Why sensitive and sensitised skin is not the same thing

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Let’s face it. We’ve all experienced some kind of skin irritation in our lives but that doesn’t mean we’re automatically popped into the ‘sensitive skin’ category.

When we kick off a skin analysis, many clients will mention to us that they have sensitive skin but after some further investigation, they actually don’t! Instead, they are experiencing what is known as sensitised skin and surprise! These two terms are not the same thing.

Knowing the difference between whether you’re experiencing sensitive or sensitised skin is an important step in understanding how to best care for your skin in and out of the treatment room. It helps us to identify the root causes of your skin concerns and how together, we can keep your skin looking and feeling incredible.

So, what’s the difference between sensitive and sensitised skin?

The main way to decipher the difference between sensitive and sensitised skin is that one is generally inherited (sensitive) and one is acquired (sensitised). This means that sensitive skin is considered a skin type and sensitised skin is a skin condition.

Those with sensitive skin have been *blessed* with a genetic predisposition to skin irritation. The protective function of their skin is weaker than others which means the outer layer of their skin welcomes irritants and allergens through much easier.

This sees those with sensitive skin experience the likes of allergies, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, and redness as the skin is much more delicate and fragile.

As the epidermis is very thin, those with sensitive skin may experience the likes of stinging and burning much more frequently when using certain products and go red quickly because of their blood vessels sitting much closer to the skin’s surface.

Those with sensitised skin, are experiencing skin sensitivity because of external factors such as the environment around us, temperature shifts, lifestyle choices and stress and hormone imbalances.

Sensitised skin may present similarly to sensitive skin, such as through skin dryness, blotchiness, and irritation, which is why the two are commonly mixed up. Sensitised skin has experienced damage to the protective barrier of the skin which has made it harder for the skin to defend itself against skin sensitising aggressors.

Now that you know the difference, what can be done to treat them?

As sensitised skin is a skin condition, it means it’s generally much more straightforward to treat. This is because we’re working with extrinsic factors that can be altered versus sensitive skin, the skin type, where we’re focusing more on management than a cure.

Despite their visible similarities, sensitised skin can be treated and amended through properly prescribed skincare, treatments and often, shifts in lifestyle choices, such as smoking, dehydration, stress, diet, and lack of sun protection. The goal is to repair the impaired skin barrier and nourish the skin back to an optimal level of health. From there, we transition to a considered and effective management plan to avoid the skin from being inflamed again.

Sensitive skin, on the other hand, is genetic and as we cannot alter someone’s DNA, it cannot be “fixed” for good. Instead, we’re focusing on treatment plans that support maintaining strength and nourishment within the skin and replenishing it with the protection it is naturally missing. Effective products and treatments for sensitive skin types include those that are gentle, calming and soothing the skin, boosting moisture retention and those that keep the skin in balance.

What if I’m unsure whether I have sensitive or sensitised skin?

Many are providing incorrect treatment to their skin, and ultimately worsening their skin health, by self-prescribing themselves.

If you expect that your skin falls under one of these categories, the most proactive approach to supporting your skin is by booking a consultation. We encourage you to farewell the guesswork and leave these tricky skin concerns to the professionals.

Using industry-leading skin analysis technology, we can take a look at what’s really happening beyond the skin’s surface, identify whether we’re working with a skin type or condition and create a personalised treatment plan to get your skin back on track.

The cost of your skin consultation is redeemable on recommended products and services and can be seamlessly booked online here.