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Sensitive skin causes irritating physical symptoms and can also undermine psychological well-being (mood, academic performance, sleep quality…). Causes of sensitivity include: vascular weakness, environmental factors, irritants, allergies, and eczema. Minimising triggers and treating your skin with hypoallergenic products created specifically for sensitive skin can improve your quality of life.


It's when your skin over-reacts to everyday things

From the moment you are born, your skin protects you from the outside world. It shields you against the elements, knocks, bumps, and countless aggressive substances in the environment. Yet we all tend to take for granted the immense role skin plays in our lives.

Sensitive skin has become an issue for increasing numbers of people. Characterised by an extreme reaction to everyday factors like dust, pollution, chemicals, heat, cold or UV, hypersensitive skin no longer silently tolerates the stresses of everyday life. As skin becomes sensitised, it becomes vulnerable to outside attacks, and responds with redness, prickling, tightness, hot or itchy feelings, and even burning sensations. In the most severe cases, people with sensitive skin feel they have to opt out of “high risk” situations, which also means they can miss out on living a fulfilled life.

Do you have sensitive or allergic skin? Find out HERE.


There are several possible underlying factors

Several factors are commonly associated with increased skin sensitivity. Any of these can work alone, or in combination with one another:

  • Vascular weakness: If the walls of your blood vessels have become fragile, certain external factors like eating spices, drinking alcohol, hot baths, or too much central heating can trigger flushing and skin sensitivity.
  • Environmental factors: The wind, dryness, cold weather, or pollution can lead to prickling or burning sensations.
  • Contact with irritants: Reactions can be triggered by your skin coming into contact with something that contains an irritating substance. This might be an additive in your make-up, perfume in a skin-care product, chemicals in your washing detergent, or even hard water in your shower.
  • Atopic dermatitis: Skin that suffers from eczema is predisposed to hyper-reactivity.


Unlike sensitive skin symptoms which can occur all the time, allergic skin symptoms only occur after exposure to an allergen. Coming into contact with something that you are allergic to can trigger reactions throughout your body, as well as your skin. Common allergens include pollen, certain foods, medicines, house dust mite, various chemicals, mould, and pets.

Allergic skin rashes include hives, contact dermatitis and eczema. It's no exaggeration to say that allergies can have a huge impact on quality of life (itching, eye watering, sneezing, cough…). If you suffer from allergic skin symptoms, you may wish to arrange an allergist consultation to pinpoint your triggers so you can eliminate them from your life. In terms of skincare, you'll want to invest in gentle hypoallergenic cleansers such as TOLERIANE Dermo-Cleanser to remove allergens from skin's surface, followed by truly hypoallergenic and instantly soothing barrier creams such as TOLERIANE Ultra.


Skin reactions can affect quality of everyday life

So far, we have discussed the clinical signs of hypersensitive skin: redness, itching, tightness, heat, prickling, and burning. These are uncomfortable in themselves, but they can also have more insidious impacts, the importance of which are too often underestimated. Sensitive skin reactions can cause poor sleep quality, lead to underperformance at school or work, and negatively affect self-confidence. Such problems can impact your quality of life, so it's important to learn how to soothe your skin and lessen unpleasant symptoms as much as possible. Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce skin reactions:


It is so tempting to wake yourself up in the morning with a long, hot shower. Unfortunately, hot water can trigger histamine release in the skin, setting off a chain reaction of irritation. For many people, prolonged exposure to hot water leaves skin feeling tight – as if a size too small – and visibly red. Flushed cheeks are hardly conducive to self-confidence, not helpful if you have a big presentation or a job interview ahead of you! So, it’s important to keep your morning shower lukewarm, and brief.


Alkaline soaps and harsh cleansers can strip your skin’s protective barrier, leaving it vulnerable to attack from environmental irritants. To cleanse your sensitive face, use a Micellar Water or gentle cleansing milk. Daily hydration with a hypoallergenic moisturiser will help to keep your skin's outer layer supple and resilient. Surprisingly, one of the most distressing ways that sensitive skin can interfere with your quality of life is sleep disturbance. In the early hours, your body experiences a surge of the pro-itch mediator histamine, which can trigger the symptoms of sensitive skin. This reaction can make you wake up too early, with a tingling, prickling face – not a great way to start the day! The most advanced night creams and serums can keep those sensations in check and help you to wake up feeling serene and refreshed.


Wearing make-up is supposed to be fun and confidence-boosting. But if you have sensitive skin it can cause your skin to burn, itch, and turn blotchy – the polar opposite of make-up’s stated goal! Such reactions can make you want to attend social events bare-faced – or simply to opt out altogether. But there's no need to lose faith in make-up. Read the labels carefully: look for products with a minimalist formulation – free of fragrance, alcohol, and known allergens such as nickel – and that are tested on sensitive and allergic skin such as the TOLERIANE Teint range. Specialist make-up will help your sensitive skin rediscover its beauty while you have fun experimenting with the latest looks!

Around the house

Dust and house dust mite are very common irritants for sensitive skin. Regularly vacuum and wipe down surfaces in your home to keep dust at bay. Make sure you wash and thoroughly dry pillows and bedding every few months, and while you're at it, vacuum your mattress too. That said, try not to be too over-zealous with the cleanliness. Harsh chemicals in household products can cause skin reactions. Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent and fabric softener to wash your clothes, sheets, and towels. When cleaning your home, look for the simplest household cleaning products, and always wear rubber gloves.

Out and about

When the weather is cold or windy, make sure to use nourishing, protective creams on your face, neck, and hands. Wear gloves and a scarf to protect exposed skin. On hot, polluted days keep your skin balanced and soothed with selenium-rich THERMAL SPRING WATER.

Eliminate allergens

If you're taking all the steps above and you still experience severe or prolonged skin reactions, you may have an underlying allergy. Your doctor can advise you about testing to identify specific allergens. These can then be systematically eliminated from your environment or your diet.

Click HERE for what to expect from your allergist consultation.


La Roche-Posay's commitment goes beyond skincare products

A study sponsored by La Roche-Posay Dermatological Laboratory has shown that more than 50% of women state that they have sensitive skin1. This sensitivity is caused by greater responsiveness of the epidermal nerve endings and a drop in the reaction threshold2. The life impacts of sensitive skin are different for everyone, and they can feel difficult to put into words. At La Roche-Posay Dermatological Laboratory, our mission is to create "a better life for sensitive skin". We are convinced that in order to offer the most innovative and effective products and strategies to deal with the condition of hypersensitive skin, it is essential to take account of the psychological consequences as well as the physical.

In order to evaluate individual impressions of the effects of sensitive skin, La Roche-Posay Dermatological Laboratory has adopted a patented reference tool that is used in numerous medical fields to measure the correlation between clinical signs and negative impacts on everyday life: The Quality of Life Index.

During the evaluation of our skincare products, volunteers complete questionnaires about different aspects of their everyday life: negative feelings, sleep disorders, their social life, and so on. By comparing the results obtained at the beginning and end of the study, we are able to assess the effectiveness of skincare products on patients' quality of life, as well as on the physical signs. This tool represents a new opportunity to develop precise, tailor-made therapeutic programmes to help care for sensitive skin, from the clinical signs to the psychological impacts.

In addition to tailored, effective products that are gentle on sensitive skin, La Roche-Posay offers workshops during which those affected by certain skin conditions can learn corrective make-up techniques and adopt everyday steps to make their lives more comfortable and help them come to terms with their image.