Medically reviewed and approved by Nataniel Josue M.D.

Sensitive skin can quickly become allergic to certain substances, and as such, it requires special care. How do I know if I have sensitive skin? After a thorough investigation, here is what I found out:

You know that your facial skin is sensitive if you notice it is irritated when you use creams, soaps, and lotions containing ingredients such as alcohol, fragrance, and sulfates. We can also know we have sensitive skin if it presents flakes, redness, rashes, roughness, swelling, accompanied by sensations such as tightness, itching, burning. 

Next, I will expand this information, and I will show you how to know if your skin is sensitive. I will tell you it’s causes and possible care and treatment that you should apply to your face to calm this type of skin.

What is a sensitive skin type?

Sensitive skin is any dry or mixed oily skin that reacts quickly, excessively, or intensely to external or internal factors and suffers from redness, tingling, tightness, heat, burning, and itching. Moreover, this type of skin does not respond well to the application of cosmetic products on the face.

Sensitive skin has two factors responsible for skin sensitivity:

  • Alteration of the protective barrier of the epidermis. This alteration causes the dehydration of the epidermis and the penetration of intensely irritating agents into the skin.
  • The second factor is the excessive secretion of cytokines through the nerve endings that cause unpleasant sensations. The overproduction of free radicals also characterizes them.

Sensitive skin is triggered when the natural barrier that protects the skin is broken allowing bacteria to penetrate the body. This results in a significant loss of water.

How common is sensitive skin?

This type of skin can affect 1/3 of the adult population, of these, around 60% are women and 40% men, due to genetic family factors. People with white skin have a greater predisposition of sensitivity than others. Sensitive skin also manifests itself in people who have some pathology in the face, such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, or rosacea.

How is sensitive skin?

  • It is more susceptible to sudden changes in temperature, stress, and sun exposure.
  • Sensitive skin on the face tends to produce itching and redness. Therefore, it is essential to keep it hydrated but as delicately as possible.
  • This type of skin surface needs cosmetic products that strengthen the natural protective barrier. With this, you will obtain better resistance against external agents that damage it.

Why has my skin become sensitive all of a sudden?

How do my skin become sensitive?

Conventional cleaners

An important factor contributing to skin sensitivity are conventional skin cleansers that many people use at the beginning or end of the day. These cleansers destroy the skin’s natural protective barrier. Therefore, if you also apply a moisturizer containing irritants, the skin will become red and itchy.

Exfoliants

Chemical and physical exfoliants, besides affecting the epidermis’ hydrolytic film, also remove a part of the horny layer. Although we use these products to remove dead skin cells and reduce expression lines or wrinkles, they can also irritate already sensitive skin.

Smoking 

According to research, smoking attacks the structure of skin cells. Cigarette smoke acts as a free radical, thus reducing immune activity.

Environment

Your environment can also be responsible for an increase in cases of sensitive skin. Those who live in cities are regularly exposed to many pollutants that damage the skin.

Excess of cleaning

Over-cleaning is also harmful to the skin and causes sensitivity. If you use too much soap, the oily layer that surrounds the skin disappears. This layer protects us from toxic agents. Therefore, its destruction makes the skin more sensitive.

Necessary care for sensitive skin.

  • Do not overexpose yourself to the cold.
  • Try to avoid aggressive cosmetics and skin irritants such as exfoliations, excessive washing, or creams that are not suitable for your skin type.
  • Use sunscreen. Skin’s sensitivity increases with exposure to the sun. If you are going to expose yourself to the sun, try to apply a good sunscreen. Use sunscreen to avoid the harmful effects of UV rays and do not expose yourself directly to the sun between 11 am and 3 pm. When choosing a sunscreen, avoid products that contain irritants such as perfumes.
  • Dry your face carefully. When you are drying your face, try to do it very carefully and without rubbing.
  • Use soft products. The cosmetic products that you use should be smooth and do not use many at the same time. Use cleaning products with non-aggressive and extremely tolerant ingredients to wash your face. Preferably use products that do not rinse or contain preservatives or perfume and no surfactants.
  • Consume a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, and E and natural vegetable oils or fatty fish. These help to keep the skin in good condition.

How do I know if I have sensitive facial skin?

When the skin is healthy, it maintains a delicate balance, which protects it from external factors, and the levels of moisture are regulated. Most of these processes take place in the corneal layer, which is composed of cells and lipids.

These lipids provide stability and permeability to the skin while maintaining its elasticity and firmness.

However, when the skin’s protective function is affected, a transepidermal loss of water occurs and makes it easier for irritants to penetrate the skin.

These consequences occur mostly in the facial skin. It is more exposed to ultraviolet rays and chemical pollutants; the thickness of the epidermis is thinner than the rest of the body.

To determine whether you have sensitive skin, some physical characteristics and symptoms can help to detect this condition. Some of those physical characteristics can be:

  • Redness in specific places of the face.
  • Rough or dry skin.
  • Swelling or peeling.

These aspects can cause some symptoms like:

  • Itching.
  • Tight skin.
  • Burning

Signs of sensitive skin

It reacts to regular cosmetic products.

When you use any cleansing product, you notice irritation or redness on your face. You know at once that your skin is responding negatively to the ingredients, even to soaps and body creams.

It reacts to weather. 

When cold weather arrives, the skin begins to itch, or when it is hot, it gets a rash. This happens because your dermis is more susceptible than usual; therefore, the climate alters the natural state against these standard products.

You have fragile skin.

Regardless of skin type on your face is oily, dry, mixed, sensitive skins are very thin, dry suddenly, and tend to have redness. To solve these problems, use products that strengthen the balance of the skin’s natural barrier.

Some foods cause allergies.

Consumption of some foods produces allergies. If this is a reaction of the immune system; then this reaction causes delicate skin because the epidermis does not resist rejection of the organism’s foods, thus affecting the face’s hypersensitivity.

Internal causes of sensitive skin

know your cutis

Lactation

When pregnant women are at the nursing stage, the skin becomes thinner, and the natural protection is less efficient. For this reason, the skin becomes more susceptible.

Rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic disease that presents redness and small bumps or pimples on the face and is a common culprit of sensitive skin. There is no cure for this problem, but topical medications and oral antibiotics tend to decrease the irritation.

Aging

When you reach an advanced age, your skin produces an imbalance of PH and a more significant loss of water in the dermis, which helps to increase the skin’s sensitivity.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes are responsible for sensitive skin such as menstrual cycles, puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.

Atopic dermatitis

If you are suffering from atopic dermatitis, hypersensitivity or acne are risk factors also produced by sensitive skin.

Stress and lack of sleep

Stress and lack of sleep are also triggers for sensitive skin. Commonly, these factors are accompanied by poor nutrition and low hydration that aggravate the skin.

External causes of sensitive skin.

Weather

Cold air or humidity makes the body keep itself warm, thus causing blood vessels’ contraction and reducing moisture to the skin. It also reduces the secretions that maintain the hydrolipidic film of the skin. Moreover, central heating in the home can cause sensitivity in the skin because it generates a low-humidity environment.

Very high temperatures

High temperatures cause excessive, which then evaporates, making the skin dry and more prone to irritation.

Free radicals

The free radicals in our skin, like ultraviolet pollutants, weaken the skin’s natural defenses allowing it to be penetrated easily.

Excess soaps and detergents

excessive use of soaps and detergents that are aggressive to this type of skin unbalances its pH, interrupting the protective activity.

Medical treatments

Some medical treatments such as radiation therapy or some drugs can also cause skin sensitivity.

Tips to avoid sensitive skin

  • Do a sensitivity test. Before you buy or use any cosmetic product, do a sensitivity test with a small amount of it on the underside of your wrist or ear. If after two days you notice redness or irritation on your skin, do not use them.
  • Moisturize your skin. Moisturize your skin from within by drinking 1.5 to 2 liters of water daily. Externally moisturize the skin by applying moisturizing creams.
  • Use sunscreen. Do not go into the sun without sunscreen.
  • Take care of your diet. Try to avoid dairy products, gluten, and preservatives.
  • Buy the right soap for you. Do not use soap to clean your skin; choose hypoallergenic soaps, shea butter, or neutral pH soaps instead.
  • Do not stress yourself. Avoid leading a stressful life and get enough rest.
  • Avoid applying irritating substances to your face: dyes, coloring agents, isopropyl alcohol, and ascorbic acid.

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Active components to reduce skin sensitivity.

Dexpanthenol

This ingredient is derived from vitamin B5 and is essential in reducing transepidermal water loss. This loss is prevented by accelerating the healing processes and the natural renewal of the skin, keeping the skin healthy and supple.

Glycerin

Glycerin helps maintain proper moisture levels in the skin, exerting moisture on the skin because it attracts and holds water.

Citrate buffer ph5.

When we combine this compound with glycerin and dexpanthenol, the skin’s natural pH is restored, promoting hydration and making it more resistant to irritants.

Products to avoid if your facial skin is sensitive

Alcohol

Although it is an ideal ingredient to close the face’s pores, it can remove natural moisture and produce dryness or irritation. Therefore, try to buy products that do not contain alcohol.

Preservatives

To preserve products’ properties for longer, manufacturers add parabens to keep them in good condition. However, if your skin has presented psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis, it can be affected by this substance (parabens).

Sulfates

Sulfate is a good but aggressive cleanser for the face; although this component frees the skin from dirt, it also takes away the natural oils, leaving it exposed to aggressions.

Fragrances

Fragrances in lotions, creams, soaps can cause rashes, cracking, inflammation in sensitive skin.

Granulated exfoliants

Often, your face’s delicate skin does not tolerate the friction of exfoliating creams’ granules. Thus, it uses chemical substances based on fruits that help you renew the layer of the skin.

Sensitive skin remedies

Good diet

The most straightforward remedy is to eat correctly, maintaining a varied and balanced diet. Your diet should include antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to improve and care for your skin. It is also important to hydrate it by consuming a lot of water.

Essential oils

Some essential oils help regenerate sensitive skin, such as almond oil, rose water to cleanse, evening primrose oil to exfoliate. All of these should be natural to avoid exposing our skin to chemicals.

You may be interested in “How to treat very sensitive skin home remedies that actually work!”

Homemade masks

Applying homemade masks improves sensitive skin. We can make these masks in different ways with essential oils or natural ingredients. Some effective ones are made with yogurt and honey.

Conclusion

For skin to be sensitive, it doesn’t matter if its condition is oily, dry, or mixed. In this case, the important thing is to know which factors trigger it and try to avoid them as much as possible. Look for products for the face that adapts to your skin type, lead a life without stress, and try to have a healthy and balanced diet.