You've been automatically signed up to a new subscription, it's sensitive skin. Good news is this subscription is technically free but the bad news is you probably didn't want it in the first place. So, you have sensitive skin, but what now?
Never fear The Sensitive Type is here to help with some information about what sensitive skin is, what causes it and how to keep it happy.
What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin is the blanket term to describe skin that is more reactive than the average person’s skin. Sensitive skin isn’t actually a medical term it is just a word to describe skin that’s easy to irritate. This reactivity can include unpleasant sensory response to products, environmental factors or an impaired skin barrier. Common symptoms of sensitive skin include itching, burning, stinging, tightness and dryness of the skin.
Sensitive skin can also be attributed or linked to other skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema or rosacea, all of which we explain for you below.
Sensitive skin can last for a short period of time or be lifelong, you may find it comes and goes throughout your time on earth so it's handy to know what causes it and how to manage it
Epidemiological studies have found that around 70% of people will have issues with sensitive skin at some point in their lives, yet sadly the majority of the beauty industry does not cater for sensitive skin. That’s where The Sensitive Type can help!
What causes sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin has a lot to do with the fatty outer layer of our skin. This outer layer called the lipid barrier works to keep water in your skin and keep damaging things (wind, UV rays, heat and chemicals) out of your skin. In people with sensitive skin this barrier can be thinner and weaker making the skin susceptible to this barrier being impaired.
Sensitive skin can be caused by a myriad of factors, some of the most common causes of sensitive skin include:
- Harsh Products
Sensitive skin at times can be brought on by a reaction to the use of a particular product or ingredient. Most people with sensitive skin react to ingredients such as fragrance, artificial colours, isopropyl alcohol, granular exfoliants, essential oils and clay, all of which are banned in The Sensitive Type products. The best way to combat reaction to active ingredients and products it so patch test before use.
- Dry skin
Dry skin is the lack of oil in the skins outer layer. Dry skin can cause irritable or sensitivity in skin due to generic reasons, environmental factors (low humidity), excessive skin washing, health conditions, certain medications or the lack of moisturiser use.
- Dehydrated Skin
Not to be confused with dry skin. While dry skin lacks oil, dehydrated skin lacks water. Water loss in the epidermis is quite different from dry skin. Dehydrated skin requires humectant ingredients (water attracting) to help restore the skins water levels.
- Mature Skin
It is very common for skin to become more sensitive as we age. The lipid barrier can become weaker as we get older which causes increased sensitivity over time. This means that the skin just needs a little hand protecting the skin barrier than it previously did.
- Young Skin
Due to changes in hormones or environmental factors many children, pre-teens and teens can find their skin is sensitive, even after years of not using skincare products. It is important that a gentle skincare routine is established for people with young sensitive skin. This helps them to build a healthy skincare routine and good skincare habits which protects their young skin.
- Immune System
At times skin can become more irritated due to an inflammatory response from your immune system. Basically, when your immune system is hyperactivated it can present in your skin.
That’s right, just like growing a whole human wasn’t enough of a job, your skin becomes more sensitive during pregnancy. This is due to increased hormone levels, which can make normal skin turn sensitive, or even increase existing sensitivity.
What is eczema and dermatitis?
Eczema and dermatitis are characterised by dry patches, rashes and itchy skin. All forms of eczema and dermatitis result in sensitive and easily irritated skin due to the compromised skin barrier. These conditions can be made worse due to exposure to water, temperature changes, humidity and other environmental factors.
Doctors commonly prescribe topical steroids for eczema and dermatitis; however, these creams can cause steroid-induced skin atrophy (aka thinning of the skin). Instead by using products that contain lipids (fatty acids), ceramides and other nourishing ingredients you can heal the skin barrier and manage flare ups in a gentler way.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a common facial condition that is characterised by flushing or blushing, redness and broken capillaries, localised swelling and skin sensitivity. Rosacea is a chronic but treatable condition that typically begins at around age 30 in most people, the cause of the condition is still unknown.
A gentle and hydrating skincare routine can help to control rosacea, and chemical free (zinc based) sunscreen is essential as part of this routine.
How to help sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin needs a little extra TLC to keep happy, this means knowing which skincare products to use and what ingredients are good for your skin. The Sensitive Type makes it easy by only including good for skin ingredients in our products, so you can trust they will help your skin stay happy and healthy.
We recommend a basic skincare routine of cleansing, hydrating, moisturising and protecting from the sun. Here is an example of a recommended sensitive skin friendly skincare routine, that is easy to follow:
- Cleanse with either warm water or if your skin needs it use our Dream Clean cleanser with warm water and a muslin cloth if required.
- Hydrate the skin with Cloud Tonic. Apply to slightly damp skin for maximum hydration.
- Moisturise and protect your skin from environmental stressors from your day with Calm Cream.
- Protect your skin with a sensitive skin friendly sunscreen
- Cleanse with Dream Clean cleanser with warm water and a muslin cloth if required. You can also use Dream Clean to double cleanse if you like to add this to your routine.
- Hydrate the skin with Cloud Tonic. Apply to slightly damp skin for maximum hydration. Add a second later at night for added hydrating benefits.
- Moisturise and protect your skin with Calm Cream.
Some other tips we have found helpful over the years include:
- Using Warm Water
It is recommended that people with sensitive skin avoid hot or cold water. Warm water is the perfect temperature to not irritate skin.
- Washing Skin less Frequently
We recommend that if your skin is very sensitive to wash your face with water in the morning and then use a gentle cleanser in the evening. For those that can handle a cleanse morning and night just make sure you are using a hydrating cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin while it cleanses.
- Avoid over-exfoliating
Remember that exfoliation isn’t just caused by products but by muslin cloths and face washers too. Be careful not to over exfoliate as it can damage your skin barrier and cause irritated skin.
What ingredients should people with sensitive skin avoid?
There are many ingredients commonly used in the beauty industry that we recommend people with sensitive skin avoid. We have condensed this list and are sharing with you the most commonly found ingredients, even in skincare marketed to sensitive skin!
At The Sensitive Type we’ve done the hard work for you and we promise you’ll never find these ingredients in any of our products.
Fragrance from both natural and synthetic sources are called out by dermatologists are the biggest sensitive skin irritant. Fragrance is also the leading cause of contact dermatitis and contains many known allergens such as cinnamic aldehyde, menthol and other harsh ingredients.
- Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol has a dehydrating effect to the skin yet is often used in toners and gel moisturisers. This ingredient can also make conditions like acne or breakouts worse
- Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is an astringent, meaning that is dries out the skin. Astringents are not recommended for skin as it can irritate and make acne or breakouts worse.
- Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide generates free radicals and can cause skin damage. It can cause skin damage similar to overexposure to UV rays. This ingredient also strips the skin by peeling away dead skin cells and oil in the skin which can cause dry skin and sensitivity.
- Physical Exfoliants
Physical exfoliants such as sand, walnut shell, sugar, salt, oatmeal, almonds or even small spheres of plastic are a harsh form of exfoliation not recommended for people with sensitive skin. These exfoliants can cause microtears in the skin (walnut shell and almond), irritate the skin and strip the skin of its natural oils. For sensitive skin, gentle exfoliants such as AHA’s are recommended if you wish to gently exfoliate the skin.
- Essential Oils
Essential oils are very concentrated and can cause irritation or allergic reactions in all skin, especially sensitive skin. Many essential oils are also highly acidic such as lemon, mandarin and lemongrass beyond what skin can handle. It’s best to keep essential oils purely for use in your diffuser or, as they also don’t have any medicinal benefits despite some claims.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS is a harmful ingredient for most skin as it strips the skin of its oils which causes dry skin, irritation and even allergic reactions.
If you want to know more about specific ingredients that are good for skin, we recommend checking out our ingredients page for ingredients that are great for sensitive skin.
If you want to know more about anything mentioned above, we recommend having a chat to your GP or dermatologist!
If you want to keep in touch, join The Sensitive Club, to stay up to date with what's happening.
The Sensitive Type 💖