Beauty School – Sensitive Skin

My second blog post in my new series called Beauty School.  To learn more about this new series & oily skin, head over here.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, there are 5 basic skin types: oily (we’ve already covered this one), normal, combination, sensitive and dry. Your skin type is determined by how much (or how little) oil your skin produces.  Genes, stress levels, diet, hormonal fluctuations, medication and even your current skincare regimen all determine how much oil your skin produces.

The Test

Here’s a quick test you can do to determine which skin type you have:  Cleanse your face at night but don’t apply any skin care products after cleansing the skin (no toners, serums, moisturisers, eye creams) and make sure you sleep without air-conditioning on.  When you wake up in the morning, pat your face with a tissue, the result will tell you which skin type you have.  If you have sensitive skin, typically you will not see oil on the tissue.  You’ll know you have this type if your skin is very dry & tight and it becomes irritated quite easily.  It may also be scaly, itchy and breaking out.  Since this is the most problematic type of skin, it required special products to treat the different areas.

Another simple test is to ask yourself if majority of the products you place on your skin cause a stinging / burning sensation or redness (this includes everything from face washes, to moisturisers, to foundations and blushes).

Most skin experts and Dermatologists say sensitive skin is a term that gets thrown around too often. The truth is that most people who claim to have sensitive skin actually don’t because the sensitivity might be caused by overuse of products, leading to irritation.

Causes Of Sensitive Skin

There are many theories as to why some people suffer from sensitive skin.  These theories vary from the increase in environmental pollution, to common allergies and even the popularity of harsh treatments such as skin peels and microdermabrasions.

Other causes of sensitivity could be attributed to fragrances in cosmetic products (usually listed in the ‘Ingredients’ section as ‘parfum’), soaps and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) which is a foaming agent found in most shampoos, shower gels, bubble baths and toothpastes.

How To Take Care Of Sensitive Skin

♥  Reduce the number of products you are using & keep your skincare regime as simple as possible.

♥  Use products that contain calming ingredients like Chamomile, Aloe or Green Tea extracts.  Remember, however, products with few ingredients are best.

♥  For super sensitive skin (and I mean even tap water causes redness), make your own ultra-gentle cleanser using Chamomile tea mixed with Almond Oil.

♥  Wash your face with lukewarm water, steer clear from hot water.

♥  To keep skin calm, stop using soaps (which is drying).  Use gentle cleansers that are suitable for sensitive skin.

♥  Stop using scrubs (exfoliation will only worsen the sensitivity of your skin), Retinoids and Alpha Hydroxyl Acids (AHA).  Retinoids and AHAs are non-abrasive exfoliators often used for cell turnover but can still cause redness and irritation.

♥  A mild, alcohol-free toner can be used but don’t overdo it with the product.  Also, pat the cotton wool on the skin, don’t rub.

♥  It is very important to apply an SPF to sensitive skin to protect it from damage & irritation caused by the sun.  Zinc-oxide based sunscreens are best as they are anti-inflammatory.

♥  Apply an ultra-gentle cream-based moisturiser while skin is still damp to hold in moisture & calm redness.

♥  Use a mask that is specially formulated for sensitive skin, the above rules apply i.e. fragrance-free & containing calming ingredients.

♥  As mineral oil also cause skin sensitivity and breakouts, read the labels of your moisturisers and serum before purchasing a product.

♥  Remember, the term hypoallergenic indicates that the manufacturers of a product have done their best to remove common allergens and irritants.  So it’s less likely that hypoallergenic products will irritate your skin, but not impossible.

Makeup For Sensitive Skin

♥  Number 1 rule: Test a product on a small section of your face.  If you experience no discomfort within 24 hours of applying it, it’s good news!  Ask the sales consultants at a beauty counter to provide you with a sample of a product before purchasing a full-sized product (this will definitely save you from spending money on a product you discover you actually can’t use).

♥  When choosing makeup products, opt for those containing 10 ingredients or less.

♥  Check the labels of your makeup products and familiarise yourself with ingredients that may be harmful.

♥  Fragrance (‘parfum’) of any kind is a big no-no, even if it’s the last item on the ingredients list (meaning there is only a tiny amount).

♥  Cinnamates can cause skin irritation.  SPFs and lipsticks usually contain Cinnimates.

♥  Lanolin and mineral oil can also cause skin reactions so try to steer clear from products that contain these.

♥  Use a silicone-based foundation for less irritation and when applying a foundation to your face, avoid rubbing in too deeply.

♥  Another good foundation for sensitive skin is a powder formula, due to the fact that it has a lighter, more delicate and will help protect your skin from the sun and pollutants without clogging your pores.

♥  Opt for pencil eyeliners and eyebrow colours, rather than liquid or cream products.

♥  Earth-toned eyeshadows & blushes are less irritating to skin than vibrant shades (as they contain less colourants).

♥  Another important rule is to ensure your products remain in the best shape possible.  Store them in a cool, dry place and don’t leave them uncovered (in contact with air).

♥  Clean your makeup brushes and tools as often as possible (preferably after each use).

I suffered from super sensitive skin last year when I was on Roacutane (what an experience!).  So I feel for all you girls who have this skin type, it’s not easy to work with.  I’ll load my MIY (Mix / Make It Yourself) skin mask recipe for sensitive skin in the next few days, so hopefully that will calm and nourish your temperamental skin.



  1. alissa
    18 December 2013 / 14:56

    Totes looking forward to the post for dry skin, it’s Winter here at the mo and my skin is suffering!

    These posts are so informative, I can see you put a huge amount of time into your blog posts…


    • Luzanne
      18 December 2013 / 15:07

      Thanks for your kind words, Alissa. I do try to make my posts as informative as possible. 🙂

  2. Ronel Marais
    18 December 2013 / 15:14

    I have red hair and with that comes white-as-snow skin and most of the time it’s very sensitive. This blog post has really helped me understand my skin a bit better. I can’t wait for the facial mask recipe.

    • Luzanne
      19 December 2013 / 18:53

      I feel your pain, Ronel… Having sensitive skin (even though it was only for 6 months) was a big downer in my life at the time. EVERYTHING burnt my skin and in the end the only brand I could use was Bioderma.

      The mask recipe will be up tomorrow, so you’ll have something special to do this weekend! 😉

  3. Em Cameron
    18 December 2013 / 16:11

    Loved the post, Luzanne. I have normal skin but it gets dry and sensitive in the winter months. Will most definitely keep these tips in mind. So well written. ♥

    • Luzanne
      19 December 2013 / 18:51

      So glad you found this blog post to be helpful, Em! And thank you for your kind words. 🙂

  4. 18 December 2013 / 20:57

    I always considered my skin to be on the sensitive side, since I tend to have bad reactions to some new products…but after reading this, I am much more informed on what exactly sensitive skin is. I definitely have oily skin, but it’s not near as sensitive as I thought it was.

    Thank you so much for doing this, Luzanne! I am learning so much more!!

    • Luzanne
      19 December 2013 / 18:48

      And thank YOU for commenting with such sweet words of encouragement, Lily! I’m so glad you find these posts informative, it means so much to me. xxx

  5. 19 December 2013 / 17:45

    My skin type is actually dry but it was super sensitized for a long period this year and I struggled so much. Too much product testing and abrasive scrubs I think. Anyway, it is a lot better now although I really nodded along to all of these symptoms and treatments!

    • Luzanne
      19 December 2013 / 18:45

      Sensitive skin is not easy to live with, I can really empathize with anyone who suffers from this… I agree though, too many different products mixed is not good for the skin…I’ve seen it now with my skin (even though it’s not sensitive, it has been breaking out) because I’m confusing my skin using too many products.

      First new year’s resolution: Stop using so many skincare products and try to stick to 1 or 2 brands.

  6. Lauren Henderson
    20 December 2013 / 10:03

    I don’t have sensitive skin but found this blog post very interesting because my mum does have sensitive skin. I’ll give her a few pointers next time I see her – thank you. 😀

    • Luzanne
      20 December 2013 / 17:08

      So happy you’ll be able to give your mom some tips – thanks for commenting Lauren! 😀

  7. Chicara
    22 December 2013 / 23:23

    Very informative! Great post Luzanne 🙂

    • Luzanne
      23 December 2013 / 08:45

      Thanks, Chicara! 🙂

  8. Andrea Madikoto
    17 March 2014 / 09:11

    this is such good info thanks for sharing i have super seinsitive skin due to eczema & allergies & this makes so much sense, i want to start wearing make up but this is making me think twice, im going to do my research first.

  9. wafiqah
    2 December 2015 / 09:01

    hi could you please send me recipe for a home made mask the bioderma mask burns my sensitive dry skin

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