Do a quick poll among your friends: how many of them think they have sensitive skin? We assure you, you’ll get quite a number of affirmative answers. In the last few years, the increased number of complaints about sensitive skin even got experts coming out declaring that sensitive skin is a myth.

But is it really?

The sensitivity that you started feeling in your skin may not be imagined. According to Aurelie Guyoux, R&D Director of NAOS, there appears to be a rise in “sensitive skin syndrome. NAOS’ market studies show that it affects 62% of women in China and South Korea.

Some background before we move on: NAOS owns brands like Bioderma, which is best known for inventing micellar water in 1991. Bioderma’s famous Sensibio H2O is so popular, one bottle is sold every two seconds worldwide.

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What is sensitive skin syndrome?

Sensitive Skin Syndrome 2

The International Forum for the Study of Itch 2017 defines “sensitive skin syndrome” as “the occurrence of unpleasant sensations in response to stimuli that normally should not provoke such sensations. These unpleasant sensations cannot be explained by lesions attributable to any disease”.

The unpleasant sensations they’re referring to? Stinging, burning, pain, severe itching, tingling sensations, and redness.

Unfortunately, the pathogenesis of sensitive skin syndrome is poorly known, Guyoux said.

“But we know it involves a skin barrier function impairment and an enhanced activation of nerve fibres”, she said.

Who is most susceptible to it?

Sensitive Skin Syndrome 1

Guyoux shared with Daily Vanity results that were issued from a study conducted in France that would help us understand who are most at risk.

  • Women (66%) are more likely than men (51.9%) to report sensitive skin
  • Sensitive skin is more frequently reported in younger people (less than 35)
  • Sensitive skin is more common among people with fair skin (61.1% versus 46.2% of people with darker skin)
  • Sensitive skin also seems to be more common in people with a history of atopic dermatitis during childhood*
  • It also seems that sensitive skin is associated with Atopic Dermatitis severity#

*L. Misery et al, JEADV 2018
#Tsuyoshi Yatagai, J Dermatol Sci 2018

What should we do about it?

Sensitive Skin Syndrome 3

Guyoux said that there is no medical treatment for sensitive skin syndrome as of today. But she advises using adapted dermocosmetic products with soothing properties and a capacity to reinforce the natural barrier function of the skin.

At the same time, she recommended that you avoid factors that may trigger sensitive skin. Some of these factors include:

  • Cold-, hot- or wind-related climatic factors
  • Temperature variation
  • Pollution
  • Dry or humid air
  • Quality of tap water
  • Air conditioning.
  • Non-adapted cosmetic compounds (e.g. essential oils)
  • Psychological or hormonal factors

If you find that you have sensitive skin, Guyoux said that it’s important to apply less products.

“Adopt a simple but efficient skincare routine with skincare products developed for sensitive skin. The ‘less is more philosophy’ is key!” she advised.


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