Beauty Is Wellness Cheat Sheet: Sensitive, Reactive Skin

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What's a Beauty Is Wellness Cheat Sheet? It's your in-depth guide to a common beauty concern— from weight gain to skin redness, acne and thinning hair— and your plan to remedy it from the inside out. Like everything at Beauty Is Wellness, beauty foods are the foundation, and healthy habits and products support you on your path to gorgeous.

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Sensitive, reactive skin

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Persistent redness, itching, flushing, burning; skin reactions to products, foods, the environment, or emotions.

52 percent of us describe our skin as 'sensitive'— it's a fast-growing beauty concern!

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Allergies to food. Food allergies not only cause itchiness and rashes, they mess with digestive health, which causes major sensitivity issues. Pinpointing allergies and removing allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, and corn are big ones) from your diet can help your digestion (and skin) bounce back.

Allergies to products. Conventional beauty products are filled with ingredients like synthetic fragrance, dyes, sulfates, and alcohol that commonly cause skin reactions. But they're not the only ones at fault. Natural products can cause skin reactions too, especially certain essential oils, exfoliants and fruit acids.

Over-doing your skin care routine. Putting a skin care routine in place is a great habit, but too much sudsing (especially with hot water, or cleanser that strips natural oils from your skin), over-scrubbing (with a rough washcloth, a face brush, or an physical exfoliant like walnut or apricot shells), and frequent steaming can leave your skin in a dry, red, sensitive and otherwise sorry state. Remember, sometimes less is more when it comes to skin care. Wash your face with cleanser to remove makeup before bed, but you might not want to repeat the entire process in the morning if you can get by with water alone.

Inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response to conditions as varied as food choices, stress, environment and sleep deprivation. When inflammation persists in the body, it sets us up for advanced aging, disease and bothersome issues like redness and sensitivity.

Stress and emotions. Out of control stress can cause a buildup of the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to dryness and sensitive skin. Stress can also cause a surge of adrenaline, which sets off the histamines that cause rashes, hives, and itchiness.  Other emotions can cause skin sensitivity too; feelings of distress have been shown to cause a rise in feelings of pain and itch in the skin.

Impaired detox. When your body isn't cleansing and eliminating waste properly, or it's overburdened by toxins, your skin lends a hand in the process and reactions show up on your skin.

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  • Eliminate allergens from your diet for at least 2 weeks, and look for signs of improvement in your skin. One by one, incorporate possible allergens back into your diet to see if your skin reacts. Besides the big allergy culprits (wheat, dairy, corn, soy, eggs), there are lesser known allergens like nightshades (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes) that can cause reactions in some sensitive individuals.
  • Strengthen digestion with probiotics, fermented foods, thorough chewing and mindful mealtimes. You'll ease the digestive burden on your body—and skin.
  • Think spices, not spicy, when you cook your meals. While hot, spicy foods can aggravate sensitive, reactive skin, fresh spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and fennel reduce inflammation, steady blood sugar and aid in digestion.
  • Eat antihistamine foods that calm allergic reactions. Foods that contain the phytochemical quercetin are a good choice, like organic apples (you must eat the skins!), rooibos tea, cranberries, and fennel.
  • Calm inflammation by eating an anti-inflammatory diet (check out my Anti-Inflammatory Beauty Nutrition Guide here) full of whole, unprocessed foods and minimal refined sugar. It's not really a diet at all— just a smart plan built around the foods that prevent early aging, disease and TONS of beauty and health issues.
  • Boost your intake of foods that contain zinc, vitamin A and omega fatty acids (see below).
  • Strengthen your skin barrier with products that contain topical probiotics, or use a raw apple cider vinegar toner to restore your (naturally acidic) skin barrier.
  • Cool sensitivity topically with ingredients like cucumber, aloe, chamomile, azulene, and yogurt in your natural products.

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  1. Wild salmon for anti-inflammatory nutrition and skin-strengthening omega-3s.
  2. Chia seeds for major omega-3s. They also support healthy elimination.
  3. Pumpkin seeds for a burst of anti-inflammatory zinc.
  4. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi to build beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.
  5. Olive oil calms inflammation and helps you absorb nutrients from...
  6. Kale, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, and spinach for a big dose of skin strengthening vitamin A. Eat them with a little bit of healthy fat (like olive oil) to fully absorb their beauty nutrients.

Do you struggle with sensitive, reactive skin? What natural tips have helped you calm your skin from the inside out?

Image by: Thomas' Pics