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Oops! Beauty treatments that are irritating your sensitive skin

Elizabeth Mitchell is a freelance fashion and beauty writer living in Los Angeles. A graduate of New York University, she regularly contributes to The Fashion Spot, The Luxury Spot and authors the Star Style column for StyleBakery Teen. ...

Beauty treatments and sensitive skin

When your skin’s as unpredictable as the weather, knowing how to care for it is of utmost importance. That means the beauty treatments that your gal pals indulge in may not be an option for your irritable skin! We chatted with experts from coast to coast to find out what treatments trigger sensitive skin and what products help.

Beauty treatments and sensitive skin


Waxing can wreak havoc on skin that tends to inflame easily, explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Laura Skellchock, "the mechanical action of pulling out hairs, in addition to ingredients in the wax, are both potential irritants." Women with sensitive skin may experience redness, bumps, bruising, burning and even ingrown hairs post-treatment — definitely not a good look.

Beauty treatments and sensitive skin

If you do decide to wax, apply two layers of corn flour powder to the intended area, suggests celebrity esthetician Scott Vincent Borba. This allows wax to adhere better to the skin so that only unwanted body hair is removed. Post-wax, use an antibiotic cream to soothe skin and chill it first to provide instant cooling relief.


"Facials can be problematic due to the introduction of products that aren't typically used by the individual," says Dr. Skellchock. Pores don't open and close and the steam that's used during treatment to help open pores can be particularly damaging to sensitive skin. Facials with extractions also aren't highly recommended and must be done very gently, if at all. Extractions can cause scarring, broken blood vessels and overall weakening of the skin (especially if done incorrectly).

Beauty treatments and sensitive skin

Keep your pores free of debris with mild retinoids. Or, as licensed esthetician and makeup artist Stacya Silverman suggests, "use gentle products at home free of harsh chemicals and acids, and change your diet to an anti-inflammatory diet — no sugars, white potatoes, juices, beans or other inflammatory foods."


Microdermabrasion is a form of mechanical exfoliation that physically removes the uppermost layers of the epidermis, which facilitates skin repair and new cellular generation. "While it is not the exfoliation itself that causes irritation," says Dr. David Bank, President of the New York State Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic?Surgery, "chemicals in the product may trigger a reaction or the newly revealed skin layer may be too sensitive and thin to be fully exposed to environmental factors." For those with sensitive skin, microdermabrasion can result in irritation, redness, rashes and in extreme cases, even bleeding.

Beauty treatments and sensitive skin

Try a fruit acid peel, suggests Dr. David Bank. These are very gentle and a great way to enhance exfoliation for sensitive skin types.

4Chemical Peels

Chemical peels use an alpha hydroxy acid such as glycolic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells. "These preparations are available in various concentrations, but preparations greater than about 10 or 15 percent should only be administered by a professional," explains licensed esthetician Laura Myers. The protective layer of outermost skin is removed during a chemical peel, which can irritate and dry sensitive skin.

Beauty treatments and sensitive skin

Always apply moisturizer after a peel to help hydrate skin. And wear a good broad spectrum sunscreen. People who fail or forget to do this are more prone to sunburns, which in turn, can further irritate skin, says Myers.



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