Nourished Journal

Sensitive x Sensitised Skin. What is the difference?

Dec 04, 2019

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We often receive messages from our community asking about what is the best product to use on sensitive skin however when we dig a little deeper it turns out their skin isn’t SENSITIVE….. It is SENSITISED. 

What’s the difference? Well sensitive skin is typically genetic and something you are born with. Sensitised skin usually occurs at some point after birth whether it be during childhood, adolescence or even as an adult, and is due to damaged barrier function of the skin leading to sensitised nerve endings.


What are the causes?


A recent Dermatology Journal Review of the condition found that more than 50% of women and 40% of men suffer with sensitised skin and these figures are increasing at an exponential rate! The causes of sensitised skin are environmental & behavioural factors including:

  • Stress 
  • Fatigue & lack of sleep 
  • Weather changes including extreme heat, cold or wind. 
  • Allergens (dust, pollens, animals, pollution, tobacco smoke, woollen or rough clothing etc.)
  • Reaction to skincare products including sunscreen 
  • Reactions to environmental toxins including household cleaning products

In short, skin sensitisation is what happens when our skin has an allergic or inflammatory response to something it comes in contact with, or a lifestyle factor, and often exhibits as a rash, peeling skin, bumps, breakouts and even flaking of the skin. 

Renowned Cosmetic Chemist and Biologi Skincare founder Ross Macdougald says that unfortunately many of the skin care products we are using to try and improve our skin are actually exacerbating the problem. He also goes on to say “there are many materials, synthetic and natural, that should never be used in products that come into contact with your skin. A great example is compounds such as alcohol, fragrances and essential oils, glycols, surfactants and fatty alcohols along with many natural fats and waxes. Unfortunately, I see these materials too often in skin products that simply should not be there”.

In a time where we have more options in skincare than ever before how can we know which products will help, and which products will hinder. 

Understand Labels 

We recommend beginning with gaining a greater understanding of the labels of these sorts of products. A 2-5% active ingredient claim actually means that the product you are using is 95-98% filler which include synthetic acids and preservatives that can further inflame already delicate skin cells.

Avoid Using Fragrance

With fragrances being one of the most well known irritants of skin that can worsen skin sensitivity we recommend giving the fragrance the flick, both in perfume and also your skincare products. 

Find Balance

Ok so we totally understand this is waaaay harder than what it sounds however, it plays a huge part in your skin health so we ALL need to work on it. Stress, late nights, lack of sleep all mean we are spending more time using the Sympathetic or ‘fight-and-flight’  arm of our nervous system. The more time we spend in this state the less opportunity for healing and regeneration we get, and the more we cycle into an inflammatory state. It is something I drum over and over again with my patients in my practice… health and healing comes first from the inside. 

Drink Water 

We all know that water is important for us but few of us realise how important it is for our skin. Imagine the difference between a dried up raisin compared to a juicy plump grape. That is literally the difference in your skin cells when you are dehydrated vs well hydrated! Ensure you are drinking 2-3L of water daily to assist with your skin cells natural function and appearance.

Use Oil or Water-based Skincare Products

Instead of applying more chemicals and preservatives that have the potential to further irritate and sensitise your skin look for either water-based or oil-based products including Rosehip Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Sunflower Oil & Macadamia Oil which are excellent at improving barrier function over damaged or broken skin. We have witnessed tremendous improvement with these products in our Nourished customers and also first hand in my husbands psoriasis and sensitised skin. The Goji Cleansing Oil and Activator 7 Oil from Sans [ceuticals] literally changed his life by reducing his psoriasis to almost nothing. 

Skincare that only delivers water soluble active ingredients at 100% is a very new concept, but it can be done thanks to innovative technology that MacDougald  is one of the first to create and use to develop the Biologi serums. These products allow water soluble nutrients to be delivered to the skin in their pure form from the plant, negating the need for any other ingredients to be added other than the live matrix from the plant-source itself. If you have very sensitised skin we recommend starting with the Bf serum. This can be used for body, hands, face, everywhere! Once you have used an entire tube your skin will most likely have started healing and you can explore the rest of the Biologi serum range. 



An Bras Dermatol. 2017 Jul-Aug; 92(4): 521–525. Sensitive skin: review of an ascending concept * Ida Duarte,1 Jéssica Eleonora P. S. Silveira,2 Mariana de Figueiredo Silva Hafner,1 Raquel Toyota, 2 and Debora Midori M. Pedroso2