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Sensitive? Sensitised? Not the same. Here’s how to tell the difference.

How to know which of these words applies to you and how to help your skin either way.

Skin Education | 

READERS’ PICKS

At Sachi Skin we adhere to the Skin States over Skin Types™ approach. Rather than fixed skin “types”, we want to introduce the idea of constantly changing skin. Your current skin concerns are not here to stay, and future changes to your skin can happen any time. We also believe your skin can exist in multiple conditions, which can make taking care of skin tricky and, in some cases, difficult. 


We’re always talking about sensitive skin. In fact, even our Google searches for sensitive skin have gone up by 64% in the last 5 years. Are all of us suffering more from sensitivity these days? Well–yes and no. 


Skin sensitivity begets a set of reactions and effects: redness, itching and in extreme cases, burning and swelling. This condition can be genetic–your barrier can be naturally volatile, making it susceptible to irritants; and this has always been true. Those who suffer allergies or have a weakened immune system may have experienced skin related concerns and sensitivities from a very young age. 


But, recently, we’re seeing more non-genetic self-perceived skin sensitivity, too, mainly because of cosmetic use, modern lifestyle and urban living. This kind of sensitivity is more easily avoided and treated, but also more common these days. 


First, though, we have to tell the difference between ‘sensitised’ and ‘sensitive’ skin. 



Sensitive skin or sensitised? 


When using the term sensitive skin, we’re talking skin that genetically shows sensitive symptoms like redness and itching. It’s something you’ll have struggled with for a while. Sensitive skin can ‘act up’ or be triggered by pollution, chemicals, pesticides or even skincare ingredients like fragrances. But the actual sensation of skin sensitivity can vary. As sensitive skin is chronic and genetic, a lot of the symptoms, like itching, swelling, burning and irritation can feel familiar, and repetitive, especially for those with allergies. 

 


Sensitised skin means that, while you might not have always suffered from sensitive skin symptoms, you’ve started to. Maybe they appeared after a new skin treatment, when you’ve moved to a new climate, starting new medications, when you’ve tried a new makeup product or picked up a new skincare habit. The symptoms of sensitised skin might be less predictable than those of sensitive skin, because they come as a result of contact and exposure, or of change. So the discomforts you feel, again, like itching, swelling, burning, or other forms of skin irritation, might be more noticeable in contrast to your normal skin condition. 



Here are some of the common causes of Sensitised Skin:



  • Over-cleansing: This can happen very easily if you are a gym-goer, feel a need to be cleansing constantly if living in polluted city or generally love the feeling of “clean fresh feeling skin”. We say keep within 1-2 skin cleanses a day. Cleansing more than the recommended amount strips the oils on the skin, weakening the skin barrier. It also risks alteration to the skin’s natural pH and interference with the bacterial composition in the skin microbiome (the ecosystem of beneficial bacteria in the skin layers).

  • Over-exfoliation: Exfoliation is the process of shedding dead skin cells, bacteria and oil on the surface of the skin, helping with skin texture and to clarify pores. When done more than the recommended frequency, it can interfere with the structure of the skin barrier leading to heightened skin sensitivity. At first that smooth skin can feel seductively great but if you start to over exfoliate not only do you risk damaging your skin barrier you may even start to notice more skin texture irregularities. 

  • Sun exposure: Excess unprotected sun exposure, caused by not applying SPF, can allow UV rays to enter the skin. They create free radicals that cause damaging chain reactions in the skin. These reactions deplete the antioxidants in the skin barrier, making the skin more susceptible to damage from irritants and pollutants. 


So, what now? 


We’re here to help. Whether you’re suffering with sensitive or sensitised skin, we got you. 


Sensitive skin: Genetic. Lifelong. Triggered by the environment.

 If this sounds like you, make barrier-support ingredients a permanent part of your skincare routine. Your skin will thantk you. 


Sensitised skin: Situational. Caused by changes. 

If this sounds like you, narrow down the changes you’ve made to your routine and your life to determine the cause. Then, work backwards to do damage control. Throwing in some barrier support ingredients also might help you out in the meantime. 



Barrier Support Ingredients


Whether your skin is sensitive or sensitised, here are some holy grails for you. 


Hydrators

Hydration is the cornerstone of skin barrier health. It keeps dead skin cells (keratinocytes) that hold the skin barrier together upright. Some power hydrators are Beta Glucans, Aloe Vera, Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin and Cucumber Extract.


Ceramides

Ceramides make up about 40-50% of the lipids in the skin barrier. It is the cement that holds the skin barrier together. It helps repair the skin barrier and help it become more resilient to irritants and harsh skincare that may sensitise the skin.


Anti-Inflammatories

These help soothe irritated skin and calm redness. For example, there’s Aloe Vera, which has even been shown to help with sunburn. Perfect for reactive skin. 


Antioxidants

Antioxidants help to prevent further flare-ups of the skin through the neutralisation of harmful free radicals. Biological extracts with Bioflavonoids are an excellent way to get your antioxidant fix as they contain a wide range of antioxidants with different mechanisms. This helps the skin to create an antioxidant network - one that can regenerate itself after being used up by free radicals.


In our firming and repairing Pro Resilience Serum we made sure to add all the above to ensure that the serum is suitable for all skins including reactive, reddened and sensitive skins. 

 

 

  


Sensitive skin is getting more common, but barrier supporting skincare is becoming more common too. But skincare, of course, is a deeply personal thing. So do what works for you, and work toward understanding your own skin. Take note of your triggers, use your skin treatment with care and prioritise hydration. Wishing you happy and healthy skin always!

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