Sensitive vs Sensitised Skin

Sensitive vs Sensitised Skin

If you find that your skin consistently reacts unfavorably to certain skincare ingredients, chances are you have a sensitive skin type. 

Reactive skin is not always an indicator of true sensitive skin, but of something known as sensitised skin. Although this sounds similar sensitive skin, sensitive and sensitised skin are entirely different. 

Read on as we take a closer look at these two commonly confused skin concerns and learn how to spot the differences between them.  

What is sensitive skin?  

The term sensitive skin refers to a skin type that is more prone to reactions and irritation and has a much lower tolerance than other more robust skin types. Sensitive skin tends to flush easily, can run in families, often burns faster when exposed to UV and involves intrinsic (internal) factors that cause the skin to react. 

Can skin become sensitive with age? 

Yes! As we age the skins protective layer of natural oils known as the lipid barrier becomes less efficient at replacing itself. As a result, skin cannot hold on to moisture as well, can become dehydrated and more irritated easily.   

What is sensitised skin and how does it differ from sensitive skin?  

Unlike sensitive skin where we are referring to a skin type, sensitised skin is not a skin type at all. It is a skin condition that occurs when the skins protective barrier becomes temporarily compromised to the point where it is unable to work as intended. When barrier function has been impaired in this way microscopic openings occur on the skins surface making the natural barrier less protective. Stinging, itching and redness can occur when products are applied, and this is often confused with having a sensitive skin type when in fact the skin is sensitised. 

What are the causes of sensitised skin? 

Cumulative sun exposure, cleansing with soap or foaming cleansers that deplete natural lipids, overuse of active ingredients such as Retinol and over exfoliating can all cause the skin to become temporarily sensitised.  

The length of time the skin stays sensitised depends on many factors including the health of the skin barrier to begin with and the history of the skin. Sometimes sensitisation can improve quickly once the offending culprit has been removed however sometimes will take much longer to correct.   



Skin type 

Skin condition 


Compromised barrier 






What can I do if my skin is sensitised? 

If you do find you’ve overdone the actives stop using everything for a few days apart from a mild non-foaming cleanser and SPF. Once your skin is no longer feeling irritated and any redness has subsided re-introduce your usual regime slowly and avoid exfoliating until the skin is completely back to normal.  

What products are key when navigating sensitive and sensitised skins?  

Switching to a pH balanced cleanser such as Balancing Cleanser that respects the skin’s naturally occurring acid mantle and does not strip natural lipids and incorporating products containing Barrier fortifying Niacinamide such as Vitamin B Serum and Ceramides that help to reinforce lipid protection such as Vitamin E Serum daily can really help .  

Can I exfoliate if I have a sensitive skin?  

Exfoliation benefits all skin types including sensitive. Generation Glow (link to product once on website) has been specifically formulated to be effective yet gentle enough for sensitive skin or those skins that have previously found themselves sensitised and wanting to get back into regular exfoliation. Featuring five advanced actives in a naturally-derived 5% AHA complex, Generation Glow works to gently resurface while a host of beneficial ingredients work in synergy to support the skin’s microbiome, promote a healthy resilient skin barrier, and ensure delicate sensitive skin does not become irritated or sensitised.