It’s Allergy Awareness Week and we’re so glad that talented facialist Emma Brown has agreed to chat to us this week for the blog, and give us some top tips on how to manage sensitive skin. You can follow Emma via Instagram, and check out her website Time Bomb Skincare too for more tips and information.
But before we move on to Emma’s amazing advice, we wanted to take some time to tell you a little about our own products too.
- People with sensitive skin usually find they are easily reactive to skin care ingredients, for example fragrances. Little Soap offers several un-perfumed bar soap options. Made with very simple plant based ingredients, our bars not only avoid any irritants, but they also help replenish that “thinner-than-average” lipid barrier with humectant glycerine that draws moisture to the skin, and a layer of natural oils that complement the body’s own.
- Our Un-perfumed Soap With Oatmeal is our classic unperfumed bar. Oatmeal is known for soothing dermatitis, and we know that this product has proved to be a game changer for people suffering from serious irritation.
- Our Avocado Bar was especially developed for sensitive skin. Avocado oil is nourishing and calming.
- Our Olive Oil bar is a blended bar rather than 100% olive oil, meaning that we are able to remove the slightly tacky feel of 100% olive oil soap, giving a gentle creamy lather instead.
- Our Eco Warrior Coconut Hand and Body Bar is another very simple, soothing bar from the range. Free of any fragrances or essential oils, it’s gentle and calming.
Emma, thanks for talking to us about managing sensitive skin. What IS sensitive skin, and how can allergies show up in the skin?
Sensitive skin is reactive and is easily irritated by various factors including weather conditions, environmental aggressors (UV rays, pollution, dust, smoke), allergies and topically applied products. Sensitive skin means the skin’s barrier function has been damaged or is weakened, which causes the nerve endings in the very top layer of the skin to become irritated.
Allergies and reactions most commonly show up on the skin in the form of heat, inflammation, redness, itchiness, dryness and general discomfort.
Having a sensitive skin type is less common than people think. Sensitive skin is genetic and those who experience skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and rosacea have sensitive skin. More commonly, people will be experiencing the effects from using the wrong skincare products that are either too strong for their skin and have caused a reaction, or harsh, stripping products that have damaged their barrier function. It’s also common to have environmentally sensitive skin, this means your skin is being irritated by environment aggressors like UV, pollution, smoke and dust etc.
As a facialist, how can regular treatments be an ally for a person suffering with sensitivities? And what should they tell their therapist to make sure they get the best out of the treatment?
Seeing a facialist can help you create a solid skincare regime specifically for your skin type, as they will be able to determine what is causing your sensitivity and will be ale to create a treatment plan to control it. Make notes of your sensitivity triggers to discuss with your therapist as this will help them determine the best course of treatment.
Starting inside out, what are your top tips for diet? Are there any dietary supplements or particular foods worth trying to ease skin sensitivities?
Our skin is often a reflection of what is going on in the inside, so of course a balanced diet is always key. Foods rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids are good for sensitive skin. Try to cut out food and drinks which cause inflammation internally, like sugar, caffeine, overly processed and salty food and alcohol.
What would you advise as a calming morning and evening routine for someone with sensitive skin – are there any key products, and anything to be particularly wary of?
Keep your skincare regime simple if you’re experiencing any inflammation, irritation, redness, dryness and discomfort in your skin. Strip your skincare right back, using just a simple cleanser and moisturiser to keep the skin clean and to nourish and protect the skins barrier function to get your skin back to normal. Use the same products morning and evening but double cleanse in the evening if you’ve been wearing makeup during the day.
Try to use cleansers with as few ingredients in them as possible, as there will be less components in the formula to cause irritation. Moisturisers that contain glycerine, hyaluronic acid and shea butter will work to strengthen, soothe and hydrate the barrier function. Avoid any harsh / active ingredients like Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Retinols, Vitamin C etc and ensure to read the ingredients lists of your skincare and avoid those containing alcohol, fragrance or SLS, as these will further irritate, dry and damage the barrier function.
In urban areas, pollution obviously isn’t a friend to sensitive or allergic skin. How can we protect against the effects when out and about?
Always wear a moisturiser before leaving the house to replenish moisture and also protect against dehydration, which weakens the barrier function. Your moisturiser acts like a protective coat for your skin, especially against environmental aggressors. Antioxidants will also protect the skin from free radical damage (pollution), vitamin E is a natural antioxidant which is also gentle to reactive and sensitive skin types and can be found in most natural skincare products as it is used as a natural alternative to a preservative. Look for an SPF designed specifically for sensitive skin types and wear daily to protect against UVA and UVB rays which can trigger sensitivity.
Do you have any other advice for us when it comes to skin and allergies?
Be gentle with your skin. It can be difficult when you’re experiencing a reaction but doing less is best. Try to only touch your face when you’re cleansing and moisturising in the morning and evening.
Professional treatments like LED Light Therapy and Cryotherapy can be really beneficial improving sensitive skin.