Skin Explained: Sensitive & Reactive Skin

Sensitive skin is generally defined as skin that is reactive to external aggressors both in the environment and in skincare. The skin’s responses can include redness, dry patches, itching and blemishes, though it is important to remember that there are different levels of sensitivity.

Skin Explained: Sensitive & Reactive Skin

What happens within the skin to makes it sensitive and reactive?


The outermost layer of skin acts as a protective barrier in the body. This layer, called the stratum corneum, is made up of dead skin cells. These are lubricated with sebum, the body’s natural oil, and form a protective layer over the living cells below. When this barrier is weakened due to exposure to environmental aggressors, harsh products or because the body is worn down through stress for example, it is unable to function properly and the sensitive nerve endings just under the skin become irritated and subsequently react. Therefore, sensitive skin can be a result of either nerve endings becoming more prone to irritation, or the skin barrier function breaking down.

What causes sensitive and reactive skin?

Sensitive skin can be an inherited trait, but the level of skin sensitivity may also change depending on circumstances. Causes of sensitive skin can include , environmental aggressors such as over exposure to the sun, air pollution, changes in temperature and very hot or cold water. Other intrinsic factors include lack of sleep, stress, dehydration and female hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or the menopause.

 How to care for sensitive and reactive skin

Sensitive and reactive skin can be greatly alleviated with a few simple changes. Products which contain strong, irritating ingredients should be avoided. Instead, formulas that have ingredients, which will help alleviate sensitivity should be added to a skincare regimen. SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel contains hyaluronic acid, cucumber, thyme, and other botanical ingredients, making it an ideal moisturiser for sensitive skin.

Sun protection, with a minimum SPF 30, should be worn daily, even during cloudy weather as sun exposure is a major contributor to skin irritation. Skin should be kept hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and by using a moisturiser appropriate for skin type, as dehydrated and dry skin can also exacerbate skin sensitivity. Additionally, very hot or cold temperatures should be avoided, where possible.

Your recommended regimen

At SkinCeuticals we believe that an effective skincare regimen is based around five fundamental principles: cleansing, prevention, correction, hydration and protection.

CLEANSE/TONE - Gentle Cleanser and Equalizing Toner

This comprehensive cleansing ritual, lifts impurities and prepares skin for optimal product efficacy.

PREVENT - C E Ferulic

This innovative serum, containing concentrated vitamin C, strengthens the skin against environmental aggressors, which can sap moisture from the skin. It will help reduce the appearance of visible signs of photo damage such as fine lines and wrinkles.

CORRECT - Phyto Corrective

A lightweight oil-free serum enriched with botanical extracts to help soothe and calm the feel of irritated and sensitive skin. Supplement your regime with Phyto Corrective Mask twice weekly. A calming treatment that cools and comforts sensitive skin. If you suffer from a ruddy complexion, layer on Redness Neutralizer, to help combat environmental triggers that can lead to the appearance of blotchy and uncomfortable feeling skin.

HYDRATEDaily Moisture

A lightweight pore-minimising moisturiser enriched with soothing natural extracts, that hydrates, leaving skin feeling nourished.

PROTECTMineral Radiance UV Defense SPF 50

This high factor sunscreen helps to protect against photoaging and environmental damage.