It's important to differentiate between sensitive skin and sensitised skin.
Sensitive skin is a genetic predisposition. The skin burns easily in sunlight and can react to triggers, such as food. This is because the complexion tends to have a lower amount of pigment and a thinner top skin layer.
Sensitised skin can target any skin type regardless of age or race. In fact, it affects over 50% of people! This temporary condition is when the skin becomes over-reactive from external factors, resulting in irritation, redness, itchiness, stinging or tingling sensations and product intolerance.
Signs and Symptoms of Sensitive Skin
A history of allergies or eczema makes you more likely to experience skin sensitivity. If you regularly experience three or more of the following, you probably have sensitive skin:
Stinging, Tingling, Dryness, Irritation, Redness, Burning, Flaking, Peeling, Itchiness, Rashes, Hives
Skin sensitivity can be the result of, or exacerbated by, a wide variety of factors such as seasonal change and temperature, astringent or harsh ingredients, over exfoliation, allergies, stress, hormonal changes and medications. Even coffee and alcohol can be a cause!
Other Causes of Skin Sensitivity
Not all skin reactions indicate sensitive skin. Indeed, misdiagnosing yourself with generally sensitive skin can actually cause you to ignore a specific problem with the products you use. Some other common causes of skin sensitivity include:
Truly sensitive skin is something you're stuck with, but many reactions are actually indications of another condition.
It's easy to dismiss peeling skin, rashes, and other annoying skin reactions as the inevitable manifestations of general skin sensitivity. But many cases of sensitive skin have an underlying cause. If you want to soothe your reactive complexion, you first must figure out what's causing the problem.
If your skin is truly sensitive, you won't be able to rid yourself of the problem. You may, however, be able to find a family of products that don't irritate your skin.
Sensitive Skin or Something Else?
To calm sensitive skin, you first must discern its cause. Ask yourself the following questions:
Skin-irritating ingredients such as ammonia, benzoyl peroxide, menthol, and phenol are best avoided. Try only one new product at a time, and make a note of any common ingredients in products that irritate your skin. Using three or more products daily can irritate even normal skin, particularly if you use multiple products with the same ingredients.
To minimise reactions when you try new skin products: