Gaynor Farmer-Katics
20 May

Continuing on from last month’s blog we continue to explore the best techniques and protocols when working with a sensitive skin as we follow “the less rule”. 

  • Type of tools (less heat)

 As mentioned in last month’s blog, avoiding extremes of temperature, either too hot or too cold works best on a sensitive skin. Having said that, using cool tools on this type of skin can be very beneficial because most of the time this skin can generate a lot of heat. 

Whether you’re using ice globes, facial rollers or a gua sha board made from jade or stainless steel avoid keeping them ice cold but instead keep them cool by sitting them in a bowl of cold water. The cool temperature will help constrict the dilated capillaries in the skin reducing the heat and red appearance. 

These tools can be multi-purpose and help seal product into the skin and when used mindfully in a specific massage sequence can feel deeply relaxing. Facial rollers, gua sha and ice globes are used in a very light superficial way with no heavy pressure applied to the skin. If you’re using cool tools such as stainless-steel facial rollers or ice globes to massage the skin, they will warm up quicker on a hot or red skin so be sure to have 2 sets of tools to work with and switch out during the massage. 

Another precaution to practice when working on reactive skin is to have cool compresses on hand. This could be moist cotton gauze pads or cool towels to apply to the skin if necessary.   

  • Type of massage medium (less product)

   Sensitive skin is more prone to cosmetic ingredient sensitivity and allergies. While some clients are aware of known allergens skin can react and flare-up at any time in response to any ingredient.

Following the “less product” rule, if you have a serum or masque that will double as a massage medium this would be ideal to use. You’ll be using fewer products and reducing chances of product sensitivity.

USE: Water based products such as a cool gel masque can feel soothing to a hot skin. This type of medium could be used with a technique that requires slip and glide, such as Swedish. Just be sure to keep this style lighter and more superficial for a shorter amount of time. 

Alternatively, once the moisturizer has been applied a 5-minute pressure point massage could be given. Again, choosing a technique that avoids the need of using a product on the face is another alternative to using less product. Examples are facial acupressure or lymphatic drainage massage.   

  • Length of massage (less time)

   The longer a sensitive skin is worked on and manipulated the greater the chance of triggering an irritation within a facial treatment. Following the less rule this would be keeping the treatment shorter than normal at least until you’re more familiar with how each skin behaves. In order to allow time for effective cleansing, skin analysis, exfoliation, masque, etc. within a 45- minute time frame the length of massage may need to be reduced to 5 minutes rather than 15 minutes. 

USE: One method of ensuring a longer face massage (10 minutes) can still be given within a facial on sensitive skin is to perform it while the masque is working on the skin. This way we are using less product, using less time leading to less heat generated in the skin and less friction.   

In summary, when massaging sensitive, reactive skin types; 

Less friction - Use lighter pressure, gentle rhythmic movements that are non-stimulating to the blood flow. 

Less heat – Consider using cool tools with a lighter pressure and soothing sequence to reduce heat and redness in the skin. 

Less product – Stick to the fewest numbers of products as possible. Using a soothing serum or the face masque as a massage medium will allow less products being used. 

Less time – As the facial treatment is likely to be shorter so too will the massage sequence. If you know non-stimulating techniques such as facial acupressure or lymphatic drainage massage 10 minutes of this type of touch would be perfect on a sensitive skin.

Please leave a comment below if you found this useful and consider sharing it with a fellow esthetician. If you have anything to add from your experience of working with sensitive skin, we'd love to hear that too!

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