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Sensitive vs. Sensitized Skin

Yes, there's a difference. Learn how to make the distinction and treat your symptoms.

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What's the difference between sensitive and sensitized skin?

Is your skin red, inflamed, irritated, and reactive? These are tell-tale signs that your skin barrier is compromised. Most people would assume and say they have “sensitive skin” in this scenario, but is your skin truly sensitive or just sensitized

While sensitive skin is a skin type and sensitized skin is a skin condition–it doesn't matter which issue you're dealing with, both sensitive and sensitized skin present as:

    • Itchy
    • Blotchy
    • Burning
    • Dehydrated
    • Peeling

What differentiates the two concerns is the CAUSE of your symptoms.

Infographic on Sensitive versus Sensitized Skin

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is caused by internal factors. It is usually genetic and on-going (such as rosacea, eczema, allergies, etc.) and you are naturally more prone to inflammation.

Sensitive skin is not a main skin type. All skin types (dry, normal, oily, combination) can suffer from sensitive skin and its symptoms. 

Sensitized Skin

Sensitized skin is caused by external factors–like the improper use of skincare products, environmental stressors (UV rays, weather), or other things like medication. It can be triggered for anyone, regardless of genes, and does not last long if treated properly or if triggers are avoided (think of sensitized as a flare up).

Treatment Plan

    • Repair and replenish moisture to your skin barrier to keep moisture in and irritants out.
    • Use gentle cleansers like Gentle Cleansing Lotion.
    • Switch to a vitamin C derivative like C+ Correcting Complex 30%. It’s much gentler.
    • Minimize redness and calm the skin with serums like Overachiever. It also helps your skin tolerate other products better.
    • Lock in moisture and soothe dull skin with Hydrating Lotion.
    • Apply SPF daily to protect the barrier from further damage.


Both sensitive and sensitized skin can result in an impaired skin barrier which provides less protection against all stressors. To read more about the skin barrier check out this blog post (link skin barrier blog post).

To also help you determine if your skin may be sensitive or you may be having an adverse or anticipated reaction, check out this blog post here.

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