BEAUTY: Chemical Reactions; the Cocktail of Chemicals That Make Up Many Beauty Products Can Be Lethal to Our Looks. So What Can You Do If You're the Sensitive Type?

Article excerpt

Byline: EMMA BANNISTER

It's a harsh world out there and one that can be especially unkind to our hair, skin and nails.

Every day our skin is exposed to about six million different chemicals in the atmosphere. On top of that, we slap on products that contain a cocktail of additives, including artificial colours, fragrances, and formaldehyde.

As a result, it is estimated that between 50 and 90 per cent of us now have sensitive skin. And according to the Dermal Institute the demand for suitable beauty products has never been higher.

While environmental pollution is partly to blame, we should all take a long, hard look at the cosmetics and products we use, and start thinking about what we are putting on our bodies, day after day.

Here are M's top tips on what can be done to calm sensitive skin, teeth, nails and scalps...

Second skin

If your skin is occasionally red and irritated, try the following...

Stop using products with chemically-based ingredients. After exposure to the sun and smoking, an overly astringent cleanser is one of the main causes of damage to the skin.

Avoid creams that are prescribed for short-term use in salons which are too harsh to be used daily.

Switch to hypoallergenic products or ones that have a neutral pH level. The pH (Potential of Hydrogen) of a substance refers to

its degree of acidity or alkalinity and is measured on a scale of 0-14. Anything below seven is acidic and anything above is alkaline, meaning it will not disturb the natural barrier of your skin.

Fragrances, lanolin and alcohol make a product acidic. They cause gaps in the skin's natural barrier and lead to increased sensitivity and dehydration. This, in turn, leaves skin prone to invasion from bacteria and environmental harm. But products with a neutral pH will help to strengthen this barrier. …