Sensory Friendly Skincare

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Fall brings with it shorter days and chillier nights. The days where you wear light attire become few and far between, and soon enough, we’re pulling out our winter wardrobe. Putting on warmer clothes is easy enough but taking care of our skin; that’s another topic entirely. Our skin is the human body’s largest organ, and sometimes we neglect it or use products that irritate it. This month, I would like to discuss my skincare journey and how I created a regimen that nourishes my skin, allows me to wear winter clothing without irritations, and some tips and tricks you, the reader, can try along the way. I’ll be covering three main topics—Soaps, Lotions, and Clothing. If you do have a severe skin condition or concern, please consult a dermatologist before starting a new skincare routine. 


Autism Spectrum Disorder can heighten the senses. Our skin is often the first part of our body that reacts to stimuli. As an individual with dry skin, I did the usual; shower then lotion after that, but that didn’t always address my dry skin issues. You can use a great cream, but it won’t fix it if the soap is the problem. One thing to understand is that soaps, body wash, or bars commonly have Sulfates in them. Sulfates are surfactants, which means they attract both oil and water, which is excellent for cleaning the skin; however, they can sometimes be too harsh and strip too much of our bodies’ natural oils, and our skin dries out. I’ve switched to using sulfate-free body washes, and I can feel the difference in moisture retention in my skin. If you feel like your soap is contributing to your dry skin, try a sulfate-free option, and that may help. The typical store usually has travel size options for most products. Grab a few sulfate-free body washes, and wash your hands with them to see if you like them before grabbing a standard size bottle of the product. Currently, I use Dove’s Deep Moisture Body Wash which is sulfate-free. 


The key to getting the most out of your lotion is understanding your skin type. Is your skin sensitive? Dry? Oily? Categorizing our skin can be complicated. While I have dry skin, in the past, due to using body washes that would strip my skin, I would deal with oiliness. That was due to my body producing oil that was stripped away by harsh soaps. Another predicament is that lotions say they do something but may not in reality. I always look for reviews on a product from individuals who are African American with dry skin. Our skin is different, but it gives me a guideline to utilize when purchasing a new product. Currently, I use Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion right after a shower to lock in moisture. 


The material of clothing can be a sensory trigger for those with ASD. Certain fabrics, like wool, can dry your skin and even hair out of vital moisture. Types of Denim can be stiff and uncomfortable and can take a while to be relaxed enough to be wearable. Since I’m an adult, I have more choices over my clothing options to choose what fits me best. Children, on the other hand, don’t have that level of autonomy. Parents want to dress their children in adorable clothing, but autistic children may not be keen on certain materials. Do make a note of behavioral changes depending on the outfit you put on your kid because that may be the cause. I prefer cotton items and dress pants or slacks. Wool material is a no go for me. 

Skincare is something that people have to learn to do. It’s trial and error. But when you find the right combination that works, not only is your skin better-taken care of, but your level of stress is lower as well because you’re more comfortable. What about you? Have you found the ideal skincare regime, or are still trying to figure things out? Hopefully, the few examples outlined here give you a starting point to better skin. 

Thanks for reading, 



Ziggy is a Certified Peer Specialist in PA and currently resides in Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Let’s Act committee, a group of peers devoted to raising awareness about mental health care. In his downtime, he enjoys reading novels and watching nature documentaries.

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