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Do You Really Have “Sensitive” Skin?

Sensitive skin products

You know, it’s so easy to just say that your skin is “sensitive” just because you might get a reaction to a product. I was reading an article in Glamour recently on the myths of sensitive skin, and how women are so quick to claim they have sensitive skin, and that most women who think they have sensitive skin, don’t. I froze – could I be one of those paranoid women? I mean, I pretty much self-diagnosed myself. I kept reading and found out I wasn’t, as I have a lot of the “symptoms” listed below, but I wanted to share because I thought that some of you might find this useful as well.

So without further ado, signs that you might have sensitive skin:

  • a new cleanser or moisturizer, even without potent ingredients, make your skin burn, itch, sting, and/or turn pink.
  • mosquito bites swell bigger and redder than normal
  • your skin seems so dry and parched that no amount of moisturizer seems to “satisfy” it
  • a strong gush of wind irritates your skin and causes it to itch and sting
  • your pimples tend to be bigger (and badder!) than regular zits
  • your nose and cheeks tend to get flushed easily

So ladies – what do you say? Do you REALLY have sensitive skin? I have 4 out of those 6 listed, sigh. I guess I do have sensitive skin. (To read more about skin types, check out my post, How to Find Your Skin Type.)

{ 26 comments… add one }

  • Roxanne January 25, 2012, 12:40 am

    This has a really good point. For instance, a LOT of people also claim to have oily skin when in fact their skin is pretty normal. It’s just that society portrays perfect skin to be absolutely flaw-free, oil-free and magically even. It’s actually okay for your nose to get a bit oily during the day, and that your cheeks are a bit redder than the rest of your face (a lot of people also have hyperpygmentation around the mouth). It’s just the way your skin behaves & looks! I also think many companies attribute to this through categorising. You can never have dry skin AND pimples; it’s either oily or combination, dry, etc, e.g. I believe it’s important to ask a person how they like their skin to feel. Some people actually like a bit of grease (or are used to it) and they don’t really WANT or NEED products to remove oils/strip their skin, you know? But many sales assistants look at them and go “Oh, I know exactly what you need!”.

    …Okay, sorry about my mini-rant. To answer your question: no, I don’t have sensitive skin ;-) It is pretty sensitive to silicones, though, which is in nearly every product nowadays. UGH!

    • Roxanne January 25, 2012, 12:42 am

      Which by the way doesn’t make sense to me – if you release a product that does what it claims to, why would you need something synthetic to “fake” softness? Okay, I’m done :D

    • Renee January 25, 2012, 12:49 am

      Hey Roxanne! Your rants is valid, and I totally agree! Some of them are just normal skin characteristics. I remember that a sales lady once commented that I had pores and recommended me a pore minimizer. And I was like, yeah… I have pores, doesn’t everyone? Why should I minimize it?! (Anyway, pore minimizing products are fake products, pores cannot close!) The beauty companies are just full of BS most of the time.

      P.S. You are always welcome to rant if you feel like it! :D

  • Cheryl January 25, 2012, 1:12 am

    I only have one out of the 6 so I guess I’m “safe”. I sometimes choose sensitive skincare products because I don’t like the idea of too many chemicals on my skin (I assume sensitive products contain fewer chemicals although I’ve never actually checked. I probably should at some point!), but I’ve always considered myself quite lucky that I can chop and change the products I use without any adverse effects.

    I’ve only ever had a skin reaction on my face once (Clarisonic + BHA + AHA = BIG mistake! Never again!) and it took about 10 days to calm down. I usually have smooth but oily skin, and it just transformed into this dry, horribly itchy, stinging, red, bumpy mess and it sounds ridiculous but I was terrified that it wouldn’t go back to normal! Even after everything else went back to normal the bumpy texture persisted (thankfully now gone though!) I can’t imagine how it must feel to go through that every time you try a new product!

    • Renee January 25, 2012, 1:28 pm

      Eeks! That’s why I don’t dare… the last time I tried a glycolic acid lotion thingy, my face blew up (I wrote about it sometime back)… never again! Best to just stick to what you use normally!

  • JazzyB January 25, 2012, 5:40 am

    I have sensitive skin – face and body unfortunately :( I have to be so careful with anything containing sunscreen which makes life difficult since I live in Australia and its pretty much a daily necessity. I can have reactions to things I have been using for months and suddenly my skin just has enough of it, it’s a real pain. I am slowly converting to natural products as I tend to have less reactions to those but I admit I will find it nearly impossible to change EVERYTHING, ie. makeup, skin care, face care, hair care… my new favourite brand is L’Occitane, in particular their Red Rice Cleanser – its to die for. Oh – and their Almond Oil is heavenly!

    • Renee January 25, 2012, 1:29 pm

      That would be my advice too, convert to natural products! The skin on my body is starting to get really sensitive too, so I am careful about what I’m using too :(

  • Lyndy January 25, 2012, 2:14 pm

    Happy new year Renee! May this dragon year bring you and your family good blessings!
    I have a request please, can we pls have more pics of Bailey? She’s adorable

    • Jessie January 25, 2012, 3:58 pm

      Yes this too pls! (: Bailey is so cute!

    • Renee January 25, 2012, 9:50 pm

      Thank you so much Lyndy, a very happy new year to you and your loved ones as well! It’s gonna be a good year, I can feel it :) xx

      Sure! More pics of Bailey! Thanks girls… I always thought I posted too much of her and that people would get annoyed, so when I can sneak a picture in, I will!

      Are you on Instagram? Most of my photos are of Bailey ^^ If you’re on let me know your username and I’ll follow you! Mine is beautyfoolrenee. :D

  • Stephanie/Yukaeshi January 25, 2012, 3:36 pm

    Yes I do! I have 4 out of 6 of the symptoms you listed too :( Trying out new products can be a real problem! But I pretty much know what ingredients work on me and what doesn’t, so yeah :)

    • Renee January 25, 2012, 9:50 pm

      Yeah, all through trial and error right? Haha, my skin… Clinique, that’s all I really dare to put on my skin. I also found out I am BIG time allergic to salicylic acid, which is everywhere -_-

  • sugarpuffish January 25, 2012, 5:25 pm

    Interesting post & I score 6/6 from your list and throw in eczema on top. I opt for skincare which is free from chemical nasties like parabens and sls, avoiding these ingredients makes a world of difference for me :)

    • Renee January 25, 2012, 9:52 pm

      Oh dear, what a shame. :( Yes, I think avoiding chemicals and especially SLS seems to aggravate a lot of people! That’s why I love organic/natural products! :)

  • Supercoach 2012 January 25, 2012, 6:02 pm

    Hi there Ladies.
    Jock Reynolds from Australia here. Now Im not the kind of bloke who goes in for ths make up stuff but just wanted to poke my head in here and say what a great internet web site you have going here.
    Have a great one – Ive got a bit of Exzma can you fix that?

    • Renee January 25, 2012, 9:54 pm

      Hey! Thanks so much for the compliments on my site. :)

      Unfortunately I can’t fix eczema as I have no experience on that, but have you tried using natural/organic products? I can imagine they’d be much gentler on your skin and make it feel better.

  • Isa January 25, 2012, 9:02 pm

    I think that list describes skin that has been sensitized by the use of poorly formulated products. A lot of people think they have sensitive skin when they really just use lousy products. Decisions on skin care should be informed, but most people buy products based on their advertising or the price. There’s a lot of non-sense in the cosmetics industry, and women’s magazines (including Glamour) are definitely spreading this non-sense.

    I particularly disagree with item #1 (“a new cleanser or moisturizer, even without potent ingredients, make your skin burn, itch, sting, and/or turn pink.”). This will happen if you use products that are not well formulated, that are loaded with fragrance (which can be sneaky, and sometimes listed in the ingredients with other names), alcohol or other irritants. I think one needs to become an expert con interpreting ingredient lists to avoid a bad reaction and damage to your skin. I have sensitive skin because as a teenager I used very abrasive products to combat acne (which is gone now, but left my skin pretty much defenseless), and I have successfully incorporated new products to my skin care without any problems by researching the ingredients and looking for good formulations.

  • Christina January 25, 2012, 11:30 pm

    hahaha!!! i have 1/6 listed! but my mom is so determined that i have sensitive skin. i believe i’m more acne prone. funny thing is, i became acne prone after 18 :(( so flawless face in secondary school and jc… then terrible skin now. my mom swears that it’s because i don’t use good products… now i know. i don’t have sensitve skin, just really… temperamental skin :P

    good post, as usual!

    • Renee January 27, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Oh no! What a shame. :( It is probably your hormones, Christina! Those crazy hormones are always giving us trouble, haha!

      Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the post :)


  • Beauty Box January 26, 2012, 9:31 pm

    You always point out the most interesting questions, Renee! I’ve got four out of the six characteristics on that list…so I think I do have sensitive skin… I can’t really use products with fragrance or preservatives on my face….I’ll break out in rashes. Le sigh…

    • Renee January 27, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Aw, yeah… it sucks! My face gets all itchy and tight, and then all flushed and red… and then zits. I get it all LOL! It’s horrible but yeah, preservatives and fragrances are a big no no for my skin too… especially fragrance.

  • yee January 28, 2012, 3:33 am

    I think I’m either combination/dry/sensitive skin! I have no idea.. But my cheeks are dry I mean very dry. But then my nose is very oily also! My skin gets quite irritating when I put on foundation and after applying foundation, my face have some skin rashes and peeling off ? Also, my face gets very tight after washing my face? help?

  • nayla khatib January 28, 2012, 4:49 pm

    Lol…guess i don’t have sensitive skin…. that’s ok though. NOW, the real problem lies with THIS question:
    What kinda problematic skin DO i have? :P

  • Sirens and Bells February 3, 2012, 9:01 pm

    I’ve always presumed I had sensitive skin, without really ever knowing or having any proof of it, and although i have a few of the symptoms here, it’s a very good point! xx

  • Lulu December 11, 2012, 7:52 pm

    Hi Renee! Thanks for your post, this has really helped. I, like you, scored 4/6 for the questionnaire. I used to have a nice complexion with a bit of oil at the end of the day (which the sales assistant kept insisting I had to use the matte foundation). Then I decided to buy an oil free skincare range. Results = dry patchy skin! I had to go without make up for days just so my skin would restore to normal. I think for sensitive skin, Cetaphil is a great cleanser, no? Or do you recommend any natural go-to?

  • nonastar January 20, 2014, 12:36 pm

    i have all theses problems and more. my skin gets so dry it flakes off and my skin gets red from sleeping on pillows that havent been washed in the past 2 days. my skin is very fussy soemtimes it itches and burns for no reason and my skin is so place that my acne looks even worse than it actually is all my acne spots are so large and red it looks horrible

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