Who doesn’t want to be pampered now and then with a facial or body treatment? But when you have sensitive skin, not all spa experiences are created equal.
People with sensitive skin may find that their skin becomes irritated with the application of cosmetics, toiletries, and personal products. It’s common: About 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men say that they experience sensitive skin, according to
Even if you don’t have visible signs of irritation, like redness, you might experience symptoms like burning, stinging, itching, or tightness.
Sensitive skin isn’t a medical condition by itself, but it still deserves special care.
Wash your sheets and towels with a gentle, softening detergent that is free of fragrances and dyes.
Avoid spraying your linens with scented sprays. Some ingredients they contain, like essential oils, may irritate your skin.
Warming your sheets, towels, and robe is an extra luxurious touch that will make your bathroom feel like a spa. To heat them safely, you can throw them in the dryer on hot for 10 minutes before you start your spa.
Much has been written about stress and the mind-body connection. Prolonged psychological stress, along with environmental stress, can wreak havoc on your skin, too.
So, beyond the specific spa treatments you’ll be doing, here are a few things you can do to help yourself unwind and enjoy your spa experience.
- Play soft music. It’s no accident that spas often have soft music playing in treatment rooms. Studies have found that meditation and meditative music can greatly lower stress levels.
- Make yourself an herbal tea. Many spas offer tea for spa-goers before or after treatment.
Researchsuggests drinking herbal tea may improve your quality of life and reduce stress and may even reduce the symptoms of insomnia.
- Try aromatherapy. Studies has shown that using aromatherapy, such as with lavender or orange oil, may help reduce stress, though more research is needed. You can find many different aromatherapy products out there, including scent diffusers and scented candles. Of course, if you find that aromatherapy products bother you or irritate your skin, don’t use them.
Before your soothing soak, make sure the water is enjoyably warm but never hot.
If you find you’re craving a very hot bath because you feel cold, consider turning the heat up in your bathroom instead. Being in a warm environment will help you release tension in and out of the bath.
Putting essential oils into your bath may seem like a soothing prospect, but research has shown that many types of essential oils have the potential to cause an allergic reaction.
One study found that 79 different essential oils caused contact allergy or allergic contact dermatitis in a small group of participants.
Keep in mind, contact allergies and dermatitis tend to occur mainly in people who already have allergies or sensitivities, and moderate levels of essential oils in personal products are considered safe for most people.
If you find a particular essential oil works well for you without causing irritation, you may enjoy incorporating a small amount of it into your spa routine. Try adding a few drops into the bath.
Many people find wearing a face mask to be ultra relaxing. It can encourage you to lie back, close your eyes, and focus on releasing tension in your face and body.
If you have sensitive skin, you can still enjoy this spa classic — just make sure to use a hydrating mask that contains soothing, non-irritating ingredients.
Look for masks with ingredients like:
- aloe vera
- coconut milk
- vitamin E
- raw honey, a natural exfoliator
Avoid masks containing menthol, peppermint, or eucalyptus because these may dry out or irritate sensitive skin.
The best types of moisturizers for sensitive skin are part emollient, which helps restore the skin’s barrier, and part occlusive, which creates a physical barrier. Emollients lock moisture in; occlusives keep environmental irritants out.
For people with sensitive skin, products should also be fragrance- and dye-free.
Look for products that contain fewer than 10 ingredients and that are hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic.
Try to use products from trusted, well-known companies since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require cosmetic manufacturers to provide proof of their claims.
A nutrient-rich meal of whole foods will make you feel great inside and out. Enjoy one before or after your spa treatment.
A diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients is essential for healthy skin, too. Whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (especially fatty fish) can all help keep skin hydrated and healthy.
Here’s one idea: Fix yourself a meal of baked salmon or poultry over green leafy vegetables, carrots, bell peppers, avocado, and roasted sweet potatoes, sprinkled with nuts and seeds. Have some refreshing melon and berries for dessert or a snack.
Try to avoid processed foods and those containing refined sugar, which can irritate all skin types.
If you’re looking for a healthy indulgence, a few squares of dark chocolate may do the trick. Dark chocolate is rich in beneficial antioxidants.
What you drink can also help keep your sensitive skin at its best.
- Drink water. Drinking enough water every day helps maintain healthy, hydrated skin. How much you should drink per day depends on many factors, including your weight, age, and activity level, but experts generally recommend drinking at least 61 ounces (1.8 liters) of water every day.
- Try green tea. It contains antioxidants that can help protect your skin from sun damage and improve moisture and elasticity.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine. Drinking these can strip skin of much-needed moisture.
If you have sensitive skin, there are a few measures you can take to make sure you enjoy a DIY spa day without skin irritation.
Set the stage with some relaxing stimuli, like soft music and herbal tea. Keep your spa environment warm, but make sure your bath isn’t too hot. Use spa products with ingredients that aren’t known irritants. And make sure you’re nourishing your body with the right nutrients and enough water.
Holding your own personal spa day might be just what you need to feel relaxed and refreshed. And, an added benefit: Because you’re staying at home, you can pour your luxuriated self right into bed for a post-treatment nap.