Notice the phrase “self-perceived,” though. Since sensitivity is so subjective, it’s difficult to diagnose correctly. Experts are finding that what we believe to be sensitive skin, may actually be sensitised skin, and that, in fact, we could be playing a bigger role in the reactivity of our skin than we realise.
Uh-oh. Are we all making our skin worse? The evolution of at-home skincare has given us high strength acids, retinols and serums to layer up on our faces. We’ve become our own chemists and aestheticians mixing together bespoke skincare routines to tackle our top issues. The only problem is… Well, we don’t really know what we’re doing.
Worryingly, there seems to be a correlation between the advancement in our home skincare and the prevalence of skin sensitivity. A medical study published last year noted that between 60-70% of women reported having sensitive skin, characterised by itching, burning, stinging, tightness or dryness. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. “There is evidence that the reported prevalence of self-perceived skin sensitivity have increased steadily over time,” the study says. Notably, it affects women (whose skincare regimens traditionally tend to be much more stringent and potent) more than men.
“Sensitive skin is naturally reactive skin,” explains facialist and founder of eponymous skincare brand, Kate Somerville. “If your skin flares because of certain foods, pollen and ingredients, it’s likely to be sensitive.”
Sensitised skin on the other hand, is effectively injury. “Sensitised skin is the result of overstimulation,” says Kate. “Lasers, peels and even retinols can cause skin to become injured,” she explains.
While ingredients like acids and retinol can work magic at removing dead skin, increasing cell turnover and improving the look and texture of our skin, like most things, it’s about moderation. It’s worth building up your tolerance to punchy ingredients slowly and sensibly, pausing to see if your skin agrees with it. If you’re using a retinol every day, chances are you won’t need a harsh exfoliator on top. And, if you’re using potent formulas that effectively break down or weaken your skin barrier, you need to be building it back up. “Look for ingredients like ceramides, peptides and omegas,” says Kate who created her DeliKate skin line specifically for skin that’s been riled up by overdoing it. “They can create a liquid second skin, building back up your barrier function and protecting your natural skin underneath.”
If you do overdo it, educate yourself on what to do next. “When skin is stressed, don’t use harsh detergents like SLS or fragrances that can disrupt the microbiome,” says Kate. Choose options that are non-stripping and nourishing.
7 Things You Never Knew About Detecting Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is certainly not the most thrilling beauty topic, but it’s unquestionably one of the most important – no matter what time of year it is. Even if you haven’t been on a beach in months, there are some areas of our skin that are exposed to the harmful UV radiation on a regular basis, which means that we’re pretty much at risk all the time.
While all of this sounds utterly depressing, the good news is that most skin cancers can be treated or removed if detected early. There are, however, certain types that are caused by factors other than UV exposure – such as genetics or environmental influences. It can also develop on parts of the body rarely exposed to the sun. If you thought you knew everything there is to know about skin cancer, hear what two derms, who are both well-versed on the topic, have to say – and more importantly how to protect yourself.
When it comes skin and sun safety, there’s no such thing as knowing too much.