At some point in your life, chances are that your skin will fall into the “sensitive” category. Sensitive skin looks and feels different for everyone, but common symptoms include itching, redness and adverse reactions to more potent products. But these are also symptoms of sensitised skin.
So what’s the difference between sensitive skin and sensitised skin?
Dr Lam Bee Lan, founder and director of Ageless Medical, says, “Sensitive skin is a genetic trait, while sensitised skin is a reaction triggered by certain environmental or lifestyle factors and usually occurs over time. Sensitised skin is caused due to damaged barrier function of the skin that results in irritation.”
So while sensitive skin is a skin type, sensitised skin is a skin condition that can be brought on by alcohol consumption, dehydration and diet (aka having too much fun), and irritants like extremely hot or cold weather, pollen and pollution (hello, haze!), chemicals, certain skincare products and even stress (aka not having enough fun).
But here’s the good news: “Since sensitisation of the skin is a response to an external factor, it is possible that sensitisation may be fully reversed/controlled.”
What can you do to help soothe sensitised skin?
Sensitised skin usually feels dry, itchy, sore and tight, looks red, and has rough patches and uneven texture. It can also feel irritated, and sting when you apply certain skincare products. To minimise inflammation and soothe skin, Dr Lam suggests avoiding the use of hot water, harsh cleansers and exfoliators. Instead, opt for gentle products that have aloe vera, ceramides, evening primrose, vitamin E or shea butter that will block irritants and pollutants from further aggravating the skin. Centella asiatica is another ingredient that will help calm stressed and irritated skin.
But don’t forget that diet, getting enough sleep and drinking lots of water also play a big part in treating sensitised skin. Also, use a sunscreen that has complete broad-spectrum protection such as the Ageless DNA Repair Sunblock, which prevents skin damage triggered by blue light, pollution, heat (infrared), UVA and UVB rays. It also protects and repairs DNA damage, slowing down premature skin ageing and development of hyper-pigmentation.
Scroll through to see our round-up of soothing, calming and restorative skincare products for sensitised skin.
Belif Stress Shooter Cica Bomb Cream, $60
This lightweight cream is quickly absorbed to cool skin, soothe redness and drastically improve hydration levels in skin thanks to centella asiatica, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating properties. This works well to soothe sensitised skin while strengthening the skin’s barrier function. It also contains a blend of 11 other herbs, which further reduces your chances of getting sensitsed skin.
Dr Jart+ Cicapair Serum, $66
Along with the soothing properties of cenetella asiatica, this serum for sensitised skin also features a blend of four probiotic ferments that are essential to maintaining the balance of the skin’s microbiome. When used regularly before your moisturiser, you’ll get healthier skin that is better able to defend itself against external stressors.
Laneige Cica Sleeping Mask, $45
What sets this mask aside from other cica or centella asiatica-based products is that it uses a newer, more effective cica extract called Forest Yeast. This ingredient helps calm and repair irritated skin at a much faster rate compared to Madecassoside, another cica-derived ingredient. Used as the last step of your skincare routine, this mask strengthens the skin’s natural defenses while you sleep.
Aesop Seeking Silence Facial Hydrator, $80
Created especially to soothe sensitive skin and skin prone to sensitivities, the cream is a blend of antioxidant rich, calming and soothing ingredients like green microalgae Dunaliella Salina Extract, dormant bulbs of daffodils, Narcissus Tazetta Bulb Extract and Ginger Root Extract and Bisabolol. Together, these restore balance to aggravated skin by tackling redness, itching, burning or flaking, which are characteristic of sensitive or sensitised skin.
Bio-Essence Bio-Water Vitamin B5 Gel-Cream, $32.90
A blend of Bio-Water, Bio Energy Complex, Sodium Hyaluronate and Vitamin B5 (aka Pantothenic Acid), this weightless gel cream works to flood skin with hydration, has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps skin recover faster from any irritation.
Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intense Reset Concentrate, $140
With 15 times more hyaluronic acid than the Advanced Night Repair, soothing lavender and chamomile extracts and potent antioxidants, it reverts skin to its pre-inflamed state within the hours. It also helps lock in moisture and tackle free radical damage that comes with inflammation.
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