6 Rules for Sensitive Skin

Dear Friends & Readers,

travelling is great, you visit new places, learn about new cultures, taste amazing food…. but it usually wreaks havoc on my skin.  I turn into an oily sensitive mess. I know, I know, no one ever accused me of being sensitive, usually it is the opposite. Well it looks like age is making me the owner of sensitive skin, especially when I travel. I would love to tell you that I landed in Dubai  after 12+ hours on a plane with glowing skin perfect hair and smelling like a rose (that part was true thanks to a Tom Ford fragrance sample).  In fact I NEVER take pictures of me landing anywhere because I am afraid you all would see how frightful I look… and it usually takes me a long shower and a couple of melatonin tablets to recover.  But this time around the sensitized, dehydrated skin followed me to New York. So I turned to my beauty arsenal and decided to fight back because no amount of concealer can cover stressed out, over reactive skin.

Rule No. 1 : Know your skin type.

If you don’t know how your skin is in its natural state it’s unlikely you’ll be able to catch the sensitivity episodes.  Skin is usually categorized in dry, combination and oily.  These categories are then further refined by sensitivity type: normal (non reactive) or sensitive. For example I have combination/oily skin, which means that my skin is usually comfortable on the T-Zone (forehead, nose & chin) and feels tight on my cheeks and neck. My skin is usually normal and non reactive, as in “I can go for a facial and never turn red”. So, if I start having inflamed skin with very dry patches, that would count as a sensitivity episode.

Rule No.2: Seasonality is not just for food

…. and why would that be? You skin is the largest organ in your body. Winter impacts you respiratory tract with colds, Spring with allergies. Your skin changes to adapt to the season, too. It is the ultimate barrier so you should be observant of the reactions you have depending on the time of the year. Dry skin may become combination in the summer. Combination skin may turn dry in the winter. It really changes from person to person but you should know how these changes manifest themselves and when it’s time to think ahead and be prepared.  For example my skin is combination in the winter (with some dry episodes when it gets REALLY cold in NYC) while in the  summer  it veers in the direction of oily.

Rule No. 3: Your personal brand of….

If you are a man, please jump to Rule No. 4 (and avert your eyes dude, we DON”T want you to know the nasty bits of being a woman… or do we?), if you are a woman, please read on. I don’t have to tell you that your skin changes depending on the hormones that get flushed through your bloodstream every single day of every month. Every woman has her personal brand of crazy ehm hormonal cocktail… so you need to know how your skin looks every step of the way. Some ladies have normal, glowing skin for 3 weeks and turn into a mess thanks to PMS. Dear hormones we love you but you are a pain in the a$$.

Rule No. 4: Hold off on the abrasive stuff.

I am a firm believer in exfoliation because a little  exfoliation never hurt anyone. Quite the contrary, sloughing off the dead cells is only good for you. BUT, when you skin is already irritated from the inside out there is no point in irritating it more from the outside in. Once again you need to know your skin, but in this case you need to know what your skin needs to get decongested. Sometimes a mild scrub is all you need (try mixing 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with equal parts of baking soda or cornstarch). Other times you need to feed your skin some comfort food (I would go for Matzho Ball Soup, a long time favorite) and just let it sort out the problem it self.

Rule No. 5: Food matters

The sensitive skin episode may be caused by traveling, hormones, stress, too much sun, etc. And no, mom, chocolate doesn’t cause breakouts. There are several scientific studies to back me up so back off of my Valhrona that I will keep enjoying in moderation.  But food matters because if your body is filled with greasy, unhealthy food, then it WILL show. Bear in mind that I am not only talking about junk food: great chefs in highly rated restaurants often use butter and bacon to make everything taste good. If you think you can eat a steak in a steakhouse and avoid the butter, you are either naive or have never watched a cooking show and for both reasons you should be hit in the head with a 6 pounds portehouse (a T-one sounds too much like Fred Flinstones). When your skin is sensitive you need to nurture it with simple genuine food: vegetables (possibly steamed and seasoned with EVOO), grilled fish or lean protein (even pork will do), whole grains (my favorites are quinoa, oats and brown rice) NO dairy, NO gluten and no store bought products with ingredients you can’t spell.

Rule No. 6: Feed Your Skin

From a person with combination to oily skin this is going to sound insane: Oil is the way to go.  In the past year, the market has opened the door to oils of every kind, for face, hair and body.  There is a very big difference between the 80′s routine of covering one self with Johnson’s baby oil and what is now available on the market. First these oil are not mineral ( and thank goodness for that). Secondly they serve a totally different purpose: they are used as vitamin and antioxidant-packed serums with nurturing effects but none of the greasiness.  You don’t believe me? Check out the latest offers from major brands like Kiehl’s,NudeAesop. I have tried all of them and bought one after another, after another.  Instead of having to put serum and moisturizer on at night, these oils are 1 single step and the day after my skin is regenerated, moisturized and NOT shiny at all. I guess the old tale that if you want oily skin to behave you need to add more oil is actually true!

I hope you find these tips useful and don’t forget to comment, share and spread the word.