One thing I get told all the time is 'I have such sensitive skin, I couldn't possibly use soap.' And it makes me wonder - a) why do so many people have sensitive skin in the first place, and b) do people understand what is the cause of their sensitive skin? By the end of this blog post hopefully I will have answered some of your questions about why you may have sensitive skin, and shared some tips on how you can improve it.
What causes sensitive skin?
Most sensitive skin issues are caused by the products we use on our skin. Of course, some sensitive skin issues are down to the food we eat, and even the environment we live in.
I started my business after my sister had an adverse reaction to a product she was using on her face. She never did identify what the cause was, but getting rid of the irritation, redness, blotches and rosacea was certainly a challenge. In fact, she spent a LOT of money buying more products to fix her skin, prescriptions from the doctor, and tried changing her diet. Her skin condition is an ongoing thing, and, several years on, her skin is still affected.
This event sparked my interest in skincare products, and set me on my journey into natural skincare. I'm convinced that, armed with the right information, my sister could have avoided this skin condition completely. That's why it's so important to me that I share the knowledge I have gained from my research into harmful and good ingredients - so the same thing doesn't happen to you.
Many skincare products on the market are made with ingredients that are actually quite harmful to the skin, and can cause irritation, blemishes, and worse, life-changing skin conditions to develop. I truly believe that nature knows best, and that using ingredients derived from nature are the way forward for kissing irritated and sensitive skin goodbye.
My top tips for sensitive skin problems
Check the label
Always check the ingredients on the products you buy BEFORE you put them on your skin. Anyone can do this, just Google it! You'll be amazed, and most likely horrified, when you discover what's really lurking in that face cream or cleanser you just had to have.
Keep your skin hydrated
Sensitive skin issues may occur simply because your skin is too dry. This is very common in the case of eczema. Eczema is one of the driest skin conditions there is and can be very painful. I know this because my youngest son has suffered from eczema since he was a baby. The trick here is to keep moisture locked into your skin at all times. My favourite way to do this is to apply a face oil when your skin is damp after cleansing. The oil locks the moisture in, creating a barrier and providing nourishment to the skin. Choose a well formulated face oil that soaks into the skin quickly, locking all that lovely moisture in.
Wash with cool water
It may sound obvious but you'd be surprised how many people wash their face with hot water! Heat aggravates the skin causing redness and inflammation, and dries the skin out unnecessarily. When you cleanse your face always use lukewarm water, and then rinse with a splash of cold water to close up your pores. It really does work a treat!
Avoid products made with artificial fragrances, or opt for unscented
Any fragrance other than pure essential oils is manmade in a laboratory from synthetic compounds. Just think about it - there is no essential oil extracted from bananas, so the fragrance in your banana lip balm is artificial. Or the sugar plum fairy fragrance of your favourite moisturiser? Well that's probably artificial too. Products made with artificial fragrance oils may smell utterly delightful (I totally get why you'd want to buy these products), but they don't offer any benefits to your skin. In fact, did you know that fragrance oils are the number one complaint for irritants in skincare products?
On the flip side, natural essential oils each offer their own benefits when used diluted on the skin - they typically offer calming, antioxidant and antimicrobial benefits, amongst many more. That said, used incorrectly, essential oils can also be the cause of irritation to the skin - that's why I would always recommend that people with sensitive skin opt for unscented products.
Use products made with oats
Oats are widely used to help calm and soothe the skin, but did you know that oats also moisturise the skin? As I explained above, dryness of the skin is one of the main causes of inflammation, so it's really important to keep your skin moisturised. Oats form a barrier on your skin that locks moisture in, and balances the microbes on your skin to keep it healthy. Oats may also balance the negative effects of using irritating ingredients on your skin such as SLS (a common ingredient found in many skincare products unfortunately), and they're packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and lipids that your skin will love.
Look for products made with milk
Goat's milk is very popular in skincare products and especially those designed for sufferers of psoriasis and eczema, however I much prefer to use coconut milk. Not only is coconut milk vegan, it's incredibly moisturising on the skin thanks to its high fat content (only the good kind of fat I might add), smooths skin cells, and calms red, irritated and inflamed skin thanks to its high content of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, B1, B5 and magnesium to repair damaged skin cells.
Still think soap is the cause of your sensitive skin?
Since beginning my skincare journey I've discovered that many people are convinced that soap is the cause of their sensitive skin. If you're using commercially produced soap then sure, it's definitely adding to your skin problems as commercial soap is typically made with some pretty nasty ingredients that I would never use on my skin - ingredients that offer no benefits to the skin whatsoever, and mostly just dry it out (remember my tip for keeping your skin moisturised?).
But that's really not the case with a well formulated natural soap bar. My soap is made with beautiful botanical ingredients that each offer unique benefits to the skin. You'll find skin heroes including coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, rice bran oil, sweet almond oil and castor oil - and that's just for starters.
You'll also find glycerin which is produced naturally from the process of making cold process soap bars and is incredibly moisturising for all skin types, along with gorgeous botanical extracts, fruits, oats, coffee, superfoods and coconut milk. All pure, natural ingredients that each have a purpose - not just filler ingredients to make up the numbers. And that purpose? To help improve YOUR your skin so you can feel confident and beautiful.
New - natural soap bar for sensitive skin
You'll find colloidal oats, coconut milk and a beautiful infusion of calendula and wild herbs from the English countryside in my brand new Wild Herb & Oatmeal shea butter soap, now available here. And, if you suffer with sensitive skin, you may also be interested in trying my Himalayan Spa salt soap, and Fresh Snow, both unscented and made with minimal ingredients for simple skincare. Let me know how you get on!