If your skin is prone to dryness, redness, irritation, and the like, you might jump to the conclusion of having sensitive skin. It makes sense, right? But hold up, wayment… What if your skin isn’t sensitive, though?
As it turns out, there are a few related but slightly different conditions that could mimic the appearance of sensitive skin, and you might not even be aware.
Sensitive Skin vs Sensitized Skin
Ok, so boom, here’s the quick science – truly sensitive skin is a genetic condition, while sensitized skin is more of a temporary condition along the lines of an allergic reaction or contact dermatitis. Why is this distinction important? Well, sir, it’ll likely influence the approach you take when copping that random drug store cream, trying to counteract said conditions.
Being a genetic condition, sensitive skin isn’t something you can ever eliminate. If you have sensitive skin, you’re more likely to have other conditions like eczema, rosacea, and the like. You’ll also be more susceptible to related sensitivities like allergies and asthma. Thankfully, treating sensitive skin and lessening its effects are well within the realm of possibility, through the use of gentle skin products that avoid common irritants.
Sensitized skin, on the other hand, is a bit of a different ballgame. It’s the result of your environment and personal habits, and over a period of months or years, relatively healthy skin can be pushed to a state in which it behaves more like sensitive skin (classy to ashy real quick). Telltale signs of skin that has been sensitized over time include blotches, uneven tone, a lack of vibrancy, and an over/underproduction of natural oils. Once sensitized, your skin will behave like as if you have a sensitive skin allergy, responding to various triggers with redness, rashes, and the like.
So, what can cause skin to become sensitized in the first place? The reasons can vary but include both internal and external changes like the use of specific chemical exfoliants, poor diet (talmbout that hydration here too, folks), medications, and exposure to the sun and certain extreme weather conditions. While you might think at first you have sensitive skin, it’s actually more likely that you have sensitized skin due to certain factors in your life.
When it comes to treating sensitized skin, the #skingoals is to get that melanin back to normal by considering a few lifestyle changes, like watching what you eat and by hydrating like a mutha. You should be mindful of skin-damaging foods—anything fried, and anything containing alcohol, excess sugar, or excess salt. Shoot for 8 glasses of water a day and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. (Easier said than done. We know, we know.)
Perhaps most importantly, switching up the skincare products you’re using. If you have sensitized skin, the ingredients in whatever products you’ve been using may have contributed to sensitizing your skin in the first place. You’ll want to take things back to basics by using products that will prevent moisture loss and include skin-friendly ingredients. In particular, you’ll want to avoid products with alcohol, as that will dry your skin to the extreme and only add to your frustrations.
It’s easy to get sensitive and sensitized skin confused, but important to note that the two conditions are different and require different approaches to treat. While sensitive skin is genetic and can only be managed to varying degrees, sensitized skin is a product of lifestyle choices and something you can conquer by making a few adjustments. Be sure to eat healthy, avoid excessive sunlight, and read your skin care product labels carefully to make sure you’re giving your skin what it needs.