Whether you’re a product obsessive or a casual user, there’s one thing that unites us all – sensitised skin reactions. Who among us hasn’t accidentally ended up removing an essential layer of skin thanks to an overenthusiastic use of an acid, or with tell-tale angry red rings around the eyes or mouth from diving into the retinoid pond? Too many active products combined with our stressful lifestyles means more people than ever are experiencing sensitised skin. And they’re often looking for solutions that don’t involve a boring tub of cream from the chemist, but also won’t make their faces fall off. Enter Status Quo, founded by Brisbanite Madeleine Qiu. Madeleine told us about her own skincare journey, why she wants to stop 'inflammageing' and her top tips for treating sensitive faces. If you thought your own skin was too delicate for exciting, powerful skincare… think again.

Madeleine’s skin journey

“I have always been obsessed with the concept of having beautiful skin that glows with health.

I have struggled with my skin since I was 13; it really affected my confidence. By the time I got to my thirties, I still had breakouts, congestion and oily skin, plus a destroyed skin barrier. In addition, I began to experience the first signs of skin ageing – fine lines, dehydration and pigmentation.

Sensitive skin, but still want results?

More and more people are finding their skin is irritated, dehydrated, and red. This is brought on by the stress of our busy lives, being around increased pollution and overusing harsh skincare products.

We are all aware these days that ‘cosmeceuticals’ and active ingredients get the best results, and people who are sensitive or sensitised don’t want to miss out. They want it all – great results as well as a strong, healthy skin barrier – and this is where Status Quo comes in.

Tip #1 – Whether your skin is sensitive or sensitised, the treatment is the same

True sensitive skin is a genetic skin type, like oily skin or dry skin. You will generally have it throughout your life, though it can improve or worsen at different times. Sensitised skin, on the other hand, is a temporary skin condition.

The same factors that cause sensitised skin can also make naturally sensitive skin flare up, and the treatment is generally also the same for both.

Tip #2 – Focus on products that will help bring down inflammation

Inflammageing is what occurs in the skin when the body is exposed to chronic low-grade inflammation. This inflammation causes premature ageing by reducing collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, accelerating cell damage and impairing the skin barrier.

Tip #3 – Keep it simple

The recent trends we have seen for brands competing to offer the highest percentage of certain active ingredients, and consumers mixing and matching these powerful actives at home, has contributed to inflammageing becoming such a prevalent issue.

Our philosophy is that optimum skin health can be achieved by using just a few potent and effective products formulated with extremely high-quality ingredients.

Tip #4 – What you use daily matters

Professional treatments do have their place, and to some extent living a healthy lifestyle will be reflected in your skin.  Looking at your skin health and overall health holistically is important, as is seeing doctors and other professionals when required.

However, if you are using daily skincare that is not supporting your skin barrier (and is therefore causing premature ageing and inflammation), a change in lifestyle or a one-off treatment will not give you the beautiful, healthy skin you crave.

Tip #5 – Strip it back

After addressing the root cause of the sensitisation or flare ups, my recommendation for treatment is to strip things back to using just two products: a gentle cleanser (look for those with ingredients like antioxidants, glycerin, aloe vera, sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid) and a hydrating moisturiser (look for ingredients including lipids, ceramides, fatty acids and hyaluronic acid).

Tip #6 – Play with new products slowly

After one to two weeks on this stripped back regime, you can slowly introduce a well-formulated serum with both exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties (look for hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, amino acids and niacinamide). Don’t overdo it, and always remember to pay attention each day to how your skin is responding.

Tip #7 – Use your vitamins carefully

I think everyone could benefit from using vitamin C, but they should consider the specific type of vitamin C in their products. We use ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate in our moisturiser and serum, which is more skin-compatible, non-irritating and shelf-stable than a lot of traditional forms of vitamin C.

Another ingredient I love is bakuchiol, which some refer to as a gentler, plant-based retinoid alternative for the results it gives. I have had disastrous results from using retinoids and I know so many people who have experienced the dreaded ‘tret-burn’ [Ed. note: tretinoin is the Australian name for the prescription-strength retinoid, aka vitamin A] so I like to consider alternatives.

Tip #8 – Go gently with acids

I am also a big proponent of the power of exfoliating acids like lactic and glycolic. I used to think I would never be able to use them properly because I have sensitive skin, but using them in that case truly comes down to formulation. Don’t look for the highest percentage thinking that means you’ll get the best results. Look instead at the overall formulation (for instance, does a serum containing acids also contain hydrating or soothing ingredients?), and consider its place in your overall routine.

And the most important tip? Love the skin you’re in

Just like with anything in life, when it comes to obtaining results with your skin, consistency is key. We know everyone is busy and that people don’t have the time or energy to use ten different products. This is why we developed our three-step range to be potent and powerful, so it would be easy for our customers to remain consistent with their skincare and get transformative results.

To take the time each morning and night to care for your face – the face you put forward every day to the world– is an act of self love. In fact, this is why we put ‘I Love My Skin’ on all of our bottles. We want you to be reminded of this important message every single day, and to embrace how your skincare and self care can impact your wellbeing and your confidence.”

Story by Zoe Briggs. Imagery supplied by Status Quo.

This article was produced in partnership with Status Quo.

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