The term sensitive skin is frequently misused and over used. Skin is an organ that provides a protective barrier to the environment. All skin has a certain degree of reactivity not only to external factors but to internal ones as well. Sensitive skin reacts more easily and intensely to these factors. The reaction is limited to the stimulus and generally is not a chronic condition.

Sensitive skin tends to be thin and have more surface blood vessels or capillaries. A skin “reaction” can be flushing or erythema, dryness, flaking, development of a rash, itching and in severe cases pustules or ulcers. Sensitive skin can be divided into the following categories:

  • Very Sensitive: Reacts to a wide variety of internal factors for example histamines, ingested food and hormones, and external factors like heat, cold, and topicals. The reactions are so frequent the condition may appear chronic.

  • Environmentally Sensitive: Skin that reacts easily to environmental factors like wind, cold, and heat.

  • Cosmetically Sensitive: Skin that reacts to certain defined chemicals in products applied topically.

  • Reactive Skin: Skin that demonstrates a strong inflammatory response to certain factors and is characterized by redness, swelling and pain.

  • Delicate Skin: Skin that breaks down easily or becomes permeable without being inflamed.

If you have sensitive skin, there are steps you can take to rebuild and strengthen your skin. In the treatment room at Lumina, a skilled and experienced aesthetician will begin with a series of facials which desensitize the skin and make it less reactive. Commonly used are vitamins A, B, C and E. Gentle exfoliation is best when rebuilding sensitive skin. Beta acids and retinols help stimulate new cells to move to the surface and reduce the number of reactive cells in the skin. Use of epidermal growth factors (EGFS), such as SkinMedica Recovery Complex (available at Lumina and on-line through our website), strengthen the new uncompromised cells and promote the function of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts produce collagen and the extracellular matrix both of which are important for support and integrity of the skin.

Vitamins and nutrients are vital to rebuilding and strengthening skin and can be incorporated into a skin care regimen both topically and internally. Free radicals are produced from, among other sources, UV exposure, nicotine, sugar, alcohol, and pollution. Vitamins A, C, and E are potent antioxidants that scavenge free radicals which damage skin. Antioxidants can be applied topically to prevent skin damage and strengthen sensitive skin. Lumina offers a variety of topical antioxidants ranging from serums to creams. Ideally vitamins A, C, and E should be obtained through a well-balanced diet to provide an internal source, but they also can be taken as supplements. Vitamin B improves oxygen circulation as well as fight free radicals. Resveratrol, a polyphenol and a potent antioxidant, is found in the skin of grapes and berries and topically in SkinCeutical’s Resveratrol B E Nighttime Serum, also available at Lumina. Amino acids found in peptides (topically) and protein in the diet are the building blocks of protein and collagen in the skin and are crucial to rebuilding skin strength. When using topical products on sensitive skin it is important to apply them to clean dry skin for maximum absorption and effect. Washing sensitive skin with lukewarm water, not hot or cold, and using a gentle cleansing brush designed for sensitive skin, like a Clarisonic brush, is ideal. Adequate sun protection is imperative when rebuilding sensitive skin. Physical sun blocks are recommended (see previous post) as well as protective clothing. Zinc oxide not only protects the skin from UV exposure it also creates a protective barrier against pollution and bacteria.

Our skin reflects our lifestyle…it tells on us. In addition to products and nutrients, adequate sleep and exercise promote healthy skin. Sensitive skin is more susceptible to internal and external factors. Sensitive skin can be strengthened and improved with the appropriate treatments, products, nutrients, and lifestyle.

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