Many people come to me with concerns about their ‘sensitive’ skin, seeking treatments when commercial skincare has failed. In some cases, these women do have highly sensitive, fragile skin; in many more cases, their skin has become sensitised through external factors.
These words are so similar, but there’s a world of difference between sensitive and sensitised skin in their causes and treatment. Read on to discover which skin you’re in!
What is sensitive skin?
While sensitive skin is very much hereditary, it can also be caused by health conditions or the medication you take. Sensitive skin is fragile and can have
quite a fine, dry, and patchy texture. It often also features high colour and broken capillaries and is easily irritated by even the simplest things. Other common traits of sensitive skin include:
- Thin skin texture which appears to be translucent
- Uncomfortable feeling of tightness
- Flaking, peeling, or cracking
- Tiny rash-like bumps or breakouts not related to acne
- Flushing, itching, or burning
Compared to normal skin, sensitive skin has a compromised lipid barrier. In healthy skin, a functional lipid barrier holds water in and keeps environmental toxins and microbes out. In sensitive skin, the compromised barrier is what leads to the redness, dryness and irritation commonly associated with sensitive skin.
What is sensitised skin?
Sensitive and sensitised skin share the same list of symptoms including redness, irritation, and dryness but their causes are fundamentally different. While sensitive skin is a genetic condition, sensitised skin is caused by environmental or man-made factors.
Regardless of genetics, sensitised skin can be triggered in anyone through exposure to irritants like exfoliating scrubs, chemical peels, daily abrasive washing, microdermabrasion, pollution or cosmetic ingredients like alcohol, fragrance and artificial colouring. It’s ironic that highly sensitised skin often results from a strong desire to care for and treat the skin as thoroughly as possible, which backfires when harsh, skin-stripping products are employed in the place of gentle, natural products like our own range.
Myths about sensitive skin
The first myth about sensitive skin is that many people believe they have it, when they don’t! More often, our client’s skin is in fact sensitised. And it’s not just our clients - studies suggest that some 70% of women believe they have sensitive skin, though only a portion of these women will bear the genetic hallmarks of true sensitive skin. These are often people with very fair skin of Northern European ancestry.
The second most common misconception is that essential oils are irritating to sensitive skin. Driven by the impact of low-grade, poor quality essential oils mass produced by the market, the common belief that essential oils can’t be used on sensitive skin is one that has unfortunately become thoroughly entrenched. What’s little known is that beautiful, therapeutic-grade essential oils have the ability to completely transform skin for the better. After 22 years of hands-on experience across thousands of clients, I have seen the difference firsthand and can attest to the power of high grade, pure oils.
So how do you calm sensitive or sensitised skin?
It helps to begin by avoiding the individual triggers that exacerbate your condition. If you’ve previously used tonnes of products – particularly harsh products – start cutting back. Simplify your skin care routine and pay more attention to how your skin reacts to each individual product.
Repair your skin barrier with a plant oil
Research shows that certain plant oils can help replenish the skin barrier and protect the integrity of the skin. Plant-based oils are a rich source antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
MV Rose Plus Booster is a blend of just 6 active plant oils in the highest concentrations with no fillers. For ultimate radiance and calm, the award-winning blend harnesses the power of rose, rose geranium, rosehip, vitamin E, camellia and jojoba to deliver dewy, glowing skin.
Learn about the ingredients in your skincare products
Even products formulated for sensitive skin can contain many of the ingredients that exacerbate the condition. Sensitive and sensitised skin is prone to reacting badly to any harsh ingredients including synthetic acids, fragrance, fillers and preservatives. Restore and soothe with MV Daily Soother Booster, a feather-light blend of pure omega-rich oils and powerful anti-inflammatories for dry and damaged skin that has been ravaged by cosmetic and environmental aggressors.
When your skin is the body’s largest organ, keeping it healthy is more than just a cosmetic concern. Fight the negative effects of harsh chemicals by paying special attention to ingredients and environmental triggers, and last of all nourish it well with nutrient-rich skincare. Your skin will thank you in the years to come.