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Looking Good - December 19, 2016

*-- Three Easy Steps to Calmer Skin --*

Most women will tell you that they have sensitive skin, but what most of us call sensitive is actually irritable. While the difference in terminology might not seem like a big deal, the right treatment depends on the right diagnosis. While only a very small percentage of women suffer from truly sensitive skin, a skin condition that frequently burns, itches and turns red, the more common condition that most of us face is occasional irritation or increased sensitivity. Whereas sensitive skin is sensitive regardless of environmental conditions, irritation can be rooted in a variety of factors.

If your skin has become inflamed or itchy, there are a few things to do right away. First, temporarily discontinue all your anti-aging products. The reason these products work so well is that they usually have some fairly active ingredients - glycolic acid, retinol, vitamin C and benzoyl peroxide to name a few. These alpha hydroxyl acids can either cause irritation to begin with or contribute to already inflamed skin. The next preliminary step is to switch to a mild fragrance-free cleanser. Look for glycerin or dimethicone on the label and be sure it actually says "fragrance-free." Products that are "unscented" still contain a fragrance used to mask the other odors.



With these preliminary measures in place, here are three steps to take to get your inflamed skin under control:

Cleanse

Using a fragrance- and soap-free cleanser, gently wash your face. If your skin is combination to oily, use a cleanser with a milky consistency. For dry skin, use a creamy formula. Avoid using any kind of buffer or washcloth - your hands will provide more than enough scrubbing action. Rinse with lukewarm water (hot water can be too harsh and further irritate your skin) and blot gently with a soft towel. Skip the toner; even fragrance- and alcohol-free products can be too harsh for skin in this sensitive state.

Protect

Gently apply a fragrance-free moisturizer with broad spectrum SPF 30 specifically formulated for sensitive skin. If redness is a problem for you, look for a moisturizer with feverfew, bisabolol (from chamomile) or licochalcone (from licorice) to calm your skin. If your favorite moisturizer doesn't contain a sunscreen, apply one that includes zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (neither of which should react with other ingredients) on top of your moisturizer.



Treat

Apply a treating moisturizer at night to help repair the damage. Look for one that includes ceramides that will help repair your skin's natural barrier. To treat fine lines and wrinkles, look for a moisturizer that contains kinetin or peptides - both gentler anti-aging ingredients than alpha hydroxyl acids. To treat acne, use a product with salicylic acid, but limit it to no more than 2 percent.

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