When I had acne, I used to think that results and tough love went hand in hand - harsh peels, foaming face washes....anything that stung.
I thought that if it hurt, it worked.
I could not have been more wrong.
Not only does this approach create blotchy, sensitive skin, but it also aggravates signs of skin aging. Gasp!
Yes, all skin damage creates free radicals - those pesky molecules that wreak havoc on our skin tissue and creates even more skin damage.
This is why a sun burn leads to sun damage and why those of us who over-peel and over-wash our face show fine lines, dehydration and a rough texture far more quickly than those who are gentle and supportive to their skin.
But what does being gentle mean?
Not washing your skin? No.
Never exfoliating? Definitely not.
It just means being kind to your delicate complexion and respecting the barrier function of your skin's tissue.
Here are some easy tips to harness your gentle side and prevent premature signs of skin aging.
Ditch drying agents:
Even natural ingredients can be astringent. Only use drying hydrosols, essential oils and herbs on occasion or when necessary - like disinfecting a blemish.
Using pure tea tree daily on your skin is too harsh, unless trying to kill infection, as dryness reaps irritation.
Opt for something more gentle, like lavender, for a daily antiseptic. Ultra sensitive skin should avoid all natural purifying essences such as pure peppermint or pure rosemary.
Instead, use products free-from strong essences and are diluted in water/ hydrolat or vegetable oil.
Dry, irritated skin becomes more easily damaged and aged.
Avoid these irritants:
Never use products that overstimulate or irritate.
Avoiding allergens is fundamental. The more stress your skin is under, the less healthy it becomes and encourages more inflammation leading to free radical creation.
As with our bodies and our health, if we do things that inflame us or eat foods we are sensitive to, it can cause tissue damage in the long run.
Love to clean? Stop it.
Over peeling and over cleansing disturbs the acid mantle of the skin, leaving it depleted and vulnerable.
This causes irritation and leaves the skin open to skin infection, irritation etc.
When exfoliating and cleansing, use a gentle product that respects the delicacy of your skin.
Sensitive skin types should stick with exfoliating agents such as jojoba wax beads and ditch high percentage peels or hard, jagged kernel shells.
Avoid icky chemicals:
Using chemical dyes, perfumes and detergents can aggravate and damage our skin.
One common ingredient to avoid in skincare is sodium laurel sulfate - a common detergent that is so harsh it's also used as a degreaser for industrial equipment.
Another ingredient to avoid is petroleum (also known as petrolatum or paraffidium liquidium or mineral oil).
This petro-chemical clogs pores - remember, clogged, dehydrated skin is more sensitive and prone to irritation. Many people also react to petro-chemicals topically too.
Super simple gentle touch:
Be gentle when touching your own skin. Sounds simple right? Then why don't you do it?
Don't handle your skin roughly or rub abrasively. Love your skin and be gentle.
When receiving extractions, make sure that your esthetician is also gentle. They should never try to force comedones out, and only extract what leaves pores easily. This will decrease damage from inflammation as well as prevent acute scars.
This also goes for picking your own face. Ideally you don't but, if you cannot help it, be as light-handed as possible. Your skin will thank you.
Image by Erik Mclean via unsplash