You finally did it; you went all out on your skin.
You’ve layered on every product you can find to try to diffuse the inflammation.
Then why is your face still reacting to everything you put on it?
Why has your foolproof 10-step skincare routine betrayed you?
The reason, sensitive skin is highly complex.
So if you genuinely want. to understand why your skin is inflamed.
You first need to travel under your skin before treating it effectively.
Why do I Have Sensitive Skin?
Your skin inflammation is a defence mechanism; it is your skin’s natural way of protecting itself against injury and infection.
It can become sensitive after trauma because of irritation from harsh products, stress, and even poor lifestyle habits such as smoking and repeated exposure to UV rays or pollution, all contributing factors to why your skin may be sensitive.
In order to truly understand what sets your skin into inflammation mode, we will have to get a bit skin sciencey, so please bare with us.
If you bump your knee, you usually feel immediate pain; your knee becomes red, swollen, and painful over the next few hours as your body sends white blood cells and fluid to the area to heal the injury.
This typically has a fast onset and can last a few days before normalising; it is your body’s immediate response to harmful stimuli.
Usually, within a few days, the swelling and inflammation will subside.
Why is My Skin Not Calming Down?
Inflammation begins as your body’s response to keep out infection.
When your skin is damaged, it sets off several biological events involving the blood vessels, cells, and the immune system.
Imagine a foreign body like pollen enters the bloodstream; this impairs your immune system, and this starts a cycle of inflammation referred to as immunogenic inflammation:
- Your skin cells get killed off in the wounded area, and the surrounding cells register this as dangerous.
- In response, your immune cells come rushing in, sending out chemical messages that mean danger; this action attracts WHITE BLOOD CELLS, as this research found (1); they are your warrior cells and the primary agents for fighting off intruders.
- They put up a great fight, releasing a toxic mixture of hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals to destroy unwelcome foreign bodies, such as viruses, cellular debris, and bacteria.
- This process results in pain, redness, swelling, and heat associated with inflammation.
If you keep doing the wrong things to your skin or using the wrong ingredients, the white blood cells keep putting up the fight, causing inflammation. It’s a vicious cycle.
Treating Inflammation in Your Skin
The first step in tackling inflammation is to minimise the triggers.
One of the best ways to do this is with a skin detox, just like you would do a regular detox; this helps to clear the inflammation-causing impurities and environmental irritants that can build up on your skin over time:
Next, follow these steps in this order:
- In the first instance, if your skin is hard out, stinging and inflamed, we recommend simply treating it with water and an ice compress
- Use only very gentle products; whilst this won’t necessarily guarantee you won’t have an adverse reaction, it means that your product may not contain common allergens.
- Check to see that alcohol ingredients aren’t lurking in your products, especially your toner, as these are far too astringent for sensitive skin.
- Ensure your cleansers are sulfate-free; harsh and irritating detergents like sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate should be avoided at all costs. Opt instead for a very gentle yet protective cleanser like our Miracle cleanse.
- The next step would be to layer with a gentle, naturally low, weight hyaluronic acid product like H20.;
- Our Fortify barrier repair cream and Bio Lipid complex will help rebuild a barrier function that has been undermined by inflammation.
- When considering moisturisers, look for intelligently formulated products containing skin-identical ingredients that deplete your skin because of trauma or age.
- Avoid using steroids; instead, use anti-inflammatory botanicals or nonsteroidal ingredients.
- If you have acute inflammation, just layer Nectar treatment balm all over your skin; it is nature’s answer to Vaseline as it puts an occlusive film over the surface of your skin, locking in moisture and calming even the most inflamed skin,
- Use only fragrance-free; this is important because synthetic perfumes are the number one cause of allergic skin reactions.
- Essential oils have their place in skin healing but should be kept to a minimum. We only use blue tansy and rose absolute in Ceramide repair balm and Immortelle for their highly calming and healing properties.
Your Sensitivity May Be Due to This Enzyme
Recent research has found an enzyme that goes under the name COX-2, which may be why your skin is inflamed.
External stressors such as pollution, chemicals, UV fragrances, and more can initiate a crucial enzyme in your skin called COX-2, as this study found (2).
It is an enzyme that acts like an alarm system to identify a threat and creates an inflammatory response in your skin; usually, the threat subsides, and the alarm shuts off.
However, the alarm is triggered repeatedly if the inflammation is not treated early enough.
This is the case with chronic inflammation, which, as we have discussed, exhausts your skin’s defence system, weakening its structure and resulting in the degradation of collagen and elastin and impairing your barrier function.
All of this leaves your skin in a constant state of low-grade inflammation that continues to damage your skin cells, causing premature ageing; it is a vicious cycle.
To conclude. The naked truth
So to recap, this is the process your skin goes through when it becomes inflamed:
- Some of the chemicals released by the hero white cells reach the dermis.
- Once there, they engorge blood vessels creating a histamine action.
- This raises the temperature of the wounded site, killing the invading foreign bodies.
- This, in turn, creates inflammation, making skin appear sensitised and irritated.
Fortunately, the inflammation is usually not acute; in most cases, your body returns to its natural homeostatic state.
However, chronic inflammation that doesn’t quit can cause negative stimuli to linger, which sets off an unhealthy cycle of inflammation that can go largely undetected under the surface.
This can result in inflammation, and granulose infections, causing severe damage if not detected early enough.
One of the most impactful things you can do is recognise the type of inflammation you have and then eliminate the potential triggers from the list above, literally becoming your own label detective.
You need to stimulate a healthier environment for your skin, repair and balance the delicate micro-flora that makes up the acid mantle and encourage the production of collagen and elastin.
These changes will also increase cellular turnover and improve the skin barrier overall, preventing potential infections and slowing the damaging effects of premature ageing.
Your skin is the largest organ on your body and one of the first things people notice about you, so we think you’d agree it deserves some TLC.
1. Research in skin inflammation
2. New insights into the functions of Cox-2 in the skin