Sensitised skin guide… a cautionary tale.

Close up of a jar of skincare

You heard it here, I wrote about my dry, parched Rhino hide of a skin last year in 2019. Today I’m writing about how I managed to sensitise my skin. I’ve also suffixed my post saying, that its a cautionary tale. It is! In my enthusiasm to blog about skincare, in my quest to find that next holy grail… I did a few things wrong. Badly wrong. And I wrecked my skin’s protective barrier. Its acid mantle. ( SPOILER ALERT :There’s a happy ending luckily). Here are the Top 5 mistakes that I made. Please don’t do what I did.

Top 5 Skin mistakes ( that sensitised my skin)

  • Overexfoliation– Do you read too many blogs where you are “told” that you need to use an acid toner every night? This could be very disastrous for a lot of skins. Mine was one of them. Apparently acid toner was one of the most googled search terms last year ( next to masking and Korean Skincare). If this is you, and you feel the need to exfoliate every night. Or have and dont know how to stop. Think! In the good ol’ days of walnut scrubs ( yes I went there, and I sure did that. You know who you are… don’t deny you didn’t use them. You are telling tales, I can see your nose growing from over here) Anyway in the golden days of ” physical” exfoliating, we were advised and knew to use it once or twice a week max. Nothing much in terms of the advice has changed much really. Overexfoliation/ scrubbing /mis-using of acids can lead to weakening of the skin’s acid mantle. (The top layer of the skin that protects us from the elements) This can lead to over sensitised skin that flares up, is weak and often has itchy rashes. Was this the case for me? Check, check and check. I did warn you about this being a cautionary tale right? Every other day is plenty enough. If you have hardy skin, lucky you. I envy you 😉 Quit showing off 😉
  • Using too many new products at once – I have serious FOMO when it comes to seeing other people’s skincare. Funnily enough I don’t seem to have it in other aspects of my life. However, when it comes to skincare, I’m always thinking that other people have it better. I want to own every product that is hailed as being the next Holy Grail. I want to own every shiny new piece of skincare. And I will absurdly believe all the marketing spiel spun by a company.  Even if I know deep down that its cod science. Im the ultimate marketeer’s dream! I also then proceed to use all the new stuff on my skin at once. Thanks to the overexfoliation, and my already weakened acid mantle, my skin has being going into overdrive. From being as tough as a rhino hide, I now have rosacea, sensitised skin and constant breakouts. There is a moral of this story, add new ingredients or products one at a time, slowly. Caution against the temptation of the skincare magpie, and treat your skin as sensitive always. Even if it’s not.
  • Not giving your existing skincare time to work – This is really following on from the point above. But is a precautionary piece of advice in and of itself. I just jumped from product to product without allowing it time to work its magic. The skin cycle is 6-8 weeks, and because I was Icarus so busy chasing the sun ( aka the Holy grail serum in this case) I didn’t really didn’t allow anything to work their magic. Don’t get me wrong, if something doesn’t work; ie. reacts you should absolutely stop using it…immediately! But for serums that are otherwise not showing any immediate negative reactions ( nor any perceived positive ones) the idea is that they are trying to do their job. Just not one that is immediately noticeable. Give it time to work. ( I mean after 3 months, it does nothing then by all means it needs to be broken with.) Otherwise I’d say be patient. Also Alison Young, Skincare specialist and Beauty presenter QVC recommends that if you are changing your skincare, don’t change it during “that time of the month” . Your hormones will be up and down and it is not indicative of how it may necessarily react with your skin. This is one viewpoint of course. But worth bearing in mind?
Usually the following serums or antioxidants are used for their respective properties:

Vitamin C: Is an anti oxidant that is known to make skin brighter.

Vitamin B3: Niacinimide: Another antioxidant which is known to target brown spots and fade scars.

Vitamin B5: Helps with Hydration and another antioxidant that helps collagen repair and appearance of wrinkles is diminished.

Hyaluronic Acid: It is a molecule that is found widely naturally in the human body, it is known to hold 1000 times its own weight of water molecules. So topically applied its a powerful hydrator.

Vitamin A: ( collectively called retinols) Are known to help cell turnover increase and rebuild collagen.

Peptides: A variety of Vitamin B which help rebuild collagen and ” repair” the skin from within by helping heal scars and also wrinkles appear diminished.

The point is that, if your serum contains one or more of these ingredients, often it takes time for the effects to show. Especially with Peptides and Vitamin B3, B5. Don’t be hasty.

  • Don’t stockpile your favourite skincare – Now this is a toughie. For me and a lot of enthusiasts. And of course there is no real right answer. Just a (gentle) nudge towards this opinion. I should know. Buying tons of my favourite skincare in case they discontinue it, or just to get free shipping or worse… its the Black Friday sale( Often the latter in my case) is a lot like stocking up on milk during a snowstorm. ( A ) the deluge never happens ( B ) It often goes off before you can use it. Makeup and more importantly serums and the likes have a short life span, and shorter yet… if stored in warm bathrooms and cosy bedside vanities. That central heating that keeps you toasty at night? It cooks your skincare and shortens it’s lifespan. And no, storing it in the refrigerator is not the solution. The temperature is too low ( despite what some influencers may say.) The solution is to buy little and use it up. One backup or even two is acceptable, I think… 20 is a problem my friend. ( One noticeable exception is specials/ one off’s or seasonal edits)
  • Dont try to fix it if it ain’t broke baby – Argh, if the last point is a toughie…this one is Einstein level hard. * Throws self on sofa and weeps * I’m so guilty of this, I need skin rehab! ( I told you that it was a cautionary tale) On this road does sensitive skin lie. No…really! If you have a good thing going, don’t mess it up. Just don’t. I’m not sure who started that malarkey about your “skin getting used to skincare” but I won’t be surprised if it was an influencer trying to sell you the latest sponsored skincare they got for free. Do your research, and stick with your products for a good 3 months to see your results and if they work… stick with it. Sometimes your serums, lotions and potions can stop being effective or can get over reactive and this is when you look at changing it up. Otherwise just don’t mess around with a good thing. Just say NO!

There is a moral of the story here

Long and short. KISSKeep ISimple Silly. Don’t overdo it with actives. Let your serums work. Give it time. Don’t hoard skincare. And don’t be a Serum tart. Also never ever, ever, ever ( did I forget to say something? Oh yeah… EVER ;)) never forget your sunscreen. Now if only someone could imprint this in my conscious, so I could follow my own advice. I would be über grateful. I would even name my first born after you. ( oh wait, he’s already got a name ;)) Never mind, you get the gist.

PS: Sensitivity can flare up at any time, and skincare and ingredients in skincare is only one reason. Hormones, Stress, Medication, Pregnancy are many other causes. I’m only exploring one cause. I’m not a medical professional and this advice is not to replace any given by your healthcare professional. Please make sure that you have ruled out underlying health issues before you embark on any skincare switch- up regime.

Do look out for the post for my skincare switch ups and products I’ve had to stop using. Also do please subscribe to my blog so that you don’t miss new posts 😉

Let me know what you think of this post, I’d love to hear from you~~ Love Elle xx.

Further reading ( come on, you know you love it really) and guides that I love from well balanced viewpoints
Exfoliation : I love Michelle’s entire blog. Michelle could write about the phone book ( or talk about it in her youtube videos) and I’d be devouring her words. So it’s no surprise that I love her guide to exfoliation, both physical and chemical. Do read it, Michelle comes from a place of science. But manages to make it non condescending, high brow or geeky in an intimidating, incomprehensible way.
This post on Overexfoliating by the Skinnerd ( Jennifer Rock ) is another great post. Worth reading and bearing in mind.
Note of disclaimer: All opinions are my own, I have no affiliations with any company, there are no affiliate links on this post and all products are purchased with my own money. If this was to change at any point, I will disclose this and it will not affect my opinion. Please check ingredients list of all products that you buy, in case you have allergies to any of the products that I have mentioned. Please do not copy, publish any photos on this blog or contents in its entirety or otherwise without my express permission.



Published by Lav Mell

Beauty Musings, Makeup reviews, Skincare lover, I am a self confessed makeup and skincare magpie and this is my little corner of the blogiverse.

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