What is sensitive skin?

Have you ever experienced slight red patches on your skin, areas of dryness or blemishes?  Maybe even itchy skin, a tingle, tightness or a stinging sensation?  These are all signs of skin sensitivity.

 

So what causes this? Our skin Barrier should keep things that will irritate your skin out, however for your Barrier to work properly it must contain the right amount of moisture. We expose our skin to many things that can dry our Barrier out or weaken it: air conditioned offices, centrally heated homes, harsh chemicals, cold weather and too much sun are common examples. Another thing that is important to your skin Barrier is its PH level. At the surface of your skin the pH is 5.5; this is slightly acidic. Your Barrier can cope with changes in pH at the surface but regular or big changes in pH will also weaken your skin Barrier.


Our skin is a living organ and it’s designed to tell us when something isn’t right. Our nerve endings sit right underneath the skin Barrier at the very top of the living layers of the skin and they detect everything that comes in contact with your skin, 24/7. The nerve endings that detect harsh chemicals, pollutants and irritants usually have nothing to do at all! Until of course the Barrier gets weakened and something gets through the Barrier that should not. All your skin cells are programmed to react if they detect something they don’t think should be there. And it’s these reactions that can lead to redness, tightness, a stinging sensation, blotches or breakouts.


So that’s how external factors can impact your skin, but your skin can be affected from the inside too. Hormones are needed to keep your skin healthy and are brought to your skin by the tiny blood vessels in the lower layers. It is the job of hormones to tell every cell in your body what it should be doing. Most of the time the hormones’ message for your skin is– “just keep doing today what you were doing yesterday”.  However, there are times when there are sudden and dramatic changes in your hormones (maybe the time of the month, when you are stressed, during pregnancy or during your teenage years), which can cause your skin to react, again leading to redness, dryness, or maybe blotches or breakouts.