An increasingly large number of men and women identify as having sensitive skin. But what exactly is sensitive skin and how can we best treat it?
Understanding Sensitive Skin
When the majority of people refer to the term "sensitive skin" they are generally referring to skin that is reactive to outside influences. These influences can include hormonal, genetic and environmental factors such as excessive heat, cold, wind, low humidity, high humidity, pollution and harsh chemicals.
Another common cause of sensitivity are irritating cosmetic products, such as soaps, scrubs and chemical sunscreens, which can act as allergens and/or irritants, often resulting in what dermatologists refer to as atopic dermatitis. The skin experiences an inflammatory response that can result in itching, redness and dryness.
An Ancient Elixir of Youth
One of the best ingredients to relieve underlying inflammation associated with sensitive skin comes to us from the olive. Olive trees can live up to 1,000 years, which may well explain their long standing reputation as an elixir of eternal youth and beauty. Extra virgin olive oil has proven healing properties when taken internally, and it has been used topically as an emollient since the time of ancient Rome.
The polyphenols that are found abundantly in olive oil are extremely efficient and multi-faceted antioxidants. The most powerful member of the Olive Oil Polyphenol group is Hydroxytyrosol. Extremely rare, and effective in even small concentrations, this super antioxidant, anti-inflammatory has been proven to be effective in improving general health and appearance. When this powerful molecule is combined with Oleuropein, extracted from the olive leaf, and additional advanced multiple hydration factors, sensitive, dry, irritated skin is rapidly soothed and restored to a luminous and youthful vitality. In fact, these nourishing formulations are even gentle enough to repair skin from harsh peels, microdermabrasions or even post-operative procedures.
Soothing Sensitive Skin
- Sensitive skin can be reactive to environmental factors, so protect it with a physical sunscreen containing zinc-oxide and titanium dioxide, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Keep it simple. Choose very mild cleansers, non-detergent soaps, use fat-soluble treatment products and moisturizers that are antioxidant rich to act as natural anti-inflammatories.
- Apply moisturizers while your body and face are damp to keep moisture in.
- Extreme cold and heat can damage skin by robbing it of moisture. Keep the heat temperature down and use a humidifier to keep air from drying out.
- Avoid taking baths or showers that are too hot — opt for warm instead.
Dietary Tips for Sensitive Skin
- People with sensitive skin should eat foods rich in B vitamins, which help to relieve dry, irritated skin. Foods rich in B vitamins include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sunflower seeds, almonds, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
- Include quality protein at each meal, so that the cells in the body can repair themselves - without adequate protein we experience cellular breakdown.
- Eat foods that contain healthy fats such as coldwater fish (salmon, sardines, trout, herring) nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and extra virgin olive oil.
Regardless of your skin type, you should avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as sugar, sweeteners, flour, baked goods and pasta as they can increase skin irritations. Inflammation is systemic, therefore if you eat/drink foods and beverages that provoke an inflammatory response, your skin (as well as other organ systems) will suffer the damages.
Enjoy lots of antioxidant-rich fresh fruits and vegetables and drink 6-8 glasses of pure spring water daily for optimal skin health.