Skin Explained: Sensitive & Reactive Skin

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

Skin Explained: Sensitive & Reactive Skin

What is actually happening in your skin when it’s 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 can’t function properly and the sensitive nerve endings just under the skin get irritated and react. Nerve endings in sensitive skin can either be more prone to irritation or be due to a broken down skin barrier function.

What causes sensitive and reactive skin?

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

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 reduce sensitivity should be added to a skincare regime. SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel contains hyaluronic acid and cucumber, thyme, and other botanical ingredients, making it an ideal moisturizer for sensitive skin.

Sun protection, with a minimum SPF 30, should be worn daily, even during cloudy weather as sun exposure is a major cause of irritation for the skin. 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 the condition. Very hot or cold temperatures should be avoided, where possible.

Your Recommended Regime

At SkinCeuticals we believe that an effective skincare regime 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 light oil-free serum that is enriched with botanical extracts and helps to 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, which combats environmental triggers which can lead to the appearance of blotchy and uncomfortable feeling skin as well as cooling and calming 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 sun cream helps to protect against photo ageing and environmental damage.