1246 Yonge Street, #204, Toronto, ON (At Summer Hill Subway)


Sensitive skin requires a special routine unique to you

Sensitive Skin SOS: Calming Tips

Do you ever feel like your skin reacts more easily than others? Redness, dryness, itching, or stinging — these are all common signs of sensitive skin. While it might seem like there’s more to managing sensitive skin than meets the eye (or the irritated surface!), this guide will equip you with the essentials for keeping your skin calm and comfortable.

What is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin is a common skin type, just like dry, normal, oily, and combination skin. It means your skin reacts more easily to various triggers. These triggers can be external, like products you use, fragrances in the air, or even the clothes you wear. They can also be internal, like certain foods you eat.

Common signs of sensitive skin include:

  • Redness
  • Dryness
  • Flaking
  • Scaly patches
  • Blistering
  • Bumps
  • Rashes
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Swelling
  • Stinging

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to find a skincare routine that works for you and identify your triggers to avoid them whenever possible.

Sensitive Skin vs. Sensitized Skin: What’s the Difference?

While “sensitive skin” and “sensitized skin” sound similar, they’re not exactly the same. Here’s how to tell the difference:

  • Sensitive Skin

This is a skin type, meaning you’re more prone to reactions like redness, itching, or dryness. These reactions happen regularly and can be triggered by a variety of things.

  • Sensitized Skin

This is a temporary condition that can happen to any skin type. It means your skin has become irritated by something specific, like a new product or even stress. The good news is that sensitized skin usually calms down once you identify and remove the trigger.

The key takeaway?

If you experience occasional flare-ups, your skin might be sensitized. But if you experience frequent reactions, you might have sensitive skin. It’s always a good idea to consult a dermatologist or aesthetician if you’re unsure!

What Makes My Skin Sensitive?

Figuring out exactly what triggers your sensitive skin can be a detective game, but there are some common culprits! These triggers can be linked to underlying skin conditions or even your daily habits. Let’s explore some of the most common ones:

Genetics & You: Is Sensitive Skin Inherited?

Ever wonder why some people seem to have naturally sensitive skin? Genetics can play a role. If other family members have sensitive skin, you might be more likely to experience it too.

Research also suggests that women are more prone to sensitivity than men. Around 50 to 60% of men report having sensitive skin, compared to a higher number, around 70%, for women.


Sensitive skin can be triggered by allergies — and we’re not talking about the kind that make you sneeze! This type of allergy is called allergic contact dermatitis, and it happens when your skin comes in contact with something it’s allergic to, like:

  • Synthetic fragrances (often listed as “parfum” or “fragrance”)
  • Nickel (found in some jewelry)
  • Dyes (in clothing, makeup, or hair dye)
  • Laundry detergents
  • Certain cosmetic preservatives
  • Some botanical ingredients

If you have allergies, you might experience these signs of sensitivity after contact:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Flaking
  • Rashes
  • Blistering

Here’s what you can do:

  • Read Labels Carefully

Always check the ingredient list on skincare products before you buy them. Look out for common allergens you might be sensitive to.

  • Consult a Doctor

If you suspect you have allergies that are affecting your skin, talk to your doctor or an allergist. They can help you identify your triggers and recommend treatment options.

  • Ask Your Aesthetician

Before any facial or skincare treatment, let your aesthetician know about any allergies you have. They can choose products that are safe for your skin.

Overdoing the Use of Active Cosmetics

We all want glowing skin, but sometimes those powerful skincare ingredients can be too much for sensitive skin. Here are some popular ones to be cautious with:

  • Retinols
  • Hydroquinone
  • Certain AHAs (like glycolic and lactic acid) and BHAs (salicylic acid)
  • Physical scrubs with harsh granules
  • Chemical sunscreens
  • Benzoyl peroxide

These ingredients can be amazing for some skin types, but for sensitive skin, it’s important to introduce them slowly and with caution.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Patch Test

Before applying any new product, especially those with active ingredients, do a patch test! Apply a small amount behind your ear and wait 24-48 hours. If there’s no redness, itching, or burning, you’re probably good to go.

  • Start Low & Slow

When introducing new actives, start with a lower concentration and use it less frequently. You can gradually increase the frequency or strength as your skin gets used to it.

  • Listen to Your Skin

If you experience any irritation, stop using the product immediately. Sensitive skin can react quickly, so pay attention to how your skin feels.

Remember: It’s always a good idea to consult a dermatologist or aesthetician if you’re unsure about any ingredient or product. They can help you create a personalized skincare routine that addresses your concerns without irritating your skin.

Skin Conditions and Sensitivity

Sometimes, sensitivity can be a sign of another underlying skin condition. Here are a few common ones:

  • Dermatitis

This is a general term for skin inflammation. There are many types of dermatitis, including:

  • Perioral dermatitis: This causes red, bumpy patches around the mouth.
  • Contact dermatitis: This is caused by a reaction to something that touches your skin, like fragrances, dyes, or metals.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: This causes flaky, red patches on the scalp and sometimes the face, ears, and chest.
  • Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

This is a chronic skin condition that causes itchy, dry patches of skin. It’s more common in children, but adults can get it too. Eczema often affects the face, neck, hands, feet, and inner elbows and knees.

  • Rosacea

This chronic condition causes redness, flushing, and small bumps on the face. It can also cause burning or stinging sensations.

  • Psoriasis

This is an autoimmune disease that causes rapid skin cell growth. This leads to thick, red, scaly patches of skin. Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but it commonly affects the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.

If you’re experiencing sensitivity and suspect you might have one of these conditions, it’s important to see a dermatologist or doctor. They can diagnose the condition and recommend the best course of treatment.

Here’s why you need to see a healthcare provider: 

Sensitive skin can sometimes mimic the symptoms of other conditions. A doctor can help you get an accurate diagnosis and ensure you’re receiving the right treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent flare-ups and improve your overall skin health.

Sun, Wind, and Beyond: How the Environment Affects Your Skin

The world around us can also impact our skin’s sensitivity. Here are some environmental factors to be aware of:

  • Wind

Strong winds can dry out your skin and make it feel more sensitive.

  • Sunlight

UV rays from the sun can damage your skin and trigger sensitivity.

  • Extreme Temperatures

Both hot and cold weather can irritate sensitive skin.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Limit Time Outdoors

When possible, avoid spending excessive time outdoors during harsh weather conditions.

  • Protect Your Skin

Always wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, even on cloudy days. Consider wearing a hat and protective clothing when spending extended time outdoors.

  • Moisturize Regularly

Using a gentle moisturizer can help keep your skin hydrated and protected from the elements.

Soothing Solutions for Sensitive Skin

Now for the good news! There are many gentle and natural ingredients that can help calm and nourish sensitive skin. Here are some to look for:

  • Soothing Saviors

Aloe vera, chamomile, oat, green tea, and calendula can all help soothe irritation, redness, and stinging.

  • Hydration Heroes

Ceramides, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide work wonders for sensitive skin by hydrating and strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier, reducing dryness and flaking.

Sensitive-Skin Alternatives

There are even gentle alternatives to some popular active ingredients:

  • Retinol Replacement

Botanical extracts like bakuchiol and tara tree offer a gentler way to smooth skin and boost collagen production compared to traditional retinols.

  • Brighter Choice

African potato is a great natural ingredient for brightening hyperpigmentation, a safer option than hydroquinone.

  • Sun Safety

Mineral sunscreens are generally more tolerated by sensitive skin than chemical sunscreens.

Finding Your Perfect Routine

We know living with sensitive skin can be frustrating. You may have tried countless products only to find they irritate your skin further. But don’t give up! With a little trial and error, you can discover what works best for you. 

Clarity Medspa & Laser is your skincare guide. We’re here to help you determine the best products for you and find those gentle ingredients that will keep your skin feeling calm, happy, and healthy. We offer a comprehensive list of products and treatments you can choose from. Book an appointment with us by calling 416 960-2222.