What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin affects many men, clean shaven or otherwise. It is not a singular medical diagnosis - the term simply refers to an inflammation or irritation. The weather, allergies, pollution or indeed your choice of skincare product can all affect how your skin reacts to the environment. Common symptoms include skin redness, and a burning or stinging sensation.
Some men simply react more quickly and sometimes more severely to these external influences than others. With as many as 40% of men reporting issues with skin sensitivity according to recent studies, the question becomes what can be done to mitigate the effects of sensitive skin for those that shave?
Are soaps and shaving creams an irritant of sensitive skin?
Any burning feeling you get when you try a new shaving foam or soap is clinically known as Contact Dermatitis. This is a form of eczema caused by contact with particular chemicals, natural or inorganic. Cosmetic brands are constantly looking for new components to enhance their formulations by improving scent, texture or colour. It is regrettably inevitable that some users will encounter some ingredients their skin does not like, despite exhaustive tests by manufacturers.
Skincare products with a high natural or organic content are likely to be kinder to your skin than those with synthetic chemicals. This balance can normally be found on the packaging of the creams or balms you buy. A natural-based product will make this clear, as it is a positive selling message that sellers are keen to promote.
How does sun affect sensitive skin?
With the summer months delivering the highest levels of UV radiation in the year, some of us will notice heightened irritation to our skin. Sensitive skin is prone to sun damage, often leading to redness and inflammation of the skin. This condition is known as photosensitivity.
When shaving, any sun damage to the skin is likely to create more discomfort to the face. To help avoid this, shield your face from long periods of direct sun exposure and continue to apply broad spectrum 30SPF or higher sun cream. This is probably a good idea whether you have chosen to shave or not.
Techniques to manage sensitive skin when shaving.
Softening the skin with warm water, lubricating your shave with ample cream or equivalent, and using a sharp blade will all help to minimise the effects of sensitive skin. For still more protection, try the following:
- Start shaving with the direction of hair growth, not against. This will place less stress on your skin as you shave.
- Use natural shaving foams, gels or creams, avoiding those with high levels of artificial ingredients.
- Use shave creams that include anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as aloe vera or vitamin E.
- Use sensitive skin-friendly post shave balms to rehydrate and sooth the skin following your shave.