Things To Know About Sensitive Skin: Its Causes, Prevention and Care

Sensitive skin occurs when your skin gets irritated easily. It can happen as a reaction to a certain product; due to the build-up of makeup on the skin; etc. It is not a disease but a response to environmental and external factors. It can occur due to the change of season, prolonged use of cosmetic products that gets clogged in pores, sun, wind, etc.

People use the term sensitive skin as a general expression which means your skin is more sensitive compared to others. It causes the redness of the skin, burning or stinging sensation.

sensitive skin

What is sensitive skin?

It develops when the skin’s natural barrier function is compromised, causing water loss and allowing penetration of irritants. Symptoms can worsen with exposure to the sun and certain ingredients in cosmetics and cleansers. 

Skin is the largest organ of the human body and has a complex anatomy. It is made up of three layers, namely, the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the topmost layer of the three layers that make up the skin. The dermis and the hypodermis form the innermost layers.

Skin structure

Sensitive skin meaning: 

Sensitive skin means having dry, itchy or redness in the skin. It occurs when nerve endings in the top layer of the skin becoming irritated. It is often the result of damage to the skin’s protective barrier – allowing irritants and allergens to penetrate the skin and cause redness and inflammation.

When you visit a dermatologist to look for a diagnosis of sensitive skin, he/she considers the following symptoms: 

  • Dryness of the skin: Very dry skin causes nerve endings to become incapable of protecting skin properly. 
  • Any bumps, pustules, or erosion in the skin.
  • Redness in the skin.

Conditions that cause sensitive skin are rarely serious. The symptoms can be kept under control with a few simple changes in your skincare routine.

Keep reading to learn more about what may be causing your sensitive skin, other symptoms to watch for, and products that should be safe for you to use.


  • Redness of the skin
  • Skin prone to rashes and bumps
  • Beauty products sting or burn
  • Dry patches on the skin
  • Itching 
  • Skin sensitive to the sun’s UV rays
  • Broken capillaries on nose and cheeks
  • Fragrances irritate your skin
  • Skin reacts to weather changes
  • Break out of the skin easily


  • Pollution
  • Stress 
  • Hormonal fluctuations 
  • Temperature changes 
  • Smoking 
  • Alcohol 
  • Diet Eating healthfully is good for your whole body, including your skin.
  • Cosmetic/medical procedures 
  • Cosmetics and soaps 
  • Chemical and/or synthetic fragrances and dyes

Frequently asked questions

1. What causes the skin to become sensitive?

  • Dry Skin: Excessive loss of oils and moisture from the dermis may lead to skin dryness. Symptoms like itchiness, flakiness, skin that peels/bleed or get red can be attributed to dry skin.
  • Eczema: It is caused by the inability of the skin to protect itself from irritants which otherwise do not cause a reaction to people.
  • Rosacea: A common skin disease where skin tends to become red more easily than others.
  • Hives (contact urticaria): It is a response of the skin when it comes in direct contact with the irritant substance. It is basically an allergic reaction to fragrances, raw foods, pollens, etc.
  • Sunburn: when the skin gets too much exposure to sunlight or sun lamps, it causes sunburn. It makes the skin to become red, peel or scale. 

2. How common is sensitive skin?

It is quite common in occurrence as approximately half of the population experiences it. The symptoms like dryness, itching, etc can be easily dealt with a little extra care of the skin.

3. How to know if you have sensitive skin?

If the irritation is short term or redness goes away with self-care, then it is a sign of sensitive skin. But in case of prolonged symptoms, one should always visit a dermatologist.

4. Can sensitive skin be healed?

Yes, it is easy to heal sensitive skin unless it is caused due to an underlying skin disease like psoriasis, etc. 

General tips for sensitive skin

When you have sensitive skin, everything feels irritating on your skin. But with some changes in lifestyle, one can see improvement significantly.

Things To Know About Sensitive Skin: Its Causes, Prevention and Care 1

The following tips can help treat sensitive skin:

  • Take a shower of few minutes like 5 or 10 minutes with warm and not hot water.
  • Do not use harsh astringents and exfoliants.
  • Use a gentle, fragrance-free soap.
  • Use essential oils instead of perfumes.
  • Use gentle, fragrance-free laundry detergent.
  • Try using organic cleaning supplies.
  • Use a shaving cream or gel.
  • Gently pat yourself dry after a shower than rubbing with a towel and apply moisturizer immediately.
  • Test new products on other normal parts of the skin at least one day before trying a full-application.
  • Use plant-based products that are free of artificial perfumes and alcohol like recherche’s pre-wash cleansing oil
  • Use products suitable for your skin type.
  • Use products that are cosmeceutical grade and not just cosmetic grade.

Tips to prevent sensitive skin: 

  • Different skin types require different kinds of care. The one-size-fits-all does not hold valid especially in case of skin sensitivity. One needs to be extra careful while adding new routinely used products to your list.
  • When creating a skin routine care, the idea is to use products that are easier for you and your skin to use. Always go for products made from natural ingredients. They are gentle on skin as they are curated through natural processes.

Try out Basic Skin Care Ritual range from Recherché for sensitive skin.

1. Cleanse thoroughly, but gently:

  • Use lukewarm water for cleansing. Make sure that the water is not hot else it might irritate skin more. Try out Cleansing Mousse from Recherché.
  • Use mild soap and fragrance-free cleansers that won’t over-dry or irritate your skin. Use products that do not compromise your skin moisture barrier.
  • Gently Pat skin dry. Do not rub your skin.
  • Avoid using scrubs and washcloths.

2. Moisturize, care and protect:

  •  Apply facial and body moisturizers to damp skin. Do it within minutes of taking a bath or shower for better results. Choose Nourishing Skin Cream.
  • If prescribed by your doctor, apply any special medications first and then liberally apply moisturizer.
  • For some medications, it is advised to wait for 15 – 20 minutes before applying moisturizer, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • Use hats, clothing, and broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreens.

3. Lifestyle changes can also help protect sensitive skin:

  • Detox: Rid your routine of chemical and environmental irritants in your personal care items, laundry items, household cleaners, furniture, paint, etc.
  • Be wary of bacteria: This means replacing your washcloth and pillowcase more often and tossing out old makeup and cosmetic products. Wash your makeup brushes and let them air dry.
  • Test new products: When you are trying a new product, always test it on your wrist, arm, or behind the ear first before applying it on your face or body.
  • Identify and avoid your triggers: Avoid common triggers as much as you can like harsh soaps, alcohol, chemicals, and fragrances. Check the labels on your skincare products before buying them.
  • Use a humidifier: Unless you live in a humid climate, use a humidifier to help your skin stay moisturized.
  • Manage stress: Stress greatly affects your skin and body. Always try some sort of relaxing activities like meditation or creative hobbies. They are a good stress buster.
  • Get enough sleep: The most vital element for overall well being is sleep. Lack of sleep causes skin wear down. Ensure at least 7-8 hours of sleep for good skin.

Choosing cosmetics that are less irritating on sensitive skin:

Things To Know About Sensitive Skin: Its Causes, Prevention and Care 2


It is important to be careful while choosing makeup products and using them when you have skin sensitivity.

  • Choose face powder that contains fewer preservatives and has fewer chances of skin irritation.
  • Use a silicone-based foundation to have minimum skin irritation.
  • Avoid waterproof cosmetics as you need a special cleanser for their removal.
  • Black eyeliner and mascara happen to be least allergenic so use them.
  • Pencil eyeliner and eyebrows fillers should be used instead of liquid eyeliner as they might have latex which can cause an allergic reaction.
  • Never use expired cosmetics. Always discard your old cosmetics.

Season induced sensitive skin:

People experience sensitive skin issues both in summer and winter seasons. So to protect skin from seasonal skin sensitivity, it is important to incorporate the right kind of sunscreen and moisturizers.

  • In summers, use sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays. Choose sunscreens with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and containing only zinc oxide or titanium oxide.
  • In winter, do the following to help prevent skin from becoming sensitive:
  • Avoid overheating your home.
  • Take warm baths/showers with a soap-free cleanser.
  • Pat your skin dry and apply moisturizer on moist skin.
  • Look for moisturizers containing glycerin, mineral oil and other natural products.

Care for dry skin

Sensitive skin needs extra care. It is better to come up with a skincare routine that suits yourself. Always try to include natural product range for skincare routine. 

  • To boost skin’s natural ability to rehydrate and clear pores, use Revitalising Tonic from Recherché. The best thing about it is that it is suitable for all skin types.
  • If your skin tends to react to environmental factors like sun, pollution, etc then try Protective Hydrator of Recherché. It provides all-round protection from UVA, UVB rays, environmental pollutants, etc.
  • Exfoliation helps clear the dead skin. It helps the skin breathe fresh air which gets hampered due to product build-up on the face and other body parts.
  • Look for products with lesser ingredients and synthetic fragrances. 
  • Choose products with natural ingredients.  Recherche is one such brand uses natural, skin-friendly ingredients to make products.
  • Do not use products that contain antibacterial ingredients or deodorant ingredients, alcohol. 

A significant percentage of the population has sensitive skin. Though it can appear anywhere on the body, it is most obvious on the face. 

Sensitive skin isn’t a big issue and can be dealt with easily with self-care. Creating a daily regimen of gentle cleaning and moisturizing will do wonders for your skin. Love yourself, care for yourself and always be happy.


Coreenna Ong

Head of Research

Coreenna Ong has more than 20 years of extensive experiences in research and development, conceptualization, formulation, production process development and bring to market skincare products in the beauty industry. Ms Ong is currently the Director, Research and Development at Recherché skincare.

Recherché is a Singapore cosmeceutical skincare brand, with its products clean, green, plant-based and specially catered for Asian skin. It is also the pioneer in developing edible skincare actives to specifically address skin concerns.

Within just 2 years, Ms Ong’s research has led Recherché to win several awards and accolades for its products.

Ms Ong’s research focuses on harnessing the latest formulation technologies, knowledge and techniques to distil and extract nature's essence, and then apply them synergistically for maximum results.

She has authored 2 best-selling Beauty and Wellness books with Marshall Cavendish. The books had multiple runs and remained popular and in print circulation for several years. They are currently available in the Singapore National Library collection.

Ms Ong was also a Beauty columnist for Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore's largest Chinese-language newspaper publication, with huge regional presence. As its weekly expert contributor, she shared the latest research and technologies from the Beauty industry, and addressed the many skincare issues and concerns of the newspaper's readers regionally, including offering beauty tips, quick fixes and insider knowledge.

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