Our skin changes seasonally and with age. From lifestyle factors – like sun and water, to hormones that change as we get older, we may see that our skin reacts differently to products we’ve used for a long time. Whatever challenges you’re facing with your skin, there is no one size fits all solution. Our skin’s needs are as unique as we are. But, though I am not a doctor and am not giving medical advice, I do have personal experience helping clients and myself navigating these changes. I am excited to share my tips and sensitive skin secrets with you today! I hope it helps you navigate your own skin better and more empowered. If you’d like help, I do free consults – just e-mail me Stacy@RealEverything.com
My Sensitive Skin Story
As a teen I had horrible acne, was medicated with prescription products they don’t even let on the market anymore and even that didn’t work. Not a single doctor told me to work on internal healing to address external ways my body was telling me it needed help. I’ve since come a long way to being Healthy, Inside & Out.
the left is after a natural skintervention and lifestyle changes,
the right is after using the right products (listed below)
But then as I’ve gotten older I’ve needed not just to address aging, but sensitive skin as well. Rosacea and eczema are both in my family, and I find the older I get the more rosacea-prone I am. Most recently I had a flare after a day in the sun. This picture on the left is not sunburn, rather a flush from rosacea triggered by the sun. I was able to use the routine below and within 48 hours my skin was calm without any signs of a flare. No bumps or irritation formed with proper hydration and exfoliation.
The Science of Skin
Our skin’s epidermis is made up of 5 layers with stratum corneum, the moisture barrier, as the outermost layer. In and of itself it consists about 20 layers of specialized skin cells and keratin that are continuously renewing and exist to protect your insides. Eyelids are thinner, while layers such as your hands and heels are thicker.
learn more on my Science of Skin article HERE
Think of your skin like bricks and mortar: the bricks are mostly made up of keratin, a protein also found in hair and nails. The mortar is made out of lipids that float into the space between the bricks as protection. ✨ Together it forms the skin’s protective barrier.
The stratum corneum is slightly acidic with a pH of ~ 4-5.5 (aka the acid mantle). This helps form an effective, waterproof barrier to the outside world, preventing epidermal water loss (drying out) and pathogens like bacteria and toxins in.
Water is your friend
Okay – one of the easiest changes you can make: water!! Both to stay hydrated to help dry skin and the temp you use to wash. Hot water can be overly drying for those with a damaged skin barrier.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to use lukewarm water (not much hotter than our body temp). This allows us to get clean without over drying or stripping too many of your skin’s natural oils which are essential to protecting you – inside & out. Seriously!
Our skin acts as a barrier to the outside world – but it is not impenetrable! Protecting the moisture barrier (or the lipid barrier… or the acid mantle) is THE MOST IMPORTANT step in skincare, it truly is the key to healthy skin.
Just four simple steps, no really!
Our skin NEEDS a 4 step process: wash (exfoliate), prep (tone pH), then treat and protect the moisture barrier with lipids. Are you currently doing all of those?
Most of us are not doing all 4 steps on face and body, you’re not alone! But, if your skin is experiencing issues it is almost always because the layers of your skin are disrupted – so focus on helping your epidermis shed with exfoliation, then rebalancing the pH of the acid mantle, and protecting with lipids is the routine we all need. This applies to dryness on the body too. For example, I have a 4 step routine for under my arms because my skin is sensitive to the pH disruption of natural deodorants. What products you use is dependent on your skin’s specific needs. I’m happy to help curate a routine that’s right for you or a loved one.
Exfoliation is for everyone!
Following up on exfoliation: it is really important no matter your skin type! If your makeup cakes, flakes, or doesn’t sit well, if you have dry, combo, or oily skin, if you have milia, rosacea… you need to exfoliate. It removes the dead skin cells that clog pores, improves circulation, encourages cell turnover & better absorption of skincare.
Help those new cells forming when you sleep, remove the dry, dead skin with either a physical (I love the Clear Pore Cleanser because the jojoba beads are most like your own sebum and very gentle) and/or chemical (like fruit acids in Overnight Resurfacing Peel) to help gently slough. Both can be used for most skin, but I do recommend a patch test. I personally double cleanse to get the benefits of a lipid to hydrate first and remove makeup most effectively with our Countertime Cleansing Oil (or Cleansing Balm) and then I clear out the pores with exfoliating wash. Not everyone needs to do this, but it could be a game changer for you!
Balancing the pH
We covered why toning the skin is critical for the pH of the acid mantle. But, it is the most commonly skipped step. *tsk tsk* Let me tell you why it’s my favorite! Prep balances acidity, allowing your skin flora to thrive, sweeps impurities away, helps better absorb your skincare, can even skin tone, reduce pore size, etc.
Think about it this way: Your skin is like a sponge. Cream on a brittle dry sponge won’t absorb. But if you wet the sponge, the cream will sink in. Similarly, large pores are commonly a dry skin issue, like dry earth with cracks. Reducing moisture exacerbates it, but proper levels let good in and keep bad out, with no cracks or divots.
Which brings me to steps 3 & 4: treat your skin’s needs (anti-aging or a dry skin serum, for example) then protect it with hydrating moisturizer (ideally with SPF). We say “protect” because the stratum corneum, the moisture barrier, when intact properly prevents pathogens in or moisture out. Plus, we need SPF for protection of further UV damage. And thus concludes my ted talk on why skin regimens are 4 steps 😉
Sunscreen? YES even in Winter
I love our mineral-based sunscreen which contains Zinc and is anti-inflammatory, perfect for those of us with sensitive skin! Dew Skin + Balancing Facial Oil (combined as one step) is my moisturizer and the secret to truly dewy, glowing skin. Yep, I have oily skin but add oil (details next!). If you don’t want any color, I recommend our Countersun Daily Sheer Defense. They both protect from the sun and from damaging blue rays of screens!
At bedtime SPF isn’t needed. I find that the Countertime Antioxidant Soft Cream is the most hydrating without being too active to create reactions for sensitive skin.
Wash: Countertime Cleansing Oil & Clear Pore Cleanser
Prep: Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence
Treat: Countermatch Intense Moisture Serum
Protect: Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with SPF & Balancing Facial Oil
Wash: Countertime Cleansing Oil
Prep: Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence
Treat: Countermatch Intense Moisture Serum, but 2-3x a week use the Overnight Resurfacing Peel instead*
Protect: Countertime Antioxidant Soft Cream & Balancing Facial Oil or Cleansing Balm after use of the Peel
*to use, apply to prepped skin like a serum, allow to sit on skin 5-10 minutes, and then apply the Protect moisturizer or Cleansing Balm as a hydrating mask after (rub a pea sized amount between hands then press into skin, don’t rub). Leave it on all night and in the morning your skin will be refreshed with natural gentle exfoliation – nothing “peels” off. With sensitive skin I recommend a test patch before full use.
Oils are your secret weapon, even for oily skin
I’m going to let you in on a little secret… facial oils is the secret to just about everything.
The good: as I mentioned above, our skin NEEDS lipids. They’re a big ol’ drink for your skin. Our skin naturally produces oil (sebum), but as we age or have inflammation our oil and collagen production can decrease – which causes dry skin symptoms. Lack of oil in the skin can lead to dry patches/flaky skin, fine lines, wrinkles, and breakouts (yes, acne from being too dry). The right oils also help to tackle specific skin concerns (reduce your own oil production, fight breakouts, plump from lost hydration, brighten and reduce redness or irritation. They really do work with every skin type!
The bad: the wrong type of oils on the wrong person can be occlusive. For example, coconut oil doesn’t add nutrient value to the skin and is pore clogging.
IT WORKS! These are the hands of a team member who helped me prep this info, read the to-do actions, did them, and got this result in THREE days!
So what else do we love?
Some of our favorite Dry Skin Beautycounter favorites work well for sensitive skin, since in both cases we’re working to repair the moisture barrier. My favorites:
- Cleansing Balm (ideal for those with eczema or dry skin patches)
- Charcoal Facial Mask
- Overnight Resurfacing Peel
- Sugar Body Scrub
- Countertime line
- Facial Oils
- Countermatch Adaptive Body Lotion (especially good for dermatitis, psoriasis and KP)
- Melting Body Balm
- Solemates Exfoliating Duo
- Sugarbuff Body Polish
- Body Oil
- Clear Pore Cleanser
- Dew Skin & Sheer Defense SPF moisturizers
And while all products at Beautycoungter do not contain ‘fragrance’ they do use natural scents in some products. Below are the unscented items if you’re sensitive to any strong smells:
- Charcoal Cleansing Bar
- Charcoal Facial Mask
- Countertime Soft Cream, Supreme Cream, and Eye Cream
- Counterman Face Lotion and Smoothing Shave Cream
- Contercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser and SOS Spot Treatment
- Countermatch Adaptive Moisturizer, Hydrating Serum and Body Moisturizer
- Baby Balm
- for SPF both Countersun Sheer Defense and Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer
- First Glow Priming Serum
- Cleansing Balm
- Makeup Removing Cleansing Wipes
I’d love to help you figure out what’s right for you! I offer free consults, just e-mail Stacy@RealEverything.com.
Ready to shop? Choose Stacy Toth HERE so I can send a thank you!
or listen to the podcast HERE: Troubleshooting Dry Winter Skin
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