Skin Care

Sensitive Skin Things To Avoid Like The Plague

Spicy food is off the menu due to its vasodilating effects. Other foods should also be avoided because of their histamine content. Histamine makes blood vessels dilate and is found in dairy products, some fruits (plums, citrus fruits, raisins), condiments (soy, vinegar, mustard) and certain vegetables (white beans, peas, aubergines and avocados).

Firstly, sensitive skin is not a skin type. Oily, mature and acne-prone skin can all suffer from hyper-sensitive bouts. Stinging, tight, itchy, red... it's not just dry skin that suffers from these unpleasant symptoms. Women with ultra-sensitive skin usually have an inefficient skin barrier. Result: their skin loses water and dries. What's more treatments often cause it to heat up, sting or burn. The traps to avoid...

Unless you happen to live in an area where the water is soft and pure, give tap water a miss. Its limestone is too harsh, particularly in urban areas. Don't rinse your face with tap water: opt instead for a spritz of thermal water. Avoid foamy products such as cleansing gels, as they contain surfactants that give you irritated skin and need rinsing with water. Go for micellar water or an oil or cream cleanser that will gently cleanse your skin.

Avoid thermal shocks as much as possible. Don't overheat your home, otherwise your skin will suffer every time you step outside. Same goes for summer - don't whack the AC up too high! By following these tips you'll be able to stop your skin from dehydrating and avoid damage caused when blood vessels rapidly dilate and contract.

You can spot a smoker a mile off... Our skin suffers with every puff on a cigarette. Nicotine alters our blood vessels and causes them to contract. Squeezed for space, our red blood cells can't effectively transport oxygen and nutrients to our skin. Our skin lacks oxygen, dries up, thins out and becomes sensitive. Try not to smoke and send your mates outside if they want to light up.

First and foremost, don't use scrubs if your skin is already sensitive, as they can make any irritation worse. Go slowly: scrub with a very gentle product, but only once your sensitive skin has improved. Don't use purifying masks, peeling kits or microdermabrasion products at home.

Be careful when it comes to essential oils... A lot of them are strong and can potentially give you irritated skin. Better to be safe than sorry! If you love creamy, essential oil-packed treatments, at least take the precaution of selecting a formula designed for sensitive skin.

Some drinks, tea and coffee included, are diuretic meaning they dehydrate our bodies and, therefore, our skin. Result: our epidermis becomes more fragile. And more sensitive. Top of the list of drinks to avoid: booze! Not only does it cause dry skin, but its vasodilating effects can lead to red patches. It has a visible effect on our skin.

Perfume can irritate skin and cause hyperpigmentation. This is often the case with perfumes that contain bergamot, sandalwood and lavender. These irritants are not just found in perfumes but also body lotions. What's more, some sunscreens contain perfumes and are, therefore, best avoided.

Environmental factors can cause sensitive skin to worsen and develop red patches, but arch enemy No.1 is the sun. One in five of the red patches that crop up on our skin will be due to the sun. To prevent red patches from getting worse and to avoid further problems, make sure you apply a good sunscreen.

'Normal' soaps are an absolute no-no! They're hard to rinse off, meaning they leave surfactants on our skin that attack our skin barrier for several hours. Our skin is left unprotected and hyper-sensitive. You've been (ever so nicely!) warned.