Hello, my sensitive-skin beauties! Did you know that the concept of sensitive skin arose in the 1970s? The percentage of people who perceive themselves to struggle with sensitive skin has steadily increased over the years. In fact, about 60–70% of women and 50–60% of men report having some degree of sensitive skin according to an article in the National Library of Medicine.
Sensitive skin is a common issue — and it’s actually a skin type, like being oily or having combination skin. With this skin type, your complexion can have hyper reactions to various factors, from products to environmental stressors and more.
Let’s dive in and learn all about what you can do to set your sensitive skin up for success every step of your skincare journey!
The Signs of Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin can have visible reactions to stressors and skincare products. If you struggle with these symptoms, you may have sensitive skin:
• Skin turns red easily from touch or topicals
• Reactive & easily sensitized
• Feels burning sensation easily
This skin type is characterized by sensory responses to stimuli that normally should not provoke these types of sensations. But every sensitive beauty is different! It’s critical to listen to your skin and learn what factors might cause you irritation, rashes, etc., so that you can manage and avoid reactions.
The Root Causes of Sensitivity
The individual nature and reactions of sensitive skin make it a subject very difficult to study. Let’s look at some factors that may explain why we’re sensitive, or how our skin can become sensitive over time.
Our skin can become more sensitive as we age and our skin’s protective lipid barrier and biomes weaken naturally. A weak barrier allows penetration of potential irritants. You may notice that your skin starts to react to products differently than it used to. Again, it’s so important to note these so that you can set yourself up for skincare success and learn what triggers you.
Other factors may be internal, or how your body naturally reacts to various things. According to Very Well Health, skin inflammation is a sign of an immune response in the body. Symptoms can include redness, heat, itching, sensitivity, and swelling. The cause or trigger of skin inflammation may be acute, such as a skin infection, or chronic, such as an autoimmune condition like psoriasis. In fact, having sensitive skin is common with other skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, etc.
Sensitive vs. Sensitized Skin
Sensitized skin is skin that is sensitive, irritated, and reactive from external factors (like using topicals or having a sunburn). Sensitive skin can become more sensitized easily. When we talk about sensitive skin, we’re talking about how to support our skin’s natural reactive nature and work to soothe it, and prevent it from becoming further sensitized. This is an important distinction.
It’s also important to note that our skin can react to something just because it is NEW and doesn’t recognize it. Our skin has really interesting properties and defenses to keep the bad stuff out (like bacteria, allergens, pollution, and other aggressors and stressors). It has our back!
What To Avoid
If you’re a sensitive-skin beauty, here are some things you might want to avoid to reduce the possibility of irritation:
• SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) in cleansers
• Hot water when cleansing the skin
• Alcohol in toners
• Avoid too much friction on the skin (gently pat in serums)
• Too many new products at the same time
• Too many products in general
• Mixing active ingredients
• Mixing active ingredients
• Overly high percentages in products
What To Use
• Use barrier supportive ingredients like ceramides, emollients, and humectants
• Soothing botanicals and antioxidants (these ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties)
• Start slowly with retinol, use the sandwich method
• Here's how you can sandwich your retinol to avoid irritation
• Buffer active ingredients if you are more prone to irritation
• Adjust layering, i.e., put your eye cream on first
• You can start with lower percentages and/or application less days a week to allow your skin to acclimate to new products ingredients
Shop our Sensitive Skin Set
image by @oliamajd
People with generally sensitive skin have local reactions to certain chemicals, dyes, and fragrances in products. Get to know your skin — what triggers one person can be fine for someone else.
Remember, don’t assume just because something is natural that it will be easier to tolerate. There are all sorts of natural irritants and allergens — and yes, everything is a chemical. Even water.
Prioritize supporting your skin barrier and always moisturize.
Keep it simple if you need to! You can always add products over time.
At goPure, your health and safety is first. We follow stringent patch testing procedures to ensure that our products are safe and non-irritating. They’re also dermatologist reviewed and hypoallergenic. Of course, we always recommend patch testing a new product to see how it reacts with your unique skin. If you feel your skin has suddenly become sensitive, or if you are having a skin reaction, it could be important to speak to your doctor.
What are some of your favorite ways to restore and replenish your sensitive skin? Leave a comment below!