Is my Skin Sensitive or Sensitised?

Knowing the difference between sensitive and sensitised skin can be hard, and while the skin treatments for both cases can be similar, it is important to understand the difference so you can rectify the causes and adjust your skincare regime accordingly.

Closeup of client's face with red, irritated skin

Sensitive skin and sensitised skin are both considered as inflammation or inflammatory responses which include redness, irritation, sensitivity, swelling, and heat.

There are three factors to consider when looking at the inflammation of sensitive or sensitised skin:

  • Acid mantle health - If you have an impaired acid mantle (which basically means you have an impaired skin barrier function) ingredients or irritants will be absorbed into the skin too quickly, too soon.
    This leads to overstimulation of the Langerhans cells (our immunity cells), causing those nasty reactions of stinging, burning, and redness.

  • Langerhan cells strength - these cells are responsible for the skin's immune response. In healthy or balanced skin there is a large number of Langerhans cells, but sensitive or sensitised skin experience a reduction in the number of those cells and also damaged Langerhans cells.
    This reduces the effectiveness of the immunity of the skin, which can lead to immune responses like inflamed skin.

  • Capillary function - over-production and abnormal development of capillary network within a sensitive or sensitised skin impairs the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to our cells where needed. Resulting in sluggish skin cells.

What is Sensitised Skin?

Sensitised Skin is a skin condition triggered by external or internal factors like medication, poor diet, too much exposure to UV rays or extreme weather conditions. It can also be a reaction to harsh skincare products or ingredients or even to wrong product usage (are you sure you are using the correct products for your individual skin? Book a complimentary product checkup with one of our Skin Therapists here).

Sensitised skin can be treated and resolved by adapting your skincare regime to anti-inflammatory and calming ingredients, in order to repair and restore the barrier function. This will ensure the skin recovers and functions correctly.

Another important measure is looking at your diet and the root causes of the problem to help avoid the skin reacting like that again in the future.

What is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive Skin is a skin type - that means it is part of your genetic makeup, you are born with it and cannot change.

Some of the characteristics of sensitive skin are redness, thin skin, stinging, itching and burning.

Because sensitive skin is genetic, it is not something that can be easily "fixed". But we can offer sensitive skin support by adopting a gentle skincare routine that works to calm and soothe the skin and supporting the barrier function.

Let's dive into each step of a skincare regime and look at the most popular products for sensitive and sensitised skin.


If you have sensitive or sensitised skin that is easily irritated by chemicals and fragrances, or prone to redness, rashes and irritation, it’s important to steer clear of harsh ingredients and opt for gentle cleansers.

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Raspberry Fruit Extract promotes healing while providing soothing properties to inflamed skin. Lavender Fruit Extract has antiseptic and disinfectant qualities; can also be used to desensitise skin. Cucumber Fruit Extract contains cooling agents that help soothe and calm irritated skin. Pro-Vitamin B5 promotes tissue regeneration and acts as a humectant.

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Rich in squalene, a vegetable oil in harmony with the skin providing nourishment and elasticity perfectly absorbed into the tissue without leaving any oily residue

Based on plant lipids, provides nourishment and hydration to the skin, leaving a pleasant feeling of comfort and smoothness


When choosing a toner for sensitive or sensitised skin, look for ingredients with anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and antimicrobial properties.

Today's toners are hydrating and help to prepare the skin to absorb your serums at a deeper level.

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A soothing, hydrating mist to help quickly calm redness, sensitivity, and inflammation.

Use post-cleanse to lock in hydration and prime skin for treatment with your other UltraCalming products. Contains the exclusive UltraCalmingTM Complex.

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This formula combines the wetting and smoothing action of rose water, with panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) to regenerate and soothe for optimal skin comfort. Completes facial hygiene and potentiates the balance of the skin microbiota. With rose water and panthenol for a moisturising, smoothing and regenerating action.


It is best to avoid physical exfoliators if you have sensitive or sensitised skin.

Instead, opt for chemical exfoliators such as lactic or enzymatic types.

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Smoothes rough, flaky skin.Clarifies and clears skin tone while helping to lighten skin discolourisations.

Softens debris within pores to ease in extractions and deeply clean pores, while calming irritated skin and diffusing redness.

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A unique complex of phytoactive AHA extracts, Lactic Acid and fermented plant enzymes helps reveal new, firmer skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by removing dulling surface debris without causing dehydration.

Pumpkin Fruit Enzyme and Rice Bran Extract help even skin tone by resurfacing the skin and accelerating cell turnover while smoothing Australian Caviar Lime Extract brightens skin for a more radiant complexion.



Choosing Serums that are going to calm whilst keeping the skin hydrated is the key.

We need to keep the skin barrier as healthy as possible.

Here are some ingredients to look for in your serums if you sensitive or sensitised skin:

  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Vitamin B
  • Calming Botanicals
  • Vitamin C

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The unique blend of ingredients are carried into the skin using a patented OmniSome delivery technology providing time released ingredients. Providing redness reduction and barrier support along with supporting the renewal of the skins natural protective layer and form an effective barrier against moisture loss, whilst calming and soothing the skin.

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The solution for skin sensitivity. This super-concentrated serum helps calm, restore and defend sensitised skin.

Dermalogica's exclusive UltraCalming Complex contains Oat and botanicals to ease sensitisation, as peptides plus Oil of Evening Primrose, Sunflower Seed and Avocado extracts help defend against future assaults.


Moisturising is a vital step in keeping sensitive skin protected and hydrated. Ceramides, Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide are all key ingredients to look for.

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Damaged skin often has an impaired natural barrier. This means it is unable to defend against the environment and can lose hydration quickly.

Ultimate Recovery Intense combines repairing actives to help restore weakened skin barriers. Perfluorodecalin helps to increase the levels of oxygen in the skin, which are vital for promoting skin’s natural healing capabilities. Beta-Glucan comforts inflamed, sore skin by bringing down redness, while arnica helps to stimulate the immune system to ease bruising and condition the skin. Silk serica stimulates the renewal cycle of the skin to help restore its natural barrier against impurities. Meanwhile, Ultimate Recovery Intense restores hydration levels to provide the ideal moisture environment for healing.

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Botanical extracts of anti-oxidants to soothe, balance barrier function of the skin, aid in protection and support with Argan oil and Jojoba Oil and Licorice root to help inflammation and redness to soothe sensitive skins.

Sun Protection

For sensitive and sensitised skins it is better to look for physical sun protection, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

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Ultra-Sheer Zinc Oxide provides invisible protection against skin-ageing UVA/UVB rays and blue light. Bioactive mushroom complex helps soothe skin and reduce uv-induced redness and dryness. Antioxidant Green Tea helps fight free-radical skin damage.

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Non-nano mineral filter zinc oxide reflects and absorbs UV rays to protect the skin from sun damage. Marrubium vulgare extract provides superior anti-pollution defence to limit the damage caused by environmental pollutants. Physical Sunscreen also includes anti-glycation (also known as anti-A.G.E.) technology.

Glycation is a natural ageing process that occurs when excess sugars in our body bind themselves to proteins such as collagen and elastin, transforming them into advanced glycation end products (or A.G.E.s for short). As a result, the glycated protein fibres can no longer be renewed, which can lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Physical Sunscreen uses carnosine to help inhibit the glycation reaction and keep skin protected from glycation-derived skin ageing.

Carnosine can also protect the skin from infrared rays, which are known to play a part in the breakdown of collagen.

About the Author


My name is Rochelle, I have been lucky enough to be in the Beauty Industry for over 30 years helping clients achieve amazing results with their skin.

With 3 children of my own, I understand life is busy, so I'd love to help you find the best regimen that works for you and your lifestyle!

Having owned my own traditional based Beauty Salon and time in the Laser Industry, I've learnt that my passion lies in results-driven skin treatments and products. I feel so fortunate to have the most amazing brands at my fingertips. This allows me to give the best possible treatment and home care advice you need to achieve the skin you desire.

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