While there are many people with “normal” skin, which may occasionally become dry or oily, but is usually balanced, there are many others who suffer from overly dry or sensitive skin. Let’s look first at understanding what causes those skin conditions, and what is the best method to take care of these trickier skin conditions in your daily skin care routine for dry and/or sensitive skin.
First of all, what exactly is “sensitive skin” and what causes it?
Sensitive skin can be caused by responses to common household cleansers, cleaning products, dish soap, clothing detergents, and skin care products.
There are two primary ways your body responds. This first type of response is what doctors call “contact dermatitis”, which is pretty common and a major reason why more and more consumers are opting for sensitive skin care routines that work. If you have this condition, you are not alone! Most people would describe this as an allergic response, like the kind of response that a person would get from wearing a cheap necklace if they were allergic to nickel.
What’s important to note is that the above is much different from “irritant dermatitis”, which is how all of our bodies would respond if we came in contact with a chemical substance such as lye or bleach.
When you have a frequent reaction to the same ingredients in your skin care, such as synthetic perfumes, your symptoms may appear as a rash, a cluster of small pimples, pustules, or bumps. It may also show up as a dry itchy patch on the skin, or simply a flush in the skin, turning the skin red and warm to the touch. If you have a serious burning reaction, the first thing you should do is consult a doctor. Flushing the skin with water is a great way to try to remove the irritant from the skin.
In addition to topical skin irritants, sensitive skin can often become inflamed from the method in which we cleanse our skin. Scrubbing too hard, or too often, with cleansing brushes, loofah or other harsh surfaces is a big “no-no” in sensitive skin care routines for dry or any skin type, really. If your skin had a voice, it would be telling you to please be gentle. Use your hands or a washcloth to gently wash the skin on your face, to avoid further irritation. Always pat the skin dry afterward, rather than rubbing vigorously.
Seasonal allergies may cause red eyes, and that may affect the area around the eye as well, causing it to look puffy and irritated. If this happens frequently, you may want to write down where you were, and if there was pollen nearby that you may have been touching or breathing. Pollen can also come in your house on dog or cat hair too, so record if you were near animals also. Over-the-counter allergy eye drops can help take care of this issue, but consult a doctor to be sure. Just remember that your irritated skin may be caused by something environmental and not your skin products at all.
What Causes Dry Skin?
Dry skin can also be seasonal and can be caused by the environment, but there are some people that have this condition on a regular basis. Let’s explore what some of those reasons might be.
Skin dryness can be seasonal. When we stay indoors more in the winter months, and have harsh cold outside, and heaters turned on inside, our skin can suffer. When the surface of the skin becomes damaged, the compromised surface can become more sensitive or dry. If your skin feels tight, looks dull or has red itchy areas, your skin may be telling you something!
Mature skin usually produces less oil, making older adults more susceptible to dry skin. More than ever your increasingly sensitive skin will require a regular skin care routine. Skin also loses collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid as we age, so replacing these with quality skin care products will really help.
Your mother was right… drinking water can translate into healthier, more balanced skin.
Over washing is another factor in dry skin. Make sure that you wash and moisturize your face twice a day, and no more than that.
Here is an idea of a good skin care regime to help your dry or sensitive skin.
Everyday Skin Care Routine for Dry and Sensitive Skin
Step 1: Cleanse – The most important thing to remember in choosing a facial cleanser is to keep it gentle. Dry and sensitive skin require a cleanser that is free of harsh ingredients, and that also contains humectants (ingredients that bring hydration to the skin). For everyday gentle cleansing, try Ayr Skin Care’s Calm Facial Bar. This wonderful hand-poured bar looks like marble, but is filled with nettle, olive leaf, turmeric, charcoal, and sea clay to draw out dirt and toxins, and to calm the skin. The bar contains organic oils that are gentle along with naturally occurring vegetable glycerin, to add moisture to the skin. Skin is left clean, and not tight.
Step 2: Hydrate – One mistake people make is by drying their skin and forgetting to seal in moisture. While adding moisture is a great step for most people, if you have dry or sensitive skin, this step is very important. There are two choices here. You can use a natural toner, or you can use water. For toner, choose something like rosewater if you have dry skin and witch hazel if you have oily skin. Spray or pat into the skin, and go to step 3 without drying the skin. If you merely wish to use water, you may spray on a light mist of water, or leave your skin damp from cleansing, and quickly move to step 3 of our suggested sensitive skin care routine.
Step 3: Treat – This is the step most people forget. This is where your individual needs come into play. Is your skin aging? Dry? Oily? This is the time to apply a good facial oil or serum. This is where you would add your hyaluronic acid serum if you have one, or a facial oil with anti-aging properties like our Virgin Marula Oil. This simple oil from a women's co-op in Africa, not only works to balance oils and leave skin soft and glowing, but also helps women, families and the entire village with the Fair Trade practice that we use when purchasing it. Marula oil only requires 2-3 drops to do the entire face and neck and is an amazing addition to your skin care routine for dry skin. Rub the oil together, press into the skin, and you are ready to add your moisturizer!
Step 4: Moisturize – Everyone knows that moisturizer is super important to keep environmental toxins from the skin, adding a much-needed barrier of moisture. When we go out into the world, our face is exposed to many irritants, pollution, and dirt which are best kept from the skin. What people might not know is that transepidermal water loss is the main reason that a moisturizer is used. When we wash and treat our faces, any moisture that we may have added will quickly be evaporated leaving the skin exposed.
A good moisturizer should feed the skin, add humectants to the skin, and then form a protective barrier to the elements. Although traditional skin care creams use silicones and petroleum oils to form a barrier, we’ve revolutionized the idea of a day cream using our unique, proprietary formula that feels as silky as a cream with silicones, but unlike silicones, will actually feed the skin.
Pure Moisture is a complex blend of plant-based extracts, organic oils, fermented bamboo with probiotics, peptides, and organic mulberry root extract to help reduce the appearance of age spots. The exciting thing is that it also contains eight powerful hydration sources that sink deep into the cells to create a 72-hour well of moisture. Developed for sensitive skin and dry skin care routines especially, this deeply moisturizing cream will be your new favorite.
Don’t forget the eye area! Awaken Eye Serum is the most natural way to wake up and enliven the skin around your eyes. With probiotics, hyaluronic acid, peptides, cucumber, pomegranate, and caffeic acid from cucumber, caffeine and green tea, our eye serum is a powerhouse of “wake up” for puffy sleepy eyes, as well as being gentle enough for all skin types. A little goes a long way…this is a very condensed formula. One drop, split between two eyes, will make this little airless pump last a long time, and so is an invaluable addition as you upgrade your sensitive skin care routine at home.
Step 5: Protect –The final stage in your morning care routine would be to add a layer of sunscreen and/or your foundation. Look at both of these products and try to ensure that you get ones that are as natural as possible.
Night Time Routine
Night time is the time to take your routine a little slower. For many women, this is the one time during the day when they can relax a little as they remove their makeup. Take an extra minute to massage your products, and breathe… it is a good time for self-care.
Step 1: Cleanse and Remove – If you have worn no sunscreen or makeup during the day, cleansing at night is exactly as it was in the morning.
If, however, you are wearing eye makeup, foundation and/or sunscreen, you will need to add another step to your cleansing.
We suggest removing your eye makeup first, with a natural cleansing oil or makeup remover. Remove it very gently without tugging. If you need to clean up extra mascara with a q-tip, then that is easily done. Once all eye makeup has been removed, proceed with your normal cleanser. If you have the time, you can include a facial oil cleansing and then a regular cleanser afterward. Just take care not to use any cleansers that are harsh or contain alcohol or BHA, as those may be too harsh for your skin.
Steps 2 and 3 – At night, use a moisture mist or keep your skin damp post-cleanse as you did in the morning. Continue with your treatment step. Use the marula oil, or your facial oil or facial treatment and lightly massage into the skin. You can add slight massage, keeping it gentle, to improve circulation and make you feel relaxed.
Step 4: Night Cream– For those of you who are under 40, a night cream is probably not on your radar yet. Most women do not need a night cream until they are about 45-50 years old, but if you have dry or sensitive skin, you may try night cream earlier.
Ayr Skin Care’s Restore Replenishing Night Cream is our richest cream and was developed for mature, dry, and sensitive skin care routines. It can be applied to just a dry area (like a forehead) or to the entire face. Like Pure Moisture, Restore is completely silicone-free, and yet feels silky and luxurious. Formulated with nine sources of deep hydration, including potassium-rich cogon grass, fermented bamboo, and a 72-hour moisture reservoir, your skin will feel healthy, glowing, and youthful.
Early-purple orchid flower and other powerful extracts brighten the skin, and may help reduce the appearance of age spots. Allantoin from comfrey boosts cell regeneration while soothing the skin. Vitamins like B5, E, and C help feed the skin while you are sleeping, and the combination of ingredients stimulates collagen growth while you sleep. If you are not quite ready yet for a night cream, you may use the Pure Moisture at night, or simply stop at the marula oil. Many people find that marula is just enough to keep their skin happy at night. Remember to use your eye serum under the eye area and around the brow bone.
Special Treats – Exfoliation and Masks – Exfoliation of dead skin off of your face can be a daunting challenge when adding to a skin care routine for dry or sensitive skin. Retinol is your worst enemy, and BHA or harsh bead exfoliates are almost as bad.
Reveal Exfoliating Foam Face Wash was developed specifically for sensitive skin types that have had trouble incorporating an exfoliator to their routine. This lovely light foam contains light plant-based cleansers, grapes, and citrus juices, and exfoliates lightly with a goji berry and citrus scent, drawn naturally from extracts.
Our foam cleanser should be used every other day, or two times a week, as a new hard-working addition to your sensitive skin care routine. The light fruit acids will gently dissolve excess dead skin cells, leaving your skin radiant. Facial masks may be used weekly. The best masks for sensitive and dry skin are the cream masks, or light gel masks. Avoid using clay masks on a regular basis, because they may over dry the skin. Look for skin care ingredients like chamomile, nettle, aloe, and coconut milk.
We hope this checklist gives you an idea of how to cleanse and moisturize for glowing skin, even if you have battled sensitive and/or dry skin for a long time. Remember, synthetic fragrances and colors are the number one culprit when customers have reactions to products. There may be as many as 80 ingredients in “fragrance” in your favorite lotion. Companies are not required to disclose all of the ingredients for perfumes.
With sensitive skin, in particular, steer clear of companies using fragrance, and try to use ingredients on your skin that your skin will love!
Questions on how to introduce new products into your routine? Get in touch with us!