Sensitive, delicate, fragile—there are a lot of different names to describe the same thing: cranky skin. If you have the type of complexion that’s easily irritated, you probably have a drawer full of failed skincare products that were too harsh for your skin. Potent, anti-aging ingredients can make it burn, harsh cleansers can leave your face tight and red and even a seemingly harmless (but awfully fragrant) moisturizer can start the sting.
Nearly half the population claims to have sensitive skin. Despite its prevalence, there are a lot of myths and confusion surrounding the delicate skin type. First, experts say the incidence of true, clinical sensitive skin is probably far lower. Underlying skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and skin allergies or contact dermatitis can cause a fiery reaction on your skin, often resulting from certain ingredients or chemicals. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us are imagining things. So, what’s going on? Oftentimes, sensitive skin can be self-induced. Overdoing it with potent products like peels and strong anti-agers, over-cleansing with harsh soaps, and not using the right types of moisturizers can leave the skin’s barrier (the outermost layer) compromised. Tiny micro-tears in the barrier allow moisture to escape (Hello, dry, tight skin), and give irritants and allergens a fast-pass into your skin.
A major myth surrounding sensitive skin is that when you have sensitive skin, you can’t use anything but the bland basics at the drugstore that add nothing to your skin. You actually can use high-quality skincare treatments with active ingredients that not only do no harm but also decrease your sensitivity and make it healthier overall—if you use the right ingredients and products.
The surprising soother for sensitive skin
“Cannabeauty”, the catchy term given to the sudden boom of cannabis-infused beauty products, has been trending for quite some time now. Experts believe CBD (a.k.a. cannabidiol, an active ingredient extracted from the cannabis plant commonly known as hemp) will soon become a $22-billion-dollar industry, as it’s quickly becoming the most sought out ingredient for skincare products. It seems like everyone is talking about CBD skin care benefits, especially for sensitive skin.
While CBD may be somewhat of a new-to-you skincare ingredient, it’s important to note that its roots in skincare date all the way back to ancient civilizations. The hemp plant has been cultivated for its impressive medicinal benefits in regard to soothing and healing (and has been used in both oral and topical preparations). However, while the benefits of the plant may have been known for thousands of years, CBD wasn’t actually identified and isolated until the 1940’s.
In modern day topical skin care products, CBD is coveted for those same properties. It’s known as the ultimate calming ingredient, ideal for a myriad of skin issues including acne-prone skin and skin aging, but especially for reactive, easily irritated and sensitive skin.
How does CBD work on sensitive skin?
CBD, a potent phytocannabinoid or plant-based cannabinoid, is thought to work alongside your skin’s own endocannabinoid system. This system is a built-in network that relies on naturally occurring cannabinoids (yes, you produce them too) to calm down a stressed-out complexion and promote more balanced, healthier-looking skin. When applied topically, CBD skin care benefits include less stinging, less visible redness and better hydration.
The driving force behind the sensitivity you’re experiencing is stress. It’s the root of all evil in the skincare world. It’s what causes redness, irritation, breakouts, inflammation and over time, it can even lead to lines and wrinkles. Of course, if you have sensitive skin, you know that high levels of stress play out on your complexion in the form of redness and swelling. After all, it’s pretty visible on the skin’s surface. Dr. Perricone says that skin inflammation can stem from everyday factors such as a poor diet (too much starchy, sugary or processed food), stress (work, kids, life), environmental factors (things like smoke and air pollution), and ultraviolet radiation (sun). In fact, Perricone MD’s Three-Tier Philosophy is focused on fighting inflammation both inside and out.
Tier 1 is an anti-inflammatory diet
It promotes lean protein, omega-rich foods, and fatty acids such as chicken, salmon, olive oil, and avocados. The goal is to limit sugary, processed foods with a high glycemic index, which trigger an inflammatory cascade throughout your body.
Tier 2 is nutritional supplements
These oral antioxidants help protect skin from inflammatory damage on a cellular level. While it’s important to get antioxidants through diet, it’s not always enough. Supplements add extra insurance against skin-damaging free radicals.
Tier 3 is an advanced topical skincare
Research-driven formulations that are rich in topical antioxidants and other nutrients are designed to help promote healthy-looking skin. Phytocannabinoids such as CBD are a perfect example of such an ingredient. By getting plant-based cannabinoids in topical form, we’re able to support our own natural endocannabinoid system and help calm and soothe skin, so it's less reactive. More on that below.
The role of calming skincare (and CBD)
A gentle, soothing and well-formulated skincare regimen also plays a crucial role in keeping your complexion calm and healthy.
By soothing the visible signs of inflammation—redness and irritation, your skin can take a break from constantly trying to put out fires (literally) and focus on what it’s meant to do: repair, replenish, rejuvenate.
That means your skin will function better and look healthier, more balanced and radiant as a result. This is where CBD fits into your sensitive skincare regimen for sensitive skin. When applied in a topical formulation, the phytocannabinoid is a master soothing agent, helping skin to recover from irritation and function better overall. With regular use, you may even find your skin more tolerant to ingredients you couldn’t use in the past.
Perricone MD’s latest “skin savers”
By adding 100 mg of pure CBD to the Cold Plasma Plus+ CBD Advanced Serum Concentrate, this cult-favorite product can now add skin calming to its lengthy list of anti-aging benefits. Until now, the original Cold Plasma Plus+ Advanced Serum Concentrate tackled nine visible signs of aging, but it didn’t have a soothing benefit. Cannabidiol, the powerful phytocannabinoid derived from hemp, calms a red, irritated complexion.
The hemp ingredient joins tried-and-true Vitamin C Ester, a more stable and potent form of vitamin C that visibly brightens uneven skin tone and works to keep skin smooth.
Vitamin C Ester is also a powerful antioxidant, which can help to protect skin from cell-damaging free radicals, literally stopping wrinkles before they start. Cold Plasma Plus+ CBD Advanced Serum Concentrate also contains Omegas 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, which are found in walnuts and flax seeds. Omega fatty acids help strengthen skin’s barrier, locking moisture into your skin so it looks plumper, more supple, and more radiant. The serum, meant to be used twice a day before your moisturizer or night cream, showed a 100 percent improvement in fine lines and wrinkles in clinical research. Plus, 87 percent of women said their skin looked more radiant and had improved texture after just one month; 81 percent saw less redness.
CBD is also the star ingredient in the new Hypoallergenic CBD Sensitive Skin Therapy collection. The four-product line is designed to calm and soothe even the angriest, most reactive complexions. The Gentle Cleanser contains 99% pure CBD, as well as hydrating and barrier-strengthening cannabis sativa oil and glycerin, which help to make skin less irritable. The Rebalancing Elixir helps to soothe, hydrate and rebalance skin to its optimal pH level with CBD and antioxidant-rich mushroom and cherimoya fruit extract—both known for their soothing properties. In addition to CBD, the Nourishing & Calming Moisturizer has licorice root extract and buriti oil, which is rich in omega fatty acids to help replenish and restore dry, damaged skin. There’s also a Soothing & Hydrating Eye Cream, a product category that can be tricky for sensitive types. All too often eye creams sting delicate skin under the eyes. This formulation has soothing CBD, bisabolol (a calming chamomile tea extract) and marigold extract (an oil that hydrates without feeling greasy). In Perricone MD’s clinical tests of the entire regimen, participants showed an increase in skin barrier function and experienced less tightness after 28 days of use. With the Rebalancing Elixir alone, 86% saw a reduction of redness.
Bottom line: Shopping for skincare products when you have sensitive skin typically involves a lot of trial and error—mostly error. Exchange the things you hope won’t irritate your skin for what we know works to actively calm and soothe: CBD, like what’s found in Hypoallergenic CBD Sensitive Skin Therapy.