Sensitive vs. Sensitized Skin

Sensitive vs sensitized skin

Do you have ‘sensitive skin’? If the answer is yes—you want to double-check! Oftentimes, people who think they have sensitive skin symptoms actually have ‘sensitized skin’. And while both terms may sound similar, they’re vastly different in diagnosis. But what is sensitized skin? And what does sensitized skin look like? This blog post is a quick but comprehensive guide to sensitive vs. sensitized skin—without further ado, let’s get started!

What is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin is a (relatively long-term) condition where the skin is more prone to reactions and irritations. These are usually triggered by environmental factors or skincare products. Any unpleasant sensations, such as itchiness, redness, and discomfort, can be associated with sensitive skin. This condition has been so prevalent—studies say that around 70% of women say they experience it!

What is Sensitized Skin?

Sensitized skin is when your skin reacts to external factors. For example, over-exfoliation, environmental stressors, or harsh treatments. Sensitized skin occurs when the skin’s natural barrier is compromised, so irritants can affect it and cause a temporary reaction.

Main Differences between Sensitive and Sensitized Skin

When it comes to sensitive vs. sensitized skin, there are two major differences: inherent vs. acquired, and consistency. Let’s look at these in detail to learn difference.

Sensitive skin is inherent—and can be influenced by genetics or underlying conditions. On the contrary, sensitized skin is acquired, and usually results from external factors. So, sensitive skin is a long-term situation that can be managed with care, while sensitized skin is generally temporary and can be fixed with treatment.

The common indicators of sensitive and sensitized skin also vary, typically as follows:

Sensitive SkinSensitized Skin
Reactive skin
Allergy prone
Dry/dehydrated skin
Incorrect use of skincare
Use of makeup products with high chemical levels

How to Manage Sensitive Skin and Repair Sensitized Skin

Soothing your skin and avoiding triggers is important for managing sensitive skin as well as repairing sensitized skin. Opt for skincare products with minimal known irritants and choose soothing products that can help your skin heal (more on these in the next section).


Fragrances can cause allergic reactions and cause irritation, so for both skin types, it is strongly recommended to avoid these. Instead, opt for fragrance-free formulas for all your products.

Exfoliating Acids

Exfoliating acids (such as glycolic or salicylic acid) can benefit certain skin types—but if you have sensitive or sensitized skin, it is best to avoid these. Instead, avoid exfoliants entirely, or sparingly use mild ones.

sensitive skin


Similarly, retinols can be too potent for sensitive and sensitized skin types—especially in the middle of a flare-up. Opt for lower concentrations, or consult a dermatologist for a personalized recommendation.

Best Products for Sensitive and Sensitized Skin

If you have sensitive or sensitized skin, monitoring the products you use is essential to avoid reactions. Consider:

  • Gentle Cleansers with mild formulas. These make sure you don’t strip your skin of natural oils.
  • Hypoallergenic Moisturizers free from common irritants. These keep your skin moisturized while avoiding reactions.
  • A broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. This shields your skin from harmful UV rays; sun protection is essential for all skin types.
  • Soothing creams to calm (visible) irritation and relieve itchy skin.


What does sensitized skin look like?

If you have sensitized skin, you may experience different symptoms. For example, redness and irritation as well as inflammation. You can also experience feelings of discomfort and, at times, tightness.

Sensitized skin

How do you know if your skin is sensitized?

If your skin has began to show reactions to skincare products that previously showed no issues, you may have sensitized skin. Increased sensitivity and redness are also symptoms of the like.

Why is sensitized skin challenging to treat?

The underlying cause for sensitized skin is usually external factors—and identifying these (so you can eliminate them) can be tricky. This makes it challenging to treat sensitized skin. But with gentle cleansing and regular moisturization, you can bring the situation under control.


What is sensitized skin? What does sensitized skin look like? We hope you now have your answers! When it comes to sensitive vs. sensitized skin, telling them apart can be tough. Especially so because sensitive skin symptoms are similar to those of sensitized skin. But correctly diagnosing your skin condition is important to begin the right treatment! If you’ve been feeling something is wrong with your skin, consider consulting a dermatologist to get the right diagnosis


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