Don’t Be So Sensitive!

Office Space, sensitive skin tip
If you haven’t seen “Office Space,” go watch it now.

Skin sensitivity is a bitch. It can make your skin feel dry, itchy and like someone has lit a fire on your face. Some combination of redness, dry patches, rashes, hives and breakouts usually crops up when skin is truly sensitive. It’s typically caused by allergic reactions or irritation to a product ingredient or ingredients, but can also be brought about by environmental allergens (plants, pollen, trees, etc.) and food or medicine allergies.

If you suspect your skin sensitivity is related to product ingredients, the best thing to do is the skincare version of the elimination diet. Forgo your face makeup for a week and use nothing but a gentle cleanser like Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser and a fragrance-free moisturizer like Cetaphil Fragrance Free Daily Moisturizer. After a week, add in one of the products (i.e. a primer, foundation, face mask) you normally use. Wait a day and see if you experience redness, itching, hives, rashes, dryness, breakouts or any other type of flare up. Continue to do this until you have incorporated all of your regular products back into your routine. If the offender makes itself known, you have your answer (kind of). It could be any of the ingredients in that product, so I suggest finding out what they are, noting them, and comparing that list to the ingredients list on any products that irritate your skin in the future. You’ll eventually be able to pin down the ingredient(s)you are allergic to. You can also go to a dermatologist who specializes in testing for skin allergens.

Sometimes people think they have sensitive skin when they really have rosacea, eczema, or even certain types of skin cancer that show up as dry, scaly patches. There is also something called dermatographism, which is when the skin is extremely sensitive to physical touch. In those people, their skin cells release histamine at the slightest touch, causing redness to appear. If you have sensitive skin and are unsure of what’s causing your sensitivity, definitely see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you have truly sensitive skin, there are some things you can do to avoid further aggravating your skin. Like:

  1. Don’t rub, scrub or otherwise manhandle your skin. Doing so will aggravate it and cause redness, splotches or dryness. Avoid using at home mechanical cleansing brushes, laser devices or acne treatments.
  2. Use fragrance-free products. Fragrances are a very common irritant for sensitive skin. Luckily, the beauty industry is aware of this and many lines carry fragrance-free products. Beauty Without Cruelty, Dr. Hauschka, Burt’s Bees, Almay, Clinique and CoverGirl all carry some fragrance-free products.
  3. Patch test everything. Before committing to any skincare or makeup product, first apply a small amount to your neck and wait 48 hours to see if you have a reaction. If you do, return that product and try again.
  4. Avoid physical exfoliants. Any kind of exfoliant with granules or beads will only further irritate your skin. Chemical exfoliants like Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant are best, but always patch test first and only use once a week. Some skin may be too sensitive to tolerate any exfoliants, so you may need to skip this step altogether.
  5. Don’t assume natural is best. If you have environmental allergies and your skin is sensitive, you may have better luck with products that contain only synthetic ingredients. Most people assume that products with natural ingredients will be more gentle, but that’s not always the case. Think about it: If you went out into a field of flowers and couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing, why would the pollen from those flowers not affect you if it was an ingredient in your moisturizer?
  6. Use gentle cleansers. Anything too strong will strip your skin and likely cause irritation (so skip the foaming cleansers). As mentioned, Dermalogica Gentle Cleanser is a solid choice. Cleansers like that will not thoroughly remove makeup though. If you wear makeup, you’ll need to remove it with an oil makeup remover, like Dermalogica PreCleanse, or micellar water, like Bioderma Sensibio H20, before cleansing. If your skin can tolerate some light rubbing, an oil cleanser like Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil will both remove makeup and cleanse your skin.
  7. Read my post on the acid mantle.

If you take care of your sensitive skin, you can minimize or erase any physical signs of irritation. So do right by your dermis, okay?

Have a beautiful day 🙂


Here’s Why You Are Totally Normal

I’ve noticed that many women develop complexes over physical things that are actually very common. Sitting in a makeup artist’s chair seems to bring out this need to apologize for imagined physical defects. Honest to God, I often do not even notice these perceived flaws until a client points them out. And when I do, I never even think they are bad. That’s real talk, not ass-kissing talk.

Listen, we all have our imperfections. And not to sound cliche, but I think they make a face more interesting and human. Of course it drives many of us nuts when it’s on our own face, but have you ever truly not wanted to talk to someone or associate with them because of a crooked smile or uneven eyebrows? If you answered yes, you’re an asshole. Get off my blog.

I know how it feels to look at something on your face and hear your brain whisper “Is that normal?,” so let me help you out. Below is a list of things that are totally normal. (I may have forgotten some, so I apologize in advance.) I’ve also included a makeup “fix,” if any of these totally normal things bother you. I don’t think you have to fix anything but several people have asked me how, and when I get repeat questions, I take it as a sign to post a blog to address them.

1) “My eyes are different!” Don’t worry, this is very common. Our faces are not symmetrical, so having one eye that is bigger, rounder, longer, etc. is completely normal. You may come across the asymmetry when you’re doing an eyeliner flick. You do it on one eye and it is perfection, but on the other eye, the flick looks more straight out than flicked or it seems to be pointing downward. Not your fault. It’s just bone structure and pretty much everyone who attempts an eyeliner flick encounters the same frustration. Makeup Fix: If the eyeliner flick is driving you crazy, try doing what my MUA friend Jennie Kay Plumb suggested to me years ago–start with the eye that you have more trouble with. For some reason, it is easier to make the liner match when you do this. If one eye is longer than the other, pull your eyeliner out a little bit further on the top lashline on that eye, which extends the look of the eye. If one eye is bigger, apply eyeliner at the top lashline on both eyes, but make it a little thinner on the bigger eye.

2) “My neck is lighter than my face!” Many people have lighter skin on their neck than on their face and being one of these people, I can assure you it’s not because we only wear turtlenecks. Because our jaws shade our necks, we get less sun there. Also, many people have pigmentation, roseacea or uneven skintone on their face, but their neck doesn’t have any of that. So the contrast between the two can make the neck appear lighter, when in reality, the face would be the same shade if there was no pigmentation, roseacea or uneven skintone. Makeup Fix: Simply bring your foundation/tinted moisturizer/BB cream down onto your neck, blending well. And if you use a gradual tan face product, make sure to apply it to your neck too.

3) “My lips are uneven!” Again, symmetry. You may find that your top lip is a lot bigger or smaller than your bottom lip, or one side of your lip is lower than the other. This is very likely one of those things that only you will notice, but if you are someone who regularly wears lipliner or dark or bright lipstick, it may be something that bothers you. Makeup Fix: Use a lipliner that matches the lipstick you are going to use and correct your lipline so that your lips are even. Use that same liner to fill in your lips, then apply lipstick over that.

4) “My eyelashes grow straight out!” Due to genetics, some people’s eyelashes grow out straight rather than curled upwards. This can happen regardless of lash length. Makeup Fix: An eyelash curler will instantly solve the problem. It takes a little practice, but once you get used to it, you’ll probably love the effect. If your lashes don’t stay curled for long, you can blast your curler with hot air from your hair dryer for about 15 seconds before curling. The heat helps mold the lashes into a curl.

5) “My eyebrows are different!” Like they say, eyebrows are sisters, not twins. One may be longer or thicker than the other, or may have a higher arch. This is just another symmetry thing, in combination with genetics, which can make hair thicker on one side. Makeup Fix: Your best bet is to first get a professional brow shaping. Ten bucks says you like one brow more than the other, so tell your esthetician/threader/brow shaper which brow is your star pupil so that he or she can shape the other brow to match. You can also thicken or extend a thinner or shorter brow with brow powder or pencil.

6) “My eyebrows have a bald spot!” Probably half of the clients I work on have a patchy area on their brows, usually at the front (close to the nose). Especially if you consistently over-tweezed this area at one point (hello, freshmen year of high school), you’ll probably find that the hair doesn’t grow there anymore. Makeup Fix: An angled brush + some brow powder/pencil. Super easy fix.

7) “My skin  is dry and oily!” That’s called combination skin, boo. It’s very common. People with combo skin often have an oily forehead, nose and/or chin, but the rest of their face is dry. Makeup Fix: You have to first address skincare. I recommend using an oil cleanser, because it works for both dry and oily skin. It’s not a bad idea to have two moisturizers–one for oily skin and one for dry–and use on the corresponding areas. As far as face makeup, use a mattifying product or pore minimizer on the oily areas. I recommend a liquid foundation over a powder, since powder can catch on dry spots. Just use a setting powder on the oily areas.

8) “My cheeks/nose/cheeks are red!” Redness can be caused by roseacea, sensitivity or genetics. The sun, alcohol and spicy foods can further aggravate the skin and worsen the redness. Makeup Fix: A green color corrector will be your new best friend. Apply a thin layer to the red areas and blend well. Apply your foundation/tinted moisturizer/BB cream over that.

9) “My pores are huge!” Contrary to what you may have heard, you can’t actually shrink your pores. You are born with your pore size, just like you are born with your father’s laugh or your mother’s aversion to people who chew loudly. When you have blackheads or clogged pores, they do expand as they fill with junk (yes, that is the scientific explanation) and they shrink back to normal size when they  are clean. But there is no such thing as shrinking them any less than that. Stop trying to make your pores diet–it’s not going to work. Makeup Fix: A pore minimizer (my favorite is POREfessional by Benefit) fills in and kind of blurs the appearance of pores while mattifying the skin. Applying a primer has the same effect. Using both (pore minimizer first) seems to be the best route.

So that’s it. Those are the most common complaints I hear as a makeup artist. If you have one of these tiny and totally normal imperfections and they don’t bother you, then go on with yo’ bad self! But if any of these things bother you, hopefully these tips helped. I don’t think we should all look the same way–how boring would that be?–but I’m all for dispensing beauty knowledge if it’s going to help someone feel a little more confident or comfortable with how they look.

Have a beautiful day 🙂