Even if your skin was once a total sport no matter what you subjected it to—harsh climates, ingredient-du-jour creams, even (God forbid!) tanning beds—times have likely changed. Chances are, at some point you’ve suffered from redness, itching, flaking, and stinging. Uncomfortable? No doubt. And, lets face it, not so pretty, either.
Truth is, sensitivity—which affects 56% of us—increases with age. Skin becomes, on average, 10% drier each decade after the age of 20, according to Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. And dryness and sensitivity are often intimately linked. “The cells that form your skins outermost layer work as a two-way barrier, keeping moisture in and the outside world out,” Dr. Day says.
The less moisture your skin retains, the weaker the cellular barrier and the more irritants that muscle their way in. It doesn’t help that, as we get older, we tend to add more—and more powerful—ingredients into our skin-care mix. Any one of these products may cause irritation, Sensitive Skin Issues but used in concert, they’re all the more likely to do so.
Theres no need to toss all your anti-aging products, though. These simple tweaks to your beauty routine should make your skin a whole lot more resilient. And whichever at-home measures you choose, see a dermatologist if irritation persists for more than a few weeks.
“People touch their faces more than they realize,” Dr. Day notes. “Bacteria, fungus, and viruses on your fingers can slip through the microscopic cracks in a compromised barrier and irritate your skin.” Start paying attention to where your hands are in relation to your face, and you’ll gradually reduce contact.
A vigorous rubdown
With a soft towel, gently pat dry your face and body, Dr. Bank says. This approach is less irritating and leaves more water molecules on your skin to help seal in moisturize.
That looong, hot shower
Yes, its among lifes simplest pleasures, but a hot shower is a huge source of moisture depletion, Dr. Day says. A 3- to 10-minute, tepid to warm shower is key to avoiding sensitivity.
Soaps with strong cleansing agents
Face and body washes that alkalinize skin (i.e., raise pH to 6 or higher) can deplete the skins barrier,” says Mary Lupo, MD, a dermatologist in New Orleans. Look for a non-irritating cleanser, such as the coconut-derived cocamidopropyl betaine found in Dove Sensitive Skin beauty bars and Clean & Clear Make up Dissolving Foaming Cleanser.
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