Did you know that these days more of us than ever before are labeling ourselves as having sensitive skin? But chances are you might be misdiagnosing your concerns – you may think you have sensitive skin but chances are you don’t! Beauty therapists and skin experts will tell you that when asked if they suffer from sensitive skin a large amount of women will answer yes when in fact it actually isn’t that common. Here’s how to tell if you really do have sensitive skin or if your skin reaction or symptoms are being caused by other factors.
So why the increase in the amount of women thinking they’re skin is more sensitive to product and other outside factors than others? Believe it or not, it all comes down to your skincare regime. Most women who say they suffer from sensitive skin are actually experiencing sensitised skin (not sensitive skin!) due to aggressive use of skin-care products and skin treatments and there is a big difference between the two.
Sensitive skin is a genetic predisposition found mostly in people with very fair skin – these people are prone to redness and reactions due to the fact that the skin is more delicate in make-up. Fair skin has lower amounts of pigment and blood vessels closer to the surface of the skin and a less effective protective outer layer on the skin’s surface, allowing irritants to penetrate the skin more easily and cause inflammation. Think itching, blisters, and break outs that probably wouldn’t occur in other skin types.
If you do have sensitive skin then you need to play it safe when using skincare products and going for treatments. Try not to use products that contain alcohol, formaldehyde, beta hydroxy acids, and retinoids. It’s also best to use fragrance-free products. As for cleansers, stick to gentle, mild cleansers that won’t strip the skin of its natural moisture.
Now let’s chat about sensitised skin – ,this occurs mainly because of environmental effects and overzealous product use. Things like over-exfoliation, harsh cosmetic treatments (such as chemical peels), stress, smoking, alcohol, and pollution can all cause your skin to become more sensitive than normal. It’s important to realise the difference between the two and find out if your skin is sensitised rather than sensitive because having sensitised skin is a lot easier to fix than genetically sensitive skin.
If you notice that certain products, ingredients, or procedures are causing your skin to feel sensitised then stop using them immediately and give your skin time to allow the skin barrier to build back up again. While this is happening switch to a gentle cleanser with anti-inflammatory properties and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Sensitised skin is often dehydrated and in serious need of moisture so whenever possible give your skin a much-needed drink or moisture.