When I’m chatting to clients about their skin concerns, and the types of products they are using, many times I hear them say ‘I have sensitive skin so I use QV, Cetaphil, Aveeno, Dermaveen’ or some other ‘soap free’ product. In fact, some have even been recommended by their doctor or dermatologist to use such products. Why? Usually it is because those medical professionals tend to deal with skin ‘diseases’ rather than sensitivities.
Although I am not focusing this blog on all of the various ingredients in skin care products that can be harmful, I will note that many of the over the counter products that are labelled as hypoallergenic will still contain varying levels of harsh ingredients such as parabens (methyl, butyl, ethyl and propyl), sulphates (SLS and SLES), triclosan, propylene glycol, mineral oil derivatives, phenol carbolic acid, dioxane, toluene and more.
The problem is that sensitive skin is a complicated issue and hypoallergenic products which are supposedly designed to combat sensitive skin are not altogether free of allergens. They simply contain fewer common allergens so that the likelihood of allergic reactions is lower. Not only do many of these types of products do very little to nourish and heal the skin, they actually contain ingredients that may cause sensitivities to flare making your condition worse without you even realising it. Ultimately a truly hypoallergenic product designed to combat conditions such as rosacea, telangiectasia (red veins), acne, perioral dermatitis, etc must be formulated to contain ‘clean’, yet active ingredients to help proactively restore the acid mantle of your skin (the protective barrier). This is quite different than simply not causing your skin to get worse.
It’s easy to dismiss your skin’s reactions as generalised sensitivity, however it is usually due to both internal and external influences such as diet, sun exposure, food and environmental sensitivities, auto immune disorders, medications and other medical conditions, etc.
Working out this cycle of irritation can be profoundly frustrating as we are often exposing our skin to many products throughout the course of the day such as cleansers, moisturisers, serums, sunscreen, shampoo, toothpaste, hair products, washing liquids, etc.
Your skin is a reflection into your body’s overall health, so it is a good idea to discuss your concerns with both a qualified skin therapist, as well as a doctor or naturopath who can test you for common allergies that may cause sensitive skin.
With guidance and a bit of patience, you can improve your sensitivities and end up with beautiful, healthy, glowing skin. However to minimise your risk of a reaction when you use products try one new product at a time. This helps you identify which product or possibly ingredient is the source of the problem. Further, talk to us about botanically based products that are formulated correctly to restore the barrier of your skin!


About the author: Lisa Randall is a qualified skin therapist/esthetician, cosmetic tattooist, yoga teacher and remedial massage therapist. She is also a nutritional counsellor with a particular interest in food as it relates to skin.  Lisa has owned and operated Botanique Skin Wellness Spa since 2010 and also offers yoga classes throughout the local community and online.