Sensitive skin is an increasingly common skin condition experienced by many. This is thanks to the more stressful lives many of us lead in addition to the increase in environmental pollutants that act to weaken our skin’s natural barrier. Sensitivity is often characterised by the skin turning red and irritated at the slightest change in environment or skincare. Though it is endlessly frustrating to deal with, let Porcelain Skin unearth its root causes and discover ways to manage our sensitivity.

What is Sensitive Skin?

Before we delve into how we can manage our sensitive skin, let us first understand the root of the problem.

There are generally two types of sensitive skin: Sensitive skin vs Sensitised skin. While both share the same symptoms and appearance, they are each a result of different factors.

Sensitive skin is a condition that is part of your DNA and often comes paired with other skin conditions like Eczema, Dermatitis and Rosacea. This form of sensitivity is often experienced from a young age and usually can be triggered by environmental changes (i.e. temperature). This sensitivity requires products and treatments that work to strengthen the skin’s inherently weak barrier to reduce reactiveness.

Sensitised skin shares the same visible symptoms as sensitive skin (redness, inflammation, reactiveness) but often is a result of poor products and improper usage that lead to a weakened natural barrier. The improper use often results in damage to the outermost layer of the skin. This weakened barrier inhibits the skin’s natural ability to defend itself against environmental aggressors like free radicals and pollutants. All in all, it makes the skin more reactive to skincare products. Unlike sensitive skin, sensitised skin is easier to manage – once the skin’s natural barrier is restored, the sensitivity experienced will drastically decrease.

Credit: Cottonbro

How to Manage Your Sensitivity

Now that we understand the root differences between sensitive and sensitised skin, let’s work towards establishing a skincare routine that works to minimise it!

1. Balance Your pH:

Your skin’s pH determines the strength of its natural barrier. An optimal pH would be between 5.5 to 6. However, not everyone has a proper pH testing kit at home. Thus, we use our skin types as an indicator instead. This is because our natural barrier thrives when there is an optimal balance of oil and water content in the skin. Any imbalances would be revealed through the skin’s type and symptoms. For example, oily skin types have an imbalance in their pH thanks to the over-production of sebum to compensate for a lack of hydration. Sebum is your skin’s way of retaining moisture and hydration. When there is a lack of hydration, the skin produces more oils to prevent further loss of hydration.

Therefore, to minimise the reactiveness of your skin, you to determine your skin’s pH through your skin type. Not sure which skin type you have? Grab a tissue and find out here.

Once you have discovered your skin type, it is time to work on rebalancing your skin pH.

Oily Skin:

As mentioned earlier in the example, your skin over-produces sebum to compensate for a lack of hydration. Thus, focus on rehydrating the skin and controlling oil production with these products:

Balance Sebum Control Essence:
With a high percentage of Sodium Hyaluronate, Horse Chestnut Extract and Tea Tree Extract, excess sebum production is well controlled whilst skin remains deeply hydrated. This treatment essence also has effective anti-inflammation, rejuvenation and repairing properties to help reduce redness and itching for sensitive and sensitised skin.

Balance Hydraclear Gel:
This clear and weightless gel works hard to balance the skin and keep it healthy. Combating bacterial growth, reducing inflammation, hydrating, and regulating sebum & skin pH levels, this gel is specially formulated to providing moisture to the skin while balancing its pH levels.

Dry Skin:

Dry skin’s imbalance lies in an under-production of sebum. Since sebum is your skin’s way of retaining moisture and hydration, a lack of it causes your skin to experience a lot of hydration and moisture loss.  

Thus, focus on moisturising and hydrating your skin with these products:

Soothe Deep Hydrating Lotion:
A concoction of natural Jojoba Seed and Rose oils, Vitamin E and B5, Sodium Hyaluronate and Hyaluronic Acid, this lotion deeply hydrates, moisturises, and stimulates regeneration in our skin. Damascena Rose extracts also help deeply hydrate the skin and improve its natural resilience.

Pure Botanical Soothing Gel: Made from a special blend of Aloe Vera and herbal extracts such as Peach, Peony, Yoshino Cherry and Mountain Pepper. This anti-inflammatory, healing gel is rich in antioxidants, moisture and offers extra anti-bacterial benefits. Effectively treating skin that is dry, irritated, acne-prone, or suffering from eczema and/or other skin problems.

Combination Skin:

Combination skin often requires a more tailored approach as there are often two different imbalances existing on the skin simultaneously. Though it may seem cumbersome to tackle two imbalances on top of the sensitivity, simply hydrating the skin deals with a commonality between the two imbalances.

Soothe Aloe Recovery Gel: Formulated with pure Aloe Vera Extract, this gel moisturises provides intense hydration to heal dry and stressed skin. Not only does it repair skin, it also increases skin’s resilience over time. Our use of stabilized aloe vera gel helps extend the benefits of aloe vera for ongoing results. This restorative gel is also suitable for even sensitive skin and any epidermal ills ranging from blemishes to open wounds after dermatological procedures.

Bonus Product for All Skin Types:

Soothe Botanical Sensitive Care Toner:
Formulated with medicinal herbs like Korean Mint, Honeysuckle Flower Extract and Chamomile Flower Extract, this gentle toner possesses strong anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Experience soothed, moisturised and more resilient skin with each use.

2. Look Out for These Ingredients

For both sensitive and sensitised skin, there are a handful of skincare ingredients to look for as they help the skin strengthen its natural barrier. Additionally, there is another handful of ingredients to avoid as they have track records of irritating the skin.

To Look For:

Ceramides: This ingredient is a lipid that is naturally found in high concentrations in the uppermost layers of the skin. They act as the glue that holds your skin cells together. They also form a protective layer that controls moisture loss and protects against environmental aggressors.

Allantoin: Extracted from the Comfrey plant, Allantoin helps to soothe and protect the skin. It helps the skin heal and stimulates new tissue growth. Plus, it softens and helps to protect the skin over time.

Niacinamide: Known as Vitamin B3, it works to strengthen the skin’s surface while improving skin tone, minimising pores and diminishing dullness. Additionally, when paired with moisturisers, it can boost the skin’s healing ability and retain greater moisture.

Apart from the good stuff, keep an eye out for these known irritants.

To Avoid:

Drying Alcohols: Though not all alcohols are bad for the skin, drying alcohols are as they cause the skin to be dry and more sensitive. Drying alcohols include SD alcohol, ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.

Phthalates & Fragrances: Several Phthalates DEHP & DBP have been classified as a reproductive toxicant by the European Chemical Agency.  Additionally, they are common components in synthetic fragrances found in products. Synthetic fragrances are known to sensitise the skin over time. Furthermore, it is not a requirement for brands to list the individual ingredients that make up fragrances, making them an unknown danger.

3. Treatments are Your Friends

Often when products are insufficient, and your sensitivity requires more, facial treatments are the best way to go. While not every treatment may suit you, look for ones that focus on stimulating the skin’s natural healing process and aid in its repair.

Created with a three-pronged approach of calming, repairing and hydrating to provide restorative care, the Sun Rescue Treatment is the perfect option for reducing the skin’s sensitivity. Contrary to its name, you do not need to be sun damaged to experience the soothing ability of this treatment. It’s combination of Oxygen and Cryo-therapies gently calms the skin, stimulates its repair, shortens recovery time and boosts skin resilience.

Still unsure of what to do to help your sensitive skin? Book yourself a 30-minute Virtual Skin Education Session with our highly trained Skin Educators as they guide you through your sensitivity and make tailored recommendations based on your needs. Plus, it’s now complimentary because of COVID-19!

We hope this guide to sensitivity helped you better understand your skin and what you can do to achieve healthier skin! Need more tips, trick and nuggets of knowledge? Join our mailing below and let us navigate sensitivity together!

The root to solving all your skincare issues is to understand your skin. With various skin type charts and quizzes floating out there, it can get quite hard to discern your type and derive what it needs to improve. Thus, we’re here to provide the ultimate guide to knowing your skin type and how to make it healthier and glow from within.

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio 

Discovering your Type: 

Here’s a quick way to discover your skin type: in the middle of the day, grab a tissue paper (preferably 1 ply) and gently press it into your face for 3 seconds, covering the forehead, cheek, nose and chin. This quick test helps to you determine how much oil (aka Sebum) is on your skin surface and derive your skin type 

Important note: For the greatest accuracy, do this process when your skin is free of make up or setting/mattifying powders as they can reduce the amount of sebum on your skin surface. 

We are looking to see if the tissue become slightly translucent (like how blotting paper gets translucent when it picks up oil from the skin). 

If your tissue is lightly translucent: Normal Skin 

If your tissue has a light translucency on all the areas it was pressed into, congratulations, you have a normal skin type. This is great as it means that your skin is balanced and healthy. However, effort is still required to maintain that balance. Stick around and learn how you can maintain its health in the long run! 

If your tissue is mostly translucent: Oily Skin 

If your tissue comes off translucent after the test, it indicates that your skin is oily.  

Oily skin often gives a shiny appearance and is largely a result of skin pH unbalance. If you’re not sure what skin pH is, head over to this article where we explain the basics of skin pH.  

Oily skin’s imbalance lies in an over-production of sebum to compensate for a lack of hydration. Sebum is your skin’s way of retaining moisture and hydration. When there is a lack of hydration, the skin produces more oils to prevent further loss of hydration. This additional sebum production also explains why those of us with oily skin tend to experience congestion (whitehead, blackheads etc). 

If your tissue is mostly unchanged: Dry Skin 

If your tissue comes off unchanged (meaning no signs of translucency) after the test, it indicates that your skin is dry.  

Dry skin often feels rough and tight, with no shiny appearance throughout the day. Like oily skin, dry skin is also a result of skin pH unbalance. If you’re not sure what skin pH is, head over to this article where we explain the basics of skin pH. 

Dry skin’s imbalance lies in an under-production of sebum. Since sebum is your skin’s way of retaining moisture and hydration, a lack of it causes your skin to experience a lot of hydration and moisture loss.  

Typically, those with dry skin do not experience breakouts due to the lack of sebum. Instead, they often experience redness and sensitivity to products or environmental triggers (wind, sunlight, cold etc). 

If your tissue is translucent/unchanged on some parts: Combination Skin 

If your tissue comes off translucent or unchanged on certain parts, it indicates that your skin is combination.  

Overall, your skin still experiences pH unbalance. If you’re not sure what skin pH is, head over to this article where we explain the basics of skin pH. 

Based on the specific area, the unbalance can be caused by various factors. For the oilier areas, the imbalance is due to an over-production of sebum to compensate for a lack of hydration. For the drier areas, the imbalance is due to an under-production of sebum. 

Credit: Pexels 

What about other skin types like Acne Prone or Sensitive skin? 

Fun fact: Acne-prone skin is not actually a skin type but rather a skin condition! 

Skin types are determined by genetics whereas the condition of our skin can greatly vary according to internal and external factors. These factors can vary from stress, climate, hereditary factors, diet and your skincare products.  

Acne-prone skin is a result of several factors combined that cause your skin’s natural barrier against irritants to be weakened. Once weakened, the skin is prone to aggressors like p.Acne bacteria (a known cause for acne) and irritation from pollutants and dirt. Acne-prone skin is often paired with other skin types like oily or combination skin. Thus, the way to manage Acne-prone skin would be to manage it based on your skin type. 

Sensitive skin on the other hand, is a little different. Sensitive skin is often characterised as redness and reactiveness to skincare products. However, there are two major types of sensitive skin.  

1. Sensitivity

The first is sensitivity. Sensitivity is a part of your DNA and often comes paired with other skin conditions like Eczema. To deal with this form of sensitivity requires products and treatments to strengthen the skin’s barrier and reduce reactiveness.  

Some products that would be beneficial include ingredients like Ceramides and Allantoin to strengthen the skin’s surface against irritants. 

2. Sensitised Skin 

Sensitised skin shares the same symptoms as sensitivity; however, it is a result of damage to the outermost layer of the skin. This damage is often caused by pH imbalances and poor products that contain ingredients that could damage the skin. It then causes the skin to be more reactive to products or environmental triggers like wind and temperature. Plus, sensitised skin is often paired with a skin type (oily, dry or combination).  

To deal with this form of sensitivity requires a two-prong approach. The first is to strengthen the skin’s outermost layer by rebalancing the skin’s pH based on your skin type. The second is to replace products that contain known irritants like Sulfates (Sodium Laurel Sulfate / Sodium Laureth Sulfate), Parabens, Phthalates, Parfum/Fragrance and drying alcohols.

Credit: Cottonbro 

How to Care for Different Skin Types: 

Though each skin requires various remedies, it is important to note that all these solutions are grounded in restoring your skin’s pH. Once you understand the pH balance of your skin, solving your skin’s issues can be quite simple! 

Normal Skin: Maintain Balance 

For normal skin, your skin’s pH is already well balanced. However, it is important to maintain such a balance. Thus, always ensure that the most fundamental aspects of a good skincare regime are in place: 

  • Double Cleansing to ensure the skin is deeply cleansed of oil, dirt and bacteria build up 
  • Hydrating your skin to keep your skin’s oil production in check 
  • SPF to protect your skin against environmental aggressors (UV rays, bacteria, pollutants etc) that can create imbalances in the skin’s pH and cause damage to the skin 

Oily Skin: Hydrate and Rebalance 

As we mentioned earlier, oily skin’s imbalance lies in an over-production of sebum to compensate for a lack of hydration. Thus, the key to managing it would be to hydrate the skin and control sebum production.  

Over our years of providing skincare services, we noticed that many clients had bad skincare habits that focused too much on controlling their sebum production without replenishing it with sufficient hydration. These habits included using harsh cleansers, cleansing the skin multiple times daily and blotting the skin throughout the day. These habits removed too much oil from the skin, causing the skin to produce more to replace it. 

Thus, it is important to strike a balance. Hydrate the skin with ingredients like Sodium Hyaluronate while controlling oil production with ingredients like Tea Tree Oil (both of which are the main ingredients in the Balance – Sebum Control Essence). 

 Important note: when it comes to using products containing high percentages of Tea Tree Oil, use it in low concentrations and in small doses to prevent overly drying the skin. 

Dry Skin: Replenish the Essentials 

Dry skin’s imbalance lies in an under-production of sebum. Thus, managing it requires replenishing the skin with oil and hydration.  

Treat your skin with ingredients like: 

  • Sodium Hyaluronate to deeply hydrate the skin 
  • Ceramides to moisturise the skin surface and maintain the skin’s strength against environmental aggressors (UV rays, bacteria, pollutants etc) 
  • Jojoba Oil are the closest to skin’s natural oils and are great at forming a protective barrier for the skin to prevent moisture loss 
  • Allantoin to moisturise and heal the skin surface 

Furthermore, should you be working in a cold and dry environment (like an office with air-conditioning), it is vital to keep your skin replenished throughout the day. Bringing a mid-day spritz along with you (like the Soothe – Deep Hydrating Lotion) can help to rebalance your skin. 

Combination Skin: Mixed to Match 

Last, but not least, is combination skin. Combination skin poses a unique challenge as there can be as many as two different imbalances in play. With such a difference, it is important to tailor to each of them. While that may sound cumbersome, it’s not! Simply by hydrating your skin, you are already tackling one common aspect that lies between the two imbalances. 

Similarly, search for products with ingredients such as: 

  • Hyaluronic Acid & Sodium Hyaluronate to hydrate the skin 
  • Aloe Vera Extract to soothe and hydrate the skin 

For areas that are oilier, look to control the sebum production with BHAs (Salicylic Acid), Tea Tree Oil (in small concentrations and doses).  

For areas that experience dryness, look for moisturising ingredients like Ceramides, Jojoba Oil, Allantoin and Glycerin.  

We hope this basic guide to identifying and managing your skin type helps you to achieve healthier, radiant skin!  

Need more assistance to solve your skincare issues? Head over to our Virtual Skin Education and make an appointment for a one-on-one personal consultation with our highly trained Skin Educators. Based on your needs, select from 3 education modules and enjoy a 30-minute tailored session that will give you all you need to know to achieve healthier skin! 

If you find that your skin is thin, turns red, gets irritated, swells, flakes, and suffers from blemishes easily, you likely have sensitive skin. By understanding your skin better, you will know what ingredients and treatments to go for and avoid. Read on to find out how to care for sensitive skin in humid climates!

Types & Causes of Sensitive Skin

Most sensitive skin types fall under four categories: Rosacea, Acne, Burning & Stinging and Contact Dermatitis which includes Allergies and Irritants. Our recommendations below are meant for general skin irritations. More severe conditions like Rosacea and Eczema usually require oral prescriptions.

Common Causes of Sensitive Skin

Acne can be caused by hormones and/or genetics. Usually, they form because of a combination of excessive sebum production and high levels of P.acnes bacteria. Apart from hormonal fluctuations and genetics, using the wrong skincare products and/or lack of proper cleansing can increase breakouts. These congest pores, leading to whiteheads and blackheads. When P.acnes bacteria infect them, pimples and acne form, causing inflamed, painful and sensitive skin.

Rosacea is a chronic sensitive condition and may be caused by genetics, vascular instability and sun exposure. People with this condition experience pimples, flushing, broken vessels on the face and uneven skin.

Burning & Stinging can be caused by a myriad of irritants, the most common of which being AHAs, Vitamin C, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Azaelic Acid and Benzoic Acid. Its actual cause has not yet been determined and triggers differ from person to person. E.g. Person A may react to Glycolic Acid but not to Lactic Acid and Person B may react to both.

Contact Dermatitis can be caused by either irritants or allergies. The latter may be caused by environmental or dietary factors, and/or topical ingredients. Allergens can cause increased redness, swelling, burning and itching, amongst others. Irritants may include chemicals, body fluids, environmental factors and mechanical factors, e.g. friction and pressure.

Active Ingredients & Their Concentrations

Credit: Chuttersnap

Government regulations dictate that product ingredients must be listed in descending order of concentration. For ingredients with less than 1% concentration, they can be listed in any order. Hence, we can see that most products have Aqua or Water listed as their first ingredient.

Active ingredients account for products’ benefits. For example, a proper sunscreen should contain an appropriate amount of Zinc or Titanium Dioxide. We don’t need active ingredients to be listed as the first or second on the list as they aren’t usually needed in high concentrations to be effective. But also ensure it’s not listed as the last few ingredients! A product claiming to be an antioxidant, for example, should not have L-ascorbic Acid at the end of the list.

Parabens Or Not

There has been debate over the past decade on whether parabens are bad. Parabens, in the forms of Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben and Butylparaben, are widely used in all cosmetic products as preservatives. They prevent the growth of microbes and/or bacteria to extend our cosmetic products’ shelf lives beyond 2 months. They also keep products safe for use, without having to worry about potential infections.

Alternatives like DMDM Hydantoin have been offered, but in some formulations, parabens remain more effective alternatives. Hence, they’re probably still here to stay for a while.

“All Natural” Claims

Credit: Took A Pic

There is no firm regulation that dictates what “natural” means. Neither are there rules on the percentage of ingredients that has to come from natural sources for it be labelled as such. Many products claim to be natural although it contains only one or two such ingredients. Some “natural” ingredients constitute only a small percentage of the actual product makeup.

Did you know? Natural products may contain chemical substances too. Although they aren’t necessarily all bad, read the ingredient list carefully to ensure they do not use any chemical additives. These products tend to have a much shorter shelf life too.

Organic Claims

Likewise, there is no firm regulation for products claiming to be “organic”. Even if the product has a minute percentage of an organic ingredient, it can claim to be an “organic” product.

Marketing Terms & Techniques You Should Know

Terms such as Hypo-Allergenic, Dermatologically Tested, Allergy Screened and Fragrance-Free are commonly found on many products’ labels. In reality, these terms are vague and unspecific. There are no known industry standards of measurement and no legal definition to them.

Are All Chemical Ingredients Bad?

Most compounds in their natural states cannot be formulated into skin care products. They have to be chemically altered before they can be used. By enhancing these natural ingredients, they become more stable and safer for the skin. Moreover, advances of technology in cosmetic formulations have enabled formulators to create exciting new ingredients to benefit consumers.

Have you learnt more about how to care for your sensitive skin in humid climates yet?

No two skins are the same. Are you Asian? Are you in Asia? It all matters and will affect how you care for it. Here are 6 differences that Asian skin has compared to other skins.

1. Prone To Sensitivity

Our skin is said to be prone to irritation as we have a thinner stratum corneum or the outermost layer of skin, compared to other ethnic groups. As a result, Asian skin becomes extremely sensitive to environmental factors and chemicals, which can disrupt the skin’s pH level.

We need to be more careful with what products and treatments we use on our skin as most of us may not react well to harsh treatments such as peeling or acidic chemical solutions.

Asian skin is more prone to sensitivity

Credit: Aiony Haust

2. Scars More Easily

Because of our thinner stratum corneum, it is also said that Asian skin is genetically predisposed to scar more easily than others. Hence, greater care must be given when one has acne breakout and when one is trying to heal from some skin scarring.

Do not go squeezing that pimple and poking at that acne. Use gentle products like emu oil or Vitamin E to heal the scars.

3. More Issues With Hyper-Pigmentation

All skin contains about the same number of melanocytes but the amount of melanin they produce varies. Melanin is a natural skin pigment that protects the skin from UV damage. Obviously, dark-skinned people produce more melanin and light skin people produce less. While research has indicated that Asians have more photo-protective pigment melanin.

Use sunscreen religiously and use a product containing gentle skin brightening properties from your early twenties. Avoid hydroquinone!

Asian skin is more prone to hyper-pigmentation

Credit: Brock Elbank

4. Loses Moisture Easily

Asian skin showed the highest levels of Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL), as well as increased levels of permeability. TEWL is the amount of water vapour lost through the skin under non-sweating conditions.

We need more skin hydration and it’ll be good to choose a moisturizer high in water-binding ingredients such as hyaluronic acid.

Asian skin loses moisture more easily

5. Gets Oily More Easily

It is often said that Asian skin has more sebaceous glands and is oilier than Caucasian skin type. This might have to do with the weather as well but it is generally true that most of us are constantly fighting to keep shine away from our skin.

Our skin may get clogged easily and it’ll be good to exfoliate once or twice a week. In addition, do not use harsh products that will strip away our natural skin lipids and make the skin oilier.

6. More Resistant To Aging

While we have a thinner stratum corneum, we also have a thicker dermis that contains greater collagen. This means that our skin shows fewer signs of premature ageing.