Dry Sensitive Skin

Trying to deal with both dry and sensitive skin can be incredibly frustrating. You really want to find products that can help to moisturise your dry skin, but many products only make things worse due to your skin’s sensitivity.

‘I get eczema on my face. Generally it starts with dry skin, although sometimes food or wine seems to trigger it. Without knowing what to change it’s hard to do anything about it.

It’s usually around my lips and most lip products aggravate it. I’ve tried a lot of different products for moisturising my face, but I always end up having a reaction to them - if not at first, then after several weeks. It makes me feel really self-conscious.’
Kylie, 39

We know that it can be hard to find the best skincare for extremely dry, sensitive skin. We are committed to creating simple, active products specially formulated for sensitive skin and can confidently recommend the entire AMPERNA® range to people dealing with dry, sensitive skin.

 

Which AMPERNA® Products can be of Benefit for People with Dry, Sensitive Skin?

The AMPERNA® Lightweight Soothing+ Emulsion moisturiser is ideal for dry, sensitive skin. Apply as much and as often as you need it.

This moisturiser contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid and emollients to help nourish the skin and protect it from free radical damage.

AMPERNA® Lightweight Soothing+ Emulsion moisturiser is non-irritating, won’t clog pores and is packed full of antioxidants to help soothe and hydrate your skin.

For extremely dry skin, we also recommend using the AMPERNA® Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum on your entire face, as it contains a high concentration of hyaluronic acid. This potent serum help soothe the skin while targeting dullness, uneven skin tone, wrinkles and fine lines.

As everyone's skin is different we recommend you undertake a spot test in a small, discreet area to test for adverse reactions before using any new product.

 

Sensitive vs Sensitised Skin

The difference between the terms ‘sensitive’ and ‘sensitised’ skin can confuse some people, so we thought we should clear it up.

Sensitive skin
According to The Dermal Institute, sensitive skin is likely caused by a genetic condition, while sensitised skin is most likely due to environmental factors.

‘Someone who is truly sensitive is born with this condition and tends to be prone to blushing, asthma and allergies,’ notes Dr Diana Howard in an article about sensitive vs sensitised skin for The Dermal Institute. 

‘This skin is considered more delicate with a lower amount of pigment, a thin epidermis, and blood vessels close to the skin surface, hence the obvious appearance of redness.’

Dr Howard goes on to explain that a defect in the skin’s protective outer layer is often the cause of sensitive skin. This defect can allow things such as allergens, irritants and microbes to get into the skin and cause a reaction.

Sensitised skin
Sensitised skin is most often caused by reactions to environmental factors. The Dermal Institute lists the following factors as potential causes:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Poor diet
  • Certain ingredients in skincare products
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Medical procedures
  • Excessive exfoliation

 

What Causes Sensitive Skin?

According to DermNet, surveys have shown that around 50% of women and 40% of men report having sensitive skin.

Recognised medical causes of sensitive skin include conditions such as contact dermatitis, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis and carcinoid syndrome (Source: DermNet).

For people suffering from these conditions, certain ingredients found in some skincare and household products can cause unexpected irritations. These irritations can include stinging, itching, burning or visible skin changes including redness, dryness or peeling.

If you have sensitive skin and are wondering whether there could be an underlying cause, it’s a great idea to see your doctor or skin specialist. They may take a patch test in order to give the correct diagnosis.

The DermNet New Zealand article on sensitive skin has some very helpful information and photos relating to sensitive skin issues that you may find useful.

 

How to Know if a Product is OK for Your Sensitive Skin

Before trying a new skincare product, it’s best to do a patch test.

Experts suggest a variety of ways to do patch tests and for people with extremely sensitive skin, it could be a good idea to consult your doctor or skin specialist to find the right test for you.

The basic premise of a patch test is to apply a small amount of a product in a sensitive (but hidden) area and leave it overnight to see how your skin reacts.

One way of patch testing for very sensitive skin as outlined on the Skinpractice website is as follows (you can download a pdf guide from their website):

  • Start by applying a small amount behind the ear
  • Leave the product on your skin overnight for up to 24 hours before washing (if you don’t have a reaction immediately)
  • Repeat this for 2-3 days before applying to a more prominent area such as your face

You should also check the ingredients on the back of the label as this can be your first warning sign that a product is not for you. Certain ingredients are known to be irritants for those with sensitive skin.

Lifestyle magazine Byrdie noted that of all the questions they are emailed, how to care for sensitive skin is at the top of the list.

They interviewed skincare expert Renee Rouleau to find out which ingredients people with sensitive skin should avoid and she listed the following:

  • Alcohol (an ingredient that’s found in many toners, it can deplete your skin’s moisture levels)
  • Fragrance (lotions containing perfumes can cause inflammation)
  • Ammonium lauryl sulphate & sodium lauryl sulphate (these ingredients are commonly known to cause irritation)
  • Apricot kernels (found in many scrubs, they are not recommended for the face as they are too harsh)

Read the article along with Renee’s tips on which ingredients are good for sensitive skin at the Byrdie website.

 

What Causes Dry Skin?

Dry skin occurs when the natural coating of fatty oils on our skin is stripped away. This leaves our skin unprotected and often makes it flaky, itchy and irritated. As we get older, our skin produces less of its natural moisturising oils, leaving us more prone to suffering from dry patches.

Dry skin can appear anywhere on our bodies, but it’s most common on our hands, arms, lower legs and stomach. If untreated, it can sometimes lead to dermatitis, swelling and infection. (Source: WebMd)

‘It is important to keep the skin moisturised because our skin is a barrier against infection. If we allow the skin to become dry, it can become cracked. When cracks or breaks in the skin occur, the usual bacteria that live on our skin can get inside and cause an infection. By protecting our skin from drying out, we protect ourselves from infection. In addition, keeping the skin moisturized helps people with eczema have fewer flares.’

Doctor Diana K. Blythe (Source: Sharecare)

There are many factors that can contribute to outbreaks of dry skin including medical conditions and certain medications.

Medications
Certain medications may reduce the water levels in the top layer of skin.

  • People taking some acne medications are likely to find their skin dries out
  • High blood pressure medications can also cause skin to dry out

Visit the Right Diagnosis website for a very long list of medications know to cause dry skin (this is a US website and may use different names for some medications).

Diseases and skin conditions
Malnutrition, kidney disease and dialysis can cause dry skin, as can diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and atopic dermatitis are also major causes of dry skin. Head to our pages on eczema and dermatitis for more information.

 

What’s the Best Way to Prevent Dry Skin?

Choose the right type of moisturiser
Choose thick creams that don’t run when you apply them and avoid choosing moisturisers with alcohols or perfumes.

Apply your moisturiser the right way
The most effective way to use a moisturiser is to apply it while your skin is still damp.

Why? The role of a moisturiser is to trap moisture on the skin. If you apply moisturiser to dry skin, it won’t be as effective.

Limit time in hot baths
Take showers instead of baths and limit your shower to a few minutes. Keep the water luke-warm.

Why? Taking a long, hot shower or bath can feel like heaven at times, but it’s definitely not recommended for those with dry skin. Soaking for a long period, especially in a bath, may remove your skin’s natural oils. You’ll know if you’ve been in the tub for too long when your skin feels tight after you emerge.

Limit time spent in ‘dry air’
Try to limit the time you spend in heated or air conditioned spaces or use a humidifier in your room to add moisture.

Why? Dry air draws the moisture out of your skin. Heating and air conditioning can exacerbate the process.

Restrict the use of certain soaps and abrasive cleansers
Look for fragrance free, mild soaps or better still, throw away your soap and use a cleanser instead. Try not to use scrubbing brushes or face washers to rub the skin; this will just irritate any existing dryness.

Review your clothes washing detergent
Choose a gentle, fragrance-free washing detergent as some clothes washing detergents can contain perfumes or dyes that can irritate dry skin.

There are lots of threads on parenting forums that discuss detergents for dry skins, as many mums are looking for ways to minimise irritation for kids with dry skin conditions such as eczema.

Some of the detergents recommended on forums include:

Finding the right products for skin that is both dry and sensitive can be a real challenge. We hope that our range can be of help to you. If you have any lifestyle tips to share with other people suffering from dry, sensitive skin, we’d love to hear them!

 

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. If symptoms persist, we recommend that you see your GP or dermatologist.