We’ve heard countless people say “My skin is so sensitive...” and while all skin is sensitive by nature, what qualifies as hyper sensitive skin, or skin that easily develops adverse reactions? Let’s unpack the topic of what sensitive skin is, how to identify it, what triggers skin flare-ups and how to best care for it.
Do I have sensitive skin?
While there is no official test for “sensitive skin”, there are signs; reactions and triggers, such as redness, burning, stinging or skin discomfort that can help you identify if your skin falls into this category.
How do I know if I have sensitive skin?
Here are 10 signs you may have sensitive skin:
1. Your Skin Easily Flushes
2. You’re Prone to Rashes and Bumps
3. Beauty Products Sting or Burn
4. You Have Dry Patches
5. Your Skin Feels Itchy
6. You’re Sensitive to the Sun
7. You Have Broken Capillaries
8. Fragrance and Your Skin Don’t Mix
9. Your Skin Reacts to Extreme Weather
10. You Break Out Easily
What is sensitive skin?
While some of us may react from time to time to an ingredient in a skincare product, people with sensitive skin have highly reactive skin to chemicals, dyes, and fragrances in topical beauty products as well as heat, cold, wind and pollution.
When the skin's natural barrier is weakened or broken down it is more likely to react to these triggers. The nerve endings on the top layer of the skin become irritated and sensitivity is heightened. You can experience dry, itchy, flaky and bumpy skin. Sensitive skin can also suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, dermatitis and allergies.
Why is your skin sensitive?
Let’s breakdown the different types of sensitive skin and causes:
Naturally sensitive skin is typically genetic and it can be linked to inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.
Environmentally sensitive skin is triggered by your environment. Sun exposure, heat, pollution — anything your skin comes into contact with can be an automatic trigger.
Reactive skin shows different types of reactions easily when exposed to certain products, ingredients, treatments or environmental factors. Papules or pustules form where the irritant was placed.
Thin skin can develop as a result of naturally aging, or from ingredients that overprocess and thin skin. Thin skin is more likely to become irritated.
Sonya’s sensitive skin care tips:
1. Use detergent free cleansers
Many face washes use sulfates and other irritating detergents that are dehydrating and irritating to all skin types, especially sensitive skin.
Sonya’s Skincare Pick: Sensi Wash
2. Strengthen and repair your skin's natural barrier
When your natural barrier functions are weakened and compromised you will experience more irritation and sensitivity. Look for ingredients like ceramides, essential fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid in serums and moisturizers.
Sonya’s Skincare Pick: Blue Butterfly Balm, Organic Omega Oil
3. Protect your skin from the sun and overheating
This sounds so basic because it is. Daily usage of SPF30 should be a given, but it's not always enough. When Outdoors try to avoid overheating, this means wear a hat, and always opt for the shade over direct sunlight.
Sonya’s Skincare Pick: Face Shield SPF 30 Sunscreen
4. Boost your immune system with probiotics
When your immune system goes into overdrive as a result of a perceived threat it can become hyperactivated. What does this mean? Redness, pain, scaling, itching, and other similar symptoms are signs this reaction is taking place. If you suffer from rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis or generally sensitive skin you are more susceptible. 70% of our body's immune system is located in the GI tract. By taking quality probiotics, we can boost good bacteria in our gut and immune system to help protect against a range of health dangers.
Sonya’s Skincare Pick: Acidophilus Flora
5. Use gentle and fragrance free laundry detergent
Pillow cases, bedding, face towels and clothes all come in contact with our skin and can cause irritation. Fragrances and dyes are the top ingredients that cause skin reactions. Opt for clean detergent free of fragrance and perfume.
6. Heat is not your friend
That means hot water to wash your face and hot showers because they are dehydrating and irritating to skin. Hot saunas are triggers as is hot weather. Hot weather increases water loss from the body, leading to dehydration. This can cause skin to feel irritated, red and dry, so make sure to hydrate your skin and keep water levels topped up.