Sensitive skin runs much deeper than that of skin that simply reacts to products and treatments. When skin is sensitive, its protective outer layer (the epidermal lipid barrier) is less efficient at blocking irritants, microbes and allergens, and thus more prone to reactions such as blushing and allergies. This predisposition is genetic, and this skin type also tends to suffer from non-related skin sensitivities such as allergies,and asthma. They are typically also accustomed to experiencing other forms of skin rashes on the body such as eczema, rosacea, and contact dermatitis. Sensitive skin types tend to have less pigment in their skin and a thinner epidermis, thus causing them to have less of a protective barrier for the skin, which opens it up to factors that lead to impaired barrier function.
Sensitized skin, on the other hand, has a weakened barrier because of internal and external factors from one’s immediate environment and habits that have caused the barrier to become temporarily impaired over time. It is important to note, however, that most people have been chronically sensitized for months, if not years. Lifestyle (stress, diet, smoking, dehydration, alcohol, reactions to cosmetic ingredients, trauma from laser resurfacing or peels, and over processing caused by excess exfoliation or non-pH-balanced products) contribute to sensitized skin. In addition, environment (pollution, airborne allergens, weather, and sudden changes in climates or micro-climates – like transfer from cold, dry winds outdoors to dry heat indoors) also are contributing factors with sensitized skin.
These skin conditions can be improved with proper skin care and lifestyle choices. There are therapeutic professional and retail formulations that can deliver effective results for the most sensitized or sensitive skin conditions and improve barrier function, reduce redness and soothe irritation for long lasting skin relief and improved skin health.