Do you really have sensitive skin?

Many people worry that they suffer from sensitive skin when in actuality, they have sensitised skin. Due to the similar symptoms of both conditions, it’s super easy to mistake one for the other. However, as treatment for each is very different, it is important to get a proper diagnosis of your skin before deciding what products are best for it. Let’s take a closer look:


Sensitive Skin

True sensitive skin is caused by a genetic predisposition; meaning that it is something you are born with. When you have sensitive skin, the protective outer layer of your skin is less efficient at blocking irritants and allergens, therefore being more prone to adverse reactions such as redness or allergies.


If you suffer from the following symptoms, you may have
sensitive skin:

  • Redness and/or dryness of skin
  • Alcohol, coffee or spicy foods may cause your skin to flush
  • Tight, itchy or burning skin
  • Prone to getting sunburnt
  • Easily irritated by soaps, laundry detergent, perfume etc.

Examples of sensitive skin conditions would be underlying inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.


Sensitised Skin

On the other hand, sensitised skin is triggered by a combination of external factors (e.g. pollution, alcohol, smoking, extreme temperatures, etc.) and internal factors (e.g. chronic emotional and physical stress, poor diet, hormonal fluctuations, etc.).



Additionally, aside from environment, lifestyle, and physiology, certain skin care and makeup ingredients may also sensitise your skin such as:

  • Alcohols – ethanol, denature, methanol, benzyl and isopropyl
  • Synthetic fragrance (The #1 cause of contact dermatitis)
  • Synthetic colourants
  • Sulfates – found in anything that froths when lathered, such as cleansers, toothpaste, body wash, etc.
  • Propylene glycol – found in moisturizers, baby products, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorants
  • Harsh exfoliants – even the natural ones can be too harsh for most skin types; like walnut shells, crushed pits of fruits and coffee
    • Over-exfoliation of the skin can also cause it to be sensitised
  • Acne products – Acne products generally contain concentrated combinations of incredibly strong chemicals such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, which irritate the skin easily


If you suffer from the following symptoms, you may have sensitised skin:

  • Dehydration
  • Acne
  • Small rash-like bumps on skin (not quite acne)
  • Skin redness and broken capillaries
  • A “sunburnt” sensation
  • Tightness after washing face
  • Weather or travel can trigger sensitized skin

As the two skin-types have certain symptoms in common, it is easy to see why mistaking one for the other happens quite frequently.



While sensitive skin generally requires medical treatment, sensitised skin has certain triggers that we can control. Its symptoms can be managed more easily with a few lifestyle changes like limiting smoking and alcohol intake, finding ways to cope with stress, and making sure to eat healthy and nutritious meals. It is also important to remember that whether you have sensitive or sensitised skin, the skin-care products you use should be designed to address inflammation, dehydration and help in creating a strong skin barrier. This is critical in order to achieve happy, comfortable, and healthy-looking skin.


At Renaza, we utilise and design products that are safe and soothing for the skin without harmful ingredients, such as those listed above. Come on down to for an appointment with one of our skin therapists to figure out which of our treatments would be best for your skin-type!

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