5 signs you may have sensitive skin and what to do about it

Published: 20/03/2024 | Author: Andrea Simons

Red, blotchy, or itchy patches? You may have sensitive skin – here’s what it is and what causes it.

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What is sensitive skin?

Having sensitive skin is a common issue, in fact 50% of people in the industrialised world have sensitive skin. Essentially, sensitive skin is skin that is very reactive and prone to irritation. Symptoms of sensitive skin can include dryness, roughness, redness, tightness, breakouts, itching, stinging and burning, and even greasy skin can be sensitive.

What causes sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin may be inherited, or you may experience sensitive skin sensations in connection with UV light, pollution, cosmetic ingredients, temperature changes, stress, cold weather or wind. One of the main things associated with sensitive skin is an impaired skin barrier, which among other things can lead to increased sensory perceptions, and in turn, feelings of skin sensitivity and reactivity.

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Signs that you may have sensitive skin

• Your skin reacts to weather changes: When your skin is sensitive, cold weather or wind can immediately make your skin flare and cause dryness, redness and itchiness.
• You experience burning, tight or itchy skin after cleansing: Many cleansers have sulphates and fragrances that sensitive skin doesn’t typically tolerate well.
• Your skin stings and becomes red when using skincare or makeup: Skincare products should never sting or cause reactions, so if they do it’s quite possible that you have sensitive skin, or it might even be that you are using the wrong kind of products for your skin type.
• You get breakouts: If you’re getting a lot of breakouts, don’t immediately assume that its due simply to having oily skin. Even without oily skin you can experience breakouts. Little bumps and patches may arise no matter your skin type, to indicate that you are experiencing some skin sensitivity.
• Your skin is rough and flaky: Since sensitive skin has an impaired skin barrier, moisture is lost from the skin causing it to become dry, rough, itchy and flaky.

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How should we care for sensitive skin?

• Use lukewarm water: Opt for lukewarm water instead of hot when cleansing. Hot water can be too harsh, especially for sensitive skin prone to reacting to sudden temperature changes. Choose a gentle cleanser formulated for sensitive skin, free from sulphates and fragrance, and containing calming ingredients.
• Handle with care: Be gentle when cleansing or applying products. Avoid pulling and scrubbing, as this can further irritate sensitive skin.
• Keep skin hydrated: Moisturise your skin both day and night. Sensitive skin tends to have an impaired skin barrier, making it more prone to moisture loss. Hydration is crucial for maintaining skin health.
• Sun protection: Consider using SPF and wear a hat if you're exposed to sunlight. Opt for shade whenever possible. Look for a moisturiser specifically designed for sensitive skin that contains SPF for added protection.
• Avoid irritants: Stay away from ingredients known to cause skin reactions, such as fragrance, alcohol, and synthetic dyes. These can exacerbate sensitivity and irritation.
• Be cautious with chemicals: Steer clear of retinol and chemical exfoliants like salicylic and glycolic acid, as they can be too harsh for sensitive skin. Instead, consider gentler alternatives like DermaLift, a retinol-like active found in the full NovAge Skinrelief Routine.
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