Common Mistake: Do you have Sensitive or Sensitized Skin?

beach-chair-2-1250875-1279x888You’ll hear more people than ever subtly proclaim that they have sensitive skin.  However, there is discernible differences between those that actually have sensitive skin and those that have skin that has been simply sensitized from exposure to a lot of different harsh products.  Which one are you and how do you differentiate between the two conditions?

Genetic dispositions.  Believe it or not, the victims of genuinely sensitive skin are most likely to have origins in Northern Europe.  This type of skin is very pale thus, has a less amount of pigments and blood vessels near the surface of the skin.  This not only means that your skin is thinner, but it is also more susceptible to become red with usage of your standard beauty products.  Thinner skin means that more irritants, microbes, and other common nuisances easily penetrate your skin leading to more cases of itches, break outs, blushing and painful blisters.  

Sensitized or simply sensitive? Sensitized skin is the result from overusing or improperly using a lot of beauty regimes that have grown in popularity over the years. These include: chemical peels, cosmetic surgery, exposure to stress, pollution, smoking, alcohol, some prescription drugs, exfoliating too often and using too many beauty products that contain alcohol.  If you consider yourself a smoker, binge drink (more than four drinks at one sitting), exfoliate more than once a week, wear makeup every day or use more than two products that contain alcohol in it a day, you may have sensitized skin and may not have sensitive skin.   To see if this is the case, switch to anti-inflammatory products, opt to buy cleansers and other products that are specifically formulated to be gentle and cut down on the makeup, alcohol and/or smoking.  

It’s not the end of the world if you have sensitive skin.  Those who have sensitive skin generally are affected by redness, acne, sunburns, hives, blemishes and other imperfections.  With sensitive skin you have to be a precautionary beauty shopper.  This means skipping out on products that contain alcohol, retinoids, preservatives and beta hydroxyl acids- not just for your skin products, but also for your hair, makeup and other day-to-day exposures.  Opt for non-aggravating cleansers formulated directly for sensitive skin. Follow these dos and don’ts:


  1. Wear sunscreen every day- make sure it’s the broad spectrum type with an SPF of at least 15. For every hour you are exposed to the sun-even if it’s through a window on a long drive- reapply.
  2. Be aware of your allergies – a lot of woman with sensitive skin have specific allergies that if you’re not aware of, you could be consistently putting your skin in danger.
  3. Moisturize after every cleansing.  Having sensitive skin means a more fragile protective barrier and in order to add to that protective barrier, you have to moisturize consistently.


  1. Use fragrances. Fragrances may contain allergens, which are not your friend as a possessor of sensitive skin.
  2. Apply a lot of makeup. Clogging your pores and drying out skin is never good for sensitive skin.
  3. Showering with hot water.   Hot water strips skin of natural oil, making your skin more vulnerable to irritation.