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“Sensitive skin” is a term that’s frequently used on skincare product packaging, by dermatologists, and even in casual conversations among friends and family. It’s easy to see why, given that 60% of the population is affected by the skin condition.

But what exactly causes sensitive skin? How do you know if you actually have sensitive skin? And if you do, how do you treat and manage it?

To answer these questions and address the most common misconceptions about sensitive skin, here are five of the biggest myths and their truths.

Pssst! Keep reading, because we’ll be sharing our review of Bioderma Sensibio Defensive, a new moisturiser that’s formulated for sensitive skin. 

Myth #1: Reactive skin is not the same as sensitive skin

bioderma sensibio defensive review reactive skin

There are plenty of products on the market that are targeted towards sensitive skin. Some brands have even created their own categories for specific sub-types of sensitive skin, so you may have seen terms like “intolerant”, “hypersensitive”, “ultrasensitive”, and “reactive” tacked on product labels.

However, these terms really aren’t all that different. The truth is, they are simply ways to describe the intensity of the same fundamental issue: sensitive skin.

“These are not different types of skin that require specific care. They simply represent different degrees of intensity of the same symptoms,” Dr. Michèle Sayag, Bioderma’s Medical Strategy Director, explains. “And when your skin reacts, whether it’s minor stinging or feeling fiery, the biological mechanisms behind the reactions are also the same for all sensitive skin.”

Myth #2: Your skin can only become sensitised if your skin is already sensitive

bioderma sensibio defensive review sensitised skin

Credit: xFrame.io

Sensitive skin can be caused by genetics, and in naturally sensitive skin, there is an exaggerated nervous system response, so our nerve fibres may overreact when exposed to environmental irritants.

However, any skin type can become sensitised and experience periodical sensitivities, which are often caused by lifestyle choices, the environment, a certain ingredient, or excessive concentration of an active ingredient.

And it isn’t that surprising. The evolution of at-home skincare has given us high-strength acids, retinol-infused products, and serums. We’ve become our own chemists and aestheticians, stringing together elaborate skincare routines from our bathrooms – the only problem is that we might be overdoing it.

The overuse of active ingredients is a rising cause of sensitised skin, so you may want to eye your collection of chemical exfoliators up with newfound suspicion.

Myth #3: Temporary redness is the only symptom of sensitive skin

bioderma sensibio defensive review temporary redness

Credit: Linda Prebreza/Pexels

While temporary redness is indeed a symptom of sensitive skin, it certainly isn’t the only sign. Dryness, flakiness, and a burning sensation are also indicators of skin sensitivity. Stinging and inflammation are typical symptoms of sensitive skin too.

In some instances, you may develop breakouts that look like acne with red bumps and pustules. This is especially true for topical products that sit on your skin, such as toners, serums, and moisturisers.

You may develop a rash very quickly after contact as well, and they can be uncomfortable, unsightly, and stubborn.

Myth #4: Sensitive skin is the result of an allergic reaction

bioderma sensibio defensive review sensitive skin sun

Credit: xFrame.io

It’s true that some cases of sensitive skin occur because of an allergy, but more often than not, it develops because the skin is overreactive.

A reaction can occur in response to an ingredient in a skincare product. Or, it can result from environmental aggressors, such as the sun, wind, or extreme temperatures. Sensitive skin can even have psychological triggers, such as stress. Other triggers include hormonal imbalances, harsh detergents, and even makeup.

These factors can weaken our skin barrier and allow harmful substances to enter, which is why you get reactions like redness, tightness, stinging, blotches, or breakouts.

Myth #5: All natural products are safe to use on sensitive skin

bioderma sensibio defensive review natural products

Credit: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

While there has been an uptick in natural beauty products in recent years, it’s important not to conflate “natural” with “good for you”. In fact, all-natural skincare can be very irritating to sensitive skin.

Many clean products contain botanical ingredients that often cause either irritation or contact dermatitis, an allergic rash caused by coming in contact with a specific substance.

To calm and manage sensitive skin, it’s best to look for skincare products that are dermatologically tested and proven to strengthen our skin’s defences, such as the new Bioderma Sensibio Defensive.

The best way to soothe & strengthen sensitive skin

bioderma sensibio defensive review product

No matter the origin of your sensitive skin or the intensity of your symptoms, you can turn to Bioderma Sensibio Defensive, a cream that actively alleviates all symptoms of sensitive and sensitised skin as it strengthens its defence mechanisms.

Thanks to Bioderma’s exclusive Defensive Technology, the cream acts on the causes of sensitive skin to prevent three things: skin reactions, oxidative stress caused by pesky free radicals in pollutants, and changes in our skin barrier function induced by an onslaught of daily irritants.

It also claims to soothe the skin in 30 seconds and provide 12 hours of continuous moisturisation with biomimetic glycerin and squalane – two ingredients naturally found in the body that are known to replenish moisture.

The moisturiser is further bolstered by a blend of active ingredients. Carnosine and Vitamin E provide better antioxidant protection, shielding it from damaging free radicals. Meanwhile, Tetrepeptide-10 works on different parts of your skin to strengthen it overall, acting as a bouncer to keep irritants out.

Red Sage Extract in the formula also soothes sensitive skin. A natural active ingredient derived from the roots of red sage, it contains phenolic compounds that calm and limit the hyperactivity of sensory nerve fibres. This way, your skin will react less to external and internal aggressors, such as pollution and stress.

As someone with naturally sensitive skin that was recently further sensitised by a number of factors, I decided to pare down my routine and give my skin only what it needs to thrive. And when the Bioderma Sensibio Defensive landed on my desk, I knew that there was no better time to put it to the test.

Bioderma Sensibio Defensive review: First impressions

Over the past few months, I tested out dozens of skincare products for our upcoming Daily Vanity Beauty Awards. Needless to say, my sensitive skin didn’t appreciate the constant changes in my routine one bit, and by the time the review period drew to a close, my complexion was red, inflamed, and irritated (as you’ll see in the “before” picture below).

It didn’t help that I had worn masks for extended periods of time each week too, which further aggravated my skin. To lend my skin a helping hand, I stripped my routine down to two products: a cleanser and a moisturiser.

bioderma sensibio defensive review texture

The gel-cream texture of Bioderma Sensibio Defensive

I crawled back to Bioderma’s Sensibio Gel Moussant, one of my favourite gel cleansers. The soothing micellar-powered formula gently cleanses my reactive skin and leaves it feeling hydrated – never dry and taut.

After cleansing, I dispensed a bean-sized amount of the Bioderma Sensibio Defensive and applied it on damp skin. Housed in a compact matte tube, the Bioderma Sensibio Defensive has a light, refreshing texture that melted as I spread it across my face and neck. It’s also fragrance-free, which is how I prefer my moisturisers.

Despite its lightweight texture, it also felt nourishing on my skin. The cream was absorbed in a matter of minutes and settled to a nice, semi-matte finish. It wrapped my itchy skin in a comforting blanket, and after a few minutes, I wasn’t tempted to scratch my face at all – a marked difference compared to my previous moisturiser.

It was a lovely start to my trial, and I couldn’t wait to see what it could do for my skin in a week.

Bioderma Sensibio Defensive review: Results after 1 week

bioderma sensibio defensive review before and after

After one week of using Bioderma Sensibio Defensive, the skin around my cheeks and temples appeared less red and inflamed. The burning and itching sensation was gone by the third day, which was an impressive feat. My skin also feels much softer and stronger now, more resilient and ready to withstand environmental irritants.

Historically, I’ve had a “Goldilocks” issue with moisturisers. I’ll buy a rich, nourishing cream that does a wonderful job of moisturising my skin, but the heavy ingredients in the formula would clog my pores and cause breakouts. Or, I’ll find a gel moisturiser that feels fresh and lightweight on my face, but isn’t hydrating or soothing enough.

I’ve long been on the hunt for a perfect in-between – a moisturiser with a skin-quenching, redness-relieving formula that won’t make my sensitive, acne-prone skin break out. And I’m happy to report that I’ve found the one: Bioderma Sensibio Defensive.

Now that my skin is calmer and less reactive, it’s taken a load off my shoulders. I can now focus on meeting other demands in life, knowing that my skin is in good hands. You’ll have to try the Bioderma Sensibio Defensive yourself to experience the difference.

Bioderma Sensibio Defensive retails for S$39.90 (40ml) at Guardian and Watsons stores, as well as online on Shopee, Lazada, Guardian, Watsons.

This article is brought to you by Bioderma.