
I had a reaction to Dove soap this week, its gentle no doubt I can use it on my hands no dramas especially since the use of hand sanitisers drying them out, but on my body it created tightness and reddening again worked well but a little to effective. It was all sorted by the next morning in Vegan milk bath. I use Pink Clay & Argan oil soap as part of my exfoliating process and use it on my face regularly to give my skin a deep clean.
(Recipe in previous blog / soap available in my etsy shop end of season Sale on until September 4th Check it out)
Moisturisers can range from oils, butters, milks and lotions. I generally stick to the light moisturisers now as my cleansing strategy ensures that my skin doesn't lose much moisture and actually moisturises while cleaning. I wasn't always this savvy oh no.
I used to use normal shower gel, you know the really yummy scented kind, and would come out of the shower and apply Coco butters or Nivea lotion the thicker the better I thought I have eczema. In childhood my Mother moisturised us with Johnson baby lotion I didn't have eczema then only hyper pigmentation on my arm but as I got older I started developing eczema and itching and it stopped moisturising my skin, or so I thought.
My cleansing routine of using the highly scented sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) packed body washes were stripping my skin so badly the Johnson's Baby Lotion had to work too hard to moisturise my skin. Then it came to me, when the coco butter and Nivea stopped working maybe I need to mix them together.... Not my best moment feel free to cringe.
Again it only worked for a while, so I moved on to body butters from The Body Shop and vitamin E creams they worked but I still had itchy reactive skin. Then I found myself at the Natural butters 'Stage' Shea Butter, Mango Butter and Coconut Butter raw and unfiltered. Oh man.. what was I thinking!!
I suffered with clogged pores (folliculitlus) and made my eczema even worse!! There is nothing cute about your whole body feeling like a shaved bikini area. (If you know you know)
Folliculitis is a skin condition that is caused by blocking the hair folicles with bacterial or a fungal infection.. or just too much damn product. Yep another fail and a wake up call, I eventually started using softer gentle cleansers and eventually found that baby washes caused less reactions. I started mixing the thick butters with oils like almond and apricot, The new 'Regimen' was less stripping, and no longer needed so much oils and butters.
Then one day as if by divine intervention a delivery of my Almond oil didn't arrive on time and I ran out and so I went back to old faithful. Johnson's baby cream and it worked Hallelujah!! I still use it now but alternate will coconut oil for me and Tia, Ty still has to use almond oil but can have days off and use Johnson's also.
I'm in no way saying that any of the products I mentioned do not work, I will say they will work better if you find the right balance. Find out what your skin likes and most importantly what it doesn't.
One size doesn't always fit all and this is why I would not use retinal creams and serums as they are formulated to strip layers underneath the skin, although I have seen it work so well on others but knowing my skin I can deduct its not for me, but I never say never.
Finding your skins balance takes time, but with a little patience we can all make more informed choices about our skin care, and find the strategy that works best for you.
Don't give up, keep looking at what works and doesn't work for your skin #samplesize products are great for experimenting. The solution is usually the simplest, I doubt it will be the cure of all Eczema, Sensitive skin and Psoriasis issues but at least it will help decrease there re-activeness of your skin.
Remember all of us are beautiful in our own way, we just need to learn to 'Love what we are working with.'
As always until next time,
Take care of you and Love yourself,
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