One of the most common questions I get asked is “how do I take care of my sensitive skin?” For a sensitive skin care plan that actually works, it all starts with getting your skin clean, which means having the right shower routine. The following 5-step sensitive skin shower routine is the simplest way to feel good in your skin.
WHAT IS SENSITIVE SKIN?
Although this shower routine works for any skin type, it’s important to know if you belong in the sensitive skin category. Sensitive skin is when certain cleansers, soaps, detergents, lotions, chemicals, fragrances, etc, make the skin react. Sensitive skin can react in different ways including excessive dryness, redness, inflammation, itching, or peeling.
If you notice that your skin reacts easily to different materials then you most likely have sensitive skin. However, I always suggest seeing a board-certified dermatologist to correctly determine your skin type.
THE 5-STEP SHOWER ROUTINE FOR SENSITIVE SKIN
STEP 1 – SHOWER ONCE A DAY
The consensus with most skin scientists and dermatologists is to take one shower a day. No more, and no less. The shower shouldn’t be longer than 10 minutes. Excessive showering can actually irritate the skin.
Showering when you’re dirty can be helpful for the skin, but over-showering (especially when you are already clean) can actually strip the skin of healthy oils that are protecting the skin.
STEP 2 – WATER TEMP
I’ve heard a variety of misconceptions about what temperature shower water should be. But the truth is, the best water temperature to shower in, when you have sensitive skin, is warm. Stay away from water temperatures that are extreme. Showers that are too hot or too cold are both no-nos for sensitive skin types.
I know, I know, a hot shower feels so good especially when you live in colder temperatures, but the truth is, hot showers can actually further dry out your skin.
And while people currently love cold plunges, extended cold water exposure is not good for your skin. If you want to experiment with cold effects, consider a short “temperature turn down” in your 10-minute warm shower. As a board-certified dermatologist that specializes in holistic dermatology, so many skin issues start and are affected by issues inside your body. Everything is connected. Doing simple things to take care of your internal system will greatly improve your skin.
STEP 3 – CLEANSER
We all love a body wash with an incredible scent, but doing so may further irritate your skin. I suggest using a small amount of a gentle lotion-based cleanser in the shower. Lather it on your stomach, chest, and back, but actually lay off using it on the arms and legs. Your arms and legs only need a little water to get clean. Consider a fragrance-free option.
STEP 4 – DRYING OFF
Once you’re out of the shower, you’re going to want to pat, not wipe, your skin dry with a clean towel. When your skin is still damp, apply a glycerin-based cream moisturizer all over your body. A glycerin-based cream moisturizer is one that is thick enough that it requires a tub or jar from which you scoop out the cream. When you have sensitive skin, you’ve graduated from pump or squeeze lotions that are water-based and easily evaporate from the surface of your skin. They do not provide the adequate moisturization that your skin needs. Glycerin-cream moisturizers lock in moisture and support a healthy skin barrier.
STEP 5 – REPEAT THE MOISTURIZER
Keep your sensitive skin hydrated all day long by reapplying cream moisturizer every 12 hours. This means if you shower in the morning, re-apply head-to-toe before you go to bed at night. Reapplying with your cream moisturizer will help maintain your protective barrier and hold moisture within your skin all day and night long.
FAVORITE SENSITIVE SKIN CARE PRODUCTS
Just because you have sensitive skin doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands of dollars on the right products. My favorite, and most recommended, brands for both lotion-based cleansers and glycerin-based cream moisturizers include:
- Blue Lizard
Do you have sensitive skin? I’d love for you to try this plan for a week and let me know how it goes. I’m here to make you feel good in your own skin, and finding the right routines for your skin type makes all the difference.
Dr. Angela Brimhall
Board Certified Dermatologist
Board Certified Mohs Surgeon
Dr. Angela Brimhall, TheHolisticDerm, is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon offering skin education and advice that she has learned over the past 15 years of treating patients and helping them with their most common problems, diseases, concerns, skin cancer, and other life-altering skin conditions. She has filtered through and applied what really works to her own life and the lives of her patients and created this space to share what she has learned with you. Dr. Angela Brimhall lives and practices dermatology and Mohs micrographic surgery in Salt Lake City, Utah.