Beauty Fashion illustration

A battle with sensitive skin

February 13, 2018
Beauty Skincare illustration Alessia Landi Al Draws watercolor

I am annoyed by a lot of stuff, but only very few things piss me off as much as my sensitive skin.

It’s a total bummer: I get rough dry patches when it’s too cold, itchy rashes, pimples when I eat salami (salami is the enemy) and sunburns as soon as Spring comes around. I spend more time trying to figure out how to calm down my skin than any other daily activity.

When I started exercising my skin literally exploded. I started to get big, red, itchy bumps all over my face and soon I started to get them on my body too, especially on my arms and on my ribs. It felt like I was under attack by an army of monster mosquitoes. I didn’t connect this horrible reaction to exercise at first and, after a few weeks spent trying to resist to scratch my face off, I visited a dermatologist.

I totally hate self-diagnosis and believe in medicine completely, but this doctor was a total idiot. He looked at my skin for two seconds, decided it was acne (even though the symptoms and appearance were not related to acne at all) and prescribed me isotretinoin (Accutane), after making me sign a waiver of liability.

When I got home I checked the side effects of Accutane: not only it is recommended exclusively for severe acne cases, but has an endless list of serious side effects. I understood why I had to sign that waiver that he didn’t even let me read. I’m not going to go into lengthy details about what made me super angry, I’ll just tell you that I threw the pills in the bin and vowed to never visit that clinic ever again.

That left me with my itchy business unsolved and a very stormy mood.

Then one day by chance, I tried a toner from Etude House made to soothe sensitive skin and my problem almost completely disappeared. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what the magic was all about (the slightly acidic pH? Some anti-inflammatory ingredient?), but it was working like a charm.

But my skin got really over it only when I went home for Christmas and I didn’t exercise for three weeks. I still totally didn’t connect exercise and my skin issues *insert facepalm emoji* until the day I picked up my morning work-out routine again and I was overwhelmed by an eruption of itchiness and bumpiness of inhuman proportions. I battled the fear of showing my face on Instagram stories and begged my followers to help me, I just didn’t know what to do anymore.

That is when I suddenly realized the connection with exercise: it could have been a reaction to sweat and heat. In the previous days I went running outside: in the heat of Singapore, it means that you sweat like a pig, then your sweat dries on your face while you cool down (“cool” has a very special meaning in Singapore though) but your face remains boiling hot. Those 10 minutes between my morning blast and the shower could have been the culprit of all my itchy sufferings.

I thought that part of the solution could be to remove the sweat from my face before cooling down. So I bought a pack of wipes for sensitive skin and started wiping my face every 10 minutes during my work-out. Immediately after my cardio session, I would also rinse my face with very cold water, to cool down my skin and remove any trace of sweat.

This totally blocked the appearance of new bumps (I was right! I love being right!) but the old ones still remained in all their itchy glory. I needed a good cream to calm down my skin deeply. I started googling like crazy for a good product to fit my purpose but then I remembered I already got something new at home.

A couple of days earlier, I received a few samples from an Australian skincare brand, Canvas, that just launched their Singapore distribution. It’s all about natural ingredients and the power of aromatherapy (the fragrances are wonderful), I am usually not a natural products freak but the samples package contained a Calendula cream that promised wonders for irritated sensitive skin.

So I tried it: my bumps disappeared overnight. I couldn’t believe it at first, I thought it was just a coincidence, but I kept using it and my skin got visibly better and smoother day by day. It was truly a godsend. I ran to the website and bought the full sized tube (it is a bit expensive, but believe me no amount of money is too much if it is able to solve that horrible uncomfortable issue, plus the tube is huge. And by the way, they have 20% discount until the end of February with code GLOW).

So this is the list of the holy products that saved my skin (and that I totally recommend you if you have sensitive skin issues too!):

  1. Canvas Beauty Calendula cream
    This is the queen of the creams for sensitive skin and I am so happy I found it! I checked the ingredients and not only it contains Calendula extracts but also Allantoin and Centella Asiatica, which have anti-inflammatory purposes. I guess this ingredient list clearly explains why it worked so well overnight. It has a very fresh pleasant smell and adsorbs immediately, leaving the skin hydrated but absolutely not greasy. I used code GLOW (valid until 25th Feb) to get 20% off my purchase.
  2. Etude House Soon Jung pH 5.5 relief toner
    I fell in love with it at first try and I am currently finishing my 4th bottle. I wipe it on my face every time I wash it or remove my make-up and after my work-outs. I just checked the ingredients and it contains Calendula (Calendula for the win!) and Scutellaria baicalensis root extracts, which could very much be the key to its extremely effective calming power. I use it also when I visit Europe in Winter and I find it suits perfectly both harsh, cold climates (helping to hydrate and soothe the skin attacked by wind and low temperatures) and Singapore’s steamy tropical heat (by calming the irritations due to sweat, heat and sun).
  3. The Face Shop chia seeds wipes
    These are the wipes I use during my work-outs. I believe any wipes would actually do, but I really like these because they have a very fresh smell and leave a clean and cool sensation on the skin. Plus, they are made for sensitive skin, so I trust they won’t be too aggressive with my battered skin. I found out they contain alcohol though, so even if they work well for me, stay away in case you don’t like to put products containing alcohol on your face.

So I guess the bottom line is: if you have sensitive skin, use products containing Calendula! I guess I am a convert to products containing natural extracts after all… And I am totally tempted to visit that dermatologist again, show him my skin and yell “Acne my a$$!” :p

xx Al

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  • Reply Kazuko February 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Thanks for the tip! I’m currently facing similar problems. :/ Even products for ultra sensitive skin make my skin freak out. And I just don’t know why? A super tiny amount of tea tree oil mixed with my moisturiser currently works for me. But I’m not super happy. Will check out cremes containing Calendula!

    • Reply Al February 14, 2018 at 1:22 am

      Hi Kazuko!! So nice to read your comment here! Definitely try Calendula, check the Canvas website (either Singapore or Australia website) I think they ship worldwide!

  • Reply Berit February 13, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Alessia this is ridiculous! 😂😂😂 After all what I read, your face reacts to everything! Be careful not to react to the banana in front of you. How does your skin stand your cats? This is something that normal people could be allergic.
    The only consistent answer to all this madness can only be a skin transplantation! 😂🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    I’m so sorry, I just can’t help myself. 🤷‍♀️🤩🤣🤣

    • Reply Al February 14, 2018 at 1:20 am

      Ahahahah actually I used to get allergic skin reactions to bananas too 😂😂 (not anymore)… And strawberries! My cats are OK… I am actually allerhic to cats (LOL) but mine are a hypoallergic breed, they don’t produce the saliva allergen that usually causes the reaction. But seriously, sometimes I also think a skin transplant is the only solution! 😂

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