PRODUCTS I 🖤 AND BELIEVE IN : Sensitive + Sensitized Skin Saviors 🙆♂️
I know people who've spent their whole lives in search of the holy grail for sensitive skin. For many, sensitivity is a constant, daily and frustrating battle. And I want to be sensitive to that when I say that for a whole different group of people, sensitivity is all in their heads. It's often a matter of degree — one's level of skin sensitivity can change from day to day, season to season. Even ingredient to ingredient. Some experience a moderate degree of redness, others can suffer from something best described as an itchy rash, or worse. I worked with a dope web developer whose skin is literally allergic to a specific ingredient — propylene glycol (or was it butylene glycol?!). Every time I raved about a product (and I rave about a lot of products!), we would scour the ingredient list to be sure it didn't contain whichever one of the two it was! Our hearts in our throats, we would run our fingers up and down in search of the wicked culprit. It was always such a let down when we did find it there. Oh well, it was onto the next product rave.
So I get it. To be perfectly honest, my skin isn't sensitive. However, it's often sensitized. By my own doing, of course. I can test a dozen new products in the span of a week and yes, from time to time, I overdo it. Okay, guilty as charged. But it's my job. There's no way for me to run an entire Instagram page dedicated to skin care if I'm not constantly trying new products, ingredients and textures. I might as well stick to pix of food and me sipping wine by the Hudson — like a bored Italian housewife. And what about this web blog?! As they say in Brooklyn, fuhgeddaboudit!
So first, let me state this up front:
I am not a doctor.
If you have a serious skin condition requiring medical attention, please see a good, reputable dermatologist. You can find one here.
Okay, now that that's out of the way...the great thing about trying so many products is I discover a lot that actually work among the millions that just work at making overblown marketing claims. Two products that I've come across that go a long way to treating my skin when it's sensitized — and I believe could be equally as effective for many who suffer from sensitive skin — are from two of my fave brands, Deciem's high-science brand NIOD and the quirky K-beauty brand Dr. Jart. Each relies on separate technologies to treat, alleviate, and calm sensitive and sensitized skin.
Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Camo Drops
One of the hottest ingredients on the planet right now for calming sensitivity is centella asiatica or tiger grass. I first had the chance to try Dr. Jart's Camo Drops before the product officially launched at Sephora a few months ago. At the time, I remember thinking Yayyy, but it's not really for me. It seems like more of a makeup product (or a product you follow with makeup) than a serious treatment for irritation. And come on, it's def not for guys! Weeks later, all that has changed. The reality is, the Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Camo Drops is both a sensitivity serum and quick color corrector in one tiny bottle. I’ve been using the drops to not only soothe irritation from all the admitted product testing, but to mask any morning redness on my forehead beneath my sunscreen — before I head out to the day. I literally found a place for them in my routine that I wasn't expecting. They’re like a new TV series where the first 3-4 episodes aren’t that compelling and you wonder what everyone is talking about. That’s Camo Drops! I’m curious to hear how people are using them now that they’ve been out for a few weeks. They are consistently in the top ten on Sephora so I know they’re catching on! And that's a good thing for such a niche formula with big potential to solve a big skin problem for so many people.
NIOD Modulating Glucosides
So how often does my skin show irritation and sensitivity? Maybe two days a week. It's never a huge deal, but I notice slight redness in the mornings on my forehead. This often happens in my normal everyday grind, not only when I’ve tested a new product that contained known skin irritants like denatured alcohol or volatile fragrant plant oils — like the high level of sensitizing peppermint oil in that Ole Henriksen Cold Plunge mask I tested a couple of weeks ago! The intense redness it caused went away on its own in a couple of hours. I would never apply products like those as a part of my regular routine or in an overnight product when skin is in repair mode. So that takes me to this amazing discovery — the new sensitivity treatment from NIOD. Modulating Glucosides (MG) is a light emulsion formulated to treat regular signs of skin sensitivity, discomfort and irritation — the exact kind of irritation I see on my forehead. I’ve been incorporating it into my nightly routine and I haven’t been experiencing the kind of irritation I’d become used to before I started using MG. That's not surprising to me given how well formulated and effective all of the NIOD formulas have been for me. So where's it get its soothing power? According to Deciem, the key ingredient technology is Bio-Active Glucosides, “a complex for dermal balance that acts through multiple pathways to soothe skin immediately by targeting the ‘cross-talk’ stimulated by pro-irritant mediators.” What. The. #&%$! I barely understand that, but I don’t have to. What I understand is that Modulating Glucosides solved a problem I had no idea how to treat effectively and reliably. YASSSSS!!!
But what does Her Royal Majesty have to say about all of this? 👑
No, not that Royal Majesty! Though the Queen does have an amazing complexion for a woman of 172. I'm looking to the G.O.A.T. skincare guru, Paula Begoun! Paula is always an excellent resource for anything skin related and she has some terrific articles in the Skincare Advice section of her site. Among them, I'd recommend checking out Skincare Tips for Calming Redness, How Sensitizing Ingredients Hurt Skin, and Stopping Unwanted Reactions to Skincare Products. The last of these articles is particularly insightful and especially so for the experienced skincare user.
According to Paula, "there are six primary reasons why skin reacts negatively to a new product, a new skincare routine, or even to products you've used for months or years:
- The product(s) was poorly formulated with harsh or skin-aggravating ingredients that caused the negative reaction. Ingredients we warn about such as alcohol (SD or denatured), fragrance (synthetic or natural), or numerous fragrant plant extracts show up in countless products. The reaction can happen immediately or it can develop over time. Sometimes, when several fragranced products are used, the skin reaches a critical tipping point and reacts strongly. That’s one reason why using several products with “just a little” fragrance can overwhelm skin.
- An allergy to a specific ingredient or combination of ingredients in the formula is often to blame. This has nothing to do with the quality of a cosmetic; rather, it’s a personal reaction to an ingredient or a mix of ingredients. It's like being allergic to cats, a problem many people have, but it’s certainly not the fault of the cat and it doesn’t make cats bad.
- Using the wrong product for your skin type. For example, using oil-absorbing products when you have dry, flaky skin can make your skin even drier and cause red, scaly patches. If you have oily skin, using thick, emollient products can cause skin to develop more bumps and clogged pores.
- Applying too many products with potent ingredients at the same time. When it comes to anti-aging products, some people think that if a little is good, then more must be better. So, they start using three types of exfoliants at the same time, followed by a serum with a high percentage vitamin C, and then a high-concentration retinol moisturizer followed by a skin brightening product. Even for the most durable skin types, applying these products all at once is overkill. It’s not that they don’t all have a place in a skincare routine, but instead of slathering them on all at once, they can be alternated between your morning and evening skincare routines or applied on alternate days. And no one needs to apply three exfoliants at the same time!
- Using abrasive scrubs or stiff-bristled cleansing brushes. These can cause extremely negative reactions such as mirco-cracks in skin’s surface that can make it more vulnerable to anything else you put on it.
- The final reason is the most difficult to assess: Some people just happen to have reactive and overly sensitive skin to just about anything they put on their face and neck. For them, the more products they use, the greater the risk of a reaction, and especially so if the product contains even a small amount of problematic or bioactive ingredients."
I hope some of this helps. Stop being so sensitive!