What is sensitive skin?

Although not a “skin type” but rather a symptom caused by different factors, Sensitive Skin is characterized by frequent redness, burning, itching. Typically the skins barrier function becomes compromised, resulting in water loss and enabling the penetration of irritants or other foreign bodies.[2] The body’s immune system now will respond by activating the inflammatory response from these irritants. According to dermatologists, in order to diagnose sensitive skin, the following symptoms must be present: skin reactions such as erosion, bumps and pustules, very dry skin, blushing and skin flushing.[4]

What causes sensitive skin?

Our skin is a living organ and it is designed to react to something that isn’t right in our body. Our nerve endings underneath the skin barrier detect everything that comes in contact with our skin – harsh chemicals, pollutants and irritants. In sensitive skin, the barrier that protects the skin from its external environment is compromised, leading to various symptoms such as redness, stinging sensations, bumps, dryness, breakouts and tightness. Sensitive skin may be triggered by the following:

Weather changes

During the winter season, cooler air combined with central heating can cause the skin to become dehydrated and more sensitive. In contrast, the sun’s UV rays during summer can damage the skin barrier and cause sensitivity as well.

Dirt and Pollution

Smoke, dust, exhaust and other pollutants that mix with the air are absorbed by the skin’s natural barrier. Over time, it can weaken and irritate the barrier, affecting its function to leave the skin feeling more sensitive.[5]


Lack of sleep and exercise, smoking, and poor diet are associated with skin sensitivity. They have negative impact on the skin and may alter its natural function.[6]


When the body suffers prolonged stress, it produces more cortisol which may trigger an increase in oil production, and in severe cases, limits the blood flow to the skin. All of these may affect the function of the skin’s barrier which can lead to skin sensitivity.[8]

What is the treatment for sensitive skin?

The degree of skin sensitivity varies from person to person. Sensitive skin may react badly to sunlight, ingredients in skin-care products, excessive use of makeup, weather, and dehydration. Plus, it is more prone to itchiness, redness and dryness. Despite countless rows of products claiming to treat sensitive skin, treating such conditions is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Other products may work well for you but may wreak havoc on other person’s skin. Sometimes depending on the sensitivity of the skin any product will “irritate “an extremely sensitive skin. It may take a slow building up of the skins resistance to be able to use serums every day. Slowly introducing the correct serums may be recommended by your skin therapist.

How to treat sensitive skin?


Choose a gentle cleanser. Neue’s Ceremide Skin Wash or Botanical Oil Cleanser will help with barrier repair.


It is very important to calm and sooth a sensitive skin. Neue’s Silk Serum contains Phospholipids which provide a barrier for the skin; it hydrates and assists the skin for repair which should calm a reddened compromised skin. Our Rosacea Cream used at night will give instant relief. Once the skin is calm, it is then important to begin repairing the skins natural barrier. Healing Hemp Balm is perfect for this, and it will have the two-fold benefit of improving hydration levels whilst strengthening the skins structure.

Choose a healing moisturiser fortified with ingredients that help build up the barrier of the skin such as Neue’s Enriched Cream.

Skin Exfoliation

Best to avoid any exfoliation until the skin is strong and healthy. Any flakiness of the skin indicates it is desquamating itself and does not need any assistance, no matter how temping it is!

Go easy on cosmetics

To avoid skin irritation, use a mineral based make up. There are many on the markets so check the ingredients. Avoid talc, kaolin, glycols, preservatives and artificial colours. Our Jane Iredale Skin Care Make Up is a perfect solution.

Avoid harsh chemicals

Some skin-care products contain harsh chemicals that may trigger skin sensitivity. The most common culprits with high sensitivity risks are Benzoyl Peroxide, Retinols, and PABA.[13] Also, if a product contains herbal essences, essential oils, artificial scents and fragrances, try to avoid it. Almost any botanical ingredient such as extracts and essential oils are too stimulating to the immune system because of the preservatives added in the product.[14] This will only contribute to redness, itchiness and other symptoms.

Sun Protection

If sun exposure is inevitable, make sure to use sunscreen with SPF 30 to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays.[10] It’s ideal to use a mineral-based sunblock. These sunblock’s sit on the surface of the skin. Chemical sunblock’s tend to absorb into the skin and are now being found in skin cancers.

If you’re still not sure about the best way to treat or nourish your skin, consult with a certified and qualified skin therapist who can recommend a prescribed skin care regimen.


  • 1. Singh, S. (2000). Handbook on Cosmetics (Processes, Formulae with Testing Methods), page 232.
  • 2. Farage, M., et al (2015). Skin, Mucosa and Menopause: Management of Clinical Issues, page 19.
  • 3. Aehlert, B. (2010). Paramedic Practice Today: Above and Beyond, Volume 1, page 239.
  • 4. Williams, K., et al (2008). Dermatotoxicology, page 95.
  • 5. Halliwell, B. Et al (2015). Free Radicals in Biology and Medicine, page 406.
  • 6. Milady (2012). Milady Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals, page 293.
  • 7. Milady (2012). Milady Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals, page 117.
  • 8. Eby, M., et al (2008). EbyReturn to Beautiful Skin: Your Guide to Truly Effective, Nontoxic Skin Care, page 78.
  • 9. Draelos, D. (2011). Cosmetics and Dermatologic Problems and Solutions, Third Edition, page 145.
  • 10. Greydanus, D. (2013). Pediatric Psychodermatology: A Clinical Manual of Child and Adolescent, page 172