Sensitive vs. Sensitized Skin

August 23, 2011

I wanted to write a post on the difference between sensitive and sensitized skin because so many people tell me they have sensitive skin. But knowing the difference and after asking a few basic questions I find out they are really just overly sensitized which can be treated because it is a skin condition, not type.
 
I have always had really sensitive skin. My parents do so I was lucky enough to inherit the same fun skin type. Because of this I can only use certain products or my skin will get sunburn red, inflammed, start burning, and/or have a piercing pain. 
 
I knew having such sensitive skin when starting esthetics school my skin was in for some interesting experiments. Since March I have had a good amount of masks, exfoliants, cleansers, toners, moisturizers, etc that have been fine and some that have irritated me but nothing too bad(I don’t use products that irritate my skin once I find out what doesn’t work for me). We have tons more to learn, but I’m not nervous or against trying new things because I want to know what works and what doesn’t for sensitive skin, and all skin types.
 
For example, recently I was given aloe vera as a mix in for a mask and my skin turned bright red. At first we thought it was the mask it self but when aloe was used alone I got the same reaction. I don’t use their aloe anymore.
 
My main job as an Esthetician will be to treat people’s skin. In order to do this successfully I have to determine their skin type. I have gotten pretty good about figuring out whether someone is dry, oily, normal, etc. There can be a few tricky instances where someone isn’t dry they’re just dehydrated but more often than not a person will tell me they have really sensitive skin when in fact their skin is sensitized.
 
Sensitive
 
 True sensitive skin types have been this way since birth. It is the skin type you are born with and you can’t do anything about it. If your parents, brother, sister, etc has sensitive skin you could have it too. Other characteristics include but are not limited to:
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Fair to transparent skin. More so in individuals of Celtic, Scotish, Irish decent
  • Light eyes and/or light hair, such as in the blonde or red family. Darker skin tones can be sensitive as well, but it’s not as common.
Sensitized
 
Sensitized skin is a condition that goes away, but can be brought on by a variety of things such as:
  • Diet
  • Poor Health
  • Smoking
  • Hormones
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Pollution
  • Climate
The change in weather is huge and can cause your skin to break out which causes people to change their prodcuts bringing on more breakouts. Just leave your skin alone a bump or two or even three is not the end of the world.
  • Constantly changing cosmetic products
With all the products on the market that promise quick fixes it’s no wonder everyone has trouble areas. When you switch products give it a chance, at least 2 weeks. Your skin may break out but it’s not all bad, your body is getting use to the new product. If you have burning, swelling, or pain that’s when you should discontinue and/or see a doctor if it gets too bad.
 
Your main goal in treating sensitized skin is to soothe and calm by staying hydrated and not using so many products with ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t know their purpose. Keep a close eye on cosmetic ingredients including alcohol, lanolin, fragrance and D&C colorants can also lead to sensitized skin.
 
So before you try to convince yourself you have sensitive skin really take a look at what you’re using and your surroundings. This may the cause of irritations. A good Esthetician can tell you for sure if you still have tourble figuring it out.
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