Local actress-host Naomi Yeo’s healthy, glowing mien is enough to induce envy in the best of us. But now, the media personality is getting real about her struggles with hypersensitive skin. For Naomi, her skin flare-ups are tied to stress, changes in temperature, along with certain foods.
“The main issue was really watching my brother go through eczema and then wondering if I actually have sensitive skin. But it was only much later on in my teenage years that I started to experience other types of sensitivity, very different from my brother. Like what Dr Ang mentioned, it’s just that stinging sensation and it comes out of the blue for me. It could be anything like in a new environment, even when I’m doing different activities and all of a sudden it just becomes so reactive that I’m unable to to cope with it,” says Naomi in an Instagram live chat with Her World and Dermatologist Dr Ang Chee Beng on Wednesday (20 October).
During the live chat, the 26-year-old candidly detailed her long battle with sensitive skin, “It was not until I was much older and able to afford the time and money to see a skin doctor for treatment, that I started understanding the benefits of investing in good skincare products and educating myself on product ingredients, pH levels, etc.”
Keep reading to learn more about hypersensitive skin and how Naomi managed to keep her flare-ups in check. You can also check out the video highlights here:
What is hypersensitive skin and what are some of the triggers?
According to Dr Ang, “hypersensitive skin is a condition that some individuals have. Their skin burns, itches or stings when it comes into contact with certain applied substances; occurs especially on the face and neck. Can be present even in the absence of any redness or any obvious skin changes”.
“These individuals may experience heightened sensitivity when they perspire and sometimes with the presence of wind. When a stimulus [like sweat, certain applied products, wind factor] touches the skin, the receptors located in the endings of sensory neurons of the skin convert these signals into electrical messages that travel to the brain where they are perceived as burning, stinging or smarting,” he adds.
In those with hypersensitive skin, “there is increased sensitivity of the sensory neurons or the threshold for excitability of the neurons is lowered.”
This is especially apparent in countries like Singapore where we are exposed to constant changes in temperature and humidity levels, “when we are indoors, we are more exposed to drier, lower temperature and skin will feel drastic difference when facing outdoors in more humid and higher temperature.”
Besides causing discomfort, this increased skin sensitivity could also underlie other skin conditions such as eczema. “Those with eczema on their face will definitely have sensitive skin and react in the same way. Not to be confused with acne-prone skin that typically do not experience such reactions,” he elaborates.
Skincare for hypersensitive skin – what to avoid and what to use
Like with any skin condition, there are different degrees and causes of hypersensitive skin. The best way to identify your own trigger is to consult a dermatologist. As a rule of thumb, before using any new skincare products, you should also do a patch test to see if there is any reaction. Generally speaking, hypersensitive skin types can consider opting for skincare products that are free-from fragrances and preservatives as these ingredients are often associated with allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Dr Ang also recommends mild, non-foaming cleansers and moisturisers that are labelled hypoallergenic (less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to non-hypoallergenic products).
A favourite of his is Avène’s Tolérance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream. “It’s intriguing in two aspects. The apparent lack of a preservative in the product because of their “airless” pump which prevents contamination and allows preservation of the ingredients without deterioration and the use of a postbiotic derived from the bacteria present in the brand’s signature thermal spring water, D-sensinose,” he shared.
“D-sensinose is said to control the sensations of skin hypersensitivity like tingling and burning, by blocking the transmission of the electrical signal at the level of the sensory neuron and not just at the level of the receptor (which is used by many other products). So in theory it should be able to block most types of stimulus and therefore be able to reduce skin sensitivity and soothe the skin as well. “
While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for hypersensitive skin, skincare formulated with soothing and healing ingredients can help to alleviate the symptoms. To Naomi, “less is more. Over the years, I’ve understood that pH neutral products help to keep sensitive skin under control. I tend to have a bias with products that are gentle on the skin, and by that I mean products that are free of harsh chemicals and fragrances.” Naomi herself swears by skincare from French pharmaceutical brand Eau Thermale Avène. Here are some of the “HIGH” star’s favourites.
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