Solutions for Sensitive Skin & Rosacea
Sensitive skin can occur in all skin types however, it is more commonly found in women than men and often those with delicate or dry skin and a tendency to flushing. As well as reacting to cosmetics, sensitive skin can also react to environmental factors such as cold or hot temperatures and wind or sun exposure.
Products for Sensitive Skin
The products recommended for sensitive skin are specifically and carefully chosen
to address issues such redness, irritation, environmental damage and dehydration. The pack includes soothing products to calm
inflammation, nourish, protect and heal reactive skin conditions:
Very Dry & Sensitive Skin
Normal or Combination Sensitive Skin
These products help to balance combination skin, reduce inflamation
and redness. They are gentle on skin and nourishing without
contributing to congestion:
These products help to cleanse the body internally thereby reducing the toxic load on the skin and the likelihood of skin sensitivity:
For more information about the organic and natural skin care products
that will suit your skin specifically, ask our skin specialist for
advice. E-mail our organic skin specialist
Products for Rosacea
The products we recommend for rosacea are aimed at decreasing capillary fragility and flushing, covering redness (mineral makeup) and reducing inflammation:
Rosacea with Oily Skin & Breakouts
Rosacea with Dry or Dehydrated Skin
Mineral Makeup (covering redness & blemishes)
Professional Mineral Makeup from Minerelle is ideal for rosacea as it covers redness effectively and lasts across the day. In addition it allows the skin to breath, is ideal for sensitive skin and does not clog pores.
For more information about the organic and natural skin care products
that will suit your skin specifically, ask our skin specialist for
advice. E-mail our organic skin specialist
About Sensitive Skin
Up to 40% of people describing themselves as having sensitive skin
and many more reporting an adverse response to a personal care product
at some stage. From a dermatologist perspective, the term “sensitive”
refers to those with skin that reacts or is intolerant to the use of some or many cosmetics.
Sensitive skin can occur in all skin types however, it is more commonly
found in women than men and often those with delicate or dry skin and a
tendency to flushing. As well as reacting to cosmetics, sensitive skin
can also react to environmental factors such as cold or hot temperatures
and wind or sun exposure.
While there is no sign of inflammation, sensitive skin is commonly associated with burning, itching, stinging, dryness and redness or feelings of tightness.
These reactions can be intermittent or permanent and vary in intensity.
Where inflammation is present (welts, hives, raised red skin or lasting
redness) it is important to consider an existing underlying skin
condition such as dermatitis, rosacea or a contact allergy in which case
cosmetic ingredients need to be assessed. Usually a challenge using the
suspected product will pinpoint the cause. In the case of a skin
disorder, managing the condition is a priority as well as removing
Understanding the causes of sensitive skin
1. Reduced barrier function – if the barrier of lipids (acid mantle) is compromised the skin is
less protected against chemicals, irritants and microorganisms and there
is chance of greater Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL), increasing the
likelihood of dehydration. Skin that is dry, dehydrated or injured has
less nerve end protection which continues the cycle of sensitivity
reactions. Once this cycle is in place many cosmetic ingredients can
cause irritation. See list below.
Avoiding products such as cleansers and shampoos that contain sodium
laurel sulphate and like foaming agents is also crucial as they will
aggravate skin dryness and further reduce barrier function. In one
clinical trial, participants with reduced barrier function avoided all
foaming agents (surfactants) and minimised preservative use. After 8
weeks their skin returned to normal barrier function.
2. Skin Trauma – skin traumas, such as sunburn and skin treatments like chemical peels
and abrasion can cause ongoing sensitivity. Strong acids such as those
found in glycolic acid peels have been known to cause lasting skin
sensitivity issues. If the skin barrier function can be repaired, then
sensitivity may be reduced however it is likely that cosmetic
ingredients with a stronger acid pH will have to be avoided or used with
caution. These can include further glycolic acid treatments, lactic and
malic acid, vitamin C serums with concentrations over 10%, alpha and
beta hydroxy acids.
3. Environmental factors – extremes of cold, heat (including heaters in winter), air
conditioning, alcohol & spicy foods can be triggers and should be
monitored and avoided if relevant.
4. Stress increases the likelihood of heightened neuro-sensory reaction in the
skin. In situations such as this wind, touch and cosmetic brushes can
cause irritation or redness. Managing stress can be quite individual and
often required internal nervous system support as well as de-stressing
practices such as yoga, breathing exercises or meditation.
5. Allergies – true skin allergies arise from immune system dysfunction. These
include eczema, hives, rosacea and contact dermatitis. Patch testing can
help confirm these conditions to establish if these conditions are
contributing to sensitive skin reactions.
Managing Sensitive Skin
Senstive Skin Tips
- avoid artificial fragrances and products that contain high concentrations of essential oils or natural fragrances
- avoid the most common irritant in your skin and hair care as listed above
- avoid “acids” such as glycolic, lactic and malic acid products without the advice of a specialist
- avoid products that contain artificial dyes
- Use non-soap cleansers for at least 2 months. Soapwort based products
and cream cleansers are ideal to give the skin a break.
- Use tepid water to wash your face and avoid hard scrubs and they may increase irritation.
- Introduce one new skin care product at a time and use for at least 3
days to evaluate how your skin reacts. Ideally ask for a tester before
you buy. When you find something that works, continue to use it.
Hypoallergenic and “unscented” products are often recommend as a
solution to sensitive skin however, just because you can’t smell the
scent doesn’t mean that fragrances weren’t added or that fragrance-like
substances weren’t used. Often subtle fragrances are used to cover up
the scent of the base ingredients, so you don’t smell anything you would
identify as a scent but it is still there and is likely to cause
Other common skin irritants include:
- Balsam of Peru – perfume and skin lotion
- Formaldehyde – a preservative found in nail polish
- Quaternium 15 – a preservative in shampoo
- Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) – a detergent found in shampoo, toothpaste, body wash and bubble bath
- Propylene glycol – found in cosmetic products
- Methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl parabens – used as preservatives, they are found in many cosmetic products
- DEA (diethanolamine) and MEA (monoethanolamine) – foaming agents in products that “bubble”
- Artificial Colours – FD&C and D&C are used in make up
- Phthalates – found in plastic containers and some cosmetics
Rest & Relaxation
Stress affects our lives in all ways, some motivational and positive,
others subtle and more insidious. While not historically recognised as a
contributing factor in skin conditions, there is now growing body of
evidence to show that stress has potentially harmful effects on the
Stress can affect our appearance in a number of ways including
increased perspiration, brittle nails, dry, thinning hair and sensitive
more reactive skin. Where there is an existing skin condition, worsening
can be seen in the following ways:
- Worsening of the inflammation (redness) and dryness in eczema and rosacea
- Increased tendency to flushing and blushing
- Increased sensitivity to irritants and infections agents
Taking the time to incorporate some simple stress reducing techniques
into your daily routine will help improve the condition of your skin:
- Avoid excessive consumption of stimulants such as coffee and soft
drink. One caffeine-containing drink per day is ample. For those that
are particularly sensitive, drink green tea instead of coffee.
- Alcohol and smoking suppress the immune system. Smoking has many
detrimental effects on the skin and so is best avoided completely. In
moderation, alcohol consumption may help reduce stress however it is a
fine and individual line, so stick to physician guidelines – one
standard drink per day for women and two for men over the age of 18. In addition, try to
go without at least 2 days per week.
- Exercise can significantly reduce stress levels. The release of endorphins following exercise increases feelings of happiness and wellbeing. In addition it increases circulation and therefore nutrition to your extremities, including your skin.
- Meditation or breathing techniques. Meditation reduces
cortisol release and increases immune function – ideal if you are
suffering from a skin condition. If you are a beginner, take a class in
Buteko breathing or follow a guided meditation.
E-mail us to request a copy of our Clean Skin handout. Or for more comprehensive dietary and detox programs for acne and skin conditions see Karen Fischer's Book "The Healthy Skin Diet".
Rosacea is a chronic
inflammatory skin condition that often occurs between the ages of 30 and
50. It is characterised by redness and flushing across the nose and
cheeks but can also affect the neck, chest, eyes and ears. Rosacea is
more prevalent in pale skinned people of European descent, and so is
also known as the “Celtic Curse”. This condition occurs more frequently
in women however men are more likely to experience severe manifestations
such as deformities of the nose. Currently there are no completely
effective therapeutic treatments however, the condition is manageable
with diet and lifestyle and there are a number of topical treatments
emerging that are proving to be beneficial.
If not managed, rosacea tends to
get worse over time however it does go through periods of acute flare
up and then lessening symptoms. The condition starts out as mild to
moderate flushing and redness, often set off by exercise, changes in
temperature and cleansing. It then progresses to semi-permanent erythema
(redness) and dilation of blood vessels on the face. Red bumps and
pustules as well as gritty eyes and burning sensations may also
Genetic and environmental
factors are thought to contribute to the development of rosacea however
there is no clear cut relationship. The current theory is that chronic
damage to the blood vessels on the face leads to swelling and ongoing
dilation which give the flushed appearance. Localised immune responses
and inflammation then activate pustules. Rosacea sufferers may also
develop over-grown sebaceous glands which contribute to cyst formation.
Sun damage is almost certainly plays a contributing role.
While environmental factors are
most likely continue the progression of rosacea, there are a number of
things that will trigger an acute attack. Commonly these include:
- Exposure to sunlight
- Hot foods and drinks particularly caffeine containing beverages
- Spicy foods and those high in histamine
- Extremes in temperature from hot showers, weather, heating, air-conditioning and strenuous exercise
- Stress and blushing from embarrassment
- Drugs that dilate the blood vessels including some blood pressure medications
A survey conducted by the
National Rosacea Society indicated that skin care products that contain
alcohol and synthetic fragrance as well as some essential oils such as
eucalyptus and peppermint are more likely to aggravate rosacea. Other potential topical irritants include acne and wrinkle treatments
such as microdermabrasion, benzoyl peroxide and chemical peels.
The key to the management of
rosacea is to minimise exposure to anything that causes a flare up. A
good way to establish which factors trigger a skin reaction is to keep a
rosacea diary and note down any direct associations noticed. Avoiding
triggers is an important way to help slow the onset of the condition but
is unlikely to cause remission except in mild cases.
Other suggestions for avoiding
flare ups include wearing sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 will help
to protect the skin from sun damage. Use sunscreens based on zinc oxide
rather than chemical filters. A hat will also help to minimise sun
exposure. Avoid temperature extremes such as going from a heated room
out into the cold air or from air-conditioning into hot weather. Hot
showers and overheating may also trigger a skin reaction. Also avoid any
cosmetic or skin care products with alcohol or any that cause redness,
stinging sensations or irritation.
Due to the enlarged sebaceous
glands with rosacea there is a greater tendency for congestion. From a
skin care perspective, use light or gel based moisturisers as heavier
creams may have a comedogenic effect and clog pores. Many people are
tempted with oily or congested skin to use strong foaming cleansers
which often contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS).
Rosacea is already associated with damage to the endothelium and so
foaming agents containing SLS should generally be avoided as they may
increase irritation and further reduce skin integrity. Cleansers that
contain Aloe vera or liquid castile soap are more gentle options.
Application of liquid foundation may also contribute to skin reactions. Cosmetically, mineral based make up such as those containing zinc or titanium dioxide are ideal as they
cover redness without congesting pores. However, it is important to
avoid any mineral make up that contains talc as again this will promote
Topical Treatment Options
Key areas to target with topical
treatment include reducing inflammatory and immune responses and
increasing blood vessel integrity. One herbal ingredient that is gaining
popularity as an effective topical treatment for rosacea is Centella asiatica or Gotu kola.
Therapeutically, Centella has been used as a tonic and connective
tissue strengthening herb. Recent studies have shown Centella asiatica
may have a positive effect on the circulatory system and may improve
blood flow throughout the body by strengthening the veins and
capillaries. This effect in particular is good for those that suffer
from broken surface capillaries on their face and also for rosacea
sufferers. By improving the integrity of the facial capillaries Centella
works to reduce the “flushing effect”. Other un-researched ingredients
that have been used effectively with rosacea include comfrey to
strengthen skin tissues, marine nutrients (kelp) to reduce inflammation
and calendula for its healing qualities.
Recommended Dietary Changes
From a dietary perspective a
high fat, high sugar (processed foods) diet will contribute to
inflammation. Avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats and simple
sugars will help to reduce this effect which will also minimise
localised skin inflammation. Foods that commonly contain trans or
saturated fats include milk, milk products, margarine, shortening and
other synthetically hydrogenated oils as well as fried foods. For rosacea specifically it is also
advisable to avoid the foods that are likely to directly cause flushing
such as alcohol, coffee, hot beverages and spicy foods. Avoiding simple
sugars and highly processed foods also helps avoid the over-secretion
of insulin, which occurs in response to raised blood sugar levels and is
linked with systemic inflammation.
There is some research to
suggest that low gastric acid levels in people with rosacea may
contribute to the development or progression of the condition. Some
rosacea patients have responded well to hydrochloric acid
supplementation. Low stomach acid is also more likely to be associated
with Helicobactor pylori (H. pylori). Supporting this theory is the
finding that levels of H. pylori have been found to be higher in rosacea
sufferers. A breath test can be used to test for H. pylori to establish
if it is a contributing factor.
Essential fatty acids are
important in the treatment and management of rosacea and sensitive skin. They work to
reduce skin inflammation as well as improving skin moisture and
appearance. Good sources of essential fatty acids include deep sea fish
such as tuna, salmon and mackle as well as nuts and seeds. Flax oil and
fish oil capsules are suitable alternatives if dietary intake is
insufficient. Zinc is also important for skin repair and inflammation
control. Good dietary sources of zinc include lean beef, whole grains,
sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Lemon Detox Drink
This drink is fantastic for anyone with sensitive, inflammed skin. The lemon has an astringent
effect which means it stimulates the liver to release bile into the
digestive tract to be eliminated. The bile contains stored toxins so
effectively you are dumping waste from your liver. The lecithin and flax
oil prime your digestive system for the day, particularly your fat
digestion so again supporting the liver. And of course water is just
plain good for you and helps flush out daily waste particularly via your
In addition to all the good detoxing, flax seed oil supports the
moisture holding capacity of your skin cells and has a anti-inflammatory
effect thereby supporting your skin’s health. Feedback from client is that skin is generally less red and much more even toned since being on the Lemon Detox Drink.
The recipe is as follows:
1/2 lemon (wash the outside)
1 tablespoon of soy lecithin (German is better than US variety)
1 tablespoon of flax oil (organic)
300mls of filtered water
Method: finely grate the rind of the lemon into the
blender then squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the lecithin, flax oil and
water. Blend for 1 minute until frothy. Pour and drink.
Read more dietary tips at vitaleblog.org