What Makes Skin Sensitive?
The outermost layer of skin (the epidermis) forms a protective barrier, binding in moisture and keeping foreign agents out (including bacteria and other microorganisms); this barrier is our skin’s defense against infection and exposure to radiation. The skin cells of the stratum corneum along with sebum, your body’s natural oil, form a slurry that is frequently compared to bricks and mortar, except this is an imperfect analogy because a brick wall implies durability and solidity, but the skin is in a constant state of renewal, sloughing off old layers, and regenerating new ones. It is also a permeable barrier that allows for the transfer of heat and the regulation of moisture between the body and the outside world. This is referred to as the skin’s natural barrier function. Those with sensitive skin have a more permeable epidermis, making the skin more vulnerable to pathogens and allergens and making it harder for the skin to attract and retain moisture. Some people are predisposed to sensitive skin, they naturally retain less moisture and/or create less sebum, but anyone can experience sensitive skin when it is dry. When skin is very dry, the cells may shrink and the oils that keep them sitting tightly together may be depleted, resulting in a weakened barrier function.
Formulating for Sensitive Skin
Skincare formulated for sensitive skin is just a small segment of the overall beauty and skincare industries. Even cosmetic products formulated to hydrate and rejuvenate skin may not be formulated specifically for sensitive skin. Products formulated for sensitive skin should offer a thoughtful combination of the established ingredients types known to soothe skin and mimic the body’s natural barrier function.
- Emollients: the oils that replicate the body’s natural oil production can act to smooth dry, flakey skin cells and give the appearance of smooth, hydrated skin. Recent research is showing that oils that have a high ratio of linoleic to oleic fatty acid are particularly beneficial for sensitive skin.1
- Occlusives: Thicker lipids like waxes, petrolatum and silicone have been shown to be effective skin protectants, they create an artificial and reinforced barrier for dry, cracked skin.
Humectants: These are hygroscopic (water-attracting) substances that attract water from the air into the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of skin.
- Functional ingredients for sensitive skin: in addition to those mentioned above, there are a number of specific ingredients that have been shown to soothe and calm irritated skin. Some of the functional ingredients we use widely in our products include hemp oil, hemp seed oil, bisabolol, sunflower and safflower seed oils, seabuckthorn seed oil, colloidal oatmeal and sea whip extract.
Further, you can rely on product certifications such as the NEA Seal of AcceptanceTM as an added assurance that products have undergone scrutiny for those with very sensitive skin.
Products formulated for sensitive skin should omit added fragrances and dyes as these are common allergens for those with sensitive skin. Additional attention must be made to the types of preservatives used. Preservatives extend the lifetime of a product and help create a more sterile environment, but they must be carefully selected in formulations for those with sensitive skin. Other common irritants and allergens include lanolin, formaldehyde, menthol and camphor.
Cannabis Derivatives for Sensitive Skin
Peer-reviewed studies and research that focus on the benefits of cannabis and hemp suggest that cannabinoids, terpenes and other cannabis-derived molecules represent some of the most biocompatible oils and lipids found in nature. But cannabis also contains intoxicating substances and irritating, harsh and fragrant compounds such as pinene and limonene. When extracted, isolated, carefully selected and then re-combined in the correct ratios, the beneficial plant-derived compounds act to reinforce the skin’s natural barrier function and soothe dry, irritated and sensitive skin.
CQuell Understands Sensitive Skin
CQuell products are extensively tested for safety and efficacy. CQuell products were formulated with the help of leading dermatologists and experts in integrative and alternative therapies, with the goal of identifying and formulating the ideal product for sensitive skin within each major product form:
- Cream: predominantly oil-based with some water and humectant ingredients intended to draw moisture to the skin, our Eczema Relief Cream goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly and is not sticky or greasy. This cream is emollient rich, unscented & steroid free. Our cream soothes and moisturizes dry skin with a blend of cannabis sativa, sunflower, safflower, and sea buckthorn seed oils. The first product with a cannabis derived ingredient (hemp seed oil) to be awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, this cream relies on the established skin protecting properties of colloidal oatmeal to help relieve minor skin irritation and itching due to rashes and eczema.
- Balm: Balms are by nature occlusive, they physically block water loss and pathogens and can be very effective in the treatment of sensitive skin. Our Moisture Locking Balm utilizes CQuell’s proprietary and patent pending ECS Complex™ paired with high-quality emollients and moisture-locking ingredients. This balm contains no water and is unlikely to sting very dry, ashy or cracked skin. Careful attention was paid when formulating this product to a feature called skin-feel, the balm melts into your skin as it absorbs.
- Spot Treatment: Those with sensitive skin are more prone to occasional patches of very dry, flaky, red and irritated skin. In more severe sensitive skin conditions, your skin may require medical treatment, but dermatologists are becoming increasingly concerned with the overuse and reliance on steroids for skin irritations. When your skin is not in need of harsh OTC or prescription medicines, but you have lingering patches of red, dry, irritated skin, CQuell Spot Treatment may be exactly what you need. This product is recommended for spot treatment of problem areas.
- Body and Facial Oils: The cleanest and simplest concentrated hemp-derived CBD available. CQuell Facial and Body Oils contain only three ingredients. We understand that those with sensitive skin may be hesitant to try any new formulations. These simple products are unlikely to irritate even the most sensitive skin and can be applied directly to moist skin after cleansing or as a CBD booster to your favorite skin care products.
1) Pediatric Dermatology, January-February 2013, pages 42-50