When you have sensitive skin, it seems like a lot of things can trigger a reaction, from harsh skincare products to the weather. But how do you know if your skin is actually sensitive or just sensitized? In this post, we’ll break down the difference between sensitive and sensitized skin and talk about why ingredients like Vitamin B3 and Zinc can help, no matter which category your skin falls into.
Recognizing Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is a frustration for so many of us. It’s something that I’ve dealt with my whole life and as I get older, it feels like it’s only getting worse. So, when I found out that there was a difference between sensitive skin and sensitized skin, I thought that would be worth sharing with you guys. What Is Sensitive Skin?
We get it: you want better skin. But sometimes, no matter how many products you try or what kind of diet you’re on, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. And while there may be a lot of reasons why your skin isn’t improving as quickly as you’d like it to, the most common reason tends to be that you are only making your skin worse.
The truth is, there is a difference between sensitive skin and sensitised skin. Sensitive skin is a pre-existing condition where skin reacts badly to things it comes into contact with. This can be due to things like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis. Sensitised skin is not a condition, but rather is an effect from external factors such as pollution, harsh products, over exfoliating or too much sun exposure.
If this sounds like something that may be happening to you, don’t despair! Here are some tips on how to identify if your skin is sensitive or sensitised – and what exactly you can do about it.
Just like some people may have a gluten sensitivity or an intolerance to dairy, many people have skin sensitivities. Some of these are caused by the environment, such as pollution or high levels of stress. Others are caused by our lifestyle choices, such as over-exfoliating and even skipping sunscreen. And because we’re always on the hunt for answers to what’s causing our skin concerns, we spoke with dermatologist Dr. Jeanette Graf about how to know if you have sensitive skin, how to deal and how to improve your daily skincare routine.
What is Sensitive Skin?
You can find yourself on almost any allergist’s bench and be told that you’re suffering from dermatitis, a catchall term for skin inflammation. The doctor will then proceed to offer you a long list of things that you shouldn’t do, eat, or wear. You will be told to avoid foods like tomatoes and strawberries; to exclude cosmetics containing parabens or alcohol; to go easy on the laundry liquid and bleach; and on and on.
You don’t need to take any of these steps. Dermatitis is a symptom rather than a disease, and it only tells you that something is wrong with your skin—not what that something is. An allergist may not tell you this because he has no way of knowing what your problem really is—and neither do you. Doctors sometimes fall into the trap of thinking they can diagnose patients by their symptoms alone, forgetting that symptoms can overlap across different diseases. They get used to seeing patients with similar problems, and they assume (wrongly) that all those cases are the same.
As it happens, dermatitis comes in two forms: sensitive skin and sensitized skin.* Sensitive skin is a genetic condition that makes your skin more susceptible than normal to external irritants
Sensitive skin is a common issue, but it’s one that’s tricky to define. Essentially, sensitivity can mean different things to different people, making it all the more difficult for them to diagnose and treat. To make matters worse, there’s no true scientific definition of sensitive skin, says Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, a board-certified dermatologist based in West Islip, New York. But she and Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, do their best to demystify this common concern below.
According to Dr. Mariwalla, skin sensitivity is an umbrella term that can refer to pretty much every skin issue out there—from acne and eczema to rosacea and sunburns. Basically any time your skin reacts badly to a product or environment than normal can be considered sensitive skin.
Dr. Jaliman says the condition occurs when the body’s natural barrier is impaired or damaged in some way—it could be from genetics or due to weather change, medication, or an underlying condition like psoriasis or eczema (to name a few). When the barrier is
Your skin is the biggest organ of your body. It protects us from external invaders, helps regulate our temperature, and makes for a pretty good barrier to keep water in and bad stuff out. Our skin is made up of multiple layers, with an outer layer called the epidermis and a deeper layer called the dermis. The epidermis is made up of cells that are constantly renewing themselves. These new cells form underneath and make their way to the surface, where they eventually die and flake off.
As cells shed off the top layer of your skin, they also take with them any dirt or other nasty things that may be on your skin. This is why you don’t have to wash your face everyday (unless you apply makeup) — your skin does it for you! If you do want to wash off any excess oil or sweat, I recommend using micellar water instead of soap. Micellar water is a no-rinse cleanser that contains micelles, which are tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules suspended in soft water. Think of them as little magnets that attract dirt and grime but don’t strip away your natural oils or have a drying effect like soap can.
The dermis is where most of