5 Expert Tips for Treating Clients with Sensitive Skin

A gentle touch is necessary when treating sensitive skin, as is repairing the compromised skin barrier.//Photography: Shutterstock

It’s important that clients realize that sensitive skin conditions are best treated by a dermatologist, but spa professionals can help sensitive-skin clients find some relief through treatments and skincare products. We asked some skincare experts for their best tips for treating clients with sensitive skin.

“Conduct a thorough skin analysis and ask discovery questions about your client’s skin history and current skincare routine. From there, you will be able to create a custom protocol for a treatment that best suits their needs. Avoid steam, aggressive exfoliation, and ensure you select products free of irritating ingredients. Take time to patch test products, either inside of the wrist or behind the ear. Note that it could take up to 48 hours for a reaction to occur, so for extremely sensitive and reactive skin, it’s best to wait, thus avoiding potential reactions.”—Natalie Pergar, lead skin care trainer, Eminence Organic Skin Care

“There are important guidelines that should be followed for working with clients with sensitive skin during a professional treatment. Some techniques that should be avoided are as follows: granular scrubs or brushes and microdermabrasion; hot treatments, or those that elevate skin temperature, like long steaming sessions; excessive manipulation, like heavy pressure, extractions, and certain massage techniques; and enzyme treatments and chemical peels.”—Christine Dunn, national director of education, Pevonia 

“The golden rule is to hydrate skin and then to lock in that moisture in order to repair the compromised skin barrier and strengthen the skin’s lipid barrier. For clients with sensitive skin, the goal is to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. For clients who have sensitized skin, talk to them about ways they can reduce or eliminate environmental or lifestyle factors that trigger sensitivities.”—Janel Luu, CEO, Le Mieux Cosmetics and PurErb

“When adding a new product, only use a small amount at a time, on a small portion of skin, and only do one application every few days. All factors can be gradually increased over time if the client is tolerating and adjusting well to the product.”—Deb Uhrberg, president, Scandic Beauty

“Use only mild exfoliation. Sensitive skin can often look dry, flaky, and uneven, so regular exfoliation is important, but over-exfoliation can also be an underlying cause of sensitive skin. The thinner the skin, the more susceptible it can be to irritants. Aggressive granular exfoliation can also create microscopic tears on the skin, making it more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. Use the right skincare products. This includes ingredients that are dermatologist-tested and non-irritating.”—Lydia Sarfati, CEO and founder, Repêchage



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