Is Vegan Skincare Better For Sensitive Skin?
Skin is finicky.
It is our largest and most visible organ, yet it can take years to understand how to maintain it properly. There are countless options out there: creams, serums, masks, facials – and the list goes on.
Science has advanced so far and many people think that lab-concocted ingredients are advanced and therefore better for the skin. But if you’re one who lives with sensitive skin, these man-made ingredients may just be adding to your skin woes.
Vegan, all-natural ingredients just might be what you need to save your skin. Read on to find out if vegan ingredients are right for you.
How do you know if you have sensitive skin?
First off, let’s determine if you have sensitive skin.
Unfortunately, there is no tried and true way to determine this – with so many factors that can affect the body, sensitive skin is a hard-to-define condition.
In fact, board-certified dermatologist Iris Rubin says: “Sensitive skin is actually not a clinical diagnosis, though most people think of it as skin that is easily irritated.”
Instead, according to board-certified dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, sensitive skin “is skin that has 'become' sensitive as a response to something, such as a skincare product or treatment. Sensitive skin can be an ongoing condition caused by a treatment, age, or biological skin disorder.”
If your skin is easily irritated after applying your skincare or cosmetic products, or feels irritated after being in the sun, exercising, or being in extreme temperatures, there is a chance you have sensitive skin.
Sensitive skin can also be a side effect of underlying conditions such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis.
Inflammation is another indication of sensitive skin: if you apply a product and your skin looks red and irritated, that is a strong indicator of sensitive skin.
What causes sensitive skin?
Although briefly mentioned before, sensitive skin can be due to many causes. Some people are born naturally more sensitive, whereas sensitivity can also be caused by external factors. Let’s take a look at what can cause sensitive skin.
Genetics do tend to play a role on whether or not a person has sensitive skin. Scientists are still working to discover which exact genes are responsible for skin sensitivity.
Underlying health conditions
The skin can have many ailments associated with it, and if you are prone to rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema it can lead skin to become irritated, dry, bumpy and altogether sensitive.
The products you apply to skin play a large part in the skin’s overall health. Not only could your skin react badly to an ingredient, but a product could also have secondary effects that lead to skin sensitivity. Skincare products may not have immediate negative effects, but if an often-used serum dries your skin out, that could lead to increased sensitivity down the road.
Spending too long in the sun can cause redness and irritation, especially if a proper SPF isn’t used.
What exactly is vegan skincare?
Skincare is vegan when none of the ingredients come from animals. And just like with vegan food, that means vegan skincare does not include any animal byproducts at all, like honey or beeswax.
Vegan skincare products aren’t necessarily cruelty-free.
For a product to be cruelty-free the ingredients or final product itself must not have been tested on animals. Animal ingredients can still be used in cruelty-free products – they just can’t be tested on animals.
You may be considering switching to vegan products to save your skin, but you could actually be helping the environment in the process. Using plant-based ingredients is better for the environment when compared to using ones that are animal-based.
Animal agriculture has many negative effects on the environment: it’s the largest transmitter of greenhouse gasses, and it is a cause of deforestation as well as air and water pollution.
Reducing yet another need for large scale animal agriculture will go a long way in decreasing the industry’s environmental footprint.
Extra vitamins and minerals
Plants are our main source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all of which are an important factor in healthy, glowing skin. Adding more plant-based products to your skincare routine will only increase these necessary positive effects on your skin.
Decrease in additives
Chemical additives are added to products using animal products so that they remain stable with a decent shelflife. These chemical additives are often the cause of irritation for the skin.
Why is vegan skincare better for sensitive skin?
If sensitive skin is caused by reactions to skincare products, vegan alternatives can be a great way to avoid sensitivity. Vegan skincare is not made with the chemical additives that are needed in animal-based products, so they do not contain harsh chemicals that can upset even the strongest of skin.
Vegan skincare is all-natural, so unless you are allergic to a certain plant there should be no negative or harmful skin reactions. Sensitive skin needs extra care that normal skin doesn’t, so it is important to choose products that are gentle enough as to not cause any undesirable effects.
The perfect vegan skincare routine for sensitive skin
Finding the right skincare routine goes a long way in overall skin health. While needs change from face to face, many staples of a routine can transfer from skin type to skin type.
It is always important to wash the day’s grime from the face. While it is often recommended to wash twice daily, those with sensitive skin should consider washing only once.
Skin sensitivity can stem from skin dryness, and overwashing the face is a leading cause of dry skin. If you elect to wash only once, choose just before your nightly routine. It’s best to go to bed with a clean face so you’re not letting the day’s exposure impact you while you sleep.
Choose a vegan cleanser without harsh chemical additives or sulfates, as excess foaming can also cause dry skin and lead to increased sensitivity.
Bonus tip: avoid washing with hot water. It will open the pores too much and necessary skin oils will be depleted, contributing to dry skin. Instead wash with lukewarm water.
Your skincare routine should be applied lightest to heaviest, so after cleansing the face apply any serums that you wish to use. But be wary: serums are concentrated forms of the active ingredient and are therefore a strong option. Those with sensitive skin may want to choose serums with low concentrations or avoid them altogether.
Up next is the all important moisturizer. This step should never be skipped. Choosing the correct moisturizer is especially important for those with sensitive skin, as this is the product that contributes so much to the skin’s overall health. Dry skin can cause many problems, so making sure it’s properly moisturized is a great way to combat sensitivity issues.
Select a vegan moisturizer that doesn’t clog pores, as that can lead to acne formation.
Lastly, complete your skincare regimen with a vegan SPF. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin, as the sun’s rays already can cause damage in the way of sun burns.
Vegan ingredients for sensitive skin
If you’re looking to incorporate vegan ingredients into your routine, consider trying these.
This is a well-known way to soothe sensitive skin. This plant produces leaves that are filled with gel that soothes burns or inflammation. You can rub the leaf directly onto your skin, or you can find it in many skincare products and topical gels.
Chamomile and green tea
These tea leaves are known for their antioxidant properties. They can slow the signs of aging as well as soothe irritated skin. Some studies have shown that they can improve skin moisture levels, which will play a role in combating skin dryness.
This acid is found naturally in hair in skin and is commonly used in moisturizers or as a standalone serum. It combines well with water, so it can lock moisture into both skin and hair. This is a gentle acid, so it should not upset those with sensitive skin.
Shea butter is a vegan and anti-inflammatory moisturization option perfect for those with sensitive skin. It’s a gentle moisturizer with a quick absorption that allows it to soothe red or flaky skin in a snap.
Vegan ingredients to avoid if you have sensitive skin
Just because a product is vegan doesn’t mean it will be perfect for everyone. While they are less likely to cause a reaction when compared to chemical-filled products, those with sensitive skin should still look at the ingredient list of vegan products.
Board-certified dermatologist Amy B. Lewis, MD, advises her clients with sensitive skin to avoid products with sulfates, exfoliants, or retinoids.
Sulfates have the power to penetrate deep, so they can dry out the skin too much and cause irritation. Exfoliants such as glycolic and salicylic acid can be too strong for those with sensitive skin.
Retinoids, even vegan ones, should be avoided altogether if you have sensitive skin. While they are a great way to plump the face, they can be quite strong and cause excess inflammation for those with sensitive skin. And that isn’t to mention the fact that those who use retinoids experience increased sun sensitivity. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to pull all retinoids from your shelf.