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15 causes of sensitive skin and how to treat it

15 causes of sensitive skin and how to treat it

Depending on where you live, studies suggest that almost 50% of the population suffers from sensitive skin (1). Sensitive or sensitized skin is a growing concern, but what causes sensitive skin? Keep reading to learn how to identify sensitive skin, what causes sensitive skin and how to soothe and strengthen your skin.


What is sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin occurs when skin is more prone to excessive dryness, flaking, flushing, irritation, and touch sensitivity. True sensitive skin is a skin type that needs continual management. Sensitized skin is caused by a temporary trigger. Even if sensitive skin isn't your natural skin type, most people have experienced sensitized skin at some point.


Signs of sensitive skin:

  • Your skin flushes easily
  • Your skin can get blotchy and itchy
  • Ordinary skin care products cause stinging sensations
  • You have visible redness
  • You react easily to touch or environmental changes


What causes sensitive skin?

There are many different factors that can cause sensitive skin:

  • Allergies
  • Harsh ingredients/products
  • Over-exfoliation
  • Stress
  • Hormone changes
  • Too much caffeine or alcohol
  • Skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, etc)
  • Health problems (from common cold to cancer)
  • UV damage
  • Environmental stressors (pollution, climate, etc)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Certain medications (Acutane, Retin-A, allergy medicine, etc)
  • Smoking or vaping
  • Not removing your makeup
  • Poor diet

Certain things are out of your control, like health problems, taking certain medications, allergies, etc. However, several of these sensitive skin triggers are completely avoidable.


How to stop sensitive skin at home:

There are five main ways to soothe and strengthen sensitive skin at home:

1) Avoid triggers

Many sensitive skin causes, like using skin care products with harsh ingredients, drinking too much coffee or alcohol, smoking, not getting enough sleep and more can be avoided or minimized. This will help soothe both naturally sensitive and temporarily sensitized skin.

2) Follow the right daily routine

"The key to keep skin 'quiet' and calm is to protect it with products for sensitive skin, so when it is exposed to the elements the reaction is minimized." –Carol Byrne, Bioelements educator

See the best sensitive skin care routine here.

3) Cleanse with lukewarm water

This is particularly important for those with chronically sensitive or dry skin.  It might be tempting to take a long, hot shower, but doing so strips your skin of crucial moisture, which leads to dry, cracked and uncomfortable skin.

4) Always wear abroad spectrum sunscreen

Everyone knows that skin redness caused by a sunburn is bad, but what some people don't realize is that simply tanning is extremely damaging to the skin. Damaged skin is easily irritated, which spells out trouble for those with chronically sensitive skin. Not to mention risk of skin cancer!

5) Protect against pollution

92% of the world's population is breathing polluted air and live in an area where outdoor air quality fails to meet their guidelines for safety (2). Skin exposed to daily toxic pollution becomes prematurely aged, weakened, dull, dehydrated and sensitized. Always use anti-pollution products, like Remineralist Daily Moisture, to protect skin.

Still suffering from sensitive skin? Book an appointment with a trusted Bioelements esthetician at a spa near you, click here.


How to get rid of sensitive skin in the treatment room:

Estheticians! There are many different ways to modify your treatments for sensitive skin:

  • Keep pressure light and speed medium-to-slow
  • Avoid extreme heat or cold
  • Avoid chemical peels stronger than EnzymeTherapy
  • Avoid aggressive physical scrubs and avoid brush attachment
  • If using steam, keep steamer arm 18"away from skin and don't over-steam
  • If using steamed towels, let cool down to room temperature, or use cool towel or gauze and tepid/cool water
  • Spritz or blot skin with Calmitude Hydrating Solution to help hydrate skin and balance Hydro Lipidic Barrier
  • Icy Globes can be used at the end of facial to calm skin and refresh client

To learn more, register on our professional site here.


If you have any questions about what causes sensitive skin or sensitive skin care, sign up for our email newsletter or comment below!


  1. Source: "Sensitive Skin in the American Population: Prevalence, Clinical Data, and Role of the Dermatologist." International Journal of Dermatology.
  2. Source: The World Health Organization


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