Is Your Skin Sensitive or Sensitized? Here’s How To Know and How To Deal

Sensitive skin is a skin type, not an outcome of using the wrong products. The most common misconception is that your skin is sensitized from using the wrong products, when in fact it’s a condition that runs much deeper than the surface. Sensitive skin is genetic and something you are born with, while sensitized is a reaction to something.

Here’s how to know:

1. Sensitive Skin: If your skin reacts easily to harsh cleansers and ingredients in general, then it’s likely that you have sensitive skin. If you’ve always been sensitive to skincare products and makeup (you shouldn’t be allergic to the things meant for your face), then chances are you have sensitive skin.

2. Sensitized Skin: If your skin is just now having a tough time dealing with certain formulas, then it’s probably just sensitized from over-exfoliation or irritating ingredients.

How To Deal

If you have sensitive skin, we recommend using a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser or Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser; both are formulated for delicate and sensitive skin types that need a little extra TLC. If you want to

Sensitive skin can be a real pain. You may have sensitive skin if you’re experiencing redness, itchiness, and/or tightness on the regular. And that isn’t even the worst of it: Sensitive skin can also mean irritation across the face, neck, chest and hands — which can also lead to oil overproduction in certain areas. If you’re not sure whether or not your skin is sensitive or sensitized (which is a different product completely), read on for some major signs and what to do about them.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is typically characterized by signs of inflammation — redness, itchiness, tightness, dry patches and oil overproduction. “If you are prone to dry skin that feels tight with redness and flaking after cleansing or exfoliating, it may be a sign of sensitive skin,” explains Dr. Jennifer Chwalek of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City. “Your pores will look small and there will be minimal visible oil on your face.”

What happens when your skin is sensitive? It all comes down to a compromised outermost layer of the epidermis (the “skin barrier”). “This barrier is meant

If when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, you see redness or irritation, you probably have sensitive skin. If you notice that the skin on your face looks a little more red than usual right after putting makeup on or after showering, it might be a sign of sensitized skin.

Both types of skin can be uncomfortable and hard to manage at times. But they’re not the same thing. And figuring out what type of skin you have can make all the difference in helping your skin feel its best.

The Difference Between Sensitive Skin and Sensitized Skin

We hear many people refer to their skin as “sensitive.” But if we take a closer look at exactly how their skin is behaving and reacting, it’s usually not sensitive at all — it’s actually sensitized. Here’s how these two types of skin are different:

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is generally defined as being thin, dry, and lacking in sebum (the oil that naturally moisturizes the skin). According to dermatologist Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, “Skin sensitivity is an innate characteristic and does not change much over time.” The key word here is innate: If you were born with sensitive

If you’ve ever applied a product to your face, only to end up with burning eyes, a painful rash or blotchy, angry skin that flushes red like a rose petal, then you may have sensitive skin. While it can be easy to assume that all skin issues are related to sensitivity, you may need to rethink your skincare routine.

“Sensitive skin is not necessarily an allergic reaction,” says Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, dermatologist and co-founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC. “Sensitivity refers more to the feeling of the skin and when it’s not comfortable after applying a product.”

Dermatologists define sensitive skin as having dryness, stinging or burning sensations, redness and itching when it’s exposed to irritating ingredients (think alcohol or essential oils), certain fabrics and extreme weather conditions. Sensitized skin is slightly different; it refers to when the barrier of your complexion is compromised (often from overusing harsh products) and gets irritated easily.

So how do you know if your sensitive skin is actually sensitized? Well for starters: “Sensitized skin feels irritated — not just because the products are bad on their own — but because the products are bad for your particular skin,” says

Do you have sensitive skin? Or is your skin just sensitized? This can be a tricky question to answer. As women, we have this idea that our skin is sensitive. We are told by the media and advertising that it is sensitive, so we believe it to be true. So in order to keep the peace and not make our skin react, we use milder products, especially when it comes to cleansers.

The problem with this is that if you are one of the many women with sensitized skin, you could be making it worse. Sensitive and sensitized are not the same thing; they are two different issues with two different solutions. So how do you know which is your problem? More importantly, how do you fix it?

First things first: What’s the difference between sensitive skin and sensitized skin? The key difference lies in the cause behind each condition. Sensitive skin describes a genetic condition where the barrier of your skin is faulty and doesn’t work as well as it should. Sensitized skin, on the other hand, occurs when your normally strong barrier function becomes compromised from external factors like harsh cleansers or too much sun exposure.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is caused by a genetic condition called at

Though the terms sensitive and sensitized skin are often used interchangeably, there’s a big difference between the two. “Sensitive skin is genetically determined and can be very difficult to treat,” says Dr. Lian Mack, a dermatologist in New York City. Sensitized skin, on the other hand, is reactive skin that stems from outside factors like environment, lifestyle or product use. In short: you’re probably doing it to yourself.

“You can tell if your skin is sensitive or sensitized by what makes it react,” says Dr. Mack. “If you have sensitive skin, it might feel tight or look dry, and you may feel itching when exposed to certain environmental triggers like wind, cold or heat.” Sensitized skin tends to get red easily, sting and burn when using certain products and can even be swollen in some cases.

For sensitive skin types that are prone to dryness and redness, Dr. Mack recommends choosing skincare products with soothing ingredients like ginger powder to reduce inflammation and calm irritation without making your face feel tight or dry.

Sensitized skin is different from sensitive skin because it’s actually the result of damage: over-exfoliating, harsh products, lifestyle factors (like stress or lack of sleep), and too much time in the sun can all take a toll on your complexion.

If you have sensitive skin, it’s likely you were born with it — but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. According to our experts, there are steps you can take to improve your skin’s sensitivity, such as using a gentle cleanser like UltraCalming Cleanser and moisturizing with Barrier Repair. And be sure to wear SPF every day!

If you have sensitized skin, the best way to calm irritation is to treat the inflammation first. You can do this by bringing down heat and redness with soothing ingredients like aloe or ginger powder (found in Redness Relief Essence). Then use products that help restore the protective skin barrier, like Skin Recovery Enriched Calming Cream.

Leave a Reply