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7 Habits That Might Be Making Sensitive Skin Worse

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If you have sensitive skin, then you probably know all too well just how reactive it can be to the tiniest triggers. A constant battle with redness, rashes, breakouts, or skin that’s sensitive to the touch is no way to move through life!

While you may have already weeded out a decent number of potential culprits, there may be a few habits you don’t realize are making your sensitive skin worse. We’re revealing seven of them below, but first, let’s do a quick rundown on what sensitive skin is and how to know if you have this skin type.

What Is Sensitive Skin and How Do I Know if I Have It?

True to its name, sensitive skin means you’re especially sensitive and reactive to a variety of factors. While some skin types can use all sorts of ingredients and products without a problem, those with sensitive skin must be more selective in order to prevent an uncomfortable reaction.

Your skin is likely sensitive if:

  • Certain products or ingredients cause a negative reaction (contact dermatitis)
  • You have a diagnosed skin condition, including rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema
  • You often experience symptoms such as stinging, burning, itchiness or skin that hurts (particularly after being exposed to a trigger)
  • Rashes, bumps, and redness develop easily
  • You’re prone to breakouts

“As with any skin condition, diagnosis is key,” notes Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and IT Cosmetics Advisory Board Member. “Sensitive skin conditions can be due to a number of causes and I recommend consultation with a medical professional to find out what is best for you.”

Habits That Can Make Sensitive Skin Worse

We know it’s a bit of a drag, but people with sensitive skin types do need to be more careful when it comes to their everyday habits and the products they use. And as we mentioned, sometimes a reaction is brought on by something you may not be aware of. To eliminate some potential triggers, read through this list of things that can make sensitive skin worse.

Exfoliating Too Frequently (or With Aggressive Products)

Dr. Mariwalla says that exfoliators—if used at all—should be used sparingly and with exceptionally gentle products. She also recommends using a hydrating product immediately afterward.

For example, Hello Results Baby-Smooth Glycolic Acid Peel + Caring Oil delivers a game-changing combination of gentle exfoliation and soothing hydration. In fact, this glycolic acid peel is so gentle you can use it every day. Plus, it’s suitable for all skin types—including those with sensitive skin.

Not Using Skincare and Makeup for Sensitive Skin

When shopping for skincare and makeup, seek out products that are approved for sensitive skin types.

“In over-the-counter products, look for gentle cleansers, simple ingredients, and hydration,” says Dr. Mariwalla. “Those pillars often improve skin and, more importantly, will not over-sensitize it.”

IT Cosmetics products are designed to be suitable for all skin types—even the most sensitive skin. This includes the best-selling* CC+ Cream with SPF 50+, Bye Bye Lines Hyaluronic Acid Serum, and Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Color-Correcting Cream.

Another one of our favorites is Bye Bye Redness Sensitive Skin Moisturizer. Formulated with gentle ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal, aloe, and cucumber, it helps calm redness while helping skin look soft, smooth, and youthful.

Not Washing Your Face at Night

Even if you don’t wear much makeup, it’s important to wash your face in the evening to remove dirt, impurities, oil, and products. Use lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin, such as Confidence in a Cleanser. Suitable for even the most sensitive skin, this ultra-hydrating, soap-free cleansing serum gently melts away dirt, oil, and even long-wear eye makeup.

Using Dirty Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes should be washed at least once every seven to 10 days, or after each use if you’re feeling motivated.

“Remember that makeup contains oils. [When] mixed with the bacteria that naturally live on your skin, makeup brushes can really become a reservoir for bacteria that you basically then just keep applying to your skin,” warns Dr. Mariwalla.

Not sure where to start? Check out our full rundown on how to wash your makeup brushes.

Washing with Hot Water

A long, hot shower feels good… until it doesn’t. When showering, use warm water instead of hot, and try to limit your time in the shower to under 10 minutes. Hot water can strip your skin, which can make it vulnerable to dryness and irritation. After gently patting dry, follow up with a moisturizer to replenish your skin.

Using Certain Detergents

Bleach and certain laundry detergents—especially those with strong fragrances and solvents—can potentially trigger sensitive skin. Stick to unscented detergents and those marked “hypoallergenic.”

Wearing Irritating Fabrics

Materials that feel rough to the touch, such as wool, can irritate sensitive skin. Instead, stick with soft, breathable fabrics. If you do want to wear a fabric that could rub against your skin and cause sensitivity, wear a layer of cotton or silk underneath.

Looking for more sensitive skin help? Check out our guide on how to cover redness with makeup, and then read through our list of favorite products for sensitive skin.

*Source: The NPD Group/US Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Makeup Product Sales, January - December 2020.

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