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Hmmm... Is my skin "sensitive" or "sensitised"?

The words ‘sensitive’ and ‘sensitised’ are often used interchangeably when it comes to your skin. But did you know that they’re not the same?

Sensitive skin is often a condition you’reborn with. That means your pesky genetics may predispose you to rosacea, eczema, dry skin, allergies and so forth(darn!).

Sensitised skin, on the other hand, is a condition that can affect all skin types - oily, dry and anywhere in between.It’s not caused by your DNA, but by your lifestyle and the choices you make.

Like where we spend the most time (think sun, wind, pollution, the temperature and even air conditioning!), or the products you put on your skin.

Of course, making the matter even more baffling is the fact that both sensitive skin and sensitised skin share similar symptoms.

Signs of sensitive skin and sensitised skin include:

  • Skin tightness
  • Dryness and patches
  • Redness or blotchiness
  • Itching and irritation
  • Peeling, flaking and cracking skin
  • Burning or flushing sensation
  • Rashes and breakouts

So how do we tell the difference?

Good question! Usually if you have sensitive skin you’ll experience the symptoms we listed above, plus, one or more of these...

  • You’re more prone to asthma and allergies
  • The symptoms are persistent
  • It’s likely that other family members have sensitive skin
  • Flushing or blushing is common
  • Your skin burns easily
  • You can’t tolerate many skincare products and often have a low-level discomfort or irritation, regardless of the weather.

If you don’t experience any of the above then your skin could just be sensitised and not sensitive. This is good news for you, because it is easier to fix :)

What triggers sensitised skin?

Given that sensitised skin is not a result of genetics, it can come and go (whereas sensitive skin is with you all the time). Getting to grips with the types of environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence skin sensitivity is a no-brainer!

  • Pollutants in the environment
  • Irritants in products (the list is huge but 2 of the big ones are parabens and methylisothiazolinone)
  • Strong foaming detergents like SLES and SLS
  • Harsh cleansers that interfere with the natural pH balance of your skin
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Airborne allergens
  • Temperature changes and air conditioning
  • Hard water
  • Stress

Tips for both Sensitive and Sensitised Skin

It’s not easy to avoid changes in weather, stress and pollution but you can take steps to bolster your skin’s protective barrier and overall health.

  • Avoid using the wrong products for your skin type, which can disrupt your skin barrier. If your skin’s barrier isn’t at its best then you’re much more likely to experience further irritation.
  • Instead of trying to overcorrect, you should avoid extremes. Don’t use hot or cold water, you want to use a tepid temperature.
  • Stay away from harsh cleansers, anything that foams; you want the products with the least number of ingredients in them, and ideally natural (but read on about natural below).
  • While there’s nothing wrong with buying a product that’s labelled “sensitive,” know that the buzzword alone doesn’t mean it’s the best thing on the shelf for your skin. Tons of products are labelled sensitive or hypoallergenic because it’s a buzzword that sells products and this isn’t regulated!
  • Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it can’t irritate your skin. If you’re having a bout of sensitivity, choose products that have been recommended to you (we can help via our Woohoo Skincare email consults!).
  • Simplifying your routine and trying only one new product at a time is a good rule of thumb. More is not better and can often lead to sensitivities.
  • Clean up your diet - try removing common causes of inflammation like coffee, alcohol and anything processed and high in sugar and see if that helps.
  • Visit a naturopath; sometimes reactive skin can be a by-product of gut dysbiosis or candida, so it always pays to get some assistance with getting your body back into a state of alkalinity with the right herbs, habits, supplements, lifestyle choices and products.
  • Choosing skincare products that are free from cheap filler ingredients and synthetic fragrance, and are packed with skin-caring ingredients is something your skin will thank you for instead.
  • Get enough sleep and stress less! #nobrainer

What about some products recommendations?

Luckily, we have a bunch of beautiful products that are suitable for both sensitive and sensitised/reactive skin.

Take ourCloud 9 Deep Cleansing Balm… it’s surfactant free and uses oils to cleanse instead of soaps. That means your skin is moisturised and comfortable after cleansing instead of tight and itchy. Don’t be scared of using oils on your skin - your skin actually *needs* its oily acid mantle to give your skin a protective barrier thathelps prevent further sensitivity.

To help rebalance sensitive and sensitised skin after cleansing we developed ourRaindrops on Roses Hydrating Tonic. Steam-distilled Rose Hydrosol combined with skin-soothing Aloe Vera Juice assist with cell renewal and repair while imparting a wonderful rosy scent. Ahh….

OurFairy Godmother Serum #3 contains hyaluronic acid which will allow your skin to draw in incredible amounts of moisture, while wild indigo extract destresses your skin and fermented noni balances your skin’s microbiome and reduces redness.

If you have sensitised skin you can’t look past nature’s first aid kit.Dilo Oil (a.k.a Tamanu Oil) is a natural healer, moisturiser and inflammation fighter. This silky-soft 100% pure, wild harvested oil drenches your skin in goodness. It can be worn under creams or in place or your moisturiser, making it a must have.

To finish, we can’t go pastOver The Moon Rich Repair Cream, a deeply hydrating, rich, luscious daily moisturising cream for that’s incredibly soothing for the most sensitive skin. Potent native Australian antioxidants plus the essential beauty mineral MSM helps to improve your skin barrier function, keeping moisture in while calming inflammation. Wahoo!

(Psst…. If you have oily skin, check out the Perfectly Happy Light Anti-Oxidant Cream instead).

If you like to try super-sized samples before you commit to full-sized products, you can try these beauties all together in a sample pack that we’ve put together for skin needs that extra bit of TLC.

Check out the Calming Sample Pack for Redness/Ultra-Dry/Ultra-Sensitive Skin here.