“Sensitive” is a word heard all too often in the beauty sphere. If we so much as feel an itch coming on or feel the slightest bit dry, we throw our hands up to the sky and succumb to the label of sensitivity – worrying that no product will ever be good enough for our dainty flower petal sensitive skin. That was a slight exaggeration, but you get the gist. It seems like everyone and their mother is swearing skin sensitivity these days, so for the sake of a more accurate self diagnosis, let’s unpack the term a little bit.
Sensitive: quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals or influences. Google’s answer to the question of sensitivity would lead us to believe that dry doesn’t necessarily equate to sensitive, acneic doesn’t mean sensitive, and so on. Sensitive, then is just another word for reactive.
Sensitivity: The Signs
So how can you tell if you’re experiencing a reaction? Chances are, you’ll know it when you feel it – but there are a few telltale signs that can help clue you in. Itchy, burning or inflamed skin are arguably the easiest to spot, as your skincare routine should soothe your skin and not make you want to scratch it off right away. Unusually tight, dry, flaky, scaly skin are also key sensitivity signals. It’s important to note that sensitivity symptoms are highly subjective – you may be experiencing flaky, dry skin, for example – but you could also be a naturally drier skin type. Zeroing in on whether you’re having a reaction to a product or not i.e. whether you have sensitive skin type or not, will whole heartedly depend on how tuned in you are with your skin’s sense of normality. You may experience one of the aforementioned symptoms but not the other, so knowing whether you are truly sensitive or not will require your due diligence as far as monitoring and knowing your skin is concerned.
Sensitivity: What to Do
Now you’ve learned that “acne prone” and “sensitive” aren’t synonymous in the skincare dictionary, and that the itchy, burning sensation, you feel every time you use a moisturizer with active ingredients in it may mean your skin is actually sensitive (not that the product is “working”)- how do you move forward as as sensitive skinned skincare enthusiast? We know the temptation to try new products at every turn is real, but when you have an uber reactive skin type the rule of thumb is: proceed with caution. Before using a product for the first time, try a patch test by applying the product to a small section of skin and seeing how you feel prior to going all in. Instead of revamping your entire skincare routine in one foul swoop, introduce products one at a time with a solid 3-4 weeks of use in between. By integrating new ingredients into your routine slowly but surely, you’ll be better able to decipher what the culprits may be when experiencing an adverse reaction to a product or ingredient therein. Staying away from products with high quantities of known irritants such as fragrances or other harsh preservatives is always a safe bet, which is why we’ve worked tirelessly to keep our product formulations as clean and safe as possible for even the most sensitive of skins. And, last but not least, when in doubt, call your dermatologist. Your weeks of picking and prodding at your skin in frustration can be quelled by a quick visit to a professional who knows skin better than (let’s face it) you ever could.
Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of sensitivity, the more you know about what it means to be sensitive, the better you come to know yourself and your skin type – and the better you know your skin, the more likely you are to choose the products that will make it happy.