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Since I started school, my skin has betrayed me. I am sure the added stress of working and going to school—both full time—may be the root of the problem. But the constant facials are also compounding it. Because as much as I love having a facial, doing them constantly just overworks the skin.

Now that I have been analyzing and working on different faces for several weeks now, I have noticed that sensitive skin is a quite common. Environmental damage plays a part, as well as stress and allergy triggers like food or animals. Sometimes all it takes is a change of season for our skin to sort out its issues (cold weather can over dry the skin, leaving it prone to inflammation). Other times, we just have to learn how to manage it.

If you do have sensitive skin, here are a few tricks to try to keep it chill:

Ease into extreme temperatures
Unfortunately for hot bath and shower lovers, you are just making your skin angry. Tepid water is the way to go. If you are going from the summer heat to an air conditioned office, try waiting in an entry way to let your skin get acclimated to the temperature switch. If it’s winter, wrap up your face with a scarf before heading out. Shielding your skin from temperature shock will help neutralize redness and irritation.

Lay off the product
Today’s skin care products throw in everything but the kitchen sink. While many of their active ingredients can be great for normal skin, if your skin is hyper-reactive try to keep it as simple as possible. When “sensitive skin” face wash started burning my skin, I began washing my face with olive oil (yes it is possible!) since there seemed to be nothing on the market that I could tolerate. You may need to experiment with different products (hit up the department store makeup counters for samples).

Check your sunscreen
Take a look at the active ingredients on your sunscreen label—you may be using a sunscreen with synthetic chemical blockers (generally anything starting with “oxy”). These can inflame sensitive skin like a sunburn. Find a sunscreen that uses the natural blockers titanium dioxide or zinc oxide instead. I had to dump my combination moisturizer with SPF in favor of Neutrogena’s Sensitive Skin Sun Block. It’s an SPF 30, oil free and it absorbs pretty quickly, without leaving a surfer-like white residue on the face.

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After over two months of studying anatomy, chemistry, cosmetic chemistry and skin disorders, I am finally into my practical program at school. Which means less homework! Now I can (hopefully) keep up with the blogging.

Since I am finally back after a hiatus, I thought it would be apropos to discuss… Backs! Specifically back breakouts.

Back acne literally sneaks up behind you. Since we are usually blissfully ignorant of our rear view, it’s an area that tends to get neglected. Until you start digging out the summer tank tops and camis and realize that you have an acne explosion. A few weeks ago, I noticed that my upper back was covered with those nasty little eruptions.

Back breakouts are most likely a combination of two things: lack of exfoliation and cleanser—either in the form of soap or shampoo run off—reacting with the skin.

Armed with an exfoliating bath towel from the Asian supermarket (and for 2 bucks, those things rock!) and my daughter’s California Baby Shampoo and Body Wash, I faithfully scrubbed my back after I was done washing and conditioning my hair.

Yhst83878190403399_2001_8918891 Now if shampoo was the culprit, why use more shampoo on the affected area? Because baby shampoo is formulated for “no more tears,” which means that its pH is as close to neutral as possible to keep from burning the eyes. Shampoos, soaps and cleansers are detergents (with a more alkaline pH), which strip away the skin’s natural oil in addition to the dirt and grime. If we over strip the oil from our skin, acne can form.

Within a week, the acne began to dry out. By the end of week two, the acne explosion was finally under control.