Is you skin red? Does it hurt? Is it stinging? This beauties means that you skin is irritated and is currently hypersensitive – your lipid barrier has been compromised and your skin is reacting because it’s trying to protect itself, either from a foreign substance or harsh environmental factors which have broken down your lipid barrier. Your number one objective is to reinstate the lipid barrier – this will automatically soothe all irritations and help your skin to begin to heal itself.
How did this happen? This could be because of a variety of factors. Usually this occurs when a foreign substance has made contact with ‘mast cells’ within your skin (your lipid barrier usually protects these cells) and they set off a strong reaction signalling the release of particular chemicals (one of which is called histamine – this is why you can take anti-histamines from the chemist to block this reaction if you have experienced an allergy or hay fever, as these chemicals can go into overdrive). Histamine and your body’s defence system work a little in this way – when you skin has reacted with ‘a foreign substance’ – the skin swells, becomes inflamed and red. Your skin cells open up and the lymphatic system in your skin activates (hence the redness). The cells in the point of contact of the reaction (where the irritation first took place) becomes very pale, blood flow to this area is constricted so the irritation doesn’t spread.
More serious allergies (like the ones you can experience from food) can overwhelm your body and take a while for your immune system to activate and ‘localise’ the irritation or allergen. This kind of reaction can occur up to three days after eating a particular food (and then it’s harder to work out what triggered the reaction slash allergy). Usually with skincare products, if an ingredient irritates your skin and sends it into a hypersensitive reaction – you usually know pretty quickly.
What do I do? If your skin has become hypersensitive because of a skincare or makeup product or seems super irritated because of environmental factors (sun, salt, snow, wind), stress or even perhaps free radicals (pollution) your number one priority is as I mentioned – to restore your lipid barrier and use ingredients which soothe the skin asap. If you think you have had an allergic reaction to food on the other hand – you must go an see your doctor immediately.
Don’t use any actives while your skin is hypersensitive (vitamin c, retinol, AHA/BHAs etc.) Apply a soothing mask to your skin. Your mask should be made up of soothing ingredients to help calm and minimise redness and irritation, plus moisturising ingredients, to reinstall your lipid barrier and protect your skin from further irritation.
- Soothing ingredients include – panthenol, allantoin, thermal water, chamomile extract and sweet almond extract.
- Heavy duty moisturisers will help reinstill your skins lipid barrier, so look for ingredients like sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid (both act as humectants), glycerin, shea butter, paraffin and ceramides (ceramides are lipids which are found inbetween skin cells – they’re often described as the ‘glue’ which hold cells together – so they help to make up your lipid barrier and keep cells strong). Ceramide 3 helps your skin to hold moisture, while ceramide 1 strengthens cells. Ceramide 6 exfoliates and retexturises skin – so stay away from ceramide 6 for the moment if you skin is irritated and hypersensitive.
Leave your soothing mask on as per the instructions on the packaging. There’s no point leaving the mask on for longer than the producer recommends, as ingredients loose their potency over time. Use the mask 3 times per week until your skin strengthens. At the moment I have the Bioderma Crealine Mask (I think it’s now called the Sensibo Soothing Mask, but it’s still the same formula).
Bioderma’s soothing mask is fragrance and paraben, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic (so it won’t block pores). What soothing ingredients does it contain? Glycerin, capric/caprylic triglyceride (which is part of coconut oil’s fatty acids and is a great emollient and is non-sensitising), golden seaweed extract (anti-inflammatory) and Toléridine, which is Bioderma’s own patented set of ingredients which helps to decrease inflammation, strengthen the skins lipid barrier and make it more tolerant to external forces over time. You leave on the mask for 10-15 minutes and then rinse it off or wipe it away using a cotton pad. I find that Bioderma’s Crealine mask works wonderfully for restoring hydration levels, getting rid of itchiness and tightness, but I didn’t find it did much for my redness. It leaves a light residue on the skin and this is probably because the ingredients help to rebuild our lipid barrier (protective duties!). This would be the perfect soothing mask if you are concerned about breakouts as well.You can find this mask at Priceline and at Adore Beauty online, for $39.99.
As your skin regenerates at night (this is when your skin cells turnover quickest and your skin is busy repairing itself!) it makes sense to utilise a soothing mask which you can leave on all night (especially if you often experience hypersensitivity). The Ultraceuticals Ultra Replenishing Mask is the next soothing mask I want to try (especially for over the summer, when my poor skin needs more s.o.s treatments!) as not only can you leave it on for 10-15 minutes like you would a regular mask, but you can also massage it into your beautiful face and leave it on overnight :)
This mask is more expensive than the Bioderma Crealine mask, but it contains so many wonderful goodies – Hyaluronic acid, ceramide 3, coconut oil and shea butter moisturise the skin, while panthenol, cucumber extract and jojoba oil (or ‘easters’) soothe. This mask is also fragrance and paraben free. Fragrances and artifical colourings can irritate the skin especially so, when it is hypersensitive, so make sure you choose products which don’t contain these. Again, if you are using an ‘overnight’ mask, makes sure you do this maximum 3 times a week.
Irritation can also occur around the eye area. This is because the eye area is incredibly thin and contains minimal sebum glands. Your skins natural oils (sebum) are naturally protective and help reinforce your lipid barrier, so it makes sense that this area of your face is even more exposed to external aggressors. The eye area still contains a high number of mast cells, which respond to irritants just as much as other skin areas. Give your eye area a break by using specially designed soothing eye mask, as most masks will stipulate to not use them around the eye area (except for the Bioderma Crealine/Sensibo Soothing Mask – you can use this one around the eye area as well as the rest of your face – bonus!). Two of my favourites are from Lonvitalite, in particular – their 24K Active Gold Eye Mask.
The 24K Active Gold Eye Mask contains glycerin, azulene (which is a compound derived from chamomile, so it is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial – tick!), hyaluronic acid, niacinamide (vitamin B3) and propylene glycol (a humectant moisturiser). It also contains a few ‘anti-ageing’ ingredients (white mulberry extract, gold, collagen amino acids) and doesn’t contain fragrance.
The Collagen Crystal Eye Mask also contains fantastic ingredients to soothe and hydrate the eye area – but it does also contain fragrance. This is shouldn’t be toooo bad, because it is last on the ingredients list (which means it’s in the lowest concentration in comparison to the other ingredients) and this is a product designed for the delicate eye area. If your have very sensitive eyes, then you may want to stick to 24K Active Gold eye mask, while other beauties can give this one a go! The Collagen Crystal mask contains propylene glycol (a humectant moisturiser as I mentioned above), yeast beta-glucan (this is an interesting ingredient, because it is plant derived but stimulates the production of langerhan cells in our skin, whose job it is to protect and fight off bacteria and viruses, so it’s essentially part of our skin ‘immune system’ whilst instigating repair. As we age, beta-glucan helps our skins response system to activate and respond in a timely manor ;) ) and glycerin, panthenol, allantoin and green tea leaf extract. There’s also collagen elastin and coenzyme Q10 for added ‘anti-ageing’ properties. So you can see that the Collagen Crystal Eye Mask still contains some great ingredients! Both masks are available from Lonvitalite’s official website and Adore Beauty (who offer free shipping). The prices are a little different on both sites (cheaper via Lonvitalite but you have to factor in shipping, so make sure you compare both sites before ordering!).
Now once your redness and irritation has subsided, remember to be gentle with your skin. Use gentle products, stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen and use the masks a few times a week for about a month to really get your skin back into shape!
This gif will now teach us how else we can respond to respond to stressful situations :P
Have you ever experienced hypersensitivity or irritation because of a product/ingredient or environmental factors?
Catch ya next time beauties,