The term “sensitive skin” is one that’s thrown around in the world of skincare; whether in product labels, clickbait articles or in discussions about an individual’s skin concerns. However, what does having sensitive mean exactly? Are people born with sensitive skin? How can you tell if you have sensitive skin? And if you do, how do you care for it the best way possible? Find the answers to these burning questions below.

Sensitive Skin is NOT a Clinical Term or a Diagnosis

Essentially, it’s used to describe skin that is irritated easily, either due to certain ingredients in topical skincare products or environmental factors like the cold, wind, or sun. Irritation typically presents itself with symptoms such as itchiness, discomfort, redness, burning, and stinging after the skin has been exposed to a specific environmental trigger or ingredient.

Having Sensitive Skin Usually Comes Down to Having a Compromised Moisture Barrier

Woman applying moisturizer

The lipid barrier is your skin’s fatty outer layer, commonly known as your moisture barrier. Its primary task is to keep water in and keep potentially harmful things such as the sun’s rays and heat, harsh chemicals, and wind out. In individuals who have sensitive skin, this moisture barrier is usually thinner, weaker, and damaged more easily, which makes it easier for potential irritants to enter the skin and lead to all sorts of symptoms. Additionally, having a compromised moisture barrier means that moisture escapes more easily, and this is the reason why sensitivity and dryness usually go together.

Using Gentle and Hydrating Skincare Products is Key to Managing Sensitive Skin

When it comes to managing sensitive skin—the simplest and gentlest skincare routine the better. You should likewise refrain from mechanical exfoliators and abrasive scrubs such as walnut shell powder and microbeads that can easily cause minute tears on the skin. When choosing skincare products, stick to those with simple, gentle, and hydrating ingredients that help restore the moisture barrier and lock in moisture. Consider the Harmonie Calm Organic Soothing Comfort Night Balm by Decleor. Thissoothing face cream will melt right into your skin, hydrating it and reducing discomfort. It doesn’t contain any dyes and mineral oil.

CRUCIAL NOTE: If You Have Chronic Sensitive Skin, You May Have an Underlying Skin Condition

Woman looking at her face in the mirrorPersistent or recurrent skin sensitivity could be a warning sign that you are suffering from an underlying skin condition such as contact dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea. But how can individuals figure out whether they have a skin condition or sensitive or reactive skin in general? Generally speaking, you may be suffering from a skin condition if your symptoms are persistent and appear without warning or stay the same regardless of which skincare products you utilize. On the other hand, if your symptoms, a stinging sensation and redness, for instance, appear right after you apply a certain skincare product, that’s most likely general skin sensitivity.

Understanding and figuring out whether you have sensitive skin or a skin condition is key to knowing how you can effectively manage your symptoms. A visit to your dermatologist won’t hurt either.