Contrary to popular belief, red, sensitive skin doesn’t just afflict those with dry skin. It can happen to people with oily skin, combination (dry with an oily T-zone) and normal ageing skin.
Redness and inflammation are often caused by an impaired natural barrier. The barrier is a layer of dead skin cells, lipids and fatty acids that protect your skin and lock in moisture. When your skin’s barrier is damaged, water escapes, causing the skin to dry out and become sensitive and more prone to infection.
Redness and inflammation can also be caused by an imbalance of microflora, the microorganisms living on our skin that protect it from infection. When microflora falls out of balance, you risk getting an overgrowth of bacteria, fungi and yeast.
Certain skincare ingredients can aggravate it further. “This condition usually causes people to feel that they have an allergy to multiple ingredients,” says Clinical Director and RejuvAus founder Dr Cussell.
Some of the aggravation is caused by mineral oils, silicones, lanolin and synthetic fragrances. It can sometimes be caused by active ingredients that would normally be safe for balanced skin.
What should you do about red inflamed skin?
For red, inflamed skin, you need to bring balance back to the microflora and repair the damaged barrier. This is simple with the right cleanser and active ingredients.
Cleansers for red, sensitive skin
Dr Cussell suggests using a very mild exfoliating cleanser that can clear the congestion that feeds the unwanted microorganisms in your skin, but doesn’t aggravate your delicate complexion. He recommends C1 Mild Exfoliating Gel because it uses honey as an exfoliant instead of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs). AHA’s are an excellent exfoliant for most skin types, but when your skin is sensitive, you need something gentler.
This cleanser also uses Dacyl Glucoside as a surfactant to remove oil and dirt. This particular surfactant is naturally-derived and often used in baby soap because it’s so much gentler than other common surfactants.
C1 Mild Exfoliating Gel also contains chamomile extract to soothe the skin, so it can help reduce some inflammation while it cleanses.
Serums for red, sensitive skin
Serums are lighter than moisturising creams, so they’re less likely to congest your pores and more likely to let the active ingredients absorb. They should always be applied after cleansing but before moisturiser or sunscreen.
Your B Vitamins are a blessing for sensitivity and redness, particularly Panthenol (Vitamin B5) and Niacinamide (Vitamin B3). Both of these B vitamins help soothe the skin to bring down inflammation. They also help to repair the skin’s natural barrier and regulate hydration in your skin.
B Vitamins work well in synergy with Hyaluronic Acid. Hyaluronic Acid is a natural fatty acid found in your skin’s barrier. Application of Hyaluronic Acid can help keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
For red, inflamed and sensitive skin, Dr Cussell recommends S5 Super B Brightening & Hydration Serum because it has Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol (Vitamin B5) and Niacinamide (Vitamin B3).
Red, inflamed skin can be particularly sensitive to sun exposure, so it’s important to use sunscreen during the day. Equally important is to use a sunscreen that won’t block your pores and cause congestion or irritation.
Some chemical sunscreens have been found to sensitise the skin, so it’s better to use a physical sunscreen that contains zinc and titanium dioxide. In addition to providing a barrier to the sun, zinc has anti-inflammatory properties for the skin.
Dr Cussell recommends M1 Super Moisturising UV Lotion because it’s a physical sunscreen that also contains nourishing ingredients and antioxidants to help repair the skin while it protects.
There are also clinical treatments that can help reduce inflammation, infection and strengthen the skin to reduce the vascularity that causes redness. Treatments might include Deep Rejuvenation Laser Toning which is excellent for rosacea, PhotoTherapy for inflammation and acne, or medical grade facials and peels.
We’re all unique and you have to tread carefully with sensitive skin, so it’s highly recommended that you have a thorough consultation with a qualified Doctor or Clinician to work out the best product and treatment plan for your skin.