Cleansing, Skin Care, Skin Health, Sun

Understanding What Causes Sensitive Skin and How To Care for It

by Neutrogena
February 26, 2023

Sensitive skin is known for being picky about products. However, predicting what will leave delicate complexions red, itchy and irritated isn't a total toss-up — it's all about choosing items with ingredients that get the job done but still feel gentle on your skin.

Here's how to know whether you have sensitive skin, what causes it, and build a daily routine that works for your unique complexion.

What Causes Sensitive Skin?

Some people are simply born with sensitive skin, and research shows this skin type is often genetic. For many, the causes of sensitive skin can be traced back to skincare. If you notice redness, burning, itching or stinging after applying a product, your skin could be reacting to something in the ingredients list.

However, several factors can irritate complexions of any kind. If you recognize any new skin sensitivity, think about anything else that might have changed recently, such as a different season, updates to your skincare routine, or a new medication or laundry detergent.

The good news? There are ways to protect and soothe an easily irritated complexion regardless of what causes sensitive skin to flare. Start by curating a regimen of gentle skincare products designed for sensitive skin. Avoid the urge to overcleanse, which can dry out skin, or exfoliate too often, which can exacerbate irritation. When your skin does feel irritated, limit your sun exposure to save your complexion from UV damage as it heals.

A Skincare Routine for Sensitive Skin

It can be tough to know what will set sensitive skin off. Now that you know the causes of sensitive skin, follow this sample skincare routine to get a sensitive complexion back to feeling and looking its best.

Go Fragrance-Free

Stick with fragrance-free products. Fragrances are common contact allergens that can irritate skin when it's in a delicate state.

Choose a Gentle Daily Cleanser

Opt for a soap-free cleanser that cleanses the skin without stripping away natural oils, leaving your complexion feeling balanced.

Stay Easy on the Eyes

The sensitive skin around your eyes is thinner than on any other part of your face. Look for gentle eye products that nourish this delicate area. Thick, soft, premoistened makeup pads quickly remove makeup without stinging the eye area.

Use a Mighty but Mild Moisturizer

Even if your skin doesn't feel particularly dry, sensitive skin loves a good hit of moisture. Stock your daily skin routine with serums, moisturizers, and creams that offer a hydrating sensation to quell sensitivity. Hyaluronic acid is an effective moisturizer for all skin types, so add this ingredient to your skincare routine as a toner or in an HA-packed moisturizer to combat dry skin.

Soak Up Sun Protection

Keeping UV damage at bay is a great way to keep skin feeling comfortable. Use sunscreen for sensitive skin, or simplify your routine by choosing a moisturizer with sunscreen built in.

Lifestyle Tips for Sensitive Skin

Beyond changing up your skincare routine, the choices you make every day affect how your complexion looks and feels. Follow these lifestyle tips to help manage your sensitive skin!

To soothe skin, take shorter showers in warm — not hot — water. Use mild soaps that skip perfumes and other fragrances, and be particularly careful with red areas, open cracks, sores, or rashes.

It's also a good idea to understand your food sensitivities. An upset stomach isn't the only way to determine if you have a reaction to certain foods — keep a food journal and track when skin sensitivities crop up after eating certain types of foods, such as gluten, eggs, or dairy.

If your sensitive skin symptoms do not improve or you feel they could be due to a more serious allergic reaction, talk to your dermatologist or doctor. For most cases of sensitive skin, though, giving your complexion a little extra TLC can help keep irritation at bay.

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Cleansing, Skin Care

I’m a freelance copywriter for beauty and wellness brands and creative entrepreneur with an expertise in green beauty.

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