What is Sensitive Skin?
Before I started using natural products, I struggled with skin troubles. My skin was increadibly dry all over my body and I would plaster myself in moisturiser after showing each day. The skin on my face was so flaky even after applying foundation, it would flake after a few hours. Plus I had many broken capillaries on my face. My legs itched like mad. I had dematitis on my hands and stuggled to wear rings. My scalp was so flaky that I would have to shampoo it to get rid of the scurf not becuase it looked greasy. My hair was a mass of split ends and it came out easily when I brushed it. My lips were so dry that I had to apply lip balm every half hour. Ooh la la! I could go on. I was buying products that you would have heard of in healthfood shops and eating a healthy diet, but still my troubles persisted.
Skin which is uncomfort, itchy, red, flaky, with rashes, bumps or hives could be sign that you have sensitive skin. The symptoms can be persisitant or just flare up from time to time. It can be a symptom of underlying skin disorders such as eczema, dermatitis, rosacea or psoriasis or urticaria. However there are many other factors too. The skin is mirror of our internal health so if you do have sensitive skin, try to understand the causes.
What is the Difference between a Skin Sensitive and a Skin Allergy?
Skin sensitivities are different to skin allergies. In senstive skin, it is the nerves which are over reactive whereass with an allergy is a fully fledged immune response. For an allergy to form, it requires initial exposure to an allergen. The body recognises the allergen as a ‘foreign’ substance and creates antibodies. A later exposure to the allergen produces a fully fledged immune response. The skin may react with redness, cracking, itchingand weeping. Other possibly life threatening symptoms can be present, such as difficulty breathing, general malaise and even anaphylaxis. Allergies and sensitivities can be caused by cosmetics, toiletries and cleaners and even some natural products. Do get any allergies investigated by your doctor and have them recorded on your medical records.
Well it was good that I didn’t have an allergy, but not great to have my sin and hair in such poor condition.
What Products Cause Sensitive Skin?
There are many causes, but I believe that conventional toiletries, cosmetics and household cleaners are the key culprits. Just because they are sold in shops doesn’t mean they are safe and even if it is a big brand does not mean you should trust it. At least with cosmetics, you can read the ingredient list, but do you know what is in your household cleaners and clothes washing products? As the full list of ingredients is not shown on the labels of cleaning products, you wouldn’t know what you are putting on your skin, or worst still down the drain and into our rivers. Even the popular eco cleaners don’t tell you everything. Replacing these complex chemical products with single ingredient natural products forms the emphasis of the entire Natural Spa Supplies website. In this blog, I will emphasise two products Rhassoul Clay to replace shampoo, soap and shower gel and Organic Soapnuts for doing your washing up, household cleaning and laundry. These two products alone can help give profound improvements.
How do I know this? Simple, in 2007 I used Rhassoul Clay for the first time and instantly, the flaky skin vanished and my scalp was clear. You will be able to read on how I came across the clay and how it instantly tranformed my life in my earlier blog. Just before that I had started using soaapnuts for my laundry, but I didn’t know that it could be made into a household cleaner and washing up liquid. That would come later!
Does Diet Effect Skin Sensitivity?
Diet – Our ability to digest foods changes as we get older and as the power of our digestive enzymes decreases. If you have allergies and sensitivities, it is a good idea to keep a food diary and see how you and your skin feels when you take different foods and drinks. For example if I drink wine high in sulphates my tummy itches. If I drink wine lower in sulphates I am fine. You could even see a nutritionist or kineseologist to see if there are foods that you should avoid. Processed foods and drinks are nutritionally poor and often high in artificial ingredients. They should be avoided by everyone. Some people benefit from exclusion diets where you cut out foods that might be causing the issues. This can help to identify the culprits. Do check whether you are getting the right nutritional balance such as Omega 3, Vitamin C etc.
Does Stress Effect the Skin?
Stress – a little bit of stress keeps us motivated and efficient, but too much and there are a cascade of negative health effects, poor sleep, unhealthy diet and poor mood. Exercise, sensible eating, and good sleep practices can help as can talking to friends and family who may help you see a new perspective. Sometimes we can make life changes with the aim of reducing stress levels. Or learn therapies such as mindfulness or yoga which improve the coping mechanisms.
Can Water Effect Skin Sensivity?
Water Quality – Hard Water, Chlorinated Water and Very Hot Water can cause the skin to react. You might consider fitting a water softener and you can get them to attach to shower heads and making sure the water used for washing is comfortably warm, but never hot.
Can the Weather Effect Sensitive Skin?
The Weather – With sensitive skins, the rain, the sun, the wind, excess heat or cold can cause the skin to react.
Two Simple Steps You Can Take to Help Sensitive Skin
Use Rhassoul Clay and Soapnuts! Many skin conditions improve with the use of Rhassoul Clay for washing the hair and body. A simple explanation for this is that as hairy mammals we are evolved to using clay and not complex chemical formulations. Soapnuts can help a lot too due to their skin friendly virtues. Soap bearing plants exist the world over, and again, they have been used all through the ages for cleaning tasks, laundry and skin and hair care. These products are not only skin friendly, they are planet friendly and economical too.
Step 1. The External use of Rhassoul Clay for Sensitive Skins
Rhassoul clay can help to calm down senstive skin. If you are allergic to typical skin and hair products, the clay is normally a safe bet, but of course do try it first on a small area of skin before widescale use. Make sure that you start with a clear medical diagnosis because certain skin conditions can mask life-threatening conditions. Systemic skin conditions, as well as a multitude of other complaints respond particularly well to the detoxifying, nourishing (minerals and trace elements), and other beneficial features of clay.
Going Chemical Free
Every product, whether chemical or natural, placed on the skin is detected by the immune system. Many people use a multitude of products on their skin each day which may give rise to chemical reactions actually on the skin. Keep things simple for your body by switching to Rhassoul Clay and Soapnuts.
One mistake that people frequently make is that they source a natural skin moisturizer and natural soaps, but then continue with normal foaming shampoos and conditioners. When you rinse your hair, these chemical products are distributed over the entire skin and traces are left everywhere. That’s why we suggest going totally chemical free by using the Rhassoul Clay for the hair and skin.
Can Reducing Water Exposure Help Sensitive Skin?
Yes. Minimize the time spent in the bath or shower because the chlorine in the water is thought to be one of the causes of skin troubles, especially dry itchy skin conditions. Exposure to chlorine, the poison gas of the First World War, is very high while showering. This is because you are breathing in the vapour and the hot skin is very receptive to chemicals. In the UK, fluoride is added to some of the water and this poses dangers too.
I have spoken to many psoriasis suffers who regularly spend 30 minutes or more in the shower or who spend long periods in the bath. This can strip our skin’s protective oils and make the skin more permeable. It is a good idea to try strip washing through most of the week, restricting yourself to one or two short showers of baths each week. It helps a lot as well to reduce the temperature of the water, – it means that the absorption chemicals is reduced and less of the protective oilsare washed from the skin. By strip washing i.e. just washing the parts of the body which need washing on daily basis, or thorough the course of the week getting around the whole body is a great way to reduce chlorine and fluoride exposure. Please visit the Strip Washing Challenge to get inspiration!
How Can You Get Clean with Short Showers and Baths?
When showering, shorten the exposure to any chemicals present in water, by wetting the skin with a short burst of water only. Then apply liquid clay over the body and in the hair, massaging to assure thorough cleansing. Keep the clay moist by dipping the hand in a bowl of water if it starts to dry out. Do not let the clay dry on the skin and this is especially important with sensitive skin. Use the shower to quickly rinse the clay from the body and from the hair.
Does it Matter Which Deodorant You Use When You Have Sensitive Skin?
Yes, it does. Make sure that you use a natural non-allergenic deodorant. Bear in mind that many deodorants sold in health food shops are made using industrial waste and contain pollutants! Ammonium Alum is one example of a synthetic deodorant for which there is no natural source. If your underarms feel sore or if you develop a rash from deodorising, this may be the reason. Many people also use to much deodorant. To be sure you have a fully natural and pure deodorant, use volcanically formed alum crystal (natural potassium alum). At Natural Spa Supplies, our volcanic alum is totally natural, unprocessed and fully traceable. Even then you should only use deodorants as needed, i.e. when you are working over people and not necessarily every day.
Does Moisturiser Help Sensitive Skin?
Some commerical moisturisers actually make the skin sensitive and one of the reasons is because they contain paraffin or petroleum based products. While the skin can absorb plant based oil, moisturizers containing petroleum based mineral oils may form an unnatural barrier, both on the surface of the skin and underneath the skin layer, where they remain. The skin helps eliminate water, salt, fat soluble toxins, heavy metals and other chemicals which the body can not break down or remove with the internal organs. How can the waste products be released when the skin is saturated in petroleum?
I use cold pressed pure organic Argan Oil on my face, neck, nails and on my legs. The rest of my skin does not need moisturizer because I have found that since using rhassoul clay and exfoliating periodically with Hemp Oil Soap, I have a reduced the need to moisturize. We certainly discourage people from habitually moisturing the entire body as the skin needs to ‘breath’.
Once I realised that the Vaseline was drying my lips, I managed to formulate a lip balm using 3 natural ingredients which I have been using just a few times a day over the last 13 years. I can remember, when I was a Vaseline user, that if I left home without my tin, I would have to return home or go straight to a shop. I couldn’t be without it and I was a complete addict. The Natural Spa Supplies Argan Lip balm chaanged all that!
How Can Using Soapnuts Help Sensitive Skin?
You are wearing clothes everyday and sleeping in between sheets every night. This means that any washing powder, fabric conditioner or tumble dryer sheets must be skin friendly. They clearly are not as the washing powder manufacturers encourage you to avoid skin contact with these products. These products leave many traces on the clothes to make them look white, feel soft and smell really fragrant.
These chemicals, so easily absorbed in the skin can cause sensitivities. If you get rashes in the warm areas of your body, it could be the case that the sweat is dissolving these traces off your clothes and the skin is absorbing them. I am also concerned about breathing in all that artificial fragrance day in day out. – These frgrances are neurotoxins and they can cause damage to the lungs and other body systems. Unbelievably, many of the ingredients used in these clothes washing products are also known carcinogens. Beside our own health, conventional washing powders, fabric conditioner pollute our rivers and have devastating efects on our wildlife. I am dead against using them.
Step 2 Bring Soap nuts into your life!
How Do You Use Soapnuts for Laundry?
Soapnuts are a great solution for going chemical free with your laundry, they are much cheaper than washing powder, costing as little as 5p per machine load and very easy to use.
When you wash the clothes just put -4-5 soapnuts in an odd sock, tie it up and place it in the machine drum with the laundry. The sock of soapnuts will give you 3-5 machine loads depending on water temperature, load size etc. Only the very lightest fragrance can be discerned when the clothes come out o the washing machine, but once the clothes are dry, cotton smells like cotton, wool like wool. With the tradional uses for soapnuts as a skin disease treatment, they are safe to wash the hair and skin and they could possibly give the skin some extra support.
How To Use Soapnuts for your Washing Up and Household Cleaning?
We also stand the soapnuts in water to allow the saponins (the soapy substance) to leach out and then we have a great household cleaner and washing up liquid – again something which doesn’t leave toxic vapours. It get even better becuase you don’t need to use rubber gloves to use the homemade soapnut cleaner. In fact please don’t use rubber gloves! I did used to get dermatitis under my rings, even when I used rubber gloves. However now I just use Soapnuts, it no longer happens and that can be after doing lots of washing up, cleaning counters, the floors, the loos, windows – a lot of exposure. It also means you can be a lot more spontaneous with doing these household tasks.
If you have sensitive skin, you have a lot to gain by switching to these two products and by exploring our whole website range. We are here to help you and to answer your questions!
More Info? The following sources are fascinating and will help to open up the huge and rapidly expanding world of clay use.
Dextreit, R. & Abehsera, M., 1993, Our Earth Our Cure: The Macrobiotic Approach to Life-Long Health, A Handbook of Natural Medicine for Today, Citadel, New York.
Musafir, A. & Chazot, P., 2006, Clay Cures: Natures Miracle for the New Age, Mapin Publishing/Grantha Corporation.