Concerned about sensitive skin? Not sure what skin care routine to follow or what products to use? You are not alone. 50% of women and 40% of men report having sensitive skin. As a first step, though, it is important to determine whether you have sensitive skin or sensitised skin, as they are essentially two different types of skin concerns.
Some people have hereditary sensitive skin and it is distinguished by being thinner, more fragile, drier and more reactive to internal and external factors, such as sun, heat, cold, spicy food, wine, medication and topical products, including essential oils and fragrance. Usually this is more pronounced in paler skin types.
Others have sensitised skin, or skin that behaves like sensitive skin when previously it was not reactive. This sensitisation is usually temporary and may be the result of an impaired skin barrier, which needs to be addressed. Sensitised skin may present as localised redness, a rash or just be more intolerant.
Sensitised skin can be due to an aggressive skin care routine, severe sun damage, health issues and some medications. Usually, sensitised skin will improve once it is not longer exposed to whatever is affecting it, however the longer it is ignored, the more difficult it will be to address. Everyone’s skin is susceptible to being sensitised at some point in their lives.
Anyone who is born with sensitive skin knows the difficulty in managing this skin condition and how easy it is for their skin to become further sensitised and irritated. Sensitive skin types must always ensure they maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, which is the first line of defence. This type of skin cannot tolerate products that are highly active or corrective, and must always concentrate on, first, repairing and, second, rebuilding their skin. Actives and correctives should only be used slowly and with caution, one at a time.
Sunscreen is a non-negotiable every day, but finding the right one is incredibly difficult. We know, we have put dozens of products to the test at SKIN CLINICA, but remain largely disappointed. Find out more about UV protection and how to choose the right sunscreen on our Sunscreen Ingredients page.
Skin reactions should not be ignored as they can eventually lead to more sensitivity and more reactions in the longer term. Even low-level inflammation needs to be treated to prevent damage down the track and accelerated skin ageing.
Monitor your sensitive skin carefully. If it becomes increasingly sensitive, flushes more easily, develops more capillaries or, uncommonly for you, papules and pustules, consult a doctor or dermatologist, in case you have rosacea. You can read more about rosacea on our Rosacea page.
We continue to be astounded by how many cosmetic companies try to market their products as being designed for, or suited to, sensitive skin when they have ingredients that are likely to cause irritation and inflammation. While it may not be possible to identify every ingredient in skin care routine that your skin may react to, there are many ingredients we know do not suit sensitive skin and often further stress the skin. For this reason, it is especially important for anyone with sensitive skin to actively look for and select ingredients that strengthen the skin rather than weaken it.
Also read our pages on Skin Care Ingredients to find out which Ingredients Your Skin Can Do Without, Fragrance in Skin Care and Essential Oils in Skin Care to help you avoid common irritants and nasties in skin care products.
If you would like more indepth information on caring for sensitive skin and a customised skin care routine, visit our Services page.