A PRE­SCRIP­TION TO CHILL

Your sen­si­tive skin will thank you.

Elle (Canada) - - Beauty - By Ja­nine Fal­con

Su­per-sooth­ing in­gre­di­ents” used to be the gen­tle buzz­words that made those of us with sen­si­tive skin lis­ten up. Now, we’re more likely to be in­trigued if we’re told what’s not in a prod­uct. It’s a shift in mind­set that Dr. Sandy Skot­nicki, a der­ma­tol­o­gist and the med­i­cal di­rec­tor at the Bay Der­ma­tol­ogy Cen­tre in Toronto, wel­comes. “I give pa­tients prod­ucts with no fra­grances, no parabens, no dyes, no botan­i­cals and no anti-ag­ing in­gre­di­ents—and they see re­sults.” h

DRY IDEAS

If your skin isn’t ready for its prover­bial close-up, Skot­nicki rec­om­mends that you do an in­ven­tory of just how many prod­ucts you use ev­ery day. If you find you’re fol­low­ing an 18-step rou­tine (it hap­pens to all of us), she ad­vises try­ing a “less is more” ap­proach. Dr. Wil­liam McGil­livray, med­i­cal di­rec­tor at Project Skin MD in Van­cou­ver, agrees. Start by scal­ing back your rou­tine, he says, and in­clude only the prod­ucts you truly need—for ex­am­ple, cleanser, mois­tur­izer and sun­screen. From there, rein­tro­duce the most es­sen­tial prod­ucts for your skin type. It’s also im­por­tant to be aware of the chem­istry be­tween the prod­ucts you use, adds McGil­livray. “You could use a mois­tur­izer, foun­da­tion and con­cealer separately and be fine, and then you could use them all to­gether and sud­denly your skin is re­act­ing.” Make sure that you rein­tro­duce one prod­uct at a time and use it for a week or more be­fore adding the next, he says. But what makes one per­son’s skin more sen­si­tive than an­other per­son’s?

WHAT LIES BE­NEATH

“Sen­si­tive skin has a lower thresh­old for ir­ri­ta­tion,” ex­plains McGil­livray. That’s be­cause there is usu­ally an un­der­ly­ing is­sue, known as a “com­pro­mised bar­rier func­tion.” This oc­curs when the skin’s top layer, the epi­der­mis, loses its abil­ity to fil­ter ir­ri­tants or pre­vent them from pen­e­trat­ing the lower lay­ers. It also means the skin is strug­gling to re­tain mois­ture, says Dr. Ian Lan­dells, a der­ma­tol­o­gist and the med­i­cal di­rec­tor at the Lan­dells Clinic in St. John’s, N.L. To keep your skin mois­tur­ized, look for prod­ucts that con­tain ce­ramides, which are es­sen­tial lipids that help re­store the bar­rier func­tion of the epi­der­mis, says Lan­dells. With an un­re­li­able top layer at play, sun­screen use is es­pe­cially cru­cial, adds McGil­livray. “Look for oil-free, wa­ter-based sun­screens with a phys­i­cal block that acts like an um­brella over the skin,” he ad­vises. Phys­i­cal sun­screens con­tain zinc ox­ide and ti­ta­nium diox­ide, which de­flect rays by float­ing on the skin’s sur­face.

Keep­ing sen­si­tive skin hy­drated all year round is as es­sen­tial as re­ceiv­ing an email alert for NET-A-PORTER.com’s end-of-sea­son sale. Se­ri­ously. Dry and sen­si­tive skin can erupt into con­tact der­mati­tis—an­gry patches that st­ing and burn. While most people use mois­tur­iz­ers in win­ter, they tend to set them aside once spring ar­rives. “When fall comes around, they as­sume that be­cause their skin has been great for months, they don’t need to worry about it any­more,” ex­plains Lan­dells. “Then the weather turns cold and dry and, sure enough, their skin flares up again.” It’s kind of like dat­ing a se­ries of bad boys: It takes a while for us to no­tice there’s a pat­tern at play.

“The drier the skin, the

more sen­si­tive it is.”

EN­E­MIES OF THE STATE

Any­thing that leeches mois­ture from sen­si­tive skin can be a prob­lem: soaps, body washes, long, steamy show­ers with Fass­ben­der. (Okay, that last one might be worth it.) “The drier the skin, the more sen­si­tive it is,” says Lan­dells. An­other pos­si­ble ir­ri­tant: fra­grance added to prod­ucts. And swap­ping syn­thetic for nat­u­ral isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a slam-dunk de­fence. Most fra­grances are botan­i­cally sourced (mean­ing they are dis­tilled or ex­tracted from plants, flow­ers or fruit) and many of them con­tain po­ten­tially ir­ri­tat­ing es­sen­tial oils, such as tea tree and yarrow.

STRESS SO­LU­TION

Skot­nicki be­lieves that re­duc­ing stress lev­els can min­i­mize your skin’s sen­si­tiv­ity. “If some­body has high blood pres­sure, you give them a pill but you also tell them to try yoga,” she says. “Then, per­haps the dosage of blood-pres­sure med­i­ca­tion can be low­ered be­cause the yoga is help­ing. It’s the same thing with your skin. If you’ve got a stress­ful job and you have pso­ri­a­sis or eczema, if you do some­thing to de­crease your stress, you’ll prob­a­bly have a less-ac­tive skin dis­ease.” ■

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