Sensitive skin is a catch-all term that has never been more popular.
Speak to any dermatologist and they’ll likely say they’ve seen an upturn in the number of people struggling with heightened sensitivity and/or allergic skin conditions.
But why are our modern-day complexions so stressed out and what are the lifestyle factors causing our red, irritated faces?
Here, FEMAIL speaks to dermatologist, Dr Natasha Cook, and dietitian, Lyndi Cohen, to find out how you can reduce the redness and eat to beat rosacea and sensitive skin.
They also share the one skincare ingredient you need to look out for to help your complexion.
Sensitive skin has never been more commonplace – with both environmental and lifestyle factors making it common among men and women (stock image)
Dermatologist, Dr Natasha Cook (pictured), revealed that there are some lifestyle factors which can cause increased sensitivity – including excessive sun exposure and temperature
What is rosacea and what causes it?
* Rosacea is a ‘vasoactive disease’. It is a common, chronic, incurable skin condition that is easily controllable and medically manageable.
* Symptoms include redness of the face, tiny red pimples and acne.
* It tends to affect fair-skinned individuals, but can affect anyone.
* Certain lifestyle factors exacerbate sensitive skin or redness – including spicy foods and red wine.
According to Dr Natasha Cook, who works as a dermatologist in Sydney, there are many lifestyle factors that can cause increased skin sensitivity:
‘Rosacea is known to have certain triggers,’ Dr Cook told FEMAIL.
‘These vary from individual to individual, but can include excessive sun exposure – which causes an increase in blood vessels in the facial skin and therefore more “flushing”.
‘Changes in temperature also increase flushing and sensitivity, and winter can be worse than summer in this respect as we’re going from very cold outdoor temperatures to overheated indoor climates, again triggering “flushing” reactions in the blood vessels.’
Dr Cook recommends steering clear from ‘foaming and scrub-like washes, which are too much for rosacea-prone skin as they increase sensitivity’ (stock image)
Hot yoga is one of the worst exacerbating factors for red skin, as the heat can fuel pigmentation – the same goes for saunas and steam rooms (stock image)
The dermatologist also cited hot yoga as one of the worst exacerbating factors for red skin:
‘The heat can fuel pigmentation,’ she said. ‘The same goes for saunas, steam rooms and facials that include steaming – people with increased sensitivity or rosacea would do well to avoid them.’
Elsewhere, Dr Cook recommends steering clear from ‘foaming and scrub-like washes, which are too much for rosacea-prone skin as they compromise the barrier function and increase sensitivity’.
She also said it’s useful to look carefully at your sunscreen:
‘You need to use ones specially designed for sensitive skin, which contain zinc and titanium dioxide only,’ she explained.
‘Avoid astringents, toners, sodium lauryl sulphate products as well as heavy make up, which requires a lot of cleansing to remove.’
Instead, you need to use a gentle cleanser and a decent, good quality moisturiser ‘backed by moisture binders like glycerine, hyaluronic acid, medical grade lanolin and anti-inflammatories or antioxidants like B3 and chamomile’.
Other factors which might be playing havoc with your skin include pollution and so-called ‘natural’ or ‘green’ products – which can often be highly concentrated substances, or highly fragranced in the case of essential oils.
Speaking to FEMAIL, dietitian, Lyndi Cohen (pictured), revealed what you should eat to beat redness – including plenty of healthy fats, oily fish and yoghurt, which is rich in probiotics
Speaking to FEMAIL, dietitian, Lyndi Cohen, revealed how you can eat to beat sensitive skin:
‘Face lotions and serums have a role to play, but what you put in your mouth really does show on the outside,’ she said.
‘I really notice a difference in my skin when I eat certain foods and scrimp on sleep.’
Ms Cohen explained that acne, eczema and psoriasis can be caused by ‘inflammation of the skin due to high levels of stress, lack of sleep, too much alcohol and a poor diet’.
She said foods like oily fish are loaded with healthy fats that are good for the skin, while yoghurt is the ‘best food source of probiotics, which can help your gut thrive and combat inflammation for clearer, more spot-free skin’.
‘Avocado may help you get clearer and more hydrated skin as the healthy fats help to stabilise your blood sugar levels,’ Ms Cohen continued.
‘Face lotions and serums have a role to play, but what you put in your mouth really does show on the outside,’ Lyndi explained (stock image)
Finally, foods like pumpkin seeds, wholegrain cereals and oats can help to keep your skin elastic and your collagen healthy.
‘Oats will also keep your blood sugar levels more stable which can help you to have fewer breakouts and reduce inflammation that causes redness,’ she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Cook said if you have sensitive skin, it can be useful to avoid too much red wine, which ‘triggers dilation of our blood vessels and makes rosacea worse’ – and spicy foods.
Instead, stick to vodka and soda as a general alcohol rule of thumb.
When it comes to looking after sensitive skin, there is one ingredient you should prize in your skincare regime – niacinimide or vitamin B3 (left, stock image, right, serum with vitamin B3)
What is niacinimide or vitamin B3?
* Niacinamide is a water soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B group.
* It’s also known as vitamin B3 and is a good all-rounder as it improves the health of your brain, heart and liver, as well as your skin.
* Niacinimide can be found in salmon, tuna, chicken and milk products.
* Due to its inflammatory powers, niacinamide is great for those who suffer with acne and rosacea.
* There is also research to suggest that it helps boost your skin’s natural collagen production, which results in firmer, plumper skin.
SKINCARE INGREDIENT TO LOOK OUT FOR
When it comes to looking after sensitive skin, there are countless brands and labels purporting to be the holy grail for redness.
But, according to Dr Cook, there is one skincare ingredient which reigns supreme:
‘The latest essential vitamin is B3,’ she explained.
‘This naturally-occurring vitamin, also known as niacinimide, is currently overwhelming the dermatology community with its multitasking ability and plethora of benefits for the skin’.
Niacinimide can be found in salmon, tuna, chicken and milk products – and due to its inflammatory powers, it can be great for those who struggle with acne and rosacea.
There is also research to suggest that it helps boost your skin’s natural collagen production, which results in firmer, plumper skin.