Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin
The fall and winter months can wreak havoc on all skin types, but the case is especially true for those with sensitive complexions.
As the temperatures cool, humidity levels decrease, and winds gust, sensitive skin becomes exposed to a whirlwind of added environmental factors to withstand. If you struggle with sensitive or delicate skin, one of the best ways to soothe your irritation is by picking up a moisturizing cream to revitalize your skin cells and give them the nourishing hydration they so desperately seek. If you’re prone to sensitivity, however, you’ll need to be a bit choosier when it comes to finding the right skin cream to treat your irritation. Before covering how to properly select and apply your moisturizer cream, let’s take a step back to make sure you’re indeed treating the right skin type and the right skin problem.
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The Five Different Types of Skin
If you’re seeking a healthy and flawless complexion, it’s essential to know what skin type you’re working with. The beauty products and skincare regime you adopt can vary greatly based on your skin’s naturally inherited characteristics. Your skin is your body’s largest organ – and just as intelligent as your heart or lungs – so you need to take the proper time to determine its actual needs, and to understand how it might respond or adapt to certain circumstances or seasons. The most common skin types are:
- - Normal: Normal skin is not too dry and not too oily. Its pores are barely visible and generally insensitive. Generally, it will display no or few imperfections, except perhaps during times of hormonal swings.
- - Dry: Dry skin is characterized by an insufficient amount of moisture in the outer layer of the epidermis, or stratum corneum. The evaporated moisture loss results in a shrinking or tightening sensation that can lead to cracking, peeling, or flaking without use of a cream for dry skin.
- - Oily: Oily skin is caused by your body’s sebaceous glands, which may produce an excessive amount of naturally-occurring sebum, or oil. You can spot oily skin by its excessive sheen or shine, as well as a sometimes sticky texture. Excessive oil can oftentimes leave pores clogged, causing mild, moderate, or severe acne.
- - Combination, or “T-Zone”: It’s possible to have both dry and oily skin. The “T-Zone” refers to imaginary capital T drawn on your face and the areas that fall underneath it; picture your forehead, nose, and chin forming this letter’s shape. In combination skin types, the T-Zone tends to be oily, where the areas outside of the T, such as the cheeks, tend to be dry or flaky. The combination of characteristics makes this skin type difficult to treat – a typical face cream for dry skin could make the other problem areas worse.
- - Sensitive: Sensitive skin types are easily aggravated by harsh products, weather, or free radicals that result in rashes, stinging and/or blotchy patches. Identifying sensitive skin can be difficult because the symptoms the skin displays in response to its aggravators can vary, and produce either an excess amount of oil, severe dehydration, or both.
Skin types can change over time, so be sure to carefully monitor your skin’s condition and watch how its behavior alters.
How to Determine Your Skin Type
If you’re unsure as to what skin type you have, look for the typical accompanying characteristics: flaking or peeling dry skin; blackheads or clogged pores due to oil; red blotches from sensitive reactions. If you’re still undecided, there are a few different methods you can use to clarify your condition.
1. The Bare-faced Method
Cleanse your face thoroughly with a mild cleanser and gently pat it dry. Leave your skin bare for 30 minutes – applying no serum, skin cream, or other facial products – and examine your cheeks, nose, and forehead for any signs of shine. Wait another 30 minutes, and notice if your skin feels at all parched, especially when smiling or making other facial expressions. If it feels tight, you most likely have dry skin and should apply a moisturizer cream. If there’s noticeable shine on your nose/forehead, you probably have normal or combination skin, but excessive shine on the cheeks points to an oily skin type.
2. The Blotting Sheet Method
This method is much faster, and works as a quick and easier differentiator between oily and dry skin types. Gently pat a blotting paper on the different areas of the face and hold it to the light to determine how much oil is visible. Little to no oil indicates dry skin, a saturated paper likely means oily skin, where some signs of oil leaves you somewhere in between.
3. Take an Online Test
If you don’t have blotting paper, or an hour of time to waste on the first method, find out your skin type by taking our personalized skincare quiz. Like a personality quiz for your skin, this test will prompt you a series of questions about your skin and, given your answers, provide you with a skin type prediction.
Ways to Spot Sensitive Skin
As we mentioned before, sensitive skin can be tricky to diagnose; sometimes it behaves normally, while other times it flares up – seemingly out of nowhere. If you suspect your skin might be excessively sensitive, keep an eye out for these symptoms:
- Red spots
- Stinging or burning
- Swelling or inflammation
If you notice any of these symptoms consistently, eliminate any cleanser, toner, or moisturizer cream one by one and watch how your skin responds to each product’s reintroduction. If you have a severe reaction to a certain product or products in particular, it likely means that you have an allergy to or sensitivity to a specific ingredient. In this case, the best practice is to stick to a natural face cream and skincare products to avoid harsh, irritating chemicals. Skin that persists to display signs of redness or irritation – even in the absence of any product use – might indicate a more severe condition.
If you nourish your complexion with a cream for dry skin, but still display excessive flaking you might have Psoriasis, Seborrheic Eczema, or Ichthyosis Vulgaris. Persistent redness or a flushed face that won’t go away might actually be a sign of Rosacea – a common, incurable adult acne-like condition.
These types of skin conditions are more severe than sensitive skin, and can’t be treated by a moisturizing cream alone. Speak to your dermatologist or medical professional to diagnose your skin abnormalities and determine the best choice of treatment.
Best Treatments for Sensitive Skin
Once you determine sensitive skin to be the source of your troubles, learn the various ways you can cope with your condition. As a general rule of thumb, avoid hot water, as it strips the skin of your natural oils and promotes dryness. Avoid slathering on a cream for dry skin by sticking to lukewarm temperatures for short periods of time.
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Use tender care when giving attention to your sensitive skin, forgoing scrubs, brushes, and loofas in favor of exclusively gentle products. Reduce the number of products you use on your face every day – especially makeup – to simplify your skincare and help your complexion clear up. However, be sure to apply skin cream daily give it the soothing hydration it so desperately craves. Find a face cream for dry skin that will nourish your irritations, but make sure to only purchase a natural face cream devoid of harsh chemicals.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when finding and applying the best moisturizing cream for sensitive skin:
- Avoid fragrances, dyes, and chemicals. Read the labels to avoid irritants that can worsen your condition. Stick to a natural face cream made with plant-based products to assure the gentlest hydration. Stay away from these irritants not only in your moisturizing cream, but in laundry detergent and hair care products, as well! Be diligent, avoiding harsh surfactants that can cause a reaction.
- Decide between an emollient and a humectant. The former is composed of oils and lipids designed to retain your skins moisture, and typically is made with lanolin, mineral oil, coconut oil, palm oil, sunflower seed oil, shea butter, and petrolatum. A humectant moisturizer cream aims to draw moisture from the air and adhere it to your skin using glycerin and/or propylene glycol. Chances are, through trial and error, you’ll be able to tell which type of product causes less of an allergic reaction on your face.
- Start in small patches. The best way to tell whether or not a new skin cream will trigger a flare up in your sensitive skin is to start by applying a small square patch on your wrist before rubbing it across your full face. The skin on your inner wrist is thin and comparable to the skin’s facial thickness, so it’s a good way to test for allergic reactions before your entire face is covered in hives or red splotches.
- Apply in upward strokes. The tiniest details can make the biggest difference, such as the direction in which you apply your skin cream. Move in upwards strokes as you apply your moisturizer so that you’re constantly uplifting the skin as you spread it out. Pulling down on the skin can incur more damage to the already-strained cells.
If you were born with sensitive skin, there’s no tried and true way to altogether ‘desensitize’ your condition. That said, there are simple and effective methods to keep your flare ups at bay. Among those techniques is regular application of a soothing moisturizing cream to reduce your painful irritation. We know how frustrating flare-ups can be, so turn to a gentle skin cream the next time you experience redness, stinging, burning, or inflammation to correct your complexion.