Do you struggle with sensitive skin? If so, you’ll know how difficult it can be to find skincare products that don’t cause irritation. Whether it’s temporary inflammation caused by harsh ingredients, incorrect product use, or the symptoms of an ongoing inflammatory skin condition such as eczema or rosacea, dealing with skin sensitivity can be physically and emotionally challenging.
In this blog, we’ll explain what causes sensitive skin, run through the most effective sensitive skin treatment options to calm and soothe irritated areas, and share preventive tips and lifestyle habits to manage flare-ups and keep sensitive skin calm.
the causes of sensitive skin
Before we delve into the most common causes of sensitive skin, it’s worth defining what skin sensitivity means. Did you know sensitive skin is a genetic skin type that requires long-term management, and typically affects a small number of the population? Whereas, sensitised skin is a condition that’s temporary, and it can affect anyone.
There are many factors that can lead to skin becoming sensitised. Pollution, alcohol, smoking, spicy food, the environment, dehydration and stress are all common skin sensitisers.
Another category of skin sensitivity is inflammatory skin disorders. These are medical disorders that are also genetically driven. Some of these include:
- Eczema — Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema causes the skin to become dry, red, itchy and bumpy. This disorder damages the skin’s external barrier, making it highly sensitive and more prone to infection.
- Rosacea — This common vascular skin disorder causes blushing or flushing and visible blood vessels in the face. Highly sensitive skin is one of the most common symptoms.
- Psoriasis — A chronic skin disorder characterised by a rash with itchy, scaly patches. It can be extremely painful and result in super sensitive skin that aches or throbs.
- Acne — Also known as acne vulgaris, this disorder occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells and cause the area to become inflamed, which increases skin sensitivity.
Sometimes, you might experience inflamed sensitive skin in response to a certain ingredient (or excessive concentration or application of it) in cosmetics or skin products. When this occurs, it’s known as irritant contact dermatitis.
If you’re looking to create a targeted skincare routine to optimise the repair and recovery process, identifying the cause of sensitive skin is crucial. So, if you’re experiencing skin sensitivity and need some guidance, take our professional skin analysis online now or book a free skin consultation with our professional skin therapists.
common signs of skin sensitivity
Regardless of you have sensitive skin type or sensitised skin, the symptoms are the same. Sensitivity can present itself in a number of different ways, with the most common symptoms being redness, pain, rashes, itchiness, stinging and dry, irritated patches.
There’s a common misconception that sensitive skin is always dry, but this isn’t necessarily true. While dry skin is characterised by a lack of oil and oily skin is characterised by an overproduction of oil, both can be prone to redness, irritation, and inflammation.
If your skin is dry, you may find that your skin feels tight, appears flaky and becomes inflamed in harsh weather conditions or temperature changes. You may even notice that your skin is reactive to light touch. Fortunately, there are plenty of products that can ease the discomfort of sore, sensitive skin. It’s important to use gentle, calming, fortifying formulas that won't irritate your skin, and you should also avoid using harsh cleansers, exfoliants, and toners. Instead, opt for products that are designed specifically for sensitive skin.
Can sensitive skin go away without treatment?
While it depends on the root cause of your sensitive skin, for example, if a cosmetic product is a culprit, you may find that your symptoms resolve on their own after a period of time — anywhere from a few hours to a fortnight. For skin disorders or allergic skin reactions such as psoriasis and acne, skin sensitivity tends to persist over the long term. To protect the skin and prevent additional sensitivities, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day and be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet. By taking these precautions, you can help to keep your skin feeling softer.
how to care for sore, sensitive skin
Calming and soothing inflammation, managing sensitivity triggers, and fortifying the skin’s protective barrier are three key sensitive skin treatment strategies for managing sore, sensitive skin. Our specially-formulated UltraCalming sensitive skin line makes it easy to replenish the skin from the inside out. Here are Dermalogica’s go-to products for sensitised skin conditions:
- Ultracalming Cleanser — pH-balanced and non-foaming, this hydrating gel-cream cleanser helps to calm and cool redness and discomfort. It will gently prime and prepare your skin for further treatments, enhancing absorption and boosting its efficacy.
- Hydro Masque Exfoliant — This super-gentle exfoliant smoothes and renews, leaving you with bright, glowing skin. Exfoliating Bamboo preps your skin for optimal hydration with Snow Mushroom — an extract that holds 450 times its weight in water. Meanwhile, Jojoba Ester and Amino Acids derived from Sugar Beets work to strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier.
- Ultracalming Serum Concentrate — A super-concentrated serum designed to calm, restore and defend sensitised skin. Evening Primrose Oil, Sunflower Seed, and Avocado extracts interrupt inflammatory triggers to prevent future flare-ups.
- Intensive Eye Repair — Repair signs of photoaging, defend against further damage and plump fine lines with this ultra-rich eye cream, loaded with fortifying Vitamin A, Wild Yam Extract and Pro-Vitamin B5.
Ultracalming Mist — Spritz this hydrating mist liberally after cleansing to lock in hydration and relieve inflammation and discomfort. Oat and botanicals soothe and strengthen the skin, while Aloe supports a natural moisture balance. Spritz this toner throughout the day to control hot flushes and keep skin hydrated.
- Calm Water Gel — A weightless, refreshing water-gel moisturiser featuring dual Hyaluronic Acid technology that works across multiple skin surface layers to quench thirsty skin and lock in moisture, along with Cactus Pear Extract to soothe and calm skin
- Skinperfect Primer SPF30 — This primer does it all, smoothing fine lines, evening out skin texture, and creating a smooth surface for your makeup. Pearl Powder and minerals provide luminosity, a potent peptide that supports firmness, while Broad Spectrum physical sunscreen shields against the sun damage triggered by UV light.
preventative measures to reduce skin sensitivity
While sensitised skin can be frustrating, there are a few things you can do to help prevent your skin from becoming raw, red and inflamed. Follow our preventative tips to reduce your skin’s sensitivity and maintain a dewy, healthy glow:
- Avoid over-washing your face — When you over-wash your face, you strip away natural oils that protect your skin, leaving it feeling dry and sensitive. It’s also important to avoid scrubbing your face too vigorously. Using a gentle cleanser twice daily is recommended for reactive skins.
- Use a gentle cleanser — Avoid cleansers containing soaps as they can interfere with the skin’s natural barrier and its pH. At Dermalogica, all our cleansers are PH-balanced to the skin and contain soothing ingredients to refresh and clean your skin without disrupting this delicate microbiome.
- Watch the faucet — While it’s tempting to turn the temperature dial up, limit your exposure to hot water. Again, it can strip away the protective oils on your skin, leaving it feeling dry, tight, and susceptible to sensitivity. Lukewarm water is the optimal choice for managing sensitive skins.
- Keep it simple — When your skin has healed after a bout of inflammation, it’s tempting to pick up where you left off when it comes to your skin regimen. But before you rush to reinstate your go-to products, take a breather. Re-introduce skincare one by one, and only once your skin feels balanced and ready. Less is more when treating skin sensitivity!
- Don’t forget to moisturise — It’ll help to keep your skin hydrated and offer protection from external environmental triggers. Choose products that are rich in humectants, such as Hyaluronic Acid, as they will help your skin retain moisture.
- Always read the product label — Scan the list for irritating ingredients, such as alcohol and perfumes (artificial fragrances). Our professional-grade formulas are free from artificial colours and fragrances, mineral oil, lanolin, S.D. alcohol, parabens and microplastics. Every product in our range is also certified cruelty-free, gluten-free and vegan.
professional treatments for sensitised skin conditions and beyond
If you’re experiencing sensitive skin and need help treating it, Dermalogica offers a range of professional-grade skincare products that address a huge variety of common concerns. Drawing from extensive scientific research, our expert team at the International Dermal Institute have been trying, testing and formulating our professional-grade skincare range since 1986.
We’re also proud to offer a PRO Calm professional skin treatment that targets skin sensitivity to reduce redness, hydrate, soften and balance skin texture. Whether you’re experiencing mild or severe skin sensitivity, PRO Calm works in three phases: botanical actives soothe skin, while lymphatic drainage and pressure point massage help to calm a stressed nervous system. LED light therapy helps to further reduce redness, while targeted treatments help hydrate, balance and restore the skin barrier for reduced redness and calmer skin. Book a PRO Calm skin treatment with your local Dermalogica therapist today, and get in touch with our expert team if you have any questions.