By Gemma Hurditch for CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine).
Sensitive skin can come in a number of guises. Redness and irritation, hives or rashes, sensitivity to sun, or cold, or wind, skin itching and eruptions. Whatever the issue, there are a few key things to try which will support skin health and integrity.
Ditch the products!
Less is more when it comes to dealing with sensitive skin. Lots of otherwise wonderful ingredients such as fragrant essential oils, pore cleansing acids, and skin smoothing butters can all contribute to overload to sensitive skin. Keep skin care basic and once you have peeled back the number of products you use, introduce new products slowly and with caution. A good quality microfibre cloth and warm (never hot) water is often all that is needed to cleanse your face morning and night. Jojoba oil is very close in properties to natural skin oil sebum and can be a great moisturiser for skin that is prone to clogged pores.
If you wear make-up, a tinted moisturiser which contains zinc is a better choice than foundation. Zinc supports skin health and helps to heal any blemishes. Natural and organic products can be a better choice. Many people react to the sun screens (not usually zinc) in face makeup preparations, so see give yourself a week or two free of foundation and assess your skin sensitivity.
Help your gut.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the quality of the skin to be intimately related to condition or toxicity in the bowel. Constipation and stagnation of toxins in the bowel all exacerbate poor skin quality and sensitivity reactions. Help cleanse your colon by reducing or even better, eliminating dairy products, alcohol, sugar and refined grains. Aim for a minimum of 7 cups of vegetables per day – green and brightly coloured veg is particularly good to supply both fibre and skin supportive nutrients. Take a brisk walk after eating to help move food through your system and drink 2L of filtered water daily. A vegetable juice fast can be a great kick start to a happier bowel.
Top up skin supportive nutrients.
Omega 3 fatty acids are great for reducing the inflammation that can encourage skin problems, if you don’t like oily fish like sardines and mackerel a few times a week, have 2 tablespoons of fresh ground flaxseeds daily and up your chia seed intake. Zinc is also important – and difficult to get a lot from food. Taking a zinc supplement at 25mg daily for a month can be useful. Do not exceed this without consulting a naturopathic nutritional therapist.
See a naturopathic therapist.
Skin sensitivity can be due to food intolerances, allergies, toxic load, hormonal imbalance, stress, suboptimal nutrition and a number of other factors. If the above tips don’t give you the results you are after, seek a naturopathic nutrition practitioner who can guide you to an improved wellness by investigating the root cause of your skin issues, using food, supplements, herbs and lifestyle medicine.
Naturopath Gemma Hurditch lectures at CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine). CNM is the UK’s leading training provider in a range of natural therapies, with colleges across the UK and Ireland. To find out more about CNM courses, visit www.naturopathy-uk.com