Often characterized by redness, tightness, and itching, sensitive skin is a common yet misunderstood condition. A number of people experience symptoms of this skin type, but it varies from person to person. It is usually more easily irritated than most, with different side effects including burning, itching, stinging, bumps, and pustules. The thing with sensitive skin is that there are lots of misconceptions surrounding it. These can cause unwarranted fears or even stand in the way of soothing or improving skin sensitivity. Continue reading as we debunk the 5 common myths surrounding sensitive skin.

5 Misconceptions About Sensitive Skin

1. All sensitive skin is the same.

“Sensitive skin” is a catch-all term for skin that has decreased tolerance to certain products. Those with sensitive skin often complain or experience symptoms such as burning, itching, prickling, or tightness when applying products. Some, on the other hand, also notice dryness, peeling, redness, and scaling.

This can be due to other underlying conditions or a combination of several factors, many of which are not completely understood. Sensitive skin is usually associated with a compromised skin barrier, which is the protective film on the outermost layer that keeps the irritants out. This is thinner in sensitive skin, making it easy for external aggressors to enter the skin.

The symptoms or sensations experienced can be triggered by a number of things, including:

  • Changing temperatures
  • Exposure to heat and hot water
  • Using cleansing or other cosmetic products
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress or inadequate sleep
  • Type 1 allergies or hypersensitivities
  • Pre-existing skin conditions.

Sensitive skin is not a medical diagnosis, so it is not the same for everyone. There are also cases where you may suddenly develop sensitive skin from a product that you have been using for a long time. This can be due to physiological changes like aging skin, which has a thinner epidermis and dermis that make it more susceptible to external aggressors.

2. You cannot wear makeup if you have sensitive skin.

While cosmetics can sometimes clog pores and trigger allergic reactions, they are not always bad for the skin. The problem usually comes from using the wrong type of makeup or layering it over inflamed skin. This makes it important to repair and nourish your skin with the right products first to have a clean slate when applying makeup.

Choosing the right makeup matters too. In general, mineral makeup is a good choice, because it doesn’t contain ingredients that can clog and worsen pores. But to be on the safe side, it is best to review the list of ingredients and observe how your skin reacts to it after application.

Just make sure to remove your makeup gently every night, avoiding added pressure when doing so. You can use a cleansing balm, micellar water, or cream and oil formulations, but never facial wipes. These create extra pressure from rubbing the wipes across the skin and have drying properties that can lead to irritation.

3. You should only use water when washing sensitive skin.

Harsh face cleansers are definitely a no-no, but this doesn’t mean you should stick to only using water when washing your face. Water is not enough in removing dirt and other impurities or help strengthen your skin barrier. It is best to choose a face cleanser with calming properties or formulated for sensitive skin.

Dr. Sylvia Skin Care has new formulations that deliver multi-fortification to the skin. We have the Sensitive Cleanser with Aloe Leaf Water, which is a creamy formula ideal for very dry or sensitive skin. It contains soothing ingredients that make it gentle enough even for those with redness- or rosacea-prone skin. Benefits include:

  • Formulated with aloe leaf water to hydrate and soothe the skin
  • Gently cleanses sensitive skin without stripping it
  • Removes dirt, oil, and bacteria while softening and freshening the skin

4. Sensitive skin will always be sensitive.

This is not always the case. Stress, which is one of the biggest factors that cause skin sensitivity, releases cortisol or stress hormone, known to negatively affect the skin. It prompts an immune response that can result in sensitivity and inflammation. Cortisol, furthermore, suppresses the immune system and weakens the skin barrier.

While alleviating stress does help in controlling skin sensitivity, there are some cases where people are met with more stress than usual. This makes it important to choose products formulated for sensitive skin. These, paired with other gentle skincare habits, can improve the health of stressed or sensitive skin.

For further reading: This is How Stress Affects Your Skin

5. Your skin is always dry if you have sensitive skin

While it is true that dry skin is usually sensitive, other skin types can also experience sensitivity. And as previously mentioned, it is not the same for everyone. Dry skin is often associated with sensitive skin because of its inability to retain enough moisture. This disrupts the skin barrier and makes it more prone to irritation due to external aggressors.

Oily and combination skin, however, can also be sensitive, as the extra production of sebum can disrupt the skin barrier and make it more susceptible to irritation. Too much sebum may also lead to a number of issues including clogged pores, acne, and chronic itchiness.

Caring for sensitive skin

It starts with making changes to your skin care regimen like choosing a face cleanser and other products formulated for sensitive skin. This also means avoiding anything with dyes, alcohol, and synthetic fragrances. Here are a few other things that can help calm sensitive skin.

  1. Be gentle when cleansing or applying skincare products.
  2. Always moisturize after cleansing. Choose a formula with soothing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, oatmeal, and lactic acid
  3. Limit sun exposure and always use broad-spectrum sunscreen when going out.
  4. Identify and avoid your triggers, so you can avoid them or manage sensitive skin better.
  5. Patch-test new products. Apply a small amount of the product on areas that are easily covered and wait for 24 hours. If you develop no reaction, it is probably safe to use.

Further reading: How to Care for Sensitive Facial Skin

If you need help in managing sensitive skin and its symptoms, as well as other skin conditions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Cutis Medical Laser Clinics in Singapore. We have medical-grade skincare and non-surgical aesthetic procedures that can help you look and feel your best. Book a consultation with our aesthetic doctor to find out how we can help.